Monday, December 10, 2007

Loop

A boy sits in a park away from the other children who are playing a game with a ball. He watches blankly as they run madly about, laughing at their own antics. A man walks by, not old, but old in the eyes of the boy. He stops and also watches the game for a few moments before turning his attention to the boy.

“What’s the matter, boy? Why don’t you play with the other children?”

Boy shrugs.

“You look sad. You’re too young to be sad.”

Boy shrugs again. “I am sad.”

Man sits down next to the boy and together they look on at the children and the ball and the rules they all must follow.

“Why sad? Open up. Find the words. Tell me about your sadness.”

Boy thinks for a long time while the old man waits patiently.

“It’s not sad, really, it’s just not happy. Not right? Something feels not right.”

“You don’t fit in? You’re not like the others.”

“That’s it. And I want to be like the others. I like the way they are. I like how they laugh and how they know things and how they are so good at... um... they’re all so different. It’s like someone told them who to be, and so they know. I think I wasn’t listening when they told me who to be.”

“You daydream.”

“Yes.” Boy squirms a little.

“To escape.”

“I don’t know. It just happens. I get into trouble for it. I get into trouble for a lot of things.”

“I see. What do you daydream about?”

“Don’t know. Different things. Happy things. Sad things. Collecting words that feel the same. I don’t know.”

Old man smiles at this. “You’ve started, you just don’t know it yet.”

Boy looks at the man. “Started what”

“Your journey.”

Boy shakes his head a little. “But I’m stuck here in this place. Trapped in this house I don’t like with a family that just isn’t right. I’m not going anywhere. At least not to anywhere you’d bother going to.”

“Don’t be so glum. You have a happy heart, you just don’t know it yet.”

“How do you know that?”

“I know things.”

“What things do you know?”

“Oh... I know the kind of things that make a young boy sad. I know about his daydreams and his longing. I know that lost feeling and that sense of not belonging.”

Boy is staring at the man now, seeing things in his eyes. “You look sad, old man, but happy at the same time. How can you be sad and happy at the same time?”

“They go hand in hand. Can’t have one without the other. Let me tell you something, since you weren’t listening when they told you who to be. Are you listening?”

Boy nods.

“You will feel this way for a very long time. You will be confused and quite alone. Your quiet nature will be misinterpreted in a number of ways. Your journey will take you to unexpected places and you will feel at times that if it doesn’t get any better there is simply no point. But at those times you must remember to keep going. Keep going even though you cannot see the resting place you are looking for. Understand?”

“But why? Why keep going if there’s no happiness.”

“Because things will change. Things will happen one by one. Good things. Good people. Love and laughter and music... these three things will come to define you. Not at once, but slowly, slowly. You will collect words that will make people laugh and make them cry. You will drink in the music and be awed by it. You will meet famous musicians and others not so famous who will become friends. You will do things you can’t imagine right now, things that, as an old man, will cause you to smile a sad smile as you look back and see how it all turned out after all.”

Boy thinks about this. His hands are under his thighs and his legs kick back and forth.

“Will there be a person for me. You know...”

Old man tips his head back briefly. “Ah yes. You are blessed that way. You will have love from a truly lovely being. But don’t ever take her for granted. You will take her for granted but try not to. And friends. You will have golden friends.

“Okay. That is a thing to look forward to.”

“Indeed. Indeed it is a thing to look forward to. And don’t hurt her. You will hurt her, but try not to hurt her.”

Boy is silent. He can’t imagine this. He can’t imagine anything so good as his own special person. Someone he loves. Someone who loves him.

A long silence as though nothing more needs to be said. Boy frowns. Old man stands and adjusts his collar. Time to go.

“Old man?”

“Yes, boy?”

“How do you know these things?

Old man turns and winks and climbs onto his zebra. He turns and dips his hat and chuckles to himself as he trots off into the sunset.

"Yeehaw!"

Crack of whip.

*

A man walks through a park. He sees a group of children playing soccer. He smiles and recalls a memory. He sees a boy sitting alone and recognises something about him.

“What’s the matter, boy? Why don’t you play with the other children?”

9 comments:

Guyana-Gyal said...

Is this fiction? Is this real? Was the boy you? No, you don't have to answer.

I remember once, when I was little, I was sitting on the steps of our home, crying. A man, an American Catholic priest came by and saw me crying. He was so sweet, trying to find out why I was crying. Now everytime I see a child crying I try to make him / her smile.

quick said...

That is such a good thing to do, GG. Whenever I see a kid crying I'm all, "Ooh - it's so damned tragic isn't it. What's the matter - you got some bird poo on your new red shoes and now the entire fucking world might as well end? Because listen up, kid, some children get born on war-torn countries and have their legs blown COMPLETELY off and they can never wear their shoes again... at least not on their feet. So think about it for a bit before you start your bawling - do you have to wear your new shoes on your hands? No? Well then shut the fuck UP!"

I think maybe you are a better person than I am, GG.

Burd said...

I love this story Grumpy. It made me want to sit on your floor by your sofa drinking Tooheys and maybe punch your arm a little bit. Really love it. Makes my heart swell a little.

meva said...

It's a toss-up which story I like the best. The one you posted, or the one in the comments here. Both are terrific. I like all your personalities, Mr Quick.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Nope, I ain't a better person than you. I just happen to like children and feel sorry for them. Not the spoilt brats though...actually that would be a good thing to tell them...about the kids in war-torn countries.

quick said...

Thank you Bird. That has given me a nasty little pang of imissyoo, and try not to let that happen these days.

I am glad you like it. I had to interview this guy called The Space Cowboy for a story, but suddenly this thing started unfolding in my head and I was all ooh hang on a tick and let me get in front of the computer. Had to put Space Cowboy off even though the deadline was that night. I might go back and re-work it a little. There are loads of possibilities in there.

Hello Meva, and thank you. It's a pretty safe bet that I almost certainly would never probably actually say that to a child.

GG I like aspects of children, and certainly I like them in stories. In real life I just haven't had much to do with them and I find they're almost never as engaging as the ones in stories. Sometimes they do things that melt my heart, other times the above comment indicates the kind of thing they make me think.

Y said...

Just beautiful! More please :)

quick said...

Exactly what I think after eating your creations, Y.

Y said...

Heh. You're too kind. What ARE you on?? :-D