Short Story – “The Empty Prodigy” – Chapter I – 8/19/2021

Colors will drain from the open wound. Upon the carpet, upon the spaces where sunlight brought in from open windows is shown warmest, as these marks are left without memory for why or when they were applied. They just were, because colors can be left behind.

Color-blinded, some people are, though not ever blinded of the self. An ideal is a comparison to the self, of what one can make themselves to be. At first, a blank canvas. Then, perhaps something monstrous. Or, perhaps another thing resplendent. However, it is always innocent. Always to appear of ongoing progress, though that first step is still seen that could not be completely crossed. It is the white space of the underlying blank canvas. Always the innocence, always the purity. Nothing should, or nothing could shroud it, to cover every trace of sand or soil with the waters of an artist’s emotion.

An ideal can be created for the self, though cannot be misunderstood in the eagerness to conceal a beginning.

This is why we have children, who are better able to recognize the confusion, though most interpret it with no conclusive effort. This is why we have Brandon Hill, whose eyes still are too childish to penetrate the shades that so much attempt to cover his expressions of subtle interest.

He cannot tell why he is looking upon what the shades about him find so amusing. They abuse him. They torture him.

Brandon Hill is nearing adolescence, though stays stagnant on the age of twelve. Why should he ever advance past childish wonderment, if meaning to stay put? He sees what keeps him held. They are the hands that wield him, that have severed his freedom and yearning for a setting of his own making.

If Brandon could interpret himself, he will say his hands cannot move to paint his own canvas. He will say another is making the motions, the swirls with the brush, the scrapes with the palette knife. Those shades remind him. They keep Brandon fueled with the recognition for being idealized, even while pain has cut into his literal flesh. While his mind is either altered when astray or continued for the masterpiece of design, his flesh becomes cut. Punished at the altar for being little, where those shades seem to ignore what Brandon can still comprehend with fullness. It is pain. His arms, bruised. His hands, though not his fingers, swollen. His legs only ever stung to raise the welts just enough to slow himself, though retain the ability for posture and motion.

This is the place of curiosity. When interest is heightened to a point beyond the normal, it becomes prestigious. Brandon is these shadow’s own vehement curiosity. It is not, however, without caution. As Brandon can fathom pain, their method to not injure enough to impede his mobility will keep his mental canvas still showing white. It is for what would not be, in these shadow’s eyes, progress. Such shadows that beat and swear to the punishment of Brandon, as he, a child, holds an appetite for learning that names him a prodigy.

A child who has been taken; no, he was stolen from any life that might have been an awareness beyond the mere keen. Astuteness in observation, as that is what resulted in his attention to pain.

No other child, being abused, would recognize pain as a terror. These shades will show enough through their influences for machinations unseemly. Brandon will recognize the abrasion, the blood-mark, and then will state this a wrong. He will say, “No” to it. This sign of his awareness will stun the shades, those figures of darkness that do what they will to color his white, his innocence. They step away upon hearing him and walk out, blending in with the corners as Brandon begins to mix in with his wounds.

Pain revives him, it might be said. It awakes and stirs him, keeping him alert to the next time the dark figures approach. With their lash, they will open him. They will spill colors, as if meant to be left behind. With Brandon’s eyes staying widened, are there as if twin gashes.

But the ideals are heaviest, as these shades have branded him with greater weight of cruelty than any mere beating. They have allowed him no other awareness than the pain. The stings, the physical scars, the welts are all recognized to his wide eyes that stare, though nothing is apparent in what else he can be open for.

Upon both sides, Brandon is open for both the beatings and the pushed idealisms that attempt to make either landscape or portrait from his simple obedience. His face, always with bulging eyes, as though meant to observe the entirety of the universe, though severely limited to what these shadows are inducting.

They are shadows that cross along the walls, pass within his mind, to then paint his consciousness to his youth of a blank canvas with miserable colors. Alike with the post-modern, hideous protrusions of buildings on the cityscape, or a painting formed of splatter to the mere effect of audience shock, influences leak in the color upon the child who is believed by them to be an emptiness.

As certain as any prodigy can be of who they might know, be aware to, or to contrast from what is not similar, is impossible when Brandon’s awareness towards these shadows is all too alien. He sees them, knows them not, and despises him with fury in his heart. His pain is the motivation to ridicule them, in his sleep. When he lays back, he sees himself smudging them from another canvas, filled with no memories but the current ones. He sees himself rubbing off what seems to never entirely clean away.

If they were not his parents, his mother nor father, the agony from their lashings could not form a different sort of stain for his unfurled palms. As teardrops fall, there is a sadness. There is confusion. There keeps the ongoing winter that drives the snow against his soul. A blizzard that will not part from its place above his head. While being abandoned to his bed covers, covered in trickling blood, he continues to wish for the natural and serene dark of the night to smear him away.

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