In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Call Me Ishmael.”
By Scott Bailey © 2014
She came out of the store just in time to see her young son playing on the sidewalk directly in the path of the gray, gaunt man who strode down the centre of the walk like a mechanical derelict.
The boy looked up at her once the man had passed, saw the fear, the hatred in her eyes.
“What’s up? What is the danger?”
She looked troubled by his questions, as if he had stirred something in her she did not wish to confront.
He seemed to be seeing this a lot lately.
“He is a leper,” she answered curtly.
“And that makes him dangerous?” the boy asked. She stared at him as if wondering where his curiosity was coming from. And well she might.
That was not important to him now, he wanted answers. The time had come for them.
“You might get it, I don’t want anything to hurt you.”
“So why is no one helping him?”
“I don’t think anyone can. It’s not curable.”
“So why is he allowed to wander around?”
“I don’t know,” she snapped.
“But why do you hate him so much?”
“Because he could hurt you! You might get it!”
“Wouldn’t it be better the try to help him rather than hate him?”
“Look its too complicated for you to understand! I am not a doctor!”
“But you know doctors?” he frowned.
“Look that’s enough young man – let’s get you home and get you a bath.”
The boy frowned. She would not be drawn any further.
He was quiet on the way home. He had come to a conclusion. The mother he had chosen was not adequate – not in respect to answering his questions. Well there was nothing he could do about that now. That decision was made.
But he could direct his questions elsewhere. He was going to be forced to. If he didn’t get any better answers soon it was not going to bode well for the human race.
The first line is from my favourite book “Lord Fouls Bane” by Stephen R Donaldson, the first part of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.