Of Sound and Sight (Chapter 1) – Lukas Schneider ’20

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by Lukas Schneider ’20

Chapter 1

Oscard was woken by a scratching noise that he couldn’t quite pinpoint. Seeing that the time was 8:23 a.m., he decided to get out of bed. His groggy, sleep-filled mind almost immediately forgot the reason he had woken up. Well, until he heard the noise again, and by then he had deduced that it was his family’s cat, Prince, scratching at his door.

Sighing, Oscard shuffled half-heartedly to the door and pulled it open. Immediately, Prince sprang across the room and curled up on Oscard’s pillow. Oscard sighed again. Now he had no choice but to get up.

Downstairs in the kitchen, Oscard found his mother sitting at the table and drinking coffee. Without looking up from her book, she pointed towards the toaster, where there was a bagel ready and waiting to be cut and toasted. Oscard trudged over, put the bagel in, then slumped down next to his mother.

Immediately, she put down her book and asked, “Okay, what’s bothering you?”

He sighed for the third time in five minutes, “I’m not exactly happy to be going back to school after three months of R&R.” She gave him a look that to him clearly read, “You’re fifteen, act like it.” They sat there in silence until the bagel popped up. As he moved to go retrieve it, he noticed her rolling her eyes and returning to her book.

Munching on the bagel, Oscard shuffled into the TV room and switched on the television. Prince strutted into the room, and Oscard allowed the cat to lick the remaining butter off his fingers. Currently, the television was set to cartoons. Oscard wasn’t sure why. His mother was a teacher, and his father was a geologist who was currently out of town, and he was a rising ninth grader, None of them had much cause to watch cartoons. Instead he began flipping through the channels and found a boring news story about two seniors in Arkansas, and immediately changed the channel. Why would it be called local news if they were talking about a state hundreds of miles away from his home in Maine? The next channel was a rerun of a rather stupid show called Things Idiots Do. Next, a prison escape in Washington. Next, another cartoon channel. After four more minutes of channel surfing, Oscard became bored and turned the TV off.

Prince had long since disappeared, and Oscard wondered what to do on his last few days of summer. He knew that Tuesday was the planned shopping day, but what about the other seven days? He had already played every game on his PS4 that he owned all the way through. Or at least, in as many cases as he could.

The problem with summer was that sometimes, if it dragged on too long, like a book that overstays its welcome, it would eventually become boring. But then again, going back to school wouldn’t exactly be thrillsville. He decided he would ask his mom to take him to either the video game store conveniently about seven minutes away, or to the bookstore a little further away. It was sometimes annoying not to have access to driving himself, because then he wouldn’t have to ask her before going somewhere.

This was one of the many issues with being fifteen. It was like being on the cusp of driving and manhood, but having one last lap before you hit the line. He asked his mom, and she responded with a simple yes, then told him to get showered and dressed before they went.

When he went upstairs to shower, he saw Prince was passed out on his pillow again. Oscard just grinned, then stripped off and jumped in his shower. The warm water stung a bit on Oscard’s cold skin. He always preferred cold due to his family’s ancestors living in northern climates. In the slightly steamed bathroom mirror, Oscard combed his hair and surprised himself with how filled out he was getting.

Normally, Oscard was around mediocre in body type. He wasn’t tall, nor short. He wasn’t wimpy and thin, but he wasn’t buff or fat either. Mainly he had a medium build, with medium length white blonde hair that just fell to his ears and a bit longer than that in the back, but not by much. Now he was a bit taller, a bit more athletic, and just a little bit bigger in general.

His night black eyes stared into themselves, and Oscard had a strange feeling that something was watching him. His trance was shattered when his mom called up the stairs for him to come down. Oscard thumped down the stairs after putting on a clean gray t-shirt and blue shorts. He found his mother reading a letter with the envelope sitting opened next to her. He walked over and looked over her shoulder, and the letter was mightily disappointing.

All rising Ninth Graders

We request your presence at the the orientation party. After orientation on August 23rd, come to the smaller gymnasium, and there will be a party set up by the PTO and waiting for you. This is not mandatory, but you will receive extra credit points in all of your classes if you attend. Don’t be late!

Oscard glanced down at his mother to see her reaction. Usually she insisted that he participate in any activity that got him extra credit, hence the trumpet sitting upstairs in his room. There was an awkward pause, and then his mother at last spoke.

“Alright, I know you’re not big on social events, but think about how those points can give you a cushion for the beginning of the year so you have room to get back on your feet.” Oscard sighed yet again and walked over to the pantry to get some cereal and to the fridge to get some milk. That was exactly what he had been expecting her to say.

“If you go, then I’ll fill out those forms permitting you to take electives with dangerous equipment,” she added. Oscard set down his bowl. This was bribery in a high form. She waggled her eye at him. “What do you say?”

“Fine, I’ll do it,” he replied. Then he dug into his cereal. His mother shook her head.

“How do you eat that much?” she asked. He shrugged, and kept eating. She gave her own windy sigh and left to take her shower. After finishing his meal, he decided to take a walk in the park across the street. His mother wouldn’t be done for another twenty minutes by average, so he casually meandered over there and strolled around the pond. When he got bored, he sat down and threw rocks into the water. When that got boring, he fell onto his back and decided just to rest.

He must have fallen asleep, because when he opened his eyes, a girl was hovering over him, looking concerned.

“Gah!” Oscard cried out, sitting bolt upright, almost hitting the girl with his chest. He knew it was not very friendly to be so flustered, but he had never really felt comfortable around strangers, and unlike the other boys in his grade, he didn’t really want to “get comfortable” with a female.

The girl was now staring at him, and Oscard was fairly sure he was blushing, both from heat and embarrassment.

“Are you…okay?” she asked, “I’m not great with medical science, but I wasn’t sure if you had passed out from heatstroke or something like that…”

“It’s 70 degrees out here,” Oscard replied, confused by the girl’s obvious bluster.

“Well, I thought, I mean, your skin is fair, and, and well, you could’ve been knocked out or dehydrated or, oh by the way my name’s Yeva, Umm, oh right heatstroke” If it was possible, Oscard was even more flustered by Yeva’s barrage of words and topics. While he was processing the fact that she might’ve just complimented him in her own way, he realized she was still talking.

“Could you repeat some of that, I may have stopped listening around the time you got back to heatstroke,” he smiled, trying to calm her down. Unfortunately, her face reddened and she just stuffed a piece of paper into his hand before running off, black braid flapping behind her.

Oscard was a bit stunned. In the course of two minutes he had managed to meet a girl who might like him, get complimented by her, learn her name was Yeva, and embarrass her enough to send her running off. He debated exactly how successful that could be considered.

He heard someone calling his name, and for a second he wondered if Yeva was coming back before he remembered that she probably didn’t know his name. It turned out to be his mother, wearing a lightweight blouse and skirt with a sweater. In essence, her teaching attire.

“Oscard,” she panted, “Where were you? I’ve been looking all over for you…what’s that piece of paper in your hand?” He hastily slipped it into his pocket.

“Oh, well…just some notes. Social Studies. Completely optional activity!” he fibbed, and then winced as he guessed his mom wasn’t going to buy it.

“Uh huh, and the girl blushing like crazy and muttering your name over and over that rushed past me had nothing to do with it?” She cocked an eyebrow.

He wished that he could fib some more, but he guessed that his flushed cheeks gave it away.

“Okay, fine, her name’s Yeva, and we just met today, although she might have a crush on me. Are we cool?” She glared at him some more. “Really, I don’t know what is difficult about this. We just met, and I don’t know why she has a crush on me.”

She sat down next to him and inhaled slowly before explaining her reasoning. “Women do strange things when they’re enamored. I should know. When your father and I were dating, I wanted to jump off a bridge when I thought he was double dating. It turned out to all be a misunderstanding, but my point stands true. Do you understand?”

He nodded slowly, “Yes-my-lord-and-master-I-will-do-as-you-say!!!” She laughed goodnaturedly and covered her mouth with her hand.

“How do you take a serious situation like this, dating, and joke about a completely irrelevant topic!” she giggled. When she realized that Oscard wasn’t replying, she looked down to find him half passed out on the grass again. She burst into gay laughter once more, and this time he woke up and stretched.

“Alright, let’s go to the store and buy you one more video game to keep you out of my hair until school starts.” Oscard grinned in victory.

“Which one?” he asked.

“Whichever one you want from there!” she replied. Oscard laughed too. But when he thought about what game to buy, his heart skipped a beat.

“Mom, when is Dad going to be back from his trip?” he asked, “He’s been gone for six months already.”

“Oh, you know your father, he’ll be home, when he’ll be home.”

Oscard decided to drop the subject and follow his mother to the car. But as they drove to the store, he couldn’t help but remember the days long past when his father could read him bedtime stories in his tiny crib with the rock mobile turning gently above. If only he could know what lay ahead.

Author’s note: I’m sorry for tricking you with literary deception. The father is of no importance and I should not have made it such a cliffhanger father focused ending. This is a common literary trick. Throw out a meaningful cliffhanger then wait till the sequel to let anything make sense. Really, read some more books, and you’ll be surprised. But in this case, there is no sequel. Congratulations, hope you enjoy becoming a reader.