His Way ...

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His Way

She sat quietly waiting for him to join her. She could hear him moving around the bathroom. Muffled thumps were him hopping around on one foot, trying to get dressed. Running water meant he was washing his face and brushing his teeth. She rocked in her chair, waiting for him and for the dawn and for guidance.

He was silent at birth. The doctor said he was just too lazy to cry, but she had been concerned. His enormous head had been squeezed until the bony plates had clearly overlapped. He seemed to be asleep for quite some time, until the doctor did something to make him cry. The cry had lasted only long enough for her to gather him to her breast and snuggle him. She couldn't remember him crying much ever again.

He was a calm and smiling baby, content to lie back and watch whatever was in front of his eyes. He made no attempt to sit up or roll over. Friends told her he was normal, that she was just overprotective, but she knew he was behind. The only thing that motivated him was the sight of a spinning globe on tv. She taped the show and placed him on his back a few feet away from the tv, forcing him to move a bit to see it. She played it every day, and each time she moved him farther away. His feeble squirming slowly gave way to inchworm-like crawling. Slowly, slowly she taught him to crawl. He never tired of his spinning globe on tv. She bought a real globe for him and put it just out of his reach until he learned to sit up and reach for it. One day he finally got up and became a real boy. After that he seemed to be ok, and she relaxed.

She got up and poured herself some more coffee. He still wasn't finished in the bathroom. She settled back into the old rocker and waited. She was used to waiting.

"What do you mean, he's never held a pencil in his life?" The kindergarten teacher was aghast. "He passed all his entrance tests -- he didn't miss a single question -- but he can't hold a pencil! I've never heard of such a thing. You have to do something about him before school starts."

"He's never a behavior problem. However, he can't keep up with the other kids. Oh, he knows all the material, but he can't write fast enough to get his work done. It isn't fair to the other kids to give him more time to do the work. You have to do something about him before he returns to school next year."

"Look, I have twenty kids in here. I don't have time to mess him. He knows all the information, but he doesn't try hard enough to get the work done on time. He just won't write it down. Either you do something about him or we will."

"We're very sorry, but he cannot take Communion until he takes the Communion class. He'll never even get into the Communion class until he completes his workbook for this one. He'll have to wait another year. Can't you get him to do the homework? He knows all the material, he just needs to write it in his workbook. You really ought to do something about him."

She became aware that she could see the dim outlines of the room. Dawn would break before the boy got ready. She was glad she had gotten them up early. This morning she was in no hurry.

The white world was crushing him. She took him to the tribe. He loved everything he did with the tribe, and no one there complained that he wasn't doing his work fast enough. Every time she took him, someone would greet him like a long-lost friend and be very glad to see him. She thought this was a great kindness, and in gratitude she began to find ways to serve the tribe herself. In this way they passed the summer.

One day a man came to her. Nervously, the man said that the boy was special. He asked her to make sure no one took this away from the boy. She said she had always fought for the boy and would continue to do so. The man was relieved. Then he said the boy had been talking to him about the world economy. This was very strange coming from a small boy. She promised to talk to the boy about it. The friend went away. She found no opportunity to talk to the boy and let it go.

It happened again and again. Each time a nervous adult begged her to protect the boy from the world. Then each would reveal what the boy had talked to him or her about. Sometimes the boy talked about dancing. Other times he talked about politics, money, and warfare. His conversations with one adult were never repeated with another. His relationships were distinct, and they were very strange given that he was a small boy. She could not bring herself to talk to the boy about what he was doing.

The water was turned off. The boy was almost ready. She realized she was clutching her cup too hard. She didn't know what she was supposed to do. She only knew she had been given something important to do, something to say. She wished he would take even more time, to give her more time to think.

She thought about the Storyteller. The position was one of the most important in the tribe. It was a high honor. Much was expected from a Storyteller. He carried the history of the tribe from one generation to the next. Every generation needed a Storyteller, or the tribe would lose its history forever.

The Storyteller was very formal. He never spoke to her or looked directly at her. He accepted food and drink from her with a nod of his head, and she accepted that this was the proper way to behave. One day she was surprised to find him waiting for her with the same nervousness all the others had shown. He stood before her and slowly brought his eyes to hers.

"I need to talk to you about your son." He hesitated, but at her understanding nod, he went on. "Your son is a Storyteller, like me. He was born this way." He raised his hands. "He will be a great Storyteller. He will go farther than I can. But this depends on you." He looked afraid.

"Do you want to train him? Do you need to take him?" Her heart thudded hard in her chest.

"No one can train him. I don't need to take him. He will learn things by himself. What I need from you is to let him be with us. The elders like him very much." The Storyteller spoke more quickly. "You have raised him very well. He is very polite, especially to the elders. They will teach him anything he asks them for. They want him to spend time with them. This is why I'm talking to you about him. We need for you to let him be with us as much as he wants. Let him learn anything he wants. Do not stand in his way."

She promised that she would not stand in his way. She did not talk to the boy about it. She was afraid.

He came out of the bathroom at last. Without a word he joined her in the rocker. He was still small enough to snuggle. She rocked them both and asked for the right words to be given to her.

When the church refused to allow the boy Communion class for the third year, she had taken him out. They simply did not attend church any more. They did not talk about it. After a year she was surprised to hear from the Communion teacher. Someone had enrolled the boy in the Communion class. They were expecting him early Sunday morning.

She asked the boy if he wanted to go back. He whooped with delight and ran off yelling that he loved Mass. They had never talked about it before, and his response was a surprise.

"Do not stand in his way."

His father's response was negative.

"They'll make him into a priest!" The last word was hissed. She looked at his father and saw fear rather than anger. He understood as much as she did about the odd nature of their son. She promised that she would remove the boy the very moment he might decide the church was not of interest any more. His father turned away from her, but he did not forbid her to take him.

Now she rocked her son on Sunday morning, and she still did not know what she was to say to him.

The room was light enough to see his face. He was looking at her, waiting for her to speak. She held him more tightly.

"Did the Storyteller talk to you?" she asked.

The boy nodded. He did not speak.

"Did he tell you what you are?" she asked.

The boy nodded again in silence. He continued to look into her eyes, but he was tensing up.

"Do you understand what you are?" she asked. "The Storytellers keep history. All the people of the world had Storytellers until they learned to write. After that most people kept history on paper. Paper burns. Books fall apart. The world still needs Storytellers."

The boy raised his small hands slowly, palms down. "The world will be destroyed," he whispered. Slowly he pushed the world down, down, down, and away. She realized with a start that she could see the world being pushed away. She was terrified. The boy was a Storyteller of great power.

The boy raised his hands again, palms out. This time he slowly drew a circle, each hand describing a hemisphere. "The Creator will make a new world." The boy had tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice.

The boy fell silent again and looked at the world he had made in the air before them. The new world was a spinning globe. She could see it.

"The Creator will need a Storyteller to bring the stories from the old world into the new one," she said suddenly. The boy nodded.

"You will have to learn all the stories of the tribe." He nodded at her words again.

"But you will also learn all the stories of all the other tribes. Of all the people on this world." She understood now. The boy smiled.

"While you drive us to Mass," he whispered, "I'll tell you how the Creator gave each animal just what it needed to survive." He patted her hand. "Don't worry about anything."

"Do not stand in his way." She would not. She would go with him as far as she could before watching him go on his strange way. For a few more minutes, however, she would rock her boy child. The world could wait that long.


-- helen (another@short.story), September 17, 2002


Wow! Helen, that's a great story! Thanks :-)

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), September 17, 2002.

I've read it through three times now, and I'm still hungry. Will there be more? How soon? (I think I got a glimpse of your soul peeking out)

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), September 17, 2002.

Soul? Me?

Imagine a world where every child is the fulfillment of prophecy, an important part of the Creator's plan...

-- helen (glad@you.liked.it), September 18, 2002.

It makes sense that a Storyteller would come from a MASTER storyteller! :-)

Wonderful job, Helen! I would love to hear more, too. I believe every child IS an important part of the Creator's plan. Even those who are 'different'.

-- Gayla (applauding@whistling.stomping for more!), September 18, 2002.

Beautifully, soul stirringly written Helen! I felt like I was there, watching the panorama, my heart understanding and my head nodding. And Helen, it's world I imagine every day, and pray for it to be so. Thank you so much for sharing that with us Helen. Bravo!!!

-- Aunt__Bee (Aunt__Bee@hotmail.com), September 25, 2002.



-- helen (rummaging@around.for.more.material), September 25, 2002.

It's wonderful just as it is! Wow.

-- (Meemur@Tree.Street), October 02, 2002.

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