brown and white swallowtail butterfly under white green and brown cocoon in shallow focus lens

Invisible Ink

Dear Sophia:

I got a private ride today – did not expect a teenage boy, but there you go.

He was overloaded with Christmas gift bags and an overnight bag. I said “It’s a long ride”, and asked the lad if he wanted to Bluetooth to the car stereo. He did and then kindly asked what sort of music I like. Told him to put on whatever he wanted – that I like hearing new music.

He started talking and the conversation ranged all over the place. He said “This is a playlist that is just sort of random stuff that I’ve put together” A couple of times I asked who the artist is. His music choices got bolder as he realised I wasn’t freaking out about bad language and um, ‘adult themes’. He then asked if other people did the same. I said “Sure, I once had a guy who tried to shock me the whole trip and finally put on that Peaches song.” The kid asked “So what did you do? I laughed “I sang along and the guy was really bummed out”

The kid laughed. The conversation got a little bit more serious as we went along. He told me things about his family. He said that he felt he was a bit more mature than his classmates because he’d been through ‘some stuff.’

During the trip I asked about certain songs and the lyrics. Then he blurted out at one point “This is the song the Emo kids like.” Song after song. Suicide. I asked him why so many songs for kids his age talked about suicide. He shrugged.

It’s invisible ink, but I can see that tattoo. I might not know the artist, but I sure do understand the result.

He said “What advice would you give someone my age?”

There are moments that time slows down and the universe asks you to think very very carefully about what you say next. When I was younger I just tossed off clever ripostes – I never thought about the landing, only the launching.

I said “It gets better. Someday you’ll look back at the path that you made, the control you took of your own life and you will be amazed and proud of what you accomplished”

He was quiet a moment.

Then I said “I read something a couple of years ago that I think about a lot. This guy had a chrysalis. You know what that is, right?”

He nodded.

I went on “The guy watched as the chrysalis started to hatch and the butterfly was struggled to get out. It was working away and the guy decides to help the butterfly out. Well, the butterfly ended up being too weak to be itself properly. One wing was too malformed and weak.

It never reached its potential because it hadn’t struggled properly to grow.”

A few minutes later we arrive to his destination. I smile and say “Merry Christmas” He says “Merry Christmas” to me. I’m out of the car now to see if he needs a hand to load up his parcels. I wanted to hug him. I think he wouldn’t have minded.

But the pandemic.

Merry Christmas Sophia