When it comes time to go, you get messages from everywhere. A thought turns to a nudge, and then to a shove. Tasks that you completed with ease become challenging. The mind refuses to generate convincing excuses for further delay. A great voice whispers, then rumbles, from deep inside your cells  – Goodbye! Go!

Today, for example, I stood in the doorway to my office. Light came in through an open window at the west end of the building’s main hall. I stopped  for a moment  -just to listen to my insides. Are you sure? I heard myself say . . .

I felt something bump my heels. A push broom! My custodian, his hat brim angled down, had swept around the corner and into me. He was moving fast and trying to bust out his shift in short order. I turned, looked at his broom, then at him. Hey! You trying to sweep me out the door? Oh sorry boss, said he. I didn’t see you there.

Go on! Goodbye!

Then Chamuel, a compact boy with spiky black hair, sprang up the stairs from the deck below, darted in front of me, and hopped toward his classroom – the one across the hall from my office. He stopped in the doorway, shoved his hands in his jeans pockets, and turned his cap backward. Something wrong! He looked at a pile of debris at his feet and became quiet.

My kaleidoscope, he said. It’s trashed!

A red and blue paper tube sat crunched and tucked in among the other bits and shreds of student work, all torn and dusty. He looked up, and burst out with one loud Bye bye! His giggle bounced through the halls. Bye bye!  Then, he kicked his heels, bounced along the shiny floor toward the light at the far end. He opened the door , stood for a second, and then slam. The door closed and the hallway dropped into silence.

I looked into my office. Last time. When I closed the door, wind sucked it shut like a vault.  I dangled, then released my keys into the drop box by the office door. And then I turned westward toward the light.

Try skipping! the voice told me. Get out! Go!

Sweat, hugs, stings and bites will find ways to come along wherever I go –  star-crossed kisses shaped by how I choose to kiss them back. I might think of even the hardest times as bits of stardust left along roads where I had walked – roads I left for higher ground.

I can hold to this day’s brooding cross-road as an invitation – a genuflection telling me to bow my head and admit the presence of something powerful, even if bittersweet. I can accept a moment like this as a lesson in how, on a planet as small as this one, you can never run away. You will, in time, end up where you began.

My heart pounded at its own pace. I walked toward nowhere in particular. I wanted to stop long enough to find the way-inside boy that never quits – who can crawl out from under the weight of the done-and-gone. Door opened, sun hit my upturned face, and last day melted into first. One more good old, never-before chance to be alive!


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