When he was a bairn, he sat under the tall maple trees with comic books, for his father was out wandering the streets with a melancholic mind. The father moved to the rhythm of the sadness in his head, amongst the gossip on the streets. He walked through empty parking lots and down by the stream trying to clear his brain from the static noise.

Inside the comic books, the child found contentment. Somewhere in a far-off land, the place where the superheroes usually protected you. A place where the sunflowers rose confidently tall, dotting the fields with a vibrant gold. Yes, there was color, the brightest of lemon that seemed to cut deep through the umbra. Still, his father continued to maunder down sidewalks and dead-end streets talking to the overgrown grass and whispering toward the heavens.

The town’s physician had given the father medications to balance out his troubled mind, but nothing seemed to uncoil his knotted, deteriorating mental health. He continued to plod on and on and on until he grew fatigued. Finally he stumbled back upon his only child beneath the maple trees with a comic book under his nose.

“Father, you found your way,” the bairn would usually say, with a bit of optimism scattered throughout his voice.

“The shine. It was shine-shine, yes, shine, heaven, I think,” he mumbled, “Warmth, the warmth, carried me, back here.”

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    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    10 months ago

    Melissa, your fiction is both sadly poetic and dramatic in its intelligent exploration of depression/a disturbed mind.
    The phrase “nothing seemed to uncoil his knotted, deteriorating mental health” really resonated!

    10 months ago

    Beautiful writing, Melissa. The child finding contentment in comic book heroes is something many of us can relate to, even with childhoods less troubling than your young man’s. I love your use of the word “maunder” – I had to look it up! And the father’s speech at the end really shows his mental state, but also the love and warmth that drew him in. Well done.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    9 months ago

    Hello, Melissa. Like Fuji, I also liked how the kid found joy in the comic. And it’s heartwarming how love leads his mentally ill father back to his son. Your story shows how mysterious and powerful love is. Lovely.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    Reply to  Melissa Taggart
    9 months ago

    You’re welcome, Melissa.

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    9 months ago

    As always a very well written and fascinating story, Melissa, with a lot of love and warmth. Excellent! Fuji was wondering about one word that you used and I am interested in another word, which is “bairn”. It is closely related to the Swedish/Scandinavian word “barn,” meaning child. I know that it is used in Scottish. It is also used where you come from or did you write it to create a… Read more »

    Linda Rock
    Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
    8 months ago

    Reading your story, Melissa, I pictured the father and son both disappearing into another world albeit in different ways. The boy with his comic book I found to be really relatable although it was more movies than books for me. A sad story but one with a heartwarming ending. Love will always find its way home. Another beautifully written and thought provoking story, Melissa. I loved it.

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