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I push myself out of the bed. The magnetic sheets peel off my skin and the static from my Celtics flannel pajamas clings to my legs. I take my hands and run them through my hair, then fixate my index finger on a tiny scab on the back of my skull. I begin to rub the scab, pressing it as if it were an energy button. The scab stays flat and unreceptive. My day begins.
I already want it to end.
The scuffed hardwood floors in my bedroom are frigid on my bare feet. I walk around my bed, careful not to bump into the bedpost and disturb my wife, who still sleeps quietly. I enter the hallway and head towards my son’s room. I pause at his door to stare at the drawing he has of his family that he had completed for her first week of second grade, when the teacher asked the class to draw and write an paragraph as an introduction to other students. The four of us—me, my wife, my son, and my daughter—stand together, green-and-red stick figures holding our stick-figure hands with our stick-figure smiles. Below the drawing, his writing reads: “PAECE is HOME.” I remember when he brought that drawing from school. I had overlooked his spelling mistake then and I still do now. The first time he showed me his drawing, I had to slowly walk away and head downstairs into the cellar to weep. Minutes later, I walked back upstairs, told him how proud I was of him and hugged him.
This morning, I weep again, but not as heavy as that first time in the cellar, my sobs trapped inside my throat. I trace my hands over the stick figures and the names next to each one: PAPI, MOM, MATEO, SOFIA. An outline of a white and red little home stands in the background, with scribbles of green grass and bushy trees. I open the door to my son’s room. Spiderman stickers glow in the room’s stillness, while a Red Sox nightlight shines dimly in a corner. I head straight to his bed, nudge him a bit, and curl up next to his body. I notice the back of his head and the nape of his neck. People say that from the back, Mateo looks just like me, the same dark brown hair, the same shoulders, the same torso. I gently stroke the top of hair and squeeze his hand just enough to let him know that without him in my life right now, I would be nothing.
I close my eyes and try to doze off, but my breathing disrupts my desire to sleep for at least one hour tonight. So I stay awake, my arm around Mateo, staring out into the window next to his bed. The neighborhood stays silent, as I wish for PAECE to turn back to PEACE.