This Boy, a Memorial
Spring again, and it’s time to return. Follow, this way. Truth is, you’re here more than once yearly. Time in these moment shifts backward, can you feel it? It’s yesterday, some years before and on this beach stood nothing but beach, just False Point.
Time in reverse: The boy returns, living as he had on the island, fetching and young again. Across the highway, split in two between old and new, the reiteration and its parent, onward to the scene: the wreckage mends. Glass appeals to its other pieces, forming into one. Blood rises from the pavement. All goes backward. Nothing, in that moment, is lost the way it one day will be. The cops and paramedics, the scene and its supporting cast, run in reverse, back to the station where everything is calm and quiet along the shore of this quiet stretch of Old Montauk—the way it always was before.
You escaped this, traveled far enough to leave behind the city and its madness, the visible darkness, only to have it remain here, in god’s country.
On this stretch of sand, you the mother of This Boy are awake and rewind to years before, a night much the same, back through those restless and worried filled years that seemed then for nothing, five years that you never thought would come afterward because for so long the immediate impact occupied the space in which you lived, and now you travel back to the past. Never since he was born had you slept well. They say with a child comes endless anxiety, but you do not mind because here you are safe. The waves rush you to sleep each night. No where is safer than here, this long-secluded tip of grace, jutting out into heaven’s coast.
And here is the family, a sister maybe, perhaps a brother to This Boy, sitting in remorse and bereavement, rocking in reverse, awkward leaps in time into the speeding toward the precinct or hospital or wherever that call had come from, the one with your mother on the other end, late one night, trying to piece together everything that had once been whole. Remember when everything was whole and you had dinner without concerns like the one you couldn’t soon stomach, sitting at Bostwick’s, wondering if maybe you’ll pick up that job here bartending—the most effortless of worries?
And what of the father of This Boy? And what of This Boy’s friends, his own supporting cast. These are others, but where have they gone?
Come here, back to the beach and sand dunes along False Point, where you return every spring to step back in time, find yourself falling in reverse. Someone once wrote how that was a way to come to earth: falling. And you find that quaint and wonder if This Boy, your son, would have known who it was.
Focus now on the laminated picture, the hymnal printed and eroded by a constant shoreline mist. The rocks in a formation around his memorial. The words in paint written on the curved stones. This is what is left in the world of This Boy, your son, who had gone so soon.
Failure is what this feeling is. Failing to protect, to teach, to have done something intrinsic and small that could have made all the difference. Your own supporting cast knows you’re here, drove with you in the car and said they would wait, by the museum and the lighthouse appropriately dedicated to those lost. Do the chills come from the wind or from a place for which you have no words?
Stumble away and feel that This Boy is alone, still scared, lost out to sea, the beautiful crashing whitecaps breaking into ripples of ocean, a place once quiet and undisturbed by the raucousness of the city, beyond which, now, you imagine, exists tomorrow.