They had grown old and I hadn’t even noticed…their wrinkled faces looked back at me, animated by a warm, genuine love. She hustled to the kitchen to fix me a “proper” meal while he lit a pipe and waved his hand forward; a subtle invitation to re-acquaint myself with the small wooden chair next to his chaise which had always been reserved for me during the darkest thunderstorms. All of a sudden, it felt like the house came alive, that the hearth burned brighter and the floors creaked with conviction. It felt good to be home, it felt good to be with them; I had missed them. They were completely unaware of the awful things I’d done, and it seemed my adolescent transgressions were all but forgotten. They didn’t even see the war-torn man before them; they only saw their boy, their child…a singular reflection of their two souls upon the world. Were they proud? I would say yes, as it would appear that in my absence I had become quite accomplished, by whatever measure it is that can measure such things. Though, I think that after seven years, they were thrilled just to know I was still alive.

Write me a story little boy, I’m at a loss for words…could you please take this pen and guide it to the paper. Tell them how it all came to be, among the beggars and the thieves, tell them how we all find each other and the things we dreamed turn to the things we see.

Paint me a picture little boy, my hand’s no longer steady…take the brush and guide it to the canvas. Show them all the things you’ve seen, though they’ll never understand the splendor. It would be cruel to deny them of just an image of the life you lived.

Sing us a song now little boy, our voices have grown tired…lift your body and guide your melody towards us. Serenade them all tonight; let them hear the sound of your music.

For tomorrow we will be gone…dust to dust and ashes to ashes.

— The Seven Years Between, Frederick Everwynn