Authors note: the Trifecta week thirty-five challenge is to write anything we want as long as it is between 333 to 3,333 words. I wrote exactly 1,000. Please enjoy and remember this is a complete work of fiction which I concocted in my imagination.
Young as he was, the deaf child understood the look on his father’s face when his mother was pacing the room. He felt the vibrations on the wooden floor when the exhausted old man stomped up the stairs to fetch his cigars. They smelled, and left yellow stains on the curtains, but this didn’t stop him from collecting the old man’s stumps and hiding them behind his outdoor toy chest. The boy had no inclination to inhale the blue tinted smoke which permeated every fabric of their quaint little home, but rather chose to stow them away, as if preparing for some apocalyptic event to unfold. He had over sixteen and was very proud of his little cache.
He was a good boy, thin and tall and very shy and unconcerned with his inability to hear echoes in empty hallways and laughter of other little children. The boys and girls in his classroom taunted and branded him an outcast. They mocked and jeered and excluded him. He tried to communicate with his hands but this brought on more demeaning looks and self-righteous snobbery from the popular kids. He ate alone on a picnic table near the Jungle Gym and no one minded his presence. He cared little for the attention of others.
Nature is where he spent most of his time when the fighting at home began to wear on his nerves. The week before his father had come home in a drunken fury and slapped his mother. The lad attempted to step in and was thrown against the wall for his efforts. Tears flooded his cheeks as he opened his mouth and croaked a silent scream. He remembered covering his useless ears with his palms as the fighting continued. There was nothing he could do to help his mother. Her pleas for help soared in the air and the kid heard none of them. He had managed to dial 911, but after a series of grunts and moans the dispatcher waved him off as a prankster and hung up. It was the first time he put his fist through a glass window.
His mother rolled her eyes and watched her husband of twenty years ascend the steps. She turned towards her tiny kitchen but stopped abruptly. She glanced towards her deaf son and signed with a smile.
“Baby, be a simple kind of man.”
Her son spoke with innocent fingers,
“Always and forever.”
After she returned to the dishes, he opened the front door and walked along the dirt pathway leading to his backyard. Raspberry bushes grew haphazardly alongside gigantic weeds. He always wanted to try the plump berries but the Boy Scout manual he kept underneath his bed warned him of poison ivy and the fruit bush was surrounded by shiny, three leafed plants. He kicked a rock and it skidded off the side of his house. He tried to imagine what kind of noise it made when it bounced off the plastic siding but quickly gave up the thought. He had learned to squash any daydreams. The small ice cube in his heart froze harder when he pretended to listen to the sound of trees rustling and streams gurgling. Besides, the doctor told his parents it was silly to entertain any illusions of the boy regaining his hearing.
As young as he was, he learned to put this obstacle behind him and enjoy the surrounding landscape. He hiked the lush forests and collected pine cones, he brought along action figures and fishing line. He watched summers turn to fall, and marveled at the variety of color etched into the mountainside in the background. He captured the soul of it all and bottled it up inside his heart to use on a rainy day, when thunder crackled and his mother shed tears on the couch. He prayed silently when rain swept in from the west, he cried when snow blew in from the north. He pretended to hear the sounds of Santa climbing down his chimney on Christmas Eve, and the laughter of a certain young woman he secretly adored in math class. The sun reflected off a metal banister and made him squint in a childlike way. He waved it off and headed straight towards Fort Dixie.
When he looked upon the ferocious oak tree it reminded him of some ancient nightmare. It held its position with the utmost pride. Large branches birthed gigantic leaves which spread out to provide shade for the rest of the yard. The center trunk held the most important structure in all the land. Fort Dixie. His mother had explained how it had survived decades of storms and hundreds of wars. She concocted stories of courageous warriors fighting to the death for their beloved princesses. She spoke of epic battles and ferocious love. She proudly bragged about climbing the ladder blindfolded as a child at the behest of her brothers beckoning. She made a great effort to break his shell and he loved her for it.
The deaf child stared at the imposing fortress with complete awe and wondered what it would be like to hear cannons blast and guards shouting for more ammo. He walked up to the base of the tree and touched the weathered plank that made for a step, which lead to a second and then a third. He paid no attention to the height as he reached the balcony. He looked at the horizon and pretended to be a king from a distant land who had overtaken an empire.
He swung his weak legs from the edge and looked upon his tiny home with an emotion he had yet to fully understand. The silence in his ears echoed into every aspect of his life and he could do nothing but hope for a miracle. He watched his mother wash dishes through the dirty kitchen window below.
She felt a stirring in her spirit and looked up at Fort Dixie.
“Be a simple man.”
“Always and forever mother.”