I remember his eyes, alabaster against ebony skin.
We vacationed there every summer, our family trip. I knew, if I snuck out into the garden at night when the moon was high and bathing the plants in just enough light to see him by that he’d climb down from his pedestal and run around the courtyard with me.
His dark form and chasing shadows made playing hide and seek fun, more difficult and sometimes spookier than any game played in the sunshine. Each night before I left, he’d smile at me and tell me that one day we’d see the daylight together. It always made me laugh because he never moved during the day.
I know because all he did during when the sun shone was follow me with his eyes, body held in perfect stone like semblance. It filled me with wonder the way he stood on one leg, always leaning at the same angle amongst the grass and flowers in the sun, his black skin hard as stone while his eyes held so much life.
When I started high school, family vacations became so passé. Any excuse, every excuse not to be seen with my parents. I forgot all about my childhood playmate until recently, flipping through the album and seeing him there, so alone, so real, so intense.
I wonder if he remembers me.
And then I realize how silly that is. But something reminds me of the fun I once had there, of the childhood memories I cherish even now and I think that maybe I should go and visit my old friend even if I’ve outgrown him.
Besides, one day it might be nice to take my future children to see him.
When I disembark from the ferry it’s surreal, everything just as I remember it, like I’ve traveled back in time. From the trees to the gravel path I walk on as it crunches underfoot and I remember how many scrapes and bruises adorned my legs from tumbles down it.
It’s all so real I can almost feel the pain and I glance down at my legs just to be sure. For a moment the shadows refract and I gasp involuntarily, then laugh at myself when I realize the grazes were just a trick of the light.
Even the people are the same. I would have thought time stood still except for the greyer hair.
The decor in the room is fresh and modern, at complete juxtaposition with the memories I hold so dear and I wonder if maybe other things have been modernized. Maybe he’s not here anymore.
Almost scared, I approach the window, my window, the one I remember clambering out of as a child. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I let it out in relief. He’s there, amongst the greenery, red flowers popping up around him. Maybe a little more weathered than I remember. Part of me wants to say hello right away, but we always had the best times after dark. Though I realize the imagination of a child was at work, the night still holds special memories.
When the moonlight hits the courtyard, it’s just the way I remember. It takes me back to the times I had not a care in the world and I run, knowing that this time he won’t move and come play with me, because I know he’s a statue.
But my knowing this means nothing when he blinks, steps off the pedestal and speaks to me as if I never left, eye glinting in the light of the full moon.
“Let’s play.” He says with that mischievous grin and I’m transported back to my childhood where we run and play and seek each other all night. It’s tiring and exhilarating, thrilling and creepy and I barely notice it as the time passes and my limbs grow heavy with exhaustion.
It’s the perfect memory and the perfect place and I vaguely remember his words before I fall asleep – the promise he always made me dancing on my lips. That one day we’d see the daylight together.
When I wake my body is heavy and I curse the muscle pain I’ve inflicted on myself, gallivanting around the night before. My legs are so weighted I can’t move them. My arms are stiff and rigid. Slowly, I open my eyes and want to blink away what I see. I can feel a scream building in my throat but there’s no way for it to escape.
It echoes in my head as I look out at the world through his eyes.