Shuffle Forward

The child is suddenly silent,
Unresponsive
His face — pasty white and expressionless,
his skin feels cold and moist.
His grey ball cap has been pulled down
so far over his forehead
you can’t see his eyes.
His breathing is shallow and quick.
His pulse is strong, but rapid —
the vein in his neck distended and
pulsating with increasing purpose.

Everyone shuffles forward.

He shuffles, too,
moving in closer to you,
securing a safe place,
moored into the harbour of your back.
His slender body is rigid and still.
You place your arms behind you
and around him,
hugging him closer.

Shuffle forward.

You can feel his heartbeat pounding through you.
You can feel your own body reacting;
You pull your lips in,
pressing them tighter and tighter —
eyelids blinking,
trying desperately to
fight back your own tears.
You close your eyes for a moment and
take a deep breath.
Am I doing the right thing?
Should we leave?
He said that he didn’t want to go,
yet,
here you are.

Everyone shuffles forward.

Your arms wrapped around his rigid body, you shuffle forward,
bringing him along with you.
“Next in line!” you hear a young man
sing out from behind the counter.
You shuffle forward,
“Two adults, two children for Toy Story 3,” you say.

Pathways by Paula Follett-Comeau

Pathways by Paula Follett-Comeau

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Paula Follett-Comeau

About Paula Follett-Comeau

Paula Follett-Comeau is a teacher who lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with her loving husband, Chris, and two very special children, Ryan and Kate. She has always had an interest in the arts—writing, drawing, photography and other visual arts—but has really started to explore these interests more seriously while working on her Master of Education degree at Mount Saint Vincent University.

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