Hiraeth Excerpt (Chapter One)

The following is an excerpt of:

Hiraeth: 

The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

Chapter One

Our story begins, as most stories do, on a storm-soaked December afternoon in the Pacific Northwest. Hang on. Statistically speaking, almost no stories begin like that. Nevertheless, our tale must carry on. I suppose we could go back a ways, and briefly tell of the love between a man and woman which endured nearly the requisite number of minutes for our hero to be conceived, but that is another tale entirely, and not one which this author is particularly interested in retelling. Suffice it to say, that when our hero came into this world, he did so into an already broken home, the vessel of a fading, jaded love which a bruised and beaten woman had infused with all her hopes and dreams for an uncertain future.

Our hero, of course, knew nothing of this, knew nothing much at all, save for the newly-gleaned understanding of the differences between dark and light, warm and chill, weightlessness and gravity, and a rapidly developing preference between the lot of them. Gone was the soothing rhythm of his mother’s beating heart. Gone was the safety and security of an existence at the center of his own personal universe. I am convinced that he never fully recovered from these losses.

Within an hour of residency within the nursery, he was returned to his mother under the pretext of having incited a neonatal revolution. Even minutes old, he didn’t take too kindly to disappointment. Life, such as it was, had been thrust upon him, and he didn’t much care for it, truth be told. No one had warned him that things would be so jarring, so cold and desiccating, for the first time in his brief (measured by the pulsing beatings of his heart) life, and as he filled his belly, and fell, troubled, into sleep, he had no idea what it was that he would do, or how he might come to repay these slights visited upon him during his moments of vulnerability.

For the first year of his life, he and his mother stayed with her parents, as she struggled to make sense of her own broken life. A failed marriage, single motherhood, and the shame of the necessity of returning to the house in which her parents had made their home (and lasting marriage, she bitterly chastised herself), did not sit well with her. For the child, however, it was a wonderland of near-constant attention from interesting people. What he loved more than anything, however, was a pair of leather slippers which had previously belonged to his grandfather. I say previously, because as soon as he could crawl, the child made his way over to them, and began to gum them into submission in a release of his frustration at having several bony protrusions slowly tear their way free of his still tender gums. His mother was always snatching away his slippers, but the child never failed to find them once again, as long as no one was looking.

It was during this time, that he made his first friend. Having grown tired of the removal of his playthings, and this new vocalization, “No!”, he came to befriend a flower-print couch which he was occasionally imprisoned upon. It never said much, but always seemed to be there for him, listening for hours on end, without interruption, as he practiced his nascent idiomancy. Oh, the tales of tiny victories and heartbreaking injustices which he imparted to his dual-natured cellmate and prison. Inevitably, however, his sentence was commuted, and he was separated from his friend and captor. Actually, as memory serves (though it rarely does), it was around the time when he had mastered his plan of escape that he was whisked away. Normally, he was allowed brief moments outside of his cell to exercise himself upon the pea green shag carpeting of the prison yard, but this time, he was taken somewhere new, somewhere his couch and confidant could never follow. Worse than that, he would soon come to understand that it would now be just he and his mother living together. The final indignity, of course, the event which would set him upon his path and remind him of cooed promises made moments after birth, was his enrollment in something he once overheard described as “daycare.”

 

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