He had sat at a dinner table. Eating potatoes. With a wife who had once been beautiful. And a daughter who seemed to await the same diminishing fate. It was dark in the room. And silent. There was not much to say anyway. All that had to be said had been in times past. The life they had lost. Their, unanswered, love for the wild ocean. There had been windows and doors in a red-roofed house leading them to the outside world and unexplored worlds. There had been love here once, he thought as he forked another bite and grief filled his heart. Love. And joy. And freedom.
The boy woke up. Thoroughly confused, he looked and felt around, trying to anchor him to that what he knew to be real. What is an ocean? He felt the stretchy fabric of his pajama’s and the thick synthetic wool of his blanket. What is a potato? His cot too, seemed to be the one he had fallen asleep on the evening before. What does a red-roofed house look like? Besides and above him, he saw the bunks of his classmates. They all seemed to be vast asleep still. What does love mean? Carefully, frightened of making any suspicious sounds and waking one of them up, his hand went into the left pocket of his pajama pants. It’s still there, he thought and was relieved it hadn’t been part of his dream. Though it is what caused it, an inside voice he didn’t pay attention to told him. What is freedom?
Blue it was. A much deeper blue than he had ever seen. And though he’d had to hide it away quickly and had only been able to take a closer look in the deep shadows of his cot after Lights Out, he suspected it to be slightly see-through too. Magic, he thought, not knowing what the word meant and wondering how the stone had gotten onto the gated concrete courtyard. Every day they exercised there. Every day, they ran their circles, did their jumping jacks, and pushed their push-ups. All 250 fifteen-year-old boys in his class. As did the fourteen-year olds before them, and the sixteen-year-olds after. Always in the same formation. Always in the same positions. And never before had he seen it. Nor the hole in the concrete it had been in. It was only during the push-ups that he had felt it under his hand. All he could do was eye the captivating blue shimmer between his fingers. After the last one, he had simply closed his hand around it and let it slip into his pocket.
As he let the cornered stone roll around in his palm, he was unaware of the cobalt glow coming from the jewel as he did. Its light safely hidden under the blanket and in the pajama pocket. What he was aware of was the strange dream he’d had. Made even stranger for, as far as he could remember, he had never had a dream before. Nor had he ever heard anyone talk about the phenomenon. Though, this wasn’t too surprising as it was against the Book of Guidelines & Regulations to Being a Good Human Being to speak about the goings-on of the insides of one’s head. But with the many thoughts in his head now, and the many feelings he’d had in his dream, he wondered if he could be now qualified as a Crazy. Fear ran through his system.
Oh no, he thought, not that!
In an instant, he felt his world tumbling down on him. The cot above him was suddenly uncomfortably close. His breathing turned ragged. But I’ve worked so hard at it… At the discipline of analytical thought. At the practice of rational behavior. At the faithful following of all the Guidelines & Regulations. Though the Book nor the teachers had ever really explained what a Crazy was, their warnings for the consequences of being so, had been stern and scary. The sounds of their whips perpetually resounding in his ears. The stories other boys sometimes whispered in the silence of the dark right before oblivion, deepening his dread even more. Though he doubted they were actually true. No way, would Father have them deactivated. No way.
Though he didn’t like them, he was glad to find his worries were still alive and well in him.
Our worries are completely normal, the Book read. It is our worries that motivate us to move forward and do what is right. It is our worries that make sure we stay in line and keep us safe. It is our worries that keep us alive. To fight against them is to fight against Being a Good Human Being. It is, therefore, not permitted to do so.
He recited the paragraph in his mind in an attempt to shift his thoughts from dream to reality and get his heartbeat back to its normal self. From the frightful concepts of freedom and love, whatever they were, to the rhythm and routine of the familiar. It worked, to an extent. His mind calmed down.
The lights switched on, and the bell rang. Get up. Wash face. Take pill. Brush teeth. Go to class. Be on time. Be Normal. Their daily dance had begun once more. If only I could talk to someone…
Bi-weekly, short, fictional stories around a philosophical theme for you to ponder on (or not). The stories are stand-alone, but might just all end up being scenes adding up to a full-blown novel…
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