be rather than appear

Of boys and knights

We all have fear in our life. Whether its spiders, heights, or dark parking garages. It can cripple us, leaving us shaking visibly. But Fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it can bring out the best in us. Without fear there can be no bravery. Here’s a short story I thought of about my childhood and how I would deal with fear sometimes.

The little boy stared at his reflection in triumph as he brushed his teeth. Rinsing his mouth out, he then scampered down the hall to his room and climbed the ladder to his bed on the top bunk. He crawled under the covers before his older brothers were even in the room, a carefully planned scheme that he had considered all day. He smiled to himself, feeling victorious, holding his favorite teddy bear, little foot, tightly in his arms. Every night was a race for him, to beat his older brothers to bed. Last one in bed had to shut the light off, it was the golden rule amongst the boys. He counted sheep like his dad had taught him, feeling himself drifting into dreamland. He was interrupted by a loud knock on the side of his bed. His big brother gave the most evil grin at him and said “you forgot to turn the bathroom light off”. His heart sank as he watched his brothers tuck themselves into their beds. Dread overcame him, this was not good, not good at all. Sighing to himself, he pushed the covers off and climbed down from the top bunk. “Don’t let the monsters get you!” His brother called out as he left the room.
He looked down the hall towards the bathroom. It seemed like a mile away now, the hallway nearly pitch black and foreboding. The boy crept as quietly as his little feet could, his eyes wide, scanning all directions for moving shadows. Finally reaching the bathroom, he paused a moment in the light. This part was going to be tricky. Once he turned off the light it would be a race down the hall, back to the room and up the bunk bed ladder. He wished he had brought little foot with him. Mustering his courage, he reached for the light switch with one hand, the rest of his body braced for the mad dash through the darkness. The light clicked, the darkness engulfing him. He sprinted down the hallway, his feet pounding the carpeted floor. He felt the things in the dark reaching for him, just inches away. He reached his room door way, got to the ladder, pulling himself up as fast as he could and onto his bed. Snatching the covers over his head, he grabbed little foot and pulled him in close, hugging him tightly. He could feel the shadows outside of the blanket, probing, searching for a way to get under his protective forcefield that was his blanket. He shut his eyes tight. He squeezed little foot hard, whispering that it would be alright, that they were safe now. Time passed by slowly, the boy sweating under the heavy blankets, protected but uncomfortable. Sleep took him.
He awoke, finding himself on the hard, dirt covered ground, with Littlefoot, still clutched in his hands. He was in a forest now, not in the room he shared with his brothers. He looked around, peering into the darkness. there were trees all around, tall, gnarled ones with long arm like branches. They all seemed to be looking at him, watching, waiting. Not knowing what else to do, he began to walk, hoping to find a way out of the woods. He wished his dad were here with him, he wasn’t afraid of anything. His dad always told him that there was no such thing as monsters, but he knew better. They were always lurking in darkness, reaching out for him from the shadows. He had been lucky so far, narrowly escaping them most nights. He hoped this time would be no different.
Having Littlefoot with him made him feel a little better. A gift from his sister, littlefoot had been at his side ever since, his constant companion and guardian in the darkness. He held onto it with both arms, almost hiding behind it is as he walked. The trees stared down at him ominously. Suddenly the wind picked up, the leaves rustling at his feet. The trees groaned, the wind howling past him. He was cold now, his thin pajamas barely protecting him from the elements. Glancing behind him, the darkness was creeping closer as he stood there. He began to run, trying to stay ahead of the shadows. Running through the woods was becoming more and more difficult, the trees growing closer together. Packed tightly now, he had to squeeze between them to move. The sharp branches ripped into his clothes, his pajamas shredded. He cried out as the branches dug into his skin, blood trickling from the shallow cuts all over his body. He charged blindly ahead, crying and bleeding, little foot still in his hand.
Bursting through a thicket, he came to a clearing. The trees seemed to make a big circle, nothing but rocks and dirt on the ground. He dried his eyes on his torn sleeve. Then cold and exhaustion overcame him. He just wanted to be back in his room, he wouldn’t care if his brothers made fun of him, he’d call out to his dad and he’d tell him nothing would get him. He sat on the ground, holding his companion close, sobbing, with realization of defeat took hold of him. The shadows would be here soon, it was only a matter of time.There would be no covers to hide under this time.
Looking up, he saw the shadows, coming through the trees, slowly but surely. He could hear them whispering, laughing, taunting even. Hugging little foot tightly, he stood up. No more running or hiding. This was it. The shadows merged into one being. His every nightmare made manifest in this hulking and grotesque pit of darkness. The mass of shadows now towered over the boy like a giant from the stories. The monster looked down at the boy, laughing an evil laugh, mocking his fear
This angered the little boy. Looking around the clearing, he spotted a stick. Running to it, the boy picked it up. With little foot in one hand and the stick in the other, he charged at the monster. He lashed out at the monsters leg, he couldn’t reach anything else. His fury blinded him, the pain from his cuts forgotten. The monster watched, surprised, as the boy struck again and again. Annoyed now, the monster grabbed the boy in his hands, lifting him high overhead, and threw him against a tree. The impact against the tree broke the little boy. His body crumbled to the floor, clearly shattered. He lay in a broken heap, still clutching little foot close. Inches from him lay the stick. The boy extended his bloody hand and reached for it. Pain seared through him, engulfing him in agony. He closed his eyes, gritting his teeth. Grasping it now he relaxed a little. It felt good in his hands, like the grip was made for him.
He opened his eyes, astonished at what he saw. In his hand was a sword. The cold had gone, the warmth from the padded armor fit him well. Little foot had become what it had always been, a shield. His shredded pajamas were no more, a full suit of brilliant silver steel armor covered him from neck to toe. He flipped the visor on his helmet up, better to see with.
The knight arose from the ground, wounds healed and back on his feet. Holding the sword in front of him, he swung it left and right, deftly cutting through the air. He turned toward the monster, it had turned his back to him. Using his sword, he banged it on shield. CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! The monster, visibly startled,turned towards the noise. Seeing the knight in the clearing, he was shocked. Where had he come from? Raising his clawed hand and opening his tooth filled maw wide, he let out a roar that trembled the earth. The knight stood aloft, unfazed by the monsters display. He stared back at the monster, contempt written all over his face. Picking up a rock, the monster pulled his arm back and threw it toward the knight with great force. Standing his ground until the last moment, the knight moved his head to the side, the rock sailing passed harmlessly. Angry now, the monster charged at the knight, arms outstretched. He swung his left hand, fist clenched to crush the warrior. The knight jumped nimbly to the side, narrowly avoiding the blow. It swung harder with his right hand, claws outstretched to impale. The knight leaped back and sent his sword Slashing down. The blow struck its mark, severing the monsters hand. It howled in pain, clutching the stump where his hand had been. Falling to its knees, he whimpered as dark green blood gushed from the severed limb.
The knight stood still, cape billowing in the wind, watching, waiting. A feeling crept into the monster, something he had never felt. It gazed at the knight, watching as he slowly walked towards him. The monster knew fear, feeling himself shrinking where he knelt. No longer massive and imposing, he quivered now, terror fully taking hold of him. The knight plunged his sword into the earth, swaying back and forth in the ground. He stood in front of the monster, bending to one knee. He took off his helmet and set it on the ground, his long hair flowing in the breeze. The creature held its one good hand in front of its face, shielding himself from the blow to come. Looking into the now small creatures eyes, he spoke “It’s time for you to go now. Leave this place, and know that if you ever return, I’ll be waiting.” Gathering it wits,the creature scampered towards the trees. Being no bigger than a mouse now, he quickly disappeared in the thicket. The knight sat down against a tree, contentment washing over him. He set his shield to the side of him, close at hand. Closing his eyes, he thought of adventure and fair princesses. Before long, his breaths grew deep, and he fell fast asleep.
The boy awoke, still under the blanket, sweating profusely. Pulling the blankets off, he pushed them down by his feet. He looked around the room, barely making out his brothers still forms. Reaching out, he grabbed little foot, who had strayed from his grasp. He hugged it tight like he always did, his companion and shield. Closing his eyes, he counted the sheep like his father had taught him.

Thank you for reading. Share please :)
JJ

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5 responses

  1. Ryland Rodman

    Coming from me this probably means very little, but I felt compelled by what I have read. I am amazed by the person you have become JJ. I remember in high school looking at you like every other kid that got in fights in school, someone that had something to prove. But now I look at you as an intelligent, diciplined, and inspiring figure who has not only made a life for himself, but for your daughter as well. I am impressed with the way you are able to express your thoughts literally and symbolically. You have truly changed my outlook on the type of person you really are. Keep doing what you’re doing JJ, you have a great future ahead of you. I look forward to reading more of you words, and watching you grow even more. Thank you.

    September 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    • Means more than you know. Can’t apologize enough for the person I was in high school. Hope all is well with you and yours.
      JJ

      September 21, 2013 at 12:01 am

  2. Ryland Rodman

    No need to apologize, we learn from our mistakes and become stronger. Keep it up friend.

    -Ryland

    September 21, 2013 at 12:10 am

  3. cindy leuschen

    JJ, I have said it before and I will say it again, You ARE a National Treasure, you inspire young and old. Your rich insight and overall outlook of the world and the people in it is amazing. You exhibit fairness, understanding, compassion, strenght, beauty and awareness that surpasses anyone, especially at your age. I know you do not know me, but I am grateful that you are part of my family. Bless you and yours, and kick some booty!!

    September 21, 2013 at 12:39 am

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