The boy sat quiet. In silent determination he crawled through the memory. He had lost his best friend. His father. It was a truth now as it was when he first heard three weeks earlier.
The mother had shed tears over the phone and his hand had trembled. Not enough to let the phone slip but enough to silent the ruckus in the hostel.
“What is it?” his neighbor had asked.
Maybe it was the look of loss or the aura of regret from words unaltered. The boy could not speak at the time. He was equally surprised when through his mouth the words slipped.
“My Dad’s gone.”
The kind words had played like a broken record, chanting empathy they would never feel.
It didn’t bother the boy that his neighbor felt bad.
He wasn’t worried about his phone either.
The boy was not ready to be a man.
He did not want to be a man.
He knew what it meant and had just heard a real man had left him.
Now the words etched the sad cave:
“I am not going to be here forever.”
The boy was going to be a man.
What choice did he have?
The last man had just exited.