Saturday, March 5, 2011

Short Fiction: He Stood in the Shadows which I write extemporaneously...

He stood in the shadows, behind the wall, listening to the faint conversation. They would soon finish, murmur words of satisfaction, and leave. New ones would take their place, and he'd hear the cycle start anew. He found it interesting, the way the Master conducted the room. For long stretches, hours sometimes, he would hear only silence. But sometimes--as though silently beckoned--the adjacent space would swell with activity, bringing an exciting new array of sounds. Listening to the voices individually was a skill he'd quickly learned, though the speakers' words remained foreign to him. He always became excited for these loud times. The loud times brought the smells. Pressing his nose against the drywall, pressing so hard that his face would become sore, he gathered what he could of the sensations that were, he imagined, so clear on the other side. The smells made his mouth water, his heartbeat race; they made his breaths deep and intentional. He savored these moments; there were all he had to look forward to besides sleeping, which he also enjoyed.

My Boy knows nothing outside of the shadows, the noises, the smells. Eating the morsels which appear during his sleep, relieving himself down a small grate, the excitement of the lunch and dinner rushes, this is his life. Existing in a space barely large enough to stand, let alone to lay down, sit, or move, has changed his body. He stands now, at all times, though not through the strength of muscle and bone. The confining walls have become a mold into which he has been poured; his legs, useless for anything but small movements back and forth. If he knew the truth of his situation, that his entire life will be spent in a crawlspace, he would weep. But his ignorance, his devotion, keeps him happy. If he knew that the voices on the other side were just like him, but free, what would he think? It would destroy him. Would it be cruel to release him from his prison, to show him the world which had been locked from him? Yes, of course. I made the choice for him long ago, and it cannot be changed.  My son will never--never!--be taken by the cruelness and sin of the world. I have given him a life for which so many of us yearn. His care and love will come only through me and he will know nothing of evil.

To protect him fully, I have locked him away.

[Note: Wow, what a weird story that turned out to be. Sorry if it got a bit dark, I wasn't sure where it was going until I was nearly done. Somehow, the idea of a boy trapped between walls in a crappy restaurant and what life would be like in that situation just came to me. Kind of a Plato's Cave sort of story. Anyway, I think I'll quit before it gets any creepier. Good night, all.]

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