The soft and wet sensation of clay weaving in and out of his fingers brought a sense of tranquility throughout his body. Clay is not an object to him—it’s a deep feeling that can only be expressed by hands. He has and always will have a place for sculpting in his heart—making objects out of clay that he couldn’t even imagine ignited a fire within him that can only be described by passion. The only thing that stops him from sharing his gift with the world is not having the ability to talk. People found so much joy in talking—the way their words expressed what they felt—he yearned to experience this small joy in life. If he could say one sentence, one word even, he would be satisfied for the rest of his life. Yet he was born into a life where he is condemned to solitude and longing. His “friends” try to tell him to look on the bright side—he can still write what he wants to say; he can still hear; and he can still see. How do they expect him to look on the bright side when he was blinded by the darkness not talking had shaded over his life? He has lost too much and gained very little. There is an empty void within him, that can only be filled with the loss of his mother.
Christine Smith—that was her name—she was his life. She brought him into this world of hatred and shielded him with love. She held the joy and happiness of the world, her smile alone made him forget his turmoils. His whole world got thrown out of balance when he found her lying on the floor in the kitchen—going in and out of consciousness. His mother’s last words are forever engraved in his memory: “You are special. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. Oliver, my sweet precious Oliver. . .do not cry for I will always be here with you. You are my sun, moon, and stars—you make up the earth beneath me and the sky above me—and I want you to know that I. . I. . . Love you.” She appeared lifeless and frail—her usually blonde platinum hair was withered with sadness, her lips were pale from fear, and her eyes were clouded with worry. He doesn’t have any pictures of her—the only picture of her framed in his memory was her face when she made a slow agonizing descent towards death.
Every day of his life from that point on was cursed by a wish to be able to say “I love you” right back to his mother. He woke up from dreams with tears rolling down, his life—dreams of a better life—that he fears will never come true. He feels abandoned. He lives with his grandma that doesn’t pay any attention to him, his father passed away the same year he was born, and almost all of his “friends” left him. . .No wait, He’s not alone—there is one person who truly loves him and actually “listens” to him—Aura. She sees the light in everyone and anything, even though her own world is only blind. He sat in his “art room” (which is really just his room) watching his clay as if it would move—alone—then Aura walked in.
“The sun is absolutely beautiful today, Oliver. You should be outside catching some rays,” she exclaimed. A slow smile pulled at the corners of lips. He glanced outside to look at the “beautiful” sun, but he only saw minute water droplets streaking down his window and falling to the pavement.
“I assume your silence means you’re looking at the sun.” She had this cruel yet funny sense of humor when it came to their disabilities. They have developed an interesting way of communicating. Considering the fact that she could hear but he couldn’t talk, and that she can’t see but he can sign.
He reached for a bit of clay that he wasn’t using and began to write with a stencil his response: “The sun is truly beautiful. I wish that I could go outside, but I’m afraid that—the hermit I am—that someone will see and wish to start a ‘conversation’.” He got up from his chair and placed the clay into her hands. Her smooth and gentle hands started to decipher what he wrote—they worked intelligently and swiftly while doing this task.
“Oh Oliver, stop being scared of everything. You need to see the world and then come back to me and describe what you saw,” she said. If only she knew that he wanted to be brave, wanted to be her eyes, wanted to experience all the pleasures in life—but only for her. She is an angel with invisible wings—her hair is a golden yellow and he would sometimes imagine a halo around her head, she was wearing a white dress with yellow flowers scattered all around the silk material, her skin was as white as a ghost and had freckles absolutely everywhere, her voice was soft—every time she talked there was happiness in each word. She reminded him of his mother, but that wasn’t the reason why he loved her. He looked at her then and decided that it was time. With all the courage he had he grabbed the piece of clay out of her hand and began to write—for the first time — how he truly felt. “You are an angel sent to me directly from heaven. I love you: I love how you are so bright and full of hope when I have lost all of mine, I love the smile that you give to anyone and everyone—even if they were being mean to you, I love how accepting you are—I mean you accepted me and I’m a hot mess, I love your openness to share your feelings, I love how you make even the biggest issues small with humor, I love you. I know I am only 16 and you are 15, but I feel deep inside of me this feeling of love that I cannot withstand any longer. I, Oliver Smith, love you, Aura Valentine, and I don’t want your love back—even though that would be nice—I just want you to know how I feel.” He was too afraid to see her facial expression as she read what he said so he all but threw the clay in her hand and turned around. 1..2…3 minutes have passed, and he was beginning to feel anxious, for those few minutes felt like hours. He turned around to see that she was silently crying and her body appeared to be shaking. Then she started to feel the air around her with her hands as if she was trying to find him. He stepped into her arms so that she can tell that he was right in front of her. He looked down at her wet face and caressed her cheek hoping that she wouldn’t push him away. They stood like this for five more minutes before she wrapped her arms around him in a tight embrace and pushed her head into his chest. Then she faintly whispered,
“I love you too, Oliver Smith”
Inspired by Langston Hughes
. flickers through the night.
Old flames retire
Even against its might.
Old flames rise,
Even against its team.
New sparks will fly,
along with its dreams.
The winds of winter began to blow through the vacant trees along the horizon, and with winter came the distant memories of the past. I remember the day vividly as if it were yesterday. . .
8 years ago—
“Caroline, I’m going out to get some wood.” I didn’t wait for a response as I made my way out the back door. The cold crisp air met my face—I breathed it in through the scarf around my mouth—and began my journey to the middle of the forest. The only sound that can be heard for miles around was the faint crunch of my boots hitting the snow. I know the trail as if it were second nature – I passed the special marking on the tree that I pass almost everyday.
There was a vibrant color on the the ground that contrasted from the bleak shades that colored everything else. I crouched down to inspect the color closer. That is when I realized that it wasn’t just a color—it was blood. My eyes followed the distinct trail of blood leading me further into the forest. Before I started to follow the tracks of blood when my ears heard a voice that I would remember from anywhere.
“Help. . .” It was my wife.