Where did that sprightly young fellow with so much to say run off to? Oh, him? He's dead. He died years ago, locked away in some god-forsaken mental institution while he was trying to fix himself. He couldn't take it anymore, he went crazy, and eventually he died. Some say he died of a broken heart. Others say the loneliness became too overwhelming for him and one morning he just decided not to wake up, as if it were nothing more than a choice, as if he simply saw no point to going on one more miserable, lonely day and when it came time to open his eyes, he simply chose to go on sleeping. Forever.
His body lives on. It walks, it talks, sometimes it even smiles or laughs. But there's nothing left inside. Nothing sprightly nor bright in any case. His chest is filled with only the darkness of regret and his mind is a prison which holds the familiar comforts of anxiety, fear, and hatred. He has no secrets anymore. His body and all that it has done in the years since he died, is laid open for the world to see; vulnerable and exposed to the cruel wind of judgement.
People have tried to get close to this walking, talking, smiling corpse and some have even begun to fall in love with it but before too long, and upon closer inspection, they come to realize that there is really nothing left inside this hollow shell of a boy worth loving. And they disappear. They disappear just like everyone disappears because that is the natural rhythm of things when it comes to dealing with someone who is no longer really alive. You notice them, might find them intriguing, unique in a way that you can't help but be attracted to, and so you approach with caution. When you move in close, you find that this lifeless body has a story that is beautifully tragic and before you know what's happening, you find yourself moving in closer than you know is safe. You can't help it though. This mysterious creature, still moving through the world though there is no life left inside, captivates you with its charm and its obscure sort of tattered perfection that seems so wrong that it very well might be right. You don't feel sorry for this creature, but you feel something for it, perhaps a longing for it to be whole again, a desire for it to rise from the ashes of a life burned to the ground and grow and blossom into something bright and radiant once more. It is this longing that gets you involved, that tricks you into believing that there may be hope in saving this lost soul and it is only after you have given everything that you know how to give that you realize the dead cannot be brought back to life. You abandon ship, just like so many before you, when the hollow boy is at his most vulnerable, when even he is beginning to believe that there is a chance at a new life, a happy life, a full life; and the ship comes apart at the seams and sinks straight to the bottom of the ocean night after bloody night all alone in the dim light of a lonely bathroom someplace in L.A. The shell of the boy who once lived so carefree in the light of a world free from illness simply collapses in on itself and some of the damage can never be repaired. And you have no choice but to get away, to get out with what is left of your own sanity still intact, but you don't move on quickly, because you find that you can't. You find yourself feeling changed by the impact of this corpse on your pretty little life and try as you might, you can't seem to put the thought of him down, not entirely. You feel that you know more about yourself now than ever before and you quietly thank the hollow boy for his contribution to your wholeness. You smile at the thought of having come so close to something so destructive and living to tell the tale. You smile, and he burns. Each and every night he digs his own grave and buries himself in the earth where he belongs but each morning his body rises and fights on through the pain of being so lifeless and empty in a world full of living, breathing, smiling things. And so it goes.
It goes because it must. It goes because there are pieces of the boy that once lived here still lingering in this corpse. Determination and stubbornness can't be killed just once, they must die again and again before they are gone completely and they live on long after the heart has stopped beating. So the body remains. The body rises each morning and greets the day with hesitation and fear at what evil things might be waiting out there beyond the protection of the sheets. The body puts on a smile and greets the living things as though it were one of the same species and some fall for the trick and open their wallets and hand over their credit cards and their trust to this fraud, to this faker, to this thief. He's stealing your smiles and your happiness so that he might impersonate you tomorrow, so that he might try on your skin for a day and see how it feels to be complete once more. But it won't last. By the end of the day, his smile has grown weary and your skin is beginning to get itchy and uncomfortable. So, he throws the smile in the trash on his way out the door and slips out of your skin to bathe as the creature he was always meant to be, beneath the dim glow of the moon.
Does the body miss the soul that once dwelt there? Of course it does. The soul is missed dearly and the body has gone in search of wholeness in any number of places where one might find such things but all too often this search has only led to another intrigued passerby who will eventually realize that there is no life left behind these eyes and so begins the cycle of destruction all over again. The boy is dead. Accept it and move on. He's not coming back and I don't expect him to. But I can't help but believe that someone something like him might come to inhabit this body that sits before you now. He will be older and wiser than the boy ever was. He will have learned by now how to keep himself safe. He will have learned to trust and to love once again. And he will be here to stay. He will not abandon this life just when the body needs him most. The search will continue every single day because the body knows not what else to do for it cannot continue to function as an empty vessel in this world so full of life. This beautiful boy will be found eventually and body and soul will unite to create the portrait of something truly complete for the first time in its life. On that day there will be a smile stretched across the face of this body, once so lifeless; and that smile, will be real.