The following is my initial chapter 1 of The Boy and the Stick.
I’m considering a partial rework for a better flow at the beginning, and making chapter two a bit faster. I’ve found that if I’m not excited to write this portion of the book, this portion of the book must not be exciting. Food for thought I suppose.
There lies a land, a magical land that is, where many live and almost thrive.
They spend their entire existence surrounded by expectant wonder and mystery, while never seeing anything beyond their invisible walls.
Some say, deep in this tree-covered world, that you can find over one-hundred villages, with many still inhabited.
There are other places, empty zones found throughout the green, where disaster had found a willing participant.
No village is the same as another, with only the shared trees to bind them together.
Each walk their own path, and with their own choices and the consequences that inevitably arrive.
This story is about one such village, and The Boy who could never find his destiny.
Chapter 10: The End
The forest shadows lengthened in the morbid moonlight. Two men, standing in an open glade, watch a pile of dust fade away as the evening wind blows mournfully.
“Another one gone” said a man leaning in the shadows.
“Yes” replied the other, “But at least this one made it halfway through, better than the three before”.
The silhouetted man sighed as he walked into the pale beams and closer to the remains, poking through what was once inhabited clothing with a short staff.
“I’d really hoped she could make it through, such a kind girl” He said, his face showing none of the hope he’d just spoken of. He looked up to the purpled sky for answers it wouldn’t give.
“The Boy, you know the one” the other replied slowly, “There’s something strange about him.”
“Maybe that’s for the better” said the shadows, as he re-entered the unrelenting darkness and faded from the forest’s sight.
Chapter 1: The Boy
A sheet of green colored his vision. Pastel greens, muted greens, opaques and transparents. He felt like he was flying over the forest, viewing the world as some great and forgotten god. He knew, should he decide to, he could close this world like the cover of a book. But the forest and its inhabitants were only a part of the puzzle, and there was something else, something driving at the edge of his vision. With each turn that something moved further away, always remaining out of sight. He felt an unending frustration at his inability to grasp more than a glimpse of his elusive partner. Suddenly, a bright scream erupted in his emerald fantasy, driving the chase away.
He opened his eyes. No thoughts escaped their enclosure, no ideas found purchase. The absence of being felt just out of reach. For just a moment in time, he had felt like he fit in the world.
His triangular three-walled room would be called humble by anyone’s standards. Each wall held one of his mother’s oddly-colored paintings, each slightly off center and always depicting an element of the forest, from the trees to strange exiles from the outside. The framing was fanciful, with twists and curves in places that should be straight and edged. Looking at one painting of an impossibly tall tree framed in twisted and lacquered wood, his illusion shattered.
Life has no straight lines he reflected, trying not to recall his previous days failure.
Still lying on his back, The Boy inched upright as if all the villagers were pressing down on his shoulders. Rubbing one hazelnut eye with a graceful hand, an inheritance from his father, he briefly considered laying back down and collapsing into his soft downy mattress, just disappearing from the world entirely. Nobody would miss him, he thought, he could just fade away and melt back into the ground, waiting for the forest to reclaim him.
As the ticks passed with no requested magic apparent, he took a deep and shaky breath. A final consideration of escaping the village battled with an innate need to belong. No person, whether exilet, killer, or village’s greatest failure, wanted to be alone. Everyone needs that sense of what they are and where they fit into life’s pattern. A great wheel, spinning out the thread of possible fates and fated collisions. His fate was undecided, and the prospect not only made it difficult to sleep, but also difficult to get out of bed. A prison created by his own indecision and ill-tidings.
He knew what must be done, but his father’s grim acceptance scared him more than all of the anger he’d seen unleashed in his eleven years of life. It’s not as if his parentage was particularly violent or emotionally disturbed, but no one wants to look into the eyes of an angry parent.
Anger comes and goes he thought to himself, but acceptance settles deep. An odd thought for a niner, with no future prospects and no understanding of what’s to come.
He kicked off the last day’s lambskin socks, and after a fruitless search of over ten ticks, put on his hide shoes and reached for the too-far door handle. It felt like every inch gained from extending his arm was a small victory, outweighing his previous failures. The worn and tarnished brass handle stared at The Boy like a sideways question mark, asking who he thought he was to re-enter the world after yesterday’s events.
He had failed again. Nine up and nine down. The last rejection came from the foresters. Large men in light green clothing, wielding axes and stomping through unexplored parts of The Great Forest, whistling as they went to warn away local creatures. He remembered being given his worn and often used training axe, shown how to hold it, how to swing it just right and in the same knick over and again. Precision is important, so is the angle at which you strike. They made sure to show him the direction a tree falls, and explained what happens when you don’t take care with your initial knicks. Then came time for his first tree.
“She’s da real monsta!” exclaimed the forester. A tall bear of a man with a beard as long as The Boy’s torso. “She’ll take ah-lease twenty knicks from those skinny arms ah urs” he laughed. His outsider accent was almost unintelligible to The Boy.
He looked worriedly at his arms, so white as to seem clear and showing no muscle.
With a shake of his head, The Boy thought, Focus…..Focus…….Eight Down
Stepping up to the tree, he sighted the angle of the fall as he’d been trained. Taking a firm grasp of his axe, as much as he could with trembling hands, he planted his feet and…The brass handle turned. Fresh air breezed from the open circular windows of his home and ruffled The Boy’s dark hair.
Now what had I been thinking of, he wondered too late as his father lifted the pot off the old woodstove and turned to look at him.
There was no anger in his eyes.
The Boy, recalling what he’d just been worried of, tried to say something, anything, to change the downcast and disappointed look in his father’s eyes. His father raised his hand to forestall any talking and placed the porridge on the round and oddly-painted table in front of him. The dirty brown table showed streaks of aquamarine and turquoise, another of his mother’s art projects that filtered throughout the house. Sitting down, he wondered how long his father would continue the silent treatment.
Nine up, nine down. That was the saying in the village, though he’d never thought to ask what happened to the niners. Nine separate tests and nine distinct failures. They called them aptitude tests, a way of telling what job you’d best fit into.
There weren’t only nine jobs in the whole village of course, just different fields of work that fell within their expertise or type. You could be a soldier, only not just a soldier but a spearman, only not just a spearman but a spearman officer.
His father was a surgeon. He had never seen a flame sputter out so sadly, as when his father learned he’d failed the healing test. It was only three years ago, although time seemed to distend with each failed test. The porridge grew colder as his mind traveled back to his first.
He ran as fast as he could, legs pumping and bursting into a smile as he wound his way from his basics classroom to his squat home. Sliding under a too-tall fence line obviously not built by the carpentry sect, he approached his brown house and let out a loud,
Reaching his home, he twisted the cool metal handle and flung the door aside.
The Boy raced in, finding his father in the kitchen.
“It’s the day!” He said excitedly, hazelnut eyes beaming as an unrestrained grin flew onto his face. His father laughed, patting him gently on the back and nodding.
“You’ll do great, I’m sure of it” he encouraged, “it’d be nice to have another healer in the family”. Putting his hands gently under The Boy’s arms, his father lifted him up in a little spin, making his legs stretch to their fullest and incidentally knocking a small flour bag to the floor.
“My fault, my fault” lamented his father as he bent down to clean up the mess. “Maybe you’ll even be a surgeon like your dad”
“Now Now” a soft voice intoned from the craft room, “There’s nothing wrong with being a carpenter either”. The Boy’s mother smiled at him as she entered the kitchen, her lighter shade of hazelnut eyes reflecting joy at seeing him home from school. As his mother entered the kitchen, a combined smell of the forest and soap entered with her, a scent he’d always associate with his mother’s love.
“Think of all you can build sweetie, there’s nothing quite like carpentry. All the world is my playground and all the village is my canvas.” To prove her point she slapped the family’s dinner table, its round shape an invitation to all.
“I put a lot of love into crafting this table, it was a pure joy to work with, and I can’t wait to paint it.”
The Boy sighed internally. He wasn’t sure which of the sects he wanted to join, honestly he’d be happy with any that were willing to take him in. He wasn’t too tall, wasn’t too muscular, and wasn’t too smart from what he’d heard in his teacher’s whispers. Maybe he had a hidden talent, one he didn’t even know of. Either way he had nine chances.
Recalling what his mother was speaking of, he said “You’re talking like the table was your partner mom, when really it was just a tree who was unfortunately knocked down.”
“Nonsense” his mother admonished, adopting a stern look she said, “You looked like you were barely listening, so listen again. That tree spoke to me, told me what it could be and what I could do with it. I spent a long time walking through that part of the forest, trying to find a new partner. Woodworking is a constant reminder of who I am, and who I can be as I shape nature to my will. When you take your carpentry test, I truly hope the wood will speak to you as well” She couldn’t hold the look on her darling son’s face, slowly melting into his cherished smile.
The Boy took this opportunity to take a mental image of his mother at that moment. Freezing the way her lips moved from a line to a soft curve and the way her eyes were focused right on his, stamping the portrait in his mind.
“Bahh” his father groaned from the doorway, already wearing his cream colored healer smocks.
“Why work with wood, when you can work with organs!” he exclaimed, making the boy giggle. “Think of all you’ll learn as a healer, think of all the good you can do for the village”.
His father, one of the tallest men in the village, was the lead surgeon of the healer sect. His blonde hair almost brushed against the top of the middling house’s door, and he was constantly banging his head into random objects throughout the house. The Boy wasn’t too sure his mother hadn’t placed decorations at this father’s height.
“Never have I doubted what I wanted to do son” he gushed. ”It was a calling that defined who I was from the moment my mother bore me and the midwife declared me sound.” as he said this, he cradled his arms as if holding a newborn.
The Boy’s father walked over and hugged his wife, whispering something he couldn’t hear and kissing his mother on the cheek. When he again looked at his son, it seemed like something shifted. He stood taller, placing his hands on his hips and affecting a serious visage.
Taking a deep breath he said, “I’m not certain you’ll be a healer son, you’ve never shown a knack for the study of the body or a passion for healing in general.”
He looked at the ceiling as if staring directly into the past.
“I remember one time, I asked you to bandage your mother’s hand when she’d cut it on an old saw, I only stepped out for a moment, and when I came back to check on your progress, you were bandaging the wrong hand! I couldn’t understand it for the life of me!” He couldn’t help but laugh, blue eyes twinkling.
The Boy’s mother laughed as well.
“That was my fault honey. He kept staring at the blood on my hand and I was worried he may be a fainter, so I had him practice by wrapping my good hand.” To emphasize that nothing bad had happened, she lifted her right hand to show the now-small scar. “Everything turned out just fine in the end”.
“Ya dad” poked The Boy. “Mom said if I’m gonna be a healer I need to practice”.Taking on an imperial tone, he said “Practice makes perfect”, as he strikes a pose not dissimilar to his father’s previous stance.
“You got me there pal” said the father, a special grin flowing onto his face.
The Boy smiled inwardly, recognizing that smile as one his father reserves for the best of times. Today was going to be a wonderful day.
The light in the house began to shift as the sun rose further in the day. Bright beams lanced through the nine-paned windows of the house and splashed the family with a reminder of what was to come.
“We need to head over to your test, son” reminded the father. “I truly hope you’ll be a healer, but if that’s not how the leaves fall for you, then I’m sure one of the other eight will fill that gap in your future. Always remember, we’re made with a singular purpose in mind. We don’t decide that purpose, but we can decide how we serve it. I choose to heal the people of our village with a joy in my heart and a hope that they’ll get better. To me, there is no greater accomplishment than not seeing one of my patients again in the near future.”
“And I choose to keep us connected to The Great Forest through my work in the village” declared his mother. “For what greater calling can there be, than to connect with the world and find your place within it.” She said all this while rubbing the table with her palm, recalling each part of its construction.
No matter which I get, the other will be disappointed, thought The Boy as he looked from one to another. If I’m a carpenter, father will feel I’ve missed out on his calling, if I’m a healer, mother will feel I’m disconnected from the world.
After thinking for a moment, he said, “I’m sure whichever of the nine I’m placed in will be what’s right for me. It’s not like I’m a niner.”
A shudder passed through both of his parents at the mention. They looked at each other in synchrony, and in silent agreement said nothing of the dreaded outcasts. Niners weren’t spoken of in the village, that was village council business and no others.
The awkward moment was broken by his mother, “Well that won’t be you sweetheart, you’re much too smart and talented to fall out of our world. Lets only think of good things, maybe you’ll be a healer like your father after all” she conceded, trying to take the conversation away from things better left unspoken of.
The Boy’s father looked at the sun rays striking the floor and soberly reached a manicured hand out to his son as he opened the front door with another. Taking his father’s hand, they walked through the portal together and into the village, heading down a pale dirt road toward the center. While walking to his first testing, he asked his father why he always kept his nails so pristine.
“It’s a simple thing really. There are monsters in our world which can make you sick, and when I’m operating on someone, I have to make sure my hands are as clean as possible so my patient doesn’t become even more sick than they were before. To really do a great job, there’s a trick to it”
Regretfully, he let go of his son’s hand and showed how surgeons wash from the middle of their palms outward, never going back toward the center.
“You never go back to the middle, that way you’re pushing the little sickness ever outward. We didn’t really know about these things until a traveler came by and told us what another village was doing and what results they’d seen. It’s quite strange that we’d never thought of this before, but nonetheless only a few of our patients get sick after a successful operation anymore. It really is some wonderful knowledge. Keep your hands clean, and your patients will heal better”
The two walked under an arch that identified their portion of the village, this particular arch had the words Brightest Stars in his mother’s odd paint style stamped across the wood. Their family lived in the mixed part of The Village. While most families tended to be from only one sect, his father and mother had met at a village meeting and fell in love. The story they tell, and all too often, was nauseating, but it helped him to see how life can take you in unexpected directions.
While thinking of how small details like clean hands can be so important, he recalled what his father had skipped over before, “A traveler came here? I thought we didn’t allow outsiders into the village?”
“You don’t miss much, we let some in” replied the father, as he put a hand on his son’s shoulder and thought for a moment.as they passed out of the residential part of the village.
“This is important and you’d learn it after passing your test normally, but you’re a smart kid and I think you’ll understand this. Travelers have to have something we need. This particular traveler was moving from one place to another, collecting different types of useful knowledge. Many of the sects gained useful information, and thus we gave the traveler things we’d learned, as well as extra supplies and a place to sleep for the night.It’s called mutually beneficial helping son. And it’s not just the knowledge-sharers, we also allow in anyone with special goods, and sometimes we even allow outsiders who have nowhere else to go. But we have to look them over well and make sure they’re not exiles.”
“Exiles” asked The Boy.
“Exiles are creatures, monsters, or abnormal people from other villages in The Great Forest. We don’t want to be heartless, and say nobody can ever come here for help or by great need. But we also don’t really know what’s out there, so the village created a screening system where the head of each sect and the elder sit in council, and decide what tests to perform on the outsider, or even what questions to ask.”
They stopped for a moment and his father took a knee in the pale white dirt. He reached over and grabbed a nearby stick and began drawing on the ground. He worked slowly, sketching a room with nine seats and one larger seat above them all. They each had one of the sect symbols on them, while the front of the room had a box that faced the rest.
“It’s all very organized and fair, or so I’m told.” He said as he added little details. “It’s also important to gain new villagers from time to time, just so we don’t all go crazy seeing the same people every day. Whenever an outsider is allowed in, it’s a great cause of celebration and conversation. You’ll remember that family who lived next to us a few years ago, the soldier was an outsider, though as he was from a nearby village his accent wasn’t very strong. ”
The Boy remembered the family, their eldest had just passed his soldier test and was working his way up the enlisted ranks quickly from what his father had told him. They’d moved when his father was promoted to senior officer, putting them closer to the soldiering sect.
“But I never saw the celebrations. I’ve never even been told that outsiders are allowed in before this. Is it some kind of big secret?”
“No, not as much a secret as you’d think. As you pass your test, a lot of things become apparent very quickly. You learn more of the history of the village, how things work, and what your role is within it. Outsiders aren’t some kind of taboo, it’s just a rare occurrence is all.”
He finished speaking at the same time as he finished drawing the room. The podium at the front had a sigil The Boy had never seen before, three lines shaped like waves crossing three straight lines.
“I’m not as good at drawing as your mother, but I think it’s passable.”
“It’s more than passable dad” said The Boy, marveling at the precision with which his father drew. The room seemed to leap out of the ground and come alive in front of his eyes.
“If you can draw it this well, does that mean you’ve sat in on a test?”
“I’ve sat in on more than a few son, but I won’t be in yours, it wouldn’t be fair to you or the village.” His father looked at him and ruffled his hair, standing up and brushing at his cream smock to make sure no dirt still clung.
“Come along, we need to be sure we’re not late” He said, reaching his hand out to his son again.
To make up for time they traveled silently, passing through the outer rim and it’s mix of sect workshops. The closer to the center they traveled, the more nervous The Boy became. Soon his palm felt like a greasy dish he hadn’t washed after dinner, and his father had to let go of his hand, albeit doing so with a grin.
“You’ll be fine” he encouraged, though The Boy wasn’t so sure.
As they approached the center, the grounding tree came into view. The Boy had read of the tree in his classes, and his parents spoke of it as if it were a family member. It wasn’t tall , nor particularly beautiful, with its angled exit toward the sky and whorled spots on its tough bark. As the two walked by, The Boy noticed whorled roots jutting out of the dirt and at a direction from the grounding tree. The village had laid their buildings around the roots, and they extended for as far as The Boy could see. The books said it was as old or even older than the village itself. Before there were buildings, before there were families putting down their own roots, this tree had watched over them all. It’s like the tree was the true center of the village itself, connecting them all to one point.
They arrived at the front of the center, the meeting center that is, standing behind a tawny-haired woman in a pink herbalist smock and her daughter. In looking at the two The Boy felt some tension bleed away. He wouldn’t be the only applicant today.
To pass the time, he looked past the two and toward the large stone building ahead. The center stood tall, built into the shape of a circle with large ebony blocks, seeming a stark contrast to the neon-blue sky overhead. Each of the blocks were inscribed with the nine sects in a shield-like pattern and had buttresses to support the massive weight of the all-important location.
The village didn’t build in stone normally, preferring its wood and lacquer surroundings. He had only known the village armory was made of stone because of his neighbours, and his father often talked of the clinic. To find a third stone building made The Boy realize those were all locations to run to in case of an emergency. The center for leadership to make decisions, the armory for the soldiers and the clinic for the wounded or hurt. Real hard to set fire to stone.
All too soon the two in front disappeared at the wave of a tester. The girl looked to be a few years older than him, so she hadn’t passed a test yet. The village began testing at the age of nine, when children started to transform into who they were meant to be. The first test just after the ninth birthday, and if you don’t pass you get another chance with a different sect every four months. Niners are those who fail their last.
An indiscriminate amount of time passed as they waited for the first test. The Boy’s father, with all the patience of his training, stood resolutely with feet spread and hands clasped behind his back. He never turned to speak with him, just looked at the center as if he were staring at a battlefield and all the wounded he’d have to care for. The Boy began doing a breathing exercise his mother had shown him, deep breaths through his nose and letting the air pass from his mouth without effort. She said it was for when he was scared or nervous. The trick helped a little, as he focused only on his breathing and not what was ahead.
The black door of the center didn’t turn open as much as slid aside, gliding on some kind of pulley system he guessed, though it made no sound and must’ve been incredibly heavy. A man in a cream-colored smock gestured for them to enter with little expression on his face.
He must perform this duty constantly, always inviting in those who may one day join his profession. I wonder if he knows my dad, thought The Boy.
As they walked into the door, he looked behind him to see more kids around his age lined up for their own tests. I hope I don’t look as nervous as they do.
The two walked into the center, father letting his son go before him. The man told his father, in a neutral and not entirely unfriendly way, to sit in the waiting room. He then began walking at a quick pace toward another door, this one in a creamy gray. Placing his hand against the door, a soft click sounded and it slid away, opening to a bright room occupied by a woman in the cream-colored smocks of the healers.
I can do this, thought The Boy. Even if I don’t pass there’s still plenty to do. He thought of all the different sects, each clicking in his head like a coin in a jar. Looking closely at the woman in front of him, he noticed gold bands on the wrists of her clothes. His father as the lead surgeon had the same bands on his smock. The tester had a dark olive complexion and a special tilt to her eyes, giving her an exotic look The Boy hadn’t seen before.
“Welcome, my name is Jahuedra, and I work with your father. I’m the lead generalist and I’ll be conducting your testing” she said. “Before we begin, as this is your first test, do you have any questions that don’t pertain directly to the test itself, or do you have any sickness that needs to be attended to?”.
Looking into the woman’s eyes, The Boy said, “Which test, if I don’t pass, would I be going to next?”
“Don’t you think, with your father’s role in the village, that you’d be a healer?” She asked without answering her question.
“I’m not sure. My father doesn’t know if I’ll be a healer, my mother wants me to be a carpenter.”
The tester came closer and looked at him with tilted grass-green eyes. “What do you want to be? What do you feel is your calling?”
The Boy looked inside, not the way a nine year old should be able to do. He looked down into the depths of his soul, into the spark that forms the core of all living beings in The Great Forest. He felt a vibration in his chest, as if it was calling out to some other part of the world and waited on a response. When a short time had lapsed and nothing came back, The Boy looked up into the tester’s patient eyes yet again and said, “I don’t know”.
She smiled. “That takes courage, child. I can’t tell you how many calamities would be stopped or people saved if those in charge could admit their lack of knowledge. Self-knowledge being the most precious of all. If you have no other questions or issues, let’s move onto the test.”
“But you never told me what the second test is?”
She let out a laugh that flew from her belly, deep and true, “right you are child. It’s carpentry next.”
The Boy smiled and together they moved over to a man sitting on a healer’s table at the side of the room. The table was nothing special, just a wooden slab designed to have the cloth covering it ripped away and replaced as quickly as possible. The table’s back was lifted and locked in place with a special design, allowing the man, or patient in this case, to sit upright without any stress.
He looked at the man, who with light brown hair and healer smocks, seemed perfectly at ease. At a nod from the tester, he laid back on the table and placed his arm on a piece of wood extended for just that purpose. The man took a deep breath and closed his eyes as the tester brought over a small platform on wheels.
“Each test is up to the discretion of the tester. The tester is always a leader in their own sect, as we need to make sure that those with experience get the first crack at a testee’s hidden potential. I’m told your father’s test was extraordinary.”
“What did he do?” asked The Boy.
“From what i’m told, the tester asked him what he should do if someone has a foreign object suddenly pierced into their abdomen. Your father’s response delighted the tester so much, that he took a small knife and rammed it into his own side just so he could see how your father performed. We don’t conduct tests so gruesomely anymore thankfully, but I believe it made quite the impression on your father.”
The Boy looked worriedly at the small platform, which held an assortment of what he assumed were medical tools, although he didn’t know what they would do or were called. As he looked, the tester picked up a small crescent-shaped knife.
“Your test is rather simple in comparison to your fathers. I’m going to make a small incision on our volunteer’s arm, don’t worry I already explained the process to him and he’s accepted the…..scratch if you will. Once I’ve cut him, I want you to think things over and find two ways to stop the bleeding, then perform them for me. Do you understand?”
The Boy couldn’t believe his luck, shaking with excitement at all his new possibilities unfolding before him. His father had already told him of four different ways to stop a shallow bleed, and now that he better understood the test, he just might become a healer afterall.
“I understand” he said, trying to hold his emotions in check and not on his face.
The healer nodded once, moved over to the volunteer and after sliding his smock higher up his arm, made a small but precise cut to the arm resting on the extended table. Stepping back, she placed the cutting tool back onto the platform and turned to look at The Boy.
“Now, what do you do?”
Thinking for a moment, The Boy said, “I-I can raise his arm above his head to slow it down, um…while also wrapping it tightly to try to stop any more bleeding, I think.”
Her smile was glorious and he felt his heart bouncing around in his chest. “Very well, please perform what you have just stated”.
He looked at the platform and found the cloth near the back, bound in a tight fold. Unrolling the bandage, he moved over to his patient. His Patient! His! This is it! He was going to be a healer!
Stepping up to the table, he moved to grab the volunteers, or patients, wrist to lift it above his head, while his eyes looked closely at the cut on his arm. A brief gust tickled the back of his neck. Something struck him, something deep in his mind. The cut became a blurry sea of red, a lazy red river flowing when it should be dam’d up. What….what’s happening? He turned away, and down, landing squarely on his face with a loud crack before darkness swallowed his world.
He awoke later in the evening, lying in his three-walled room. His face, particularly his nose, felt like a tree had fallen on it. Sitting up gingerly, he felt at the burning pain before he was interrupted by loud sounds nearby. His parents were arguing, although it was hard to make-out what they were saying. Gingerly standing up, he quietly moved closer to the door in an attempt to hear. He cracked the door open and peered through the light, regretting it almost instantly.
“He should’ve been a healer! He’s never fainted before, not ever. Was he drugged? How did this happen! Nothing about this makes sense. It feels like sabotage!”
That was his father, screaming in a voice several notes higher than The Boy had heard before. Each statement was accompanied by his father throwing his hands angrily in the air. So he had fainted. He was right, The Boy had never fainted before, at least not that he remembered. What had happened? He was so close! He was sure something had happened though, something absolutely wrong.
“It’s not his fault. Maybe it just develops, I don’t know. But there’s still eight more to go. It’s okay honey, no, no, it’s okay.” his mother consoled the distraught man.
Just before The Boy turned around to lie down again, his father abruptly looked at him peering from the crack. His father’s red tinged eyes were filled with tears. The image shook his soul.
This isn’t right.
The sounds of his father’s weeping brought a sudden sharpness to The Boy’s thoughts, bringing him back to the terrible present. That was three years ago, three years of failure. He couldn’t take it anymore, he would suffer no more of its kind. He looked at his silent father cleaning up the kitchen, and decided he didn’t want to know what happens to niners.
He’d escape tonight.
I'm a high school English teacher in Texas. I also hold degrees in radiography and radio and television broadcasting. Though I obtained certain knowledge and skills from my prior degrees, I do not currently use them.