16. Short Story: In the Kitchen

Standing in the kitchen, the boy heard the animated chatter coming from the window. Outside, a class of schoolchildren was walking by back from an excursion. Their spirits high from being out of the classroom on this sunny day. Peeking through the blinds the boy looked at the children with envy and fear. He felt an impossible longing. A trial he has already failed countless times. He could not join them, and he never would.

The voice of the last of the children passed and the silence of the house stretched out towards him once again. It was eleven thirty on a working day. His mother somewhere far away and his brother at school. This was his domain now, familiar yet undesirable. He continued his routine, piled the dishes in the sink and walked back to his room upstairs. School is not for me, you know that, the boy said to himself, You can learn whatever you want yourself and it is a waste of time anyway. He found, many years ago that he was the best conversation partner. No misinterpretations or physical gestures, no voice or tone, which is easily misunderstood, and most of all no eye contact.

His room was small with a bed and a few book cases. He loved to read. After finishing a book he would lie on his bed and imagine himself as a character in the book. Strong and always in control. Closing the curtains, the boy would hide under his blankets in darkness. Catatonic, staring at the wall for hours and hours, his body only an anchor to the world out there.

On other days he would lie there and listen to all the sounds out there. The soft light filtering through the window blinds. The sound of the tree outside, the bird, the occasional passerby or zoom-zoom of a car. Sometimes he could even hear the sound of the train stopping at some distant station. This happens on cold nights when sound travels faster, he knew this as he read it in a book once.

On those soft summer days, he did not mind as much, the impossible longing. The boy found comfort in his home, the familiar, the gentle, the welcoming. Besides, He said, I wont grow old anyway, so why even bother.

All was well.

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