She knew it wouldn't work. How many times had she tried to get through to him and he had stared straight ahead, not seeing? John was a kid - her kid, and he was autistic. It wasn't that he was ill or even extraordinarily deficient. It was just that he was in his own world far, far away from the noise of the ordinary world. She'd often wondered if he could have developed a genetic predisposition for being a recluse like his mother, someone who prefers quiet to crowds. But blame of any kind wasn't going to change him. On this day she had decided that it was the right time to try to make him see her.
"John?" she questioned yet another time.
A blink. Was that a grateful show of emotion? A true reward for all the caring she felt and showed him on a minute-by-minute basis? Could be, or could not be. Could be, or could not be. This fragment played itself through her wondering mind every day. Something had happened, 'though, yesterday. John had said "M.." The beginning of something, something which connoted a hand holding, nurturing something. An "M" for "Magic" to her ears: an "M" for "Mom." And this is why today, she had made up her mind to see his world, so he'd see her.
She sat with him at the beach. They both stared out at the water on a hot, July mid-afternoon day, unseeingly. She talked on and on and on, determined.
"Tomorrow, your grandma is coming to visit. Do you want to wear your new watch that she gave you for your birthday?"
Nothing. Just dreamy, far-away eyes that could not pretend what they were not.
"You know, I was thinking we could go see that new Walt Disney movie tonight."
Breath flowed in and out of John's body as if health was abundant in the boy, 'though it was clear reason was lacking.
"You know I love you John, you know this..."
She trailed off. It was hopeless. She couldn't enter his world, and he couldn't enter hers. They were destined to never know each other. She felt guilty about her resignation, which brought love into her heart for her son. She got up from the towel and kneeled in front of John.
"John, I know you came into this world a little different from most. But you're my kid, and you're special to me. Very special."
Nothing. She sat and faced the water in full resignation, with a sigh of sorrow to prove it. She watched the parents playing on the shoreline with their kids and their "Boogie Boards" or, protecting, watching their kids jump waves.
"I feel the same longing they do. I just want to love and be loved," she said. "Why can't I have what they have? Don't I deserve it more than they do?"
She spoke selfishly for once in the luxury of knowing her son couldn't hear. She continued looking straight ahead, suddenly lost in her own thoughts. The vision of the ocean blurred in a strange way because of the day's heat, and she focused on the dunes of Welfleet, clear and white across the bay. All sounds seemed to cease during this reverie of thoughts about her son, and her mind grew peaceful. She didn't hear the parents shouting to their kids to get better grips or be careful anymore. She was in her own world.
And that's when two miracles happened. First, she realized in that personal silence, so apart from everything else, that that was the world her son was in. This meant he could be aware of her sitting next to him, as she presently was. This meant he could even know sometimes of her care and proclamations of love toward him. The second miracle was an answer to the first. She looked over at John, who sat with the same distant look on his face, but with tears streaming down both eyes.
From his mouth, came a syllable. "M.." This time she knew what it meant.