The Day Life Took On Meaning, section three

Fiction By Mairead // 10/16/2009

     “Well hello again Alicia.” She knelt down and smiled at her happily, and took both of her hands, not caring that the girls fingers were wet and sticky since they had been in her mouth. “Who’s a beautiful girl? Your hair looks so pretty today…with the little beads. Did your mommy do it this morning?”
     Alicia grinned and as you watched her you could think that she was nodding. She wouldn’t stop smiling.
     Kolbe wondered at her utter joy. How could have so many pains and disabilites have this much joy in simply living? She couldn’t talk,  couldn’t walk. He had seen joy in Matteo too. He had seen it in the boys calm and clear eyes that somehow knew nothing of the world, and yet knew so much more than the average person. Joy had even escaped from Gerry’s smile that was only in an instant and yet was powerful. All of these children held something beyond ordinary.
     Margaret looked at him.
     He shook his head and crossed his arms. He didn’t like all this thinking. It wasn’t what he was used to. Had Margaret caused this change? How?
     They walked into the classroom and began to play games. Kolbe spent a lot of his day playing a board game with another little boy named Trent. Margaret told Kolbe that Trent was ten years old and had had some sort of accident that had something to do with his head, which had caused brain damage and so made it harder for him to respond as quickly as others, and also made him distant at times. He lived most of the time in his own little world.
     “Maybe it is better for him live like that than in the real world,” Margaret had said sadly, shaking her head.
      “You would be alone you know,” he had answered.
       She had looked at him, her eyes deep with sorrow. “It is better for him to be alone than attacked by the negative remarks of others and constantly being shunned and degraded.” She had gotten very serious and very close to him. “You live in the busy world of the 20th century surrounded by people, people with goals and struggles, going places and even talking to you, but I think Kolbe that you feel alone, even in that crowd.”
     She had caught him off guard again. This was a new Margaret, the one that he never saw on an average day at school. She was captivating with all of these deep thoughts, and yet he feared her. 
      Looking back at the little boy, Kolbe thought that you wouldn’t have thought anything was the matter when you looked at Trent. He seemed to be perfectly normal, and as Kolbe played with him he saw that there was something undaunted in this little boy, beyond his disability. It was the same thing that he had seen in Alicia and Mateo. They all three had a strength, a normality. And yet their normality was uncommon, unique to themselves and to the way they lived, in the ways they communicated.
     Throughout the rest of the day Kolbe kept being blown away by all of the kids and how much life some of them held. Just because something had been damaged in their brain or they had some other disability, they still lived these lives full of smiles when you talked with them, or their laughs when you tickled their toes. In some respects they were all years younger in an emotional sense but then knew more than the average person. It confused him. Kolbe didn’t understaend, too, how <i>they<i> were the most real of children; innocent and loving and true.
     He helped some of them to eat their snack at snack time, Jared watching his every move. Kolbe felt like he was just waiting for something to blame him for. ‘Well he’s not going to find one,’ Kolbe thought. He was quite satisfied with himself that the feeding went smoothly. But the hardest thing for him to do was feed the children who couldn’t speak. He couldn’t help but choke at the thought of not being able to express yourself. He would look in their eyes and just wish he knew what they would say if they were given a voice for an hour. He felt trapped, he couldn’t stand that he wasn’t able to help them. With thier captivity it made him feel a captive as well. He couldn't stand it. Now he litterally knew what it must feel like to have your hands tied behind your back.
     Soon afterwards, all of the workers and volunteers cleaned up the room, and then began to clean the children. Kolbe was put in charge of sweeping the floor. The amount of food that had been dropped and crushed and smeared on the floor was insane. He did the job as quickly as possible and then stood and watched as the children were brought to the bathroom to be changed and thoroughly cleaned. Everyone was soon back in the school room and it was clamoring with noise once more. All kinds of different toys songs were playing in the midst of it.   
     Kolbe saw Margaret working in and among all the children; she was remarkably good with them. He couldn’t help but admire her. He walked up to where she was sitting and leant against the wall.
     “Will you stay here and watch Alicia for a bit?” Margaret asked, looking up at him as he came over.  “I have other children to check on. We are going to start craft in a minute, so I’ll be back.”
     “I guess…” He didn’t want to give her a definite yes.
     “Just make sure she doesn’t move herself any where.”
     What exactly did she mean by that? She couldn’t walk, why would there be a concern?
     “Sure,” he replied. He sat down on a chair and slouched comfortably, looking up at the ceiling as Margaret turned and talked a minute with Jared.
     She was back in a second to get her bag.  “Sing to her Kolbe.”  She looked at him with hard meaning glowing in her eyes. “She loves it, just like any little child would. Go on, sing.”
     He knelt down very slowly. “What should I sing?” He felt as if he would do something wrong, as if he would mess up somehow. He felt more like a reprimanded child who was trying to win over a mother for a smile.
     “Anything. Don’t you know any children’s songs?”
     Kolbe looked at her dubiously.
     “Well, you’ll think of something. Remember when you were little...”
     He looked at the floor, and shivered involuntarily. 
     Margaret knew after she said it that she probably shouldn’t have. It hurt Kolbe to think of the lonely childhood that he had known, and in some way he was still living it at that moment. She touched his arm with a slight smile. “I’m sorry.” She took a paper towel out of the bag she was about to take away and wiped off Alicia’s face carefully. “She likes John Jacob Jinglehiemer Schmidt,” she said quietly, and then went out of the room.
     He sat for a while, silent, with Alicia beating her tray and murmuring incoherent things. He was overwhelmed. He was uncomfortable. But, as everyone began leaving the room for the craft, he thought of something to sing. His mother had always sung it to him when he was little. He remembered one night in particular when he hadn’t been able to fall asleep because his father hadn’t come home that night. It had been so long since he had heard the words to this song; he almost didn’t remember how it went. “Jesus loves me…..this I know…” he began slowly and quietly, not really wanting anyone to know what he was doing. “For the bible tells me so…little ones to Him belong…they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me…yes, Jesus loves me…yes, Jesus loves me…for the bible tells me so.”
     Alicia tilted her head and knit her eyebrows together. She had never heard this one before. Letting out a squeal she grasped his hand and began to beat it on the tray, communicating to him that she wanted him to sing the song again. She leant as close as she could to Kolbe.
     He swallowed and began again. “Jesus loves me, this I know…for the bible tells me so…” he sang, this time without knowing it he was pronouncing all of the words more clearly.
     She began to mouth the words as he sang. Every time he stopped at the end,  she would again grasp his hand and beat it on her tray. Once Kolbe had sung it a fourth time she had comprehended most of the words and had hummed the tune with him. He stopped and she kept beating his hand. So, he sang it a fifth time. As soon as he got to ‘they are weak but he is strong’ she stopped humming and really listened intently to the words. Then she grinned as if she finally had mastered them all.
     Slowly, he smiled back. 
 

 

Comments

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Beautiful!!!!

Elizabeth | Fri, 10/16/2009

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The Holy Spirit is the quiet guest of our soul." -St. Augustine

Wow...that was beautifully,

Wow...that was beautifully, heart-breaking.

Ariel | Sat, 10/17/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

Thank you guys...

:) ....and the story's not over yet. I have one last section to post, so keep looking for it. Probably I will wait and post it at the end of the month.

Mairead | Sat, 10/17/2009

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"Sweet is the love that never knew a wound, but deeper that which died and rose again." - Mother Mary Francis

This brought tears to my

This brought tears to my eyes! Wonderful.

Teal | Sun, 10/18/2009

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