This is a new piece after more than two years without penning anything here. Would you listen to excuses or apologies? I will offer both since I have them, but that would be later. For now, I am sorry. Apologies offered. Hope you accept. And to further let you know that I mean it when I say I am sorry, I am giving this beautiful story for your enjoyment. Thanks. Enjoy.
Daren pricked his ears. It was the hundredth time he was hearing that sound. It was a soft knock on his door and despite his resolve to ignore the one-whose-knuckles-have-refused-blister from the continuous knocks, the knocker kept knocking. The knocker was his youngest brother. Just four-years old and quite persistent in a way Daren didn’t consider normal.
What would Damien (for that was the knocker’s name) talk about this time? , Daren thought. Then Daren heard the soft whisper of his name. “Da da, are you in there?” Silence. Daren didn’t respond.
Now let’s not get the impression that Daren was mean because he didn’t let his brother in to his room. Daren wasn’t mean. Damien was just a disturbance most times, coming up with questions after questions the way most kids do to a Daren whose me-time was one of his favourite time. And that wasn’t all. Damien had lots of funny stories the kind kids his age have. You know, stories conjured from imaginations. This wasn’t what worried Daren. What worried Daren was that some of the stories were spooky. And an-easily-frightened Darren just wasn’t ready for stories of people who kept falling in depths without end or stories of butterflies that prefer to chow on newly-borns than nectar. Yuck!
How had Daren coped with his weird storytelling Damien? He would listen with rapt attention, then when the horrors of the stories were reaching a crescendo, he would shoo Damien out of his room with the promise that he would draw out the characters in his story. And with that, Damien would be gone to come back another day with another breath-sucking story spookier than the previous.
Of course, Darren could draw and his drawings weren’t just as a past-time. His drawings were a concrete release of his fears. Some of his drawings were weird. They covered the pages of his colour book. On a page, was a drawing of Darren himself speaking to a man without ears. Not an ordinary man. His features weren’t ordinary. His skin had been peeled off and what remained was the epidermis gleaming with blood, fibre and skin whites. On another page, was Darren speaking to a sexless being whose whole face was a rock. There were hundreds of pages with Darren speaking to people who just weren’t listening. He had another drawing book for Damien’s stories too. The drawings were spookier than his. And now the same Damien was standing outside and hoping to be allowed in to tell another spooky tale.
Darren heard no knocks anymore and this was unusual given how insistent at being allowed in as Damien can be. But when Darren looked up, there was Damien in his room already.
“I am sorry, Da Da. “, Damien pleaded. “Your room wasn’t locked and I simply turned the door knob and it opened”
Darren regarded the golden – haired boy in his room who was almost in tears.
“Come here, Damien”, Darren called, his voice sounding almost like a whisper. “Da Da isn’t mad at yer, OK?”
Damien regarded him with hazel eyes that carried in them no expression. “Are you sure, Da Da?”
“Of course.” Then Darren lifted the boy and placed him on a stool beside his bed. “Now make sure you don’t touch anything; I need to finish this drawing”.
“This.” he replied holding up a page which had a drawing of Darren who seemed to be talking to a sexless being without a face. Or a cloud-like face. A cumulus nimbus cloud.
“It looks like the one I saw in a dream last night, Da Da. I mean the sky-man”
“Not sky-man, but cloud man…well this ain’t man. He’s sexless”
“It means it’s neither male nor female”
“Like non-living things?” Damien asked with bewilderment registering on his face.
“Yeah. Non-living things. Only that this one is alive but without organs that could make him male or female”
At the ‘OK’ response, one would think the questions had ceased from Damien’s lips, but Darren knew his brother.. .the questions would begin to fall one after the other and quickly like dominoes….
“Da Da, do you have dreams too? ” Damien asked.
Darren knew the questions are beginning to come. He suspended his drawing and let his youthful 17-year old green eyes meet the boy’s. “I, I have nightmares”
“What are nightmares, Da Da? Some kind of horses ridden at night?”
Darren could barely conceal his chuckle. What imagination was that? Night Mares? Kids can be literal, he thought.
“Nightmares are like dreams, Damien”, Darren began “only that there are frightening things in a nightmare”
“Was it a nightmare I had, Da Da?”
“I don’t know what you had”… The story is about to begin, Lord, Darren thought. He braced himself.
“I saw this man”, Damien said, pointing at the sexless cloud head Darren was drawing.
The drawing was complete. It remained the colouring.
Damien continued his tale. “In my dream..”
“Ok. Nightmare.” He paused, pouting. “I saw this man…uumm sexless… talking with you. You were talking with him as you are doing in the drawing”
To be continued…