Thursday, May 13, 2010

MOM CALLED HIM A GIFT

First things first.  Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and vote for "Flying Colors" at Chad's Site.  I won! I received the beautiful collection of graphic novels and The Deputy by Victor Gischler. 

Second.  I had a dream this morning that I bumped into Stephen King and he liked me, offered to do something special for me, but then got called away to an event that I didn't have a ticket for.  I woke from this dream, thrilled that I had met Stephen King--you know how dreams do that to you?  Anyhow, FedEx delivers a package from my sister who lives in Florida.  She went to a special event (which I couldn't go to), heard Stephen King speak, got me an autographed copy of Under the Dome and a framed photograph of my inspiration signing books.  Sometimes, dreams really do come true.

Okay, it's been a couple weeks since I've participated but a story idea came to mind.  Enjoy this week's 3WW and #fridayflash.

MOM CALLED HIM A GIFT

Matt stared straight ahead as he and Ted passed the gawking woman. "I wish they wouldn't stare," Matt said. Ted shrugged and overlooked the woman's magnified eyes and gaping mouth. Matt tried to act natural as he glided behind Ted.

"Let's take the shortcut," Matt whispered. Ted nodded. The two left the sidewalk and cut through the overgrowth to the old trestle. Once under the spotty light, Matt felt more at ease, hopping and dashing in between leaves and around branches. Ted ignored his antics and concentrated on the path. 

"Why do they always stare?" Matt waited for Ted's answer, but Ted only shook his head as they walked onto the bridge. Matt kept to his heels.

A couple slats had rotted, a gaping hole framing the chortling river below. "The current's strong. See the eddies?" Matt hugged the edge, wrapped his body around a vertical support. He envied Ted's fearlessness.

Ted rocked from heels to toes, swung his arms, sight-measured the distance. Don't jump, don't do it, Matt thought. Both heard the loud crack. Ted sprang forward as the cross-slat snapped.

"AAAHHHHH!" Matt hollered, his body weightless as he fell. A secret part of him wondered if Ted wasn't fearless at all but reckless, maybe even malicious. Did Ted jump on purpose, knowing Matt couldn't? The river's chortle grew to a derisive roar; Matt never heard his splash. He didn't feel the wet as he melted into the swells. A sharp tug flew him upwards. Matt found himself on the bridge again, dry.

"Thanks man," Matt offered, wanting to hug him, but knew Ted would only shrug him off.

They emerged in the town center, Ted walking in the glaring sunlight while Matt shrunk against his friend's back. "I thought you didn't want us to be seen?" he asked, but Ted stayed focused, intent on the library. After Ted got a book, they'd return home, away from the stares and the frightened faces. Matt tried his best to go unnoticed, but others noticed—they always noticed. Maybe someday Matt would run into someone that looked like him, though he was losing hope.

He'd stick with Ted, try his best to avoid others and thus avoid causing a scene. Ted hated scenes. 

Sometimes Matt wondered if Ted wished he didn't exist. He never dared to ask. Matt tried, he really tried to give Ted his space, let him go out alone, but Matt just couldn't. Irrational, maybe, but he feared that without his companion, he would disappear.

Ted found the self-help section, shook his head, moved on to astronomy. "What're we doing here?" Matt asked, but his reticent companion ignored him as he scanned titles. Moving towards mythology, Ted paused, cocked his head. A woman's animated voice caught Matt's attention too. Ted crept along the aisle, nearing the children's room.

Matt peeked around the corner, saw it was story time. The woman turned the page, smiled at the seated children. On the book's cover, a boy with a leafy hat and green tunic flew over a city. Matt glanced at Ted who seemed enrapt in the story of the flying boy waking a girl, looking for something he'd lost in her room. A girl interrupted the reader. "What's a shadow?" Before she answered, Matt said, "We should get out of here," but Ted kept listening.

Before he could react, Ted dashed forward to "Classics" and searched the bookshelves. Matt hurried to keep up with him, but didn't see the boy sitting cross-legged in the aisle. Matt's leg brushed against the boy's jutting knee.

"Ma! Ma! It touched me!" the boy shouted. Ted jerked Matt closer and rushed them to the exit.

Back on the path, Matt apologized, but Ted only muttered. "Could it really be that easy? Why hadn't I thought of it before?" Ted looked at Matt, for once actually stared at his face. "Mom calls you a gift. I try to see it her way. But now, I think I can fix this." 

Matt didn't dare ask what Ted meant; he was just happy that Ted actually talked to him.

As soon as they arrived home, Ted read the book to himself. Matt tried not to disturb his friend and attempted to blend into the sofa. Ted slapped the book shut, went into the kitchen, shuffled through a drawer and then pulled out the shears. 

"Whatchya doing?" Matt asked. 

"You are called a shadow. The only one. Mom says I'm lucky, cause I wear my darkness on the outside while everyone else hides theirs inside. She says once, under a different sun, everyone and everything had a gift like you. 

"She may say you're a gift, but you've made me a freak. I won't be a freak anymore." 

Ted opened the shears, ran an edge against the floor where Matt's feet merged with Ted's.

Don't do this! PLEASE!" Matt shouted as he dodged to avoid the sharp edge.

Ted snipped. Matt felt nothing, but the edge of his foot floated. "Please, don't," he whispered, but Ted cut again. Matt bent forward, reached for Ted's leg, Ted's hand, the scissor handle—anything to stay attached. His fingers passed through Ted; Matt's left leg lifted. Ted started to laugh as he snipped faster. "IT'S WORKING! I'M FREE!" he shouted as he threw aside the scissors and jumped upright.

Matt whispered please but Ted only gloated. "Be free too!" he said then sucked in air.

Matt wafted on Ted's exhaled breath, through a wall and into the outside. He darkened a passing jogger but didn't care. He brushed against a leaf, drifted over a tree and then soared over the city, felt himself disperse inside a ray.

31 comments:

Timothy P. Remp said...

The shadow in Peter Pan always threw me for a loop. I had the hardest time understanding it.
This piece is wonderful with lots of great imagery and imagination. I was engrossed through and through.

Bravo.

-Tim

http://timremp.blogspot.com/2010/05/adepta-sororitas.html

Jay Thurston said...

Definitely grabbed my attention and held it. I could not tell their immediate relationship... very well told once again!

John Wiswell said...

I love when dreams work like that, Peggy. Never invest too heavily in prophecy, but never ignore an interesting coincidence. Also, I need to read Under the Dome. Is it good?

Welcome back to #fridayflash. A freaky fate for poor Matt. I hope I never disperse like so.

Michael Solender said...

very surreal and cool. i thought it was a shadow but wasn't sure. i don't know if i am now either..

Jen Brubacher said...

This is a lovely take on the Peter Pan shadow idea. I feel very sad for Matt, on his own now.

mariblaser said...

Wow, you really surprised me! The title is so chilling that I thought it would be a horror piece. I'm such a wuss for horror, if you believe me, heh. Really.

Great piece and poetic ending. I love the last sentence. :)

He brushed against a leaf, drifted over a tree and then soared over the city, felt himself disperse inside a ray.

ThomG said...

How interesting that we both chose to write about entities intertwined.
This, however, is so much superior. Great idea, very SK of you, and flawlessly carried out.
Bravo.

Mike Robertson said...

Very nicely done Peggy. The drop to the river scene was gripping and strange and awesomely mysterious. It was after that that I guessed Matt might be a shadow, but wasn't sure. Couldn't stop. Beautifully shaped for such a short piece. I'm charmed.

Carrie said...

Grats on winning your book, the autographed book by [GASP] the KING himself, and this story. You can see your passion for fiction in your intricate details. This was a great take on Peter Pan's shadow idea as others have already said, but also what happens to a shadow when detached. Aww.

Gorgeous prose.

G.P. Ching said...

Such a complex and multi-dimensional tale you've woven. The concept is terrific but the execution was well done as well. I loved how you made the final moments, the cutting away of shadow, almost a positive experience for both entities. Nice.

J. M. Strother said...

Very cool concept. It took me quite a while to put it all together, but it made the revelation all that more appealing. I thought it was sad, for poor Matt.

Maybe you should try dreaming about winning the lotto. ;)
~jon

Bukowski's Basement said...

So inventive Peggy... a great take on the shadow notion... really enjoyed it

a.m.harte said...

I really liked this! At first I had no idea where it was going and was trying to put things together (the bridge scene confused me), but as soon as Ted said "shadow" it all clicked into place.

I loved the line about people hiding their darkness inside, and the whole last scene really made the story for me -- the dramatic cutting off and Matt drifting away.

It makes me wonder what will happen next. Will Ted develop inner darkness, or will he be dark-free for life?

Laurita said...

A great take on the Peter Pan shadow story, and well written in a way that leaves the reader wondering. Even after I figured out that Matt was a shadow, I wondered where this story would lead. Nice one!

mazzz in Leeds said...

I seemed to have missed out on Peter Pan in my childhood (note to self: rectify this!), but that didn;t make a jot of difference to my enjoyment of the story. Very cool concept. I wonder what this different sun is like....

Marisa Birns said...

Quite a clever and engrossing story!

Having the darkness on the outside for all to see. Loved that.

I, too, wonder whether Ted will access the darkness within. Which should actually frighten people more.

Patience said...

Great story! One of my fave books is Peter Pan and i really like your take on the 'shadow.' i love the transitions between dialogue and description. Thanks for posting!

quin browne said...

*sigh*

I waver between my deep respect for your amazing gift and envy for that very same gift...


The respect always wins.

David Masters said...

Very clever. You held me curious throughout, building the tension, and your reveal was just right.

Laura Eno said...

Poor Matt...
Intriguing tale - a place with no shadows.

Dee Martin said...

this drew me along as though I was tied to the lines like Ted's shadow. Curiously bereft when the deed was done. I wonder if Ted didn't feel it too.

Gracie said...

Fine writing. Very well paced and the story is very engaging. I'm always intrigued by shadows.

I was a little sad when Ted got the scissors, too.

Excellent story.

Eric J. Krause said...

Very cool story. I wonder if Ted will have any regrets as time goes on.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Great job, Peggy. I first I had no idea where this was going, but you did such a fine job of sweeping the reader up into the narrative, I didn't mind. Bravo, Roland

曉豪 said...

你的部落格很棒,我期待更新喔

Alan W. Davidson said...

I thought the story was brilliant, Peggy. It kept my attention from start to end. I had the impression, at first, that Ted and Matt were a gay couple on a discrete outing. It wasn't until the reading of Peter Pan that I equated him to being his shadow. You took me on a wonderful ride!

Estrella Azul said...

Oh, poor Matt...
But such a great tale and an interesting concept!

Cecilia Dominic said...

Great job with the "aha!" moment of revealing that Matt is Ted's shadow, although your hints throughout were brilliant. Poor Matt -- it's not like he could help it.

CD

ganymeder said...

This was clever. At first I thought they might be Siamese twins but this was such a surprise. Nicely done.

Lyn Thorne-Alder said...

Oh, wow. I like. Intense.

one more believer said...

excellent strong storyteller..!! also liked that you included books.. the only way is a library and an open book....