Still Sleeping Sweetly

Mark Leon Rogers was the youngest of five. He was born to Don and Sarah during a time of hope and promise and new beginnings. It was a time of Cowboys and Indians, Pinochle and Dominoes. It was a time of faith in America. It was October 1953.

It was a time when newborns slept sweetly snuggled between their parents. Like the four children before him, once Mark grew bigger, he would sleep in the small wooden crib against the wall in Don and Sarah’s bedroom. Then, when he out grew the tiny crib, he would share Donnie and David’s room, where model airplanes hung from the ceiling tiles and mischief was often conducted.

Donnie was the eldest. Donnie was the one who held Mark. Mark seemed incredibly tiny, even in Donnie’s childlike arms. Mark’s skin was warm and soft. His breaths escaped in tiny waves of heat, and his eyes were a shiny bright blue, holding endless possibilities. Donnie had just turned nine, but he would remember Mark’s eyes the rest of his life. David nor his sister’s had eyes that bright. Donnie doubted any baby had eyes so bright and full of the future. They were shiny blue eyes he would again see in his daughters’ faces and again belonging to his granddaughter. Maybe it was genetics or maybe nostalgia, but Mark’s eyes would always seem to hold more blue.

On that brisk October morning, Sarah was woken by the sleepy sunlight peering through her window. She had slept well and felt refreshed. Mark hadn’t woken her up to eat. He laid next to her, his lips slightly parted between his chubby cheeks. She ran the back if her hand over his tender flesh, but he lay there still sleeping sweetly. Her thumb fluttered across his lips, but there was no heat. Her heart became heavy. It dropped into her stomach, growing into an unbearable weight, as she frantically shook Don awake. 

The assumption was that Don or Sarah had rolled over on Mark in the night, which was not uncommon at that time. Later, it was reveled that there was a hole buried deep in Mark’s tender heart. Since his first hot breath, each one was bringing him closer to his future. His fate had never meant to bring him far. Mark’s blue eyes shone for four brief days.

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