This is just a little piece, though I’ve been told it carries a big punch, a strong message. One of love, which was my intention. Not the romantic kind, but I can’t think of a better time to spread some love. It’s a sad time for many. For the families of Newtown, Connecticut and all those who mourn with them. There are so many others out there in our world suffering due to senseless cruelty.
I have tinkered around with the thought of perhaps one day having this little story professionally edited, then shopping it around – try and sell it. This being a season of giving, I felt compelled to give it to all of you
I wish you all a happy holiday, a Merry Christmas — may you spend it with the ones (or the one) you love.
Brilliance was written for a writing site, my take on a prompt of the same word ‘Brilliance’. I have to say, it’s probably the piece I’m most proud so far in my writing journey. I had no idea something like this could come out of me. BRILLIANCE made me realize that being a writer, was truly a path I could walk down with more confidence and wonder.
If they were giving out awards for being clever, the boy had decided, he wouldn’t go to a ceremony to collect it.
His grandfather had told him that they were after the brilliance in him. That there weren’t many smart people around anymore—and that he, Elias Whitford L. Cranberry, was the smartest little boy in the world. Now when he was younger, it tickled him to death to hear that kind of praise. He used to throw his head back with laughter and clap his hands gleefully, when his granddad told him such things. Now it was also a fact, the old man told him there were folks who lived just over the horizon–who wore coats of many colors, and made prayers to the Sun, and ate flesh, and drink from a vine.
None of it ever made any sense to Elias but his father’s father was the only family he had and that, was reason enough for him to want to believe whatever the 88-year-old would tell him.
And the old man had been right about one thing…
He was smart.
Which is why he lived inside the compound, not outside—where the survivors of the Last War were left to their own instincts and the grace of Nature to find food, shelter, fellowship, and safety.
Tribes of like-minded people settled down together, gathering whatever limited resources they could find. Food, water…utilities were out there, but so much of the mind power to locate, facilitate and operate life-sustaining systems to harvest them was locked up in the gated compounds that were scattered across the country’s landscape.
Well, that’s what They had told him. Maybe there wasn’t anyone living on the other side of the barbed wire. And since he was—intelligent, Elias had enough wisdom not to take everything They said as being true.
After all, weren’t They the ones that thought it was okay to keep him shut up like a specimen in a jar?
who poked and prodded him for his ‘brilliance’ and scurried off with the daily journals They insisted he keep. Apparently, scouring them for a miracle to fix the mess that civilization was in.
And Elias had started to believe that, yes, just maybe he was smarter than them, because day after day the only thing he wrote in those stupid journals, which they all seemed to worship so much, was the most nonsensical theories, and speculations, whose design was rooted in complete and utter– fantasy. And, They, the so-called men of science never questioned any of it.
Elias spent hours spinning out long and totally outrageously contrived supposition of how the world should work.
All of it, every word – his grandfather’s stories. Tales the old man had been told when he was a boy.
About small creatures that used to fly and sing songs, and large super-sized buildings with shelves piled high with shiny tin cans of food, and villages rising up out of black tar and rows and rows of dwellings where inside, a man and a woman covered trees with radiant glass balls as gifts for their children– and white coldness that fell from the sky and made mountains on the ground…and…
Sometimes, when it was too hard for him to write about it,
Elias would draw pictures of the things in his head, images left there from the stories he’d heard while curled up in his grandfather’s bunk.
Cones– with creamy sweet scoops of color on them, trees with great arms of palm growing in the sand–big enough to climb up to watch a sea of blue rolling in and out, great hunks of metal on wheels traveling over land and some navigated to touch the moon.
Such silliness made him smile. It reminded him of the only good thing he had known in this world.
If he sat really still and closed his eyes he could feel the prickly bristle of his grandfather’s beard on his cheek.
He had been the oldest man in the compound, nearly 90. Dead now, for many calendar months.
All Elias, the last of his seed, had inherited–were the fantastical tales. And so, if the Scientists wanted to know what made him so smart, if They would ever bother to ask, Elias Cranberry would tell them all– his pearls of wisdom were his legacy.
Nothing more than fairy tales a loving grandfather had spun so that a child could dream when he fell to sleep at night.
Every night, back in the barracks, after all the lights were out, Elias had rested his head on the old man’s chest, eyes wide in the dark, listening to the stories and the steady beat of his grandfather’s heart keeping time with the rhythm of the spoken words.
And then, the elder would whisper in his ear, Sleep, Elias. Always remember your dreams. No one can take them from you.
And it was the truth.
It was at nighttime, in– his dreams, Elias would find the only love he’d ever known.
His grandfather’s opened arms to greet him and lift him up over his shoulders…
To take him over the horizon.
And there was rejoicing–a resplendent celebration, tubes of meat cooked on fires in the ground…sparkling stars of color shot into the universe…creatures in the sky and on the earth, and…and laughter, and joy-filled people dancing together.
And They couldn’t touch him…
No more journals. No more locked doors, and eyes staring at him through bars of steel.
The most beautiful place ever.
And no one cared if he was smart,
—they only cared that he was a boy.