by, 04-26-2012 at 03:52 AM (1447 Views)
So, I've been having this...excerpt for lack of terms...hanging around on my computer. The idea for this started one night after I got out my last evening class last autumn. I was looking up at the stars as I waited for my ride, and bam! This story was born although I haven't completed it yet. I've posted it on the forums, but no replies at all.
I've called it Stars up until now because I didn't know what else to call it.
It was a quiet night. I sat back and looked up at the bare sky. Looking closer, I realized what novelists meant when they said the stars twinkle. If you paid enough attention to them, you could see them flicker in and out, like all they needed was a gentle breeze and their light would die. As I gazed at them, the brighter ones seemed to change from red to blue and back again on this nice, warm night.
Twinkle twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are…
I remembered looking at this same ancient sky when I was young, only my father was standing next to me. I would ask him every night he’d take me out what they were made of. “Wishes.” He said once. When I stopped believing him then, I asked him again. He laughed and said, “They’re Christmas lights. The moon decided to decorate the sky!” The last time I spent an evening stargazing with him, I asked, and he told me, “That’s where our souls go when we die, so that we can watch over our loved ones.” Who knew that the next day, he would die in a car accident?
And a few years later, I found out that a real star was just a great big ball of gas miles and miles away.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky...
I wonder how much someone would pay for the glittering of light that was said to grant wished…that’s what many wanted to believe a star was. There was nothing rich about it. They only reflected the sun. Dad just loved astronomy and the history of what us humans thought about the stars, and the way they had been recorded in history. After all, that was his profession. Astrology.
I didn’t care what stars were made of anymore. They could disappear for all I cared.
Mood broken, I stood from the lawn chair in my backyard and went inside to fetch my coat, deciding to take a walk.
I should've known something was going to happen, with the direction my mood was already going. Walking down the sidewalk, the only light I paid attention to was the street lights, but thanks to my good vision, my peripherals picked up more than that. That's the only way I could've spotted the little kid off on the other side of the road, hiding behind a dumpster. Quietly, so as not to scare the kid off, I crossed the street. The boy was on his knees, his hands clasped together in front of him. He was muttering something that, only until I got closer could I hear.
"...I wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight. Please bring mommy back!" He sounded weak, as though he hadn't eaten in days, but it didn't stop him from speaking this in such a pleading prayer-like way.
"Hey kid." Just like I had predicted, the boy became startled, and he tensed as if ready to run like a scared cat at the sound of my voice. "Don't run."
He froze, paralyzed from both fear and indecision. He didn't know whether to trust me or not. Hey, I didn't blame him. I wasn't sure whether to trust me or not.
"You shouldn't be out so late at night. It's dangerous." I said it for the simple fact that I didn't know what else to say. He looked even more afraid, standing slowly, just in case he had to bolt.
I sighed. "Hey. I'm not going to eat you or anything." The boy's face didn't change. "Where are your parents?" I took a step forward, he took one back. Boy, was I ever dealing with something or what? "Hey, I said I wasn't going to hurt you." Silence. The boy was really going to be like this? Fine. I leapt, so suddenly to probably make the boy's heart jump out his mouth, and caught him by the arm before he could escape. "Where are they?" I asked, a little peeved. It just ran with the mood I had already been in. He struggled with his entire small body. It was like when you captured a stray cat, the way he struggled with scratching and wriggling.
"Hey kid! Tell me where your parents are and I'll consider letting you go."
The struggling subsided quickly, but not immediately. Then, in his small kid-voice, he answered, "I don't know." He face was away from me, head bent, but his voice sounded teary. So much, that I reached and turned the boy's face, with a little resistance. He glared at me with such vehemence, I almost let go...but the tears reflecting the streetlight got to me.
"Come with me." I said, dragging him with me.
Caught unaware, he didn't put up a fight for the first couple of yards. "Hey where are you taking me?" I didn't answer, which made him start struggling all over again. "My mom told me not to talk to strangers!" He said. His struggles were still strong for a weakened little boy. I picked him up and threw him over my shoulder. "Hey!" He protested. But I turned a deaf ear.
What the hell was I doing. Bringing home a young boy who couldn't be more than eight, nine years old just because...why? On a whim? Was it the fact that the boy reminded me of me? My saddened little me when I lost poor old daddy?
I deposited the boy in one of my dining chairs. Surprisingly, he didn’t bolt. I went to the kitchen and decided to warm up a bowl of the chicken soup ma had sent over earlier today. Placing it in front of him, I took the other seat. “Eat.” He looked at me warily, but slowly reached for the food. Once one spoonful disappeared in his mouth, the rest followed.
I hadn’t had a chance to look at the boy in the dark behind that dumpster, but now, in the light of my dining room, I realized how young the boy actually looked. He couldn’t be more than seven. His face was dirty, but underneath that, and his tattered blue shirt, his skin was pale ivory. His hair looked to be blond, but, like his skin, it was dirty. His dark eyes were focused on food he continuously brought to his mouth.
He finished the bowl and I calmly got up and refilled it for him. This time, he took his time consuming it. Every second or so, he would quickly glance at me and then away. When he finally finished, I took the bowl and placed it in the sink
“Um…mister…” He finally spoke up. “Why did you give me food?” Why indeed? What? Was I feeding the ghost of the younger me by doing so? How very noble of me.
“Because, you were hungry.” I replied. I didn’t return to the dining room seat, instead, making my way to the couch. Settling down, I crossed my legs, and turned on the Television. A baseball game was on, and I left it there. I didn’t know what the boy liked to watch, and I didn’t want to look like I was trying to win him over, because, truthfully, who cared?
The boy came and sat on the floor next to the couch. “You can sit on the couch if you want.” I said. He didn’t listen to me. His eyes stayed glued on the game. Mine soon followed. For an artist, watching the batters arch into their swings and pitchers throw and hunch their backs, the long line of a stretch to catch the ball. All of it was actually an inspiration to me. As much as a starry night was to Vincent Van Gogh.
The boy could’ve left, and slammed the door behind him, and I wouldn’t have known with the way I found myself enraptured with the game. So it wasn’t until the game was over that I found myself realizing I had forgotten my guest. Only to find that, there where he had sat down, was where he was curled up. He must have been exhausted, only running on apprehension. And the way he’d eaten only meant he’d been in the situation for longer than a few hours. For any kid, that must’ve been a nightmare.
I picked him up gently and placed him on the couch, grabbing the quilt from the closet and draping it over him. I’d worry about giving him a bath in the morning. That’s if he didn’t disappear sometime in the night.
And if he was still here in the morning—I’d figure out what to do with him in the morning, I decided. It was better to make decisions when I wasn’t in such a gloomy mood, but hell…if I was going to wait that long, I guess I’d have that kid for a few years.
I scowled and made my way upstairs to my room.
I hardly got to the top step when a piercing scream radiated through the house. It had me running down the stairs in a heartbeat. I thought it was an intruder or something like that, but all I saw was one little kid thrashing around on my couch. I almost rolled my eyes and turned around, but the look of pure fear pulsating on his face stopped me.
Rounding the couch, I took hold of the kid’s shoulder. “Hey kid, kid!” I shook him lightly. He thrashed under my touch. “Hey! You’re dreaming!” His black eyes popped open and he looked at me and became still, his small chest heaving in the aftermath. He slowly closed his eyes, turning on his side.
I sighed. What kind of traumas had this boy been through? What had I gotten myself into? I stood, shaking my head. I poured myself a drink—alcohol, of course—and sat down at the dining room. That father I had been so fond of, the one who lied to me over and over about the stars, he had adopted me. Him and his wife. They loved me dearly.
God! Why were these memories and thoughts taking over my mind now? When I didn’t want to think about it? I took my drink and went to my work-space.
It wasn’t really decorated. I could’ve painted the walls or something, to make it more lively, but I knew the color wasn’t going to last long. So I left it white…well, to begin with…now, it was decorated with every color thinkable. When I get frustrated, it seems I threw my brushes and palettes around.
But I think I liked this look better than painting the walls. More livelier. I pulled out an empty canvas and set it on the easel. Frustration either faded away or was created when facing these canvases. Right now, I was hoping my thoughts and frustration would go away.
I thought of drawing one of the members of the baseball team, but the green color I would use for the grass wasn’t on my brush. Instead, it was pale peach. Instead of white cloth with pin-point lines, I found myself making squares of different cloths stitched together. And instead of a stadium filled with dots for the audience, a dark brown couch. I was painting the boy with his agonized filthy face, catching the detail in every stroke. His tightly-shut eyes squeezing out tears, his mouth open in a silent yell, the veins in his small neck stressed against his pale skin. I sighed. Set down my brush. Downed my drink.
This was getting me nowhere. I set my brush and palette down with another sigh.
The boy’s yell sounded after a few minutes of empty silence, and I was thankful for the distraction. He was thrashing again, he made that face that I’d captured on the canvas, again. “Hey kid. Wake up.” I shook him lightly.
“Mommy! Don’t leave!” He yelled. It pierced my heart. “Daddy!” His yells continued. God…what had this boy been through!? And at such a young age!?
I took his hand. “Look, I’m right here.” I said.
“Daddy?” He hiccuped, his voice still a little of a yell, like ‘daddy’ was still far away.
“Yes. Right here. Can’t you feel my hand?” His face was wet, but the agony had left, only filled with painful sorrow. I squeezed his hand. He squeezed back. He sniffed a few times, and then he slipped back into quiet sleep.
He looked really peaceful in his sleep. Without a care in the world now that ‘daddy’ was by his side. He looked so sweet. A young boy. This is how all his nights should be. Quiet, without having to worry that mommy and daddy would abandon him.
This sleeping face captured me too, and all I wanted to do was rush back into the room to paint this angelic kid’s face.
But more than that, without me holding his hand, I had a feeling his nightmare would come back. So I stayed put.
As I said on the forums, this is my first piece from a male POV. Any critique is always welcome!