Monday, November 22, 2010

Shafts of Grace

Continued from Eleven, Eleven

"Do you know him?"

Jessica stares through the window at the boy in the interview room, as he sips chocolate milk through a straw from a small plastic jug they must have given him. She watches his eyes as they roam the walls. Is that you Chris? For a second she is afraid she said it out loud, but a quick glance at the detective assures her she was silent. The boy pushes the container of milk away from him, laying his head on the table.

"What are you going to do with him?" Jessica turns to face the detective.

"We are running his prints now. He has yet to speak to anyone since coming in, even the child psychologist could not get him to talk. We will try to find a parent or guardian."

"Can I talk to him?" she asks hopefully.

"No. We can't do do that Mrs. Hatcher. Only authorized personnel and family will get to see him. Don't worry, he will talk eventually and maybe he can shed some light on your husbands disappearance."

The weight of the moment settles on her shoulders and she looks back to the boy, hoping he can provide answers, only to find him standing at the window, staring at them.

"I thought he could not see us," she exclaims.

"He can't," unsettled, the officer steps around Jessica to the phone on the wall to call for the psychologist again.

The boy runs a finger down the window, leaving streaks and dots, and Jessica's heart races as she reads '11:11.'
_____

The ride home smears across Jessica's mind, like fingers through paint, her thoughts and feelings a jumble. She did not want to leave, but they practically forced her out the door when she became hysterical about seeing the boy. They had to think she was crazy. Perhaps she was. Perhaps everything that had been happening with Chris these last couple years was a delusion. She could not understand what was happening.

The last time he had been gone six days, returning five years younger than when he left. They had to move, people would ask questions. The first two they explained away with dieting, good living, but he was looking too young now. Soon, maybe now she would have to pretend he was her son.

If only he had been at home, but he said he was close to finding a cure. If only the police had not been involved. If only he hadn't been impatient, trying the serum on himself, none of this would have happened. If only he had never tried to play God, seeking eternal youth. If. If. If.

Heart twisting, she pulls to the curb in front of a convenience store, all her hopes and fears spilling down her cheeks, through the fingers of the hands pressing into her face. The torment and questions that had been building explode out her with each ragged exhalation.
_____

"No ma'am the boy has not talked. Like I told you the last couple times you called, we will call you if we find anything pertinent to the disappearance of you husband. Now please, let us do our job."

Jessica barely hears the sharp disconnect, cell phone still pressed to her ear as she stands at the island in the middle of the kitchen. Slowly lowering the phone from her ear, it clatters against the wood counter top breaking the trance. Glancing around the kitchen she tries remembering what she was doing.

Shuffling to the stairs, she takes minutes with each, as she ascends to their room. Pulling back the sheets, she slides, clothes and all, beneath them. Wrapping herself tight in a cocoon, seeking warmth, she only finds a cool reminder of Chris.
_____

A thunderous crash splits the cocoon, spilling Jessica startled to the floor. Struggling to catch her breath against the pounding weight of her heart, she stretches her eyes to adjust to the darkness. Silence greets her ears first, then gentle thumps. Soft footsteps on the floor below.

Anxiousness about Chris overtakes caution and she nearly slides down the steps in her haste, grabbing the railing at the last moment to right herself. Rounding the corner into the living room, she scans the shadows, searching for what might have made the noise. A lamp, the one usually near the mirror, rolls back and forth slightly on the floor in the center of the room. Fear and confusion flood her, how did it get there?

"Chris," she calls weakly, hoping.

"Chris," she calls again, desperate.

"Here," a feeble voice answers.

Searching with her eyes, she finds the shadow in the corner chair by the window. Shafts of moonlight break through the clouds into the otherwise empty room, illuminating the lower half of his body. His legs are gaunt, knobby at the knees. Relief floods her, grace received in getting Chris back. She rushes across the room, falling to her knees at his feet, pressing her face into his chest, sobbing.

"Oh God. I thought you...," she gasps the words.

"Shhh...," his hand combs through her hair.

A rumbling wheeze erupts in her ear, from his chest, and she pulls back with a start. Raising her hand to his face, still shrouded in darkness, she runs her fingers along his cheeks. Harsh creases traverse his skin, lips puckering at his teeth. Reaching his scalp the hair is light and thin. He is old.

"Oh Chris," she pulls him to her, her kisses intense, yet light.

"We will get through this," his voice croaks against her cheek.

Her head slips into the hollow between his neck and shoulder and tears squeeze through eyes clench tight, trying to keep their reality at bay.
_____

"This will be your bed. Like the social worker said, you will only be here a few days, but we want you to feel at home," Mrs. Guthrie stands at the foot of the bed in a small room within her home looking at the silent boy.

The social worker told her, when she dropped the boy, that they did not have a name on the boy and that he had been found dressed in men's clothing downtown. Unable to get an identification off of his fingerprints they were unsure what they were going to do. This is where Mrs. Guthrie came in, she provided respit for foster families and occasionally took in those children awaiting a placement.

Scuffing the toes of his shoes together, the boy looks at her, taking it all in.

Kneeling in from of him, Mrs Guthrie looks him in the eye, "I know you don't have any clothes. I pulled out some pjs for you and tomorrow we will go through some clothes i have set aside and find you some new things to wear."

A slow smile creeps into the boy's cheeks at her motherly charm, and Mrs. Guthrie hands him a plastic tub, "It's okay if you don't want to talk, but I would really like to know what to call you. This will be your tub, to keep things in and so no one will go in there maybe you can write you name on the side of it.

Taking the permanent marker from her, the boy sits on the bed, screwing his face in concentration, tongue sticking out the corner of his mouth as he writes on the side of the tub. Finishing he turns it around for her to see, happy to please her.

"Alright, Chris it is..."

This is a 10DOM Magpie Tale

75 comments:

lakeviewer said...

So, if this boy is Chris, who is the man in Jessica's house she calls Chris?

p.s. I'm reading this in the middle of my night, and it is sending me back to bed, to my comfortable bed.

the walking man said...

Ha dto go back and read the first part but now i have to wait for the third part to explain the dichotomy between the old man and the young boy. Well done Brian.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Riveting right up to the very end, Brian. Nicely done.

JeffScape said...

Definitely an entertaining piece, and the ambiguity saves it from being too derivative. Liking the "action style."

You gonna develop this further?

Pauline said...

so this is the end? or is this an installment? hellfire, damnation and spit! you know how to tell a tale!

liza said...

Please! I need a Part III...Great tale and I'm with Lakeviewer didn't Chris come to her as an old man in the middle of the night? Encore!

TechnoBabe said...

That is a fine short story. I wouldn't want to take the serum for anything. Interesting piece about trying to keep youthful.

Me said...

Thank you for the early post. I think? Haha...

Seriously though, nicely done. But I still have lots of questions! Guess that's the point, right? :)
-C

Daniel said...

Good way to get my morning started. Still lots of questions about the old man and the young boy.

Cinner said...

Brian now my head is thinking and thinking, I hope there is another installment. Gteat post Brian, smiles.

Brian Miller said...

hehe...yes liza chris did come to her in the middle of the night, but then there is a little boy that seems to know something and is calling himself chris...so...hmm....

annell said...

When I read this kind of story, I am always curious about the inspiration? Where in the world does it come from? Glad to know, but I'm not sure I know?

Yodood said...

A fine tight wound rope of a tale with more loose ends than beginnings — I'm afrayed your gonna have to do more twisting to get the knot to hold.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

:) WOW, so interesting... this one really grips ya!

Birdie said...

great great! ... so I hope part three will be sooner then next Monday ... it made me think about "The travels wife" for a while ... :-) happy week Brian!

Stacy Uncorked said...

Absolutely riveting, Brian! So many unanswered questions... ;)

Birdie said...

oh I meant to say "the time traveler's wife" ...

Mama Wheaton said...

A great story to read with my first cup of coffee!

Candie Bracci said...

I didn't even pay attention about your post being called eleven,eleven..:) nice story,there was a movie called like this too.Everyone is into eleven.It's maths too ^^

Shadow said...

this is inTENSE!

natalee said...

This cant be the end.....MORE MORE.. I can totally see a novel here....This is way better then any sci fi ive read in a while....reminiscent of old twilight zones...

Lori said...

Wow! I so enjoyed this tale of yours... you had me on the edge of my seat wondering where this is going..loved when the boy wrote 11;11...as always you write brilliantly. Happy Monday to you and yours. :)

Anonymous said...

very well written story. fantastic.

trisha
mydomainpvt.wordpress.com

Heather said...

oooh, i am so intrigued here, clutching my starbucks...i want to read more! xx

Mighty M said...

Tell me there's a part three!! :)

deb said...

I thought of Time Traveler's Wife as well,
but more edgy and real and twisting.

more?

Brian Miller said...

i will be honest i was going to end it here with a lot up in the air...but something is brewing for wednesday that will answer a lot of questions...smiles.

blueviolet said...

I think you need to continue this into a third part. Too much unanswered!

Magpie said...

This one is intense! Loving it. Wishing my life away until Wednesday. :)

Slamdunk said...

Ugh, I am behind--better go read the other first.

Bossy Betty said...

Can you really just leave us like this? Is there a Part 3?

Jen Chandler said...

Wow, just wow. I'm intrigued and perplexed and I want to know more.

Great job!
Jen

Valerie said...

Riveting stuff, Brian. I just hope there is a part 3.

AmyLK said...

I can't wait to see where this is going. This is such a riveting story! Keep it coming!

TALON said...

This is great, Brian. Reminded me of "The Time Traveller's Wife". I can't help bing worried for Chris though - having to start over again. I feel so bad for Jessica...

Manisha said...

Detailed and engrossing. I enjoyed reading.

kkrige said...

hoho bugger. So we will have to stay tuned for more. interesting

Claudia said...

..so who was this old man...? just an old man from the street..and she thinks he's her husband...? and her husband is that boy and she will forget about him because she thinks the old man is her husband...? i'm confused...and unhappy..for her..for chris...only for the old man it may be nice..cause he gets some love and gets cared for...maybe he could try the serum...? no..

Eva Gallant said...

It reminded me of the Time Treveler's Wife, too. Good stuff.

Caty said...

definitely worth waiting for. Can't wait to see what else is in store...

David Waters said...

dude, you are the master of cliff hangers....brilliant!

budh.aaah said...

Wow you write really well. Had read only ur poems so far. This was a treat :)

drybottomgirl said...

Waiting till Wednesday! Are you trying to drive us crazy?....just kidding, excellent story and I'm looking forward to how you will pull all this together....:)

Raven said...

A great tale, Brian, I hope there's more coming!

ladyfi said...

Riveting...and spooky too.

faith said...

Maybe time travel is involved and his older self came back to help the younger. OR somehow he created a clone? Looking forward to Wednesday! :)

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

this is so deep! Dorian Gray meets James' Turn of the screw! I am glad you are going to write a third installment, not because we need answers, but because it has so much material still!!!

kathew said...

oh this is such a good story! when do we get more!!!!!?

kathew said...

me thinks of O. Henry

Baino said...

Loved this but yes, the disconnect between the old man and the boy leaves me a bit confused. Is there more? Shades of the Time Traveller's Wife and Benjamin Button but it's good.

Bee's Blog said...

There has to be a p[art three - I'm enthralled.

Julie said...

I agree that another chapter is important to ease the sense of disconnect, and to show how this serum can go in both directions. A nice feel to this one, especially in the way you have drawn Jennifer.

sheila said...

If you don't write a novel, you are nuts.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, My! Don't leave us hanging . . .

Reggie said...

Very interesting twist Brian

Bernie said...

Looking forward to where you are going to take us on Wednesday. Good, no great stuff!.....:-)Hugs

Tom said...

probably a third chapter is a good idea, but then a rewrite to tie the whole thing together might be a better idea, to ease the confusion

LauraX said...

Brian, this is amazing! You have to continue this!!! Expand it somehow...Wow!

secret agent woman said...

Very mysterious.

Bev said...

very mysterious indeed...

Nezzy said...

Great write man! More please...

God bless and enjoy this week of Thanksgivings. :o)

Mama Zen said...

The lamp still rolling back and forth is brilliant.

ds said...

The serum is a nice touch. How can he be in two places, two generations, at once? How long must we wait for part 3?

Well done!

Velvet Over Steel said...

Riveting is right! the missing Chris. I'm sure it's the little boy... but then who's the old man Or was she dreaming.... Hummmm....Riveting it right!! Great job again, Brian!! :-)

signed...bkm said...

Brian - May you and your beautiful family have a Blessed Thanksgiving...bkm

Joanna Jenkins said...

You have another chapter for us, right?
Pretty please.
Great job, jj

Zuzana said...

Does this mean her husband keeps getting younger? Or am I misunderstanding it completely, as no one in the comments seems to think so.:)It reminds me of the recent movie with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, I can not recall the title now.;)
Have a lovely day dear Brian, here I woke up to snow.;)
xoxo

Goofball said...

I want more chris stories....Love it

Syd said...

One Chris is old, the other young. Sounds like serum that is better left off the tongue.

PattiKen said...

Well done, Brian. Add my voice to the chorus crying, "more, more."

willow said...

I like this, Brian. Shades of "Birth" here, for sure.

Pat said...

Two Chris's? Wow! I didn't see THAT coming! Great cliffhanger!

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Wow everyone's got an opinion!!!

I like the incompleteness of it all.
The smallest descriptives are noticed in a big way. Nice ride. -J

Tina said...

This is my favorite of yours now. While I think it can stand alone (as in with Part 1 but done now), I'm totally dying for more. Great concept, or shall we say twist on a concept. I love sci-fi. I love mystery. This seems to be both.

Marla said...

Freaky. Well done but still freaky. You scare me with the way your brain works sometimes. :-)