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The Blind Boy

There once was a baby boy who could see the real world in a way that could not be described. Its clarity shocked him, scared him and filled him with awe and power, though the stupidity of his carers in not knowing his every wish angered him beyond measure. And when he saw himself one day in a mirror, he was astonished by his own beauty. And so the world slipped from his gaze as he carried on with that precious image. Inside, he found he could sustain power and perfection, away from the frustrations and pain of the life-sucking outer world. In his genius, he mastered the language of others and fought secret wars to protect his fantastic realm.

And thus unknown blindness crept upon him as his inner world grew brighter and the world outside hazed and faded. Yet that world was still there and so he closed his eyes forever and built an inner model of the outer mess, now perfect in every way and with himself at the omnipotent, omniscient centre.

This private kingdom served him well for many years and gave him leave to ignore the cracks that were developing along its borders. Yet as adulthood called, the knowledge of impending responsibility sent him scurrying to his fortress and hastily papering across the widening fractures. In echo of that early frustration he railed loud against the rising tide of tomorrow's ill promise of defeat and crumbling walls, but to no avail as the future crept inexorably in.

And so one night he dreamed a lucid dream of the reality beyond. He lay on a rocky outcrop and opened his eyes once again to a sliding serpent who wrapped itself about him.

"Shall I take you now?" asked the snake. "Would you leave the world forever?"

This is not real, thought the boy. It is a dream.

"It is the only reality!" hissed the snake, fixing him with sharp and dangerous eyes. "You stand on the edge of an abyss. Your world is falling and you know it well."

"But beyond my walls lies danger and toil without end!" wailed the boy.

"And what danger does that great world now pose to your frail kingdom?" asked the snake, "What toil would you need to repel its endless assault?"

The boy was suddenly afraid as the the dawning truth reached out its warm and icy fingers from a sharpening horizon to the rough rock beneath him and the weight of the snake above, with its ready fangs, inches away.

"I want to live!" cried the boy, agonizing revelation washing his silted eyes. "I want to be!"

"Then do so." said the snake and slithered away.

The boy closed his eyes, seeing his old kingdom as from above, knowing it sadly for what it was. He opened his eyes again, blinking in the brightening sunlight. The snake was gone, but the rock was still there. He stood up, stiffly, and walked on.

 

***

~by David Straker~

 

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