I come upon his room as I came upon it the first time, alone. The little boy I found inside is now a man. The one who’d been too sick to leave his bed has just returned from another adventure overseas, his travels undoubtedly marked by a trail of broken hearts.
Twenty-two years ago, I left this hall, asking my mother, “Mama, can’t you help that boy?”
Roald had been so nice, letting me play with his toys. I could hardly believe he was too sick to join in or even leave his bed. There had to be something Mother could do for him.
No, she’d said, even though she was a healer. “He has people for that. They can make Roald feel better, but he’s dying, Trice. No one can save him. It’s better to put him out of mind.”
Out of sight and out of mind, the Hamlins’ little boy was practically dead already. I hadn’t known him before I wandered away from the party downstairs and discovered his room. Trailing Mother’s voluminous evening gown as she ushered me away, I did not want to forget him. I didn’t want him to die.
“But, I don’t want Roald to die.”
Mother sighed. “You never should have come up here.”
I stepped back when Mother leaned down to carry me. “You can’t let Roald die, Mama—you can’t.”
“It isn’t within my power. When you’re older you’ll understand.”
I frowned, because I did not understand, nor did I believe I ever would. “You’re lying. You just don’t like healing. You said some people don’t deserve help. That’s what you said before when you thought no one could hear, but I heard you.”
Mother straightened so that she towered above and stared down her nose at me. “Trice Farrow, you apologize for your rudeness, or you will be in serious trouble when your father hears of it
“I won’t. You’re selfish and mean.”
Her eyes flashed briefly. “So, you think healers must be unconditionally selfless and kind to all who are in need of their services? Very well. There is a way for you to save Roald, yourself. We will see how long your generosity lasts.”
Twenty-two years. Roald looks up at me, the poison creeping up his veins, mottling his golden skin with black splotches. Who knows how it happened? All I can think of are all the times he tempted fate because of the enchanted pendant dangling from the chain around his neck. I think of how many times his recklessness hurt me, and his brazen disregard sapped my strength.
A sharp pang rips through him and I feel it as though it were my own. He gasps. I gasp. Dizziness overcomes and I steady myself, a hand against his bed.
Roald grips my wrist and pleads, “Trice…help me?”
No one can. I reach for the pendant. Twenty-two years. No more.
This scene will not be in the story. At least, not in this form, but I now know Trice’s prime motive, underneath everything, was to prove her mother wrong. Yet, all her efforts seemed to be for naught—the boy she saved hardly appreciated it, to say the least. The more he enjoyed life, the less she did, until she became just as begrudging and compassionless as her mother predicted.
A few posts back, I talked about how journaling helps reveal things about my personal writing process—habits, strengths, weaknesses, etc. This is how freewriting can sprout new ideas and reveal new dimensions of a given story or character. It's pretty exciting. :)
Photo credit: "Sprouts" by MissMessie, available under CC BY 2.0