Leaves the saturday evening post

Jason finishes for her. “He said that the human subconscious, or figments of our subconscious, like dreams — that they’re another world where other humans live. That humans enter another human’s dream when they die. That none of it was really real, but it felt so real. That our life is a dream, even if it feels like a nightmare sometimes.”

Shirley’s cheeks look like someone took the beets off her plate and rammed them repeatedly on her face, leaving a permanent mark. Shirley has maintained a PTA middle-aged mom haircut for nearly all of her marriage to Scott. Shirley didn’t care for the way it shaped her face, but it was the one thing she seemed to know for certain that Scott liked about her, so she kept it. The new blond highlights she collected went unnoticed by Scott, but she thought it made her look younger.

“No. And you don’t either. But Jason does. This is a problem, Shirley. You need to cut the act. Doing this little performance with Jason, acting like you see Keith, too, it’s only enabling him — making it worse. We need to take him to be evaluated again.” He speaks with conviction. “We should do it tonight. We can’t wait any longer. He’s going to grow up to be a serial killer. And you’re not helping.”

There is one picture hanging on the wall near the staircase where Scott looks happy. He’s young. He has a single-chin. His wrinkles on his forehead were in hiding then. It was autumn in Alaska. Jason, who was four at the time, is wrapping one arm around Scott’s head, and Shirley stands above them. Leaves drown out the light blue sky in the background. Scott’s eyes match the color of the leaves, and there’s something about the crisp autumn air that is visible in the picture.

She looks at Keith as she answers. “How nice of him to remember. It was stressful. My heart was,” she put her hand on her heart to show a thumping movement. “But, I knew the material, and that showed, so I think it went well.” She turns to Jason. “How’d the…?” She doesn’t finish her question, rather she moves her wrist in a circular motion toward the door.

“She is, but I kind of messed up. I don’t need to share all the details, but I made a mistake. And I asked Keith for advice, and he — Keith has this way of relating everything to something else, ya know, like he said that nothing is concrete. Even actual concrete, he said, has a period of time when you can still jump into the molding and leave your imprint.”

Shirley slightly bobbed her head, as if she was listening to The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes.” “It’s a really great perspective, Keith.” She looks directly at the foul line, where Keith stands holding the basketball. Even though it is night, the Alaskan sky carries light blue trickles of the day with it. Keith’s blue eyes match the cold air — the visibility into his aura through his pupils more powerfully clear and beautiful, to Shirley, than the Northern Lights ever could be.

Scott thinks of how they haven’t celebrated his birthday with a party in over a decade. After minutes float into half an hour and darkness engulfs the night, Scott breaks their silence. “Can you go check on her? I have to pee. And it’s freezing out here. I left my good coat at home this morning, thinking I’d have access to a heated house after work.”

The porch window reflects Jason’s similarities to his dad — their slightly curly hair, only at the ends; their oval egg-shaped eyes; the barely noticeable curvature of their nose; and their lopsided ear lobes. Jason stares at himself in the window for a few elongated seconds. He shifts his feet away from Scott, still facing him, leaning against the railing of the staircase. They stare in each other’s irises until Scott looks down at his hands. “Son…”