Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Faint Whisper

   They asked him to trust them. And to be very, very quiet, even more quiet than a mouse.

   He knew mice always wandered around. In the middle of the night when he could not sleep, he heard their little feet on the wooden floors or scratching the burlap to which the wallpaper was glued. He got used to their soft squeaks when they quarrelled or calling each other. And now they kept him company in his hiding place.

   He pulled his knees up as high as he could and rested his chin on them. Before he wrapped his arms round his legs to keep warm, he first pulled the blanket over his ears, thinking that if he did not hear them, they would not hear him. The old pillow his head rested on, smelled mouldy but he did not care, it was only for one or two days and nights they told him. Not that the pillow at his bed smelled much better. It was only every other month that the bed linen was refreshed. The amount of starch that was used made the linen crack as soon as you turned or moved but after a few nights it felt softer and the noises were gone.
    He hated the smell of starch. Some of the children said it smelled fresh like the wind blowing over the fields but they probably did not know the smell of Lavender.

    He blinked his eyes, he did not want to cry but the thought of Lavender, the smell from home, caused emotions he had almost forgotten about.
He was only 6 and did not remember any more why he was here and when he arrived. He did not remember the face of his mother but he remembered the smell of Lavender that always surrounded her.
   He pulled his arms tighter around his legs and imagined it were the warm and comfortable arms of her, the woman that held him when he had scary dreams or when he hurt himself when he fell. Or just because it was so nice to be in each others arms.
   He tried to remember her voice to expel the deafening silence in his hideaway.
Suddenly he remembered a few words of a poem that always made him laugh: '.... eating a Christmas pie. He put in his thumb....!'

    His brains worked hard to remember the whole song and in his head he started again: '.... sat in the corner....'
Little Jack!! He remembered again because that is what his mother called him... 'little Jack, my little Jack'.... Was this his real name? Where he lived now he was called Boy and the number of his bed at the large ward where he slept with numerous other boys his age. Here he was 'Boy Twelve Stroke Three', which meant that his bed was number 12 in the 3rd row.
Suddenly he knew the whole song: Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, eating a Christmas pie. He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said: “What a good boy am I!”'

    His name must be Jack, there were too many similarities. Why should he otherwise lay in a corner right now? A corner in a very dark space with walls so tight that he could not even see a glimpse of the candles that moved through all the rooms. He could hear the people holding the candles walking and whispering but there was no light at all.
   He held his breath when footsteps came his way. It sounded as if a hand stroke the panels behind he was hiding. Then there was a long silence in which he thought he could not much longer hold his breath and it was a relieve when the footsteps finally moved away from him. But still he did not dare to move. He kept his promise to the people who told him they were coming back to take him home.

    Although the dark space was big enough for two or three children, he was on his own and wondered if there were more hidden spaces like his. Hiding other children and if they too were told to be patient and of course very, very quiet.
    Because the sound of feet and whispers faded, he dared to breath normal again but he did not dare to move although his muscles cramped a little. He noticed how tight he held his arms around his legs and carefully loosened his grip.
    He was thirsty but wanted to wait till all the sounds in the large house were gone. He knew too that drinking the water they gave him, would cause him to go to the loo and he could of course, not go downstairs to the outbuilding where the dark and smelly buckets were.

    Being very tired, he had difficulties keeping his eyes open. He did not notice he fumbled a corner of the blanket in his little skinny fist, stroking his face with the tip in a slow and steady rhythm. He asked himself where the thought of a soft toy came from. A toy with brown eyes, fluffy ears and large feet. He did not know the name of the soft fluffy creature but he remembered it was always with him. He did not remember where it was now and if another child took it to bed or talked to it. He hoped so for the toy which must be cold an lonely without him. The same feelings he had now; cold and lonely.... cold and lonely....

    He woke up from a strange sound. It frightened him being so very afraid of them, the people with the candles and the whispering voices of which he knew that they were not the same people that hid him here. He listened but again the silence was of the same density as the darkness. He carefully stroke his face and noticed his cheeks were wet. He realized it was his crying that woke him up and all of a sudden he could not hold his tears any more.
   He cried and cried; his fist pushed into his wide open mouth to damp the sound of his desperate hiccups. He pushed his knees together not to pee in his pants, afraid of the painful punishments that always followed when it accidentally happened. But he failed.

    When he finally calmed down, he did not know for how long he was sitting there. His skin started to itch where his wet pants touched it but he did not dare to scratch. He wanted to be a good brave boy because, what if his mother came to collect him? He wanted to tell her he wasn't afraid in the dark. Not even for a few seconds. He was big enough to look after his mother, to earn money to buy food, and flowers that smelled like lavender.
    He was going to buy a beautiful house with large windows where the sun could shine through. And with a large garden with a pond with coloured fish he was going to feed together with his mother.
And in the bedrooms nice beds with shiny white sheets and soft blankets and heaps of pillows they could rest their heads on. And boxes full of fluffy toys.....

Photo: @daftintin_official (Instagram)
   The large estate is still standing in its dark grounds, surrounded by centuries old trees that keep the sunshine from reaching the windows. The crumbling outbuildings do not release their terrible smell any more; even the rats left it.
   The silence in the large house is still deafening and only occasionally disturbed by a few people that can not resist exploring it but who leave very quickly after a visit to the large hallway with the numerous doors.

   Only the brave look behind the doors but there is one they never open. They can not explain why they walk pass it as quickly as possible. Is it the sound of a soft cry? The smell of Lavender or the sinister faint whisper of a child's voice repeating a poem?

Word of thanks: the photo of @daftinitin_official (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you!

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @daftintin_official and visit his impressive YouTube Channel.

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!



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    1. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, much appreciated!!
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