Monday, December 27, 2010

Nick - Running Out Of Ink

You couldn't really call it a town. "Desolate collection of huts" would be a more apt description. Surrounded on all sides by vast plains, it was literally not on any maps. The town I grew up in. Where my story begins and ends.

No one ever visited or left. There could be no travel, no contact with anyone; we were more than a week's walk from the nearest town. My parents had taught me from childhood that I couldn't safely leave; that I would have to stay and take over my father's farm as he aged. And that was fine with me. I was a timid child, vying for my parents' approval and I was born without a lust for adventure.

Everyone knew everyone, although the only other children my age were my best friend Kuuzon and a loud girl named Odessa, both of whom I saw very often due to the closeness of the families here.

From youth, the only real entertainment I had besides farm work was playing with Kuuzon, by which I mean wrestling and fighting with sticks. Kuuzon, although two years younger than me, was naturally better than me at everything we tried. Rarely would I win in any of our competitions; but it didn't matter to me. I was timid, and more than happy to leave the glory to him.

Odessa I never had a close relationship with. I had a crush on her starting in my early teens. Timid as I was, I never acted on it.

Oblivious to the world, I did what I did best: coexisted. Did farm work. Lost to Kuuzon in wrestling matches. I existed in this state for a very long time, but I gradually began to gain a sense of awareness of the people around me near the age of 18. Kuuzon was very clearly the dominant personality in our relationship; he was the leader, and I the follower. And it became clear to me over time that he was starting to get a little bored of me.

My father, too, I began to notice more acutely. And I could see for the first time in my life that he was disappointed. Not angry, upset, or sad, just shrouded in a dim cloud of disappointment that he had long ago resigned himself to. He had come to terms with the complacent and unimpressive nature of his son, and was no longer bothered by it.

None of this was terribly troubling to me until the day my father went to ask Kuuzon's father for a deal; Kuuzon would take over working on my father's farm, and I would help his family with their cows. I knew that I was weak. And I knew that this work would be better for me; that I would be better suited to tending livestock. But the impact of seeing my own father acknowledge my inadequacy changed something inside of me.

I went on a walk to think about things. I knew that I had no ambition, and that, physically, I was lacking for a farm hand. But I had always done my best to be compassionate and understanding. To be there for my family. And as I was thinking all of this, I ran into Odessa, who joined me on my walk. And she asked if anything was wrong.

I said no. It was a lie, and a terrible one. But my emotions couldn't overcome my nature, and I was shy. We walked the rest of our journey in silence. I escorted her home. I walked into my house and gathered some food and belongings. Nobody noticed.

And then I left.

. . .

I didn't leave in hope of finding anything. I left because I realized there was nothing left to find. It was more akin to suicide than anything else. I fully expected to fade away, out of sight and out of mind.

And I should have died out there. I told myself that every day. I very nearly starved, but I ate weeds and eventually reached a town. I sat in the streets and took what I could find in the garbage. I had never seen anything akin to a large town, but I was never impressed by the sight. My eyes were only half open. I was living, was always living, in the quiet disappointment of my home.

And then a miracle happened. I went from that town to another town. And another one. And I didn't die. And then I killed an animal that attacked me. And I killed some bad men who tried to take my belongings from me. And I got caught up in something so big that it out-scaled anything I could ever be, anyone I could ever know.

I saved the world. I won't bore you with the details, but I rose to the occasion with a strength I didn't and don't have. There was a crisis, there was a plot of such deadly menace that it would have ended everything. And I got caught up in it. I killed people. I fought and won. I saved the world.

And I still, in my head, was stuck in my home. It took an event of such scale as that to put the idea in my mind that I could actually go back. I had to become a hero before I had even considered confronting my shame.

So, the most important times of my life behind me, I headed back home.

. . .

As I walked back into town, the first person I ran into was Odessa. And even she had heard of my feats, here in the middle of nowhere. I was a hero. And inwardly, I basked in the knowledge that I would finally be loved. That maybe now she would see that I am, and had been a hero the whole time.

But she looked at me as if I were new and strange and foreign; as if she were frightened. I was a little perturbed by this, but not surprised. Of course she would be shocked. I was a hero now, I was changed. It would take a little while to sink in. I left her shocked to go home and visit my parents, looking forward to the moment when I would talk to her again.

I entered my parents' house. I walked in triumphantly as my mother and father were eating a meal. I grinned, expecting joy; I raised my arms and gave a loud greeting.

I again see shock written on their faces.

"We had thought you were dead," Dad says repeatedly.

And then, at that moment, Kuuzon walks in. My one and only friend. The one whom I had missed, whom I had looked forward to meeting again. I stretched out my arms, ready to embrace him. Taken aback, he remained motionless and stunned for a moment before returning the gesture. He really was trying to act happy to see me, I could tell.

I asked him to come outside and wrestle with me, for old times' sake; and he did. I pinned him down easily; I had come a long way.

I laughed childishly; this was probably the most joyful I had every been. I was back, and I was better than I had ever been. I had become what everyone had wanted me to be. Kuuzon laughed back, but it was nervous and forced.

He wasn't
happy for me, he was only intimidated. I had left in anger, a meek but compassionate individual, devoid of amibition. I had been gone, dead, but remembered fondly. And now I had returned, changed. No one had wanted me to become a hero. They hadn't wanted anything of me.

I could see it in his eyes. I could see it in everyone's eyes.

They wish it wasn't me.


1 comment:

  1. I love how the thing that is obviously and by far the most significant part of his life - as well as being fundamentally important to the story - is ignored. Super interesting. And awesome ending.

    Also, I want to know what part of the world uses common names that span from Odessa to Kuuzon.