The April 2003 Challenge (the Picture Challenge): offered by KT
Forget April fools! You will find 4 pictures below. Take a look at all 4 pictures and let 1, 2, 3 or all 4 inspire you. You don't have to be too bound by the details of the picture, all I ask is that the reader be able to tell which picture(s) you chose. This takes place in my Moose Jaw AU shortly after Familiar Faces. Disclaimer is and always has been I dont owe them and have never made a plug nickel off em. Wish I did. 5/4/03
When I was a child,
I spake as a child,
I understood as a child,
I thought as a child:
but when I became a man,
I put away
Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:11
Memory is a funny thing, pot holed and corrupt it almost never reveals the truth as a whole. A personal history as it is, is swayed by the retelling of events laden with either a flourish on or omission of certain details. Some of which on that particular day, just as he was standing in front of the general store, came back in a disjointed flash when Ezra stood staring at a toy wooden horse displayed in the front window.
The hand carved animal was old, its small leather saddle cracked under many a ride and the mere passage of time. The real horsehair mane and tail though thin showed off the care and fine detail its maker had chosen well during its original construction nearly a half century early. The vintage equine, considered an antiquity in his own time, had captured his eye.
Far too early in the day for his brain to be working properly, Ezra Standish gazed through the dirty glass genuinely puzzled, no longer seeing what was in front of him but another place and another time.
A stern look from his mother No it wasn't his mother she had appeared in his life from time to time any semblance of a relationship had ended some years ago no this was someone else
Then he smiled at the distant memory. He hadn't thought much about his life prior to...
Pushing such thoughts from his mind. Knowing at least this was one of the more pleasant recollections he had recently. No he was not foolish enough to refer them as simpler times, Ezra treasured these moments, these wondrous almost surreal delicious slices of life. A happy long ago instances that still made him smile.
The sterile smell, a mixture of disinfectant and bleach, how he hated it, too weak to move his aching head let alone escape, a miserable thirteen year old Ezra lay under a mound of blankets in bed covered in a glistening sheen of sweat, the solitary patient in the hospital ward. There had been others there that he was sure of but they were no longer there. Completely lucid for the first time since his arrival, but he remembered several repeated words.
Not that it mattered. No one would come if they could have. He was alone and had been desperately ill for days. Wires and tubes invaded every orifice of his frail body. No longer able to breathe on his own, a machine that quietly whooshed at his bedside did the job for him. Even in his distracted state of mind and his vision was blurred he realized someone had entered the empty ward. Unlike his previous morning visitors that poked, prodded and drew blood, no blur of white covered the lower portion of the head yet this woman did not wear a mask.
Fractured memories of soft-spoken words and gentle touches were all he could recollect, but somehow he had known that woman was behind the kindness.
Starting from that first initial hazy waking that same woman had been there each time he had opened his eyes during the early days of his recovery.
Shortly after the respirator was removed and the boy could hold onto a somewhat coherent train of thought he had tried to ask what her name was but his mouth didn't seem to linked properly to his brain all that came out was a garbled mewling sound. To which the woman uttered a stream of reassurances and grasped his hand, the actual spoken words Ezra couldn't seem to hold onto, nor could get his feeble appendages to cooperate enough to squeeze her hand.
The illness hadn't killed him like it had so many countless others leaving Ezra's sharp mind intact but robbed the youth of control over his motor skills. Simple tasks were beyond his ability, no longer able to communicate or care for himself a combination of frustration and humiliation had spiraling into despair. Unwilling to cooperate with any attempts made towards his rehabilitation. That's when it showed up.
In the early days it had nothing more than a smudged shadow that sat atop his bedside table. Its existence hadn't interested him, until the he found he still had a voice.
Always with the touching, how Ezra had hated it. Hated that he had no choice in the matter. No way to voice his displeasure. But that particular morning a small-aggravated noise slipped out as one of the hospital staff came to change his bed sheets he was none to gently rolled onto to his side, all his pent up anger came out turning into a shrill howl.
That howl didn't stop when the aide pulled away his hands, or when the nurse came in vainly attempting to calm him down. Ezra wanted nothing to do with these people, and his vocal response could be heard well outside the ward.
A familiar hushed voice rapidly spoke in a brief seconds of silence when the boy's voice finally cracked. The litany of soft soothing words that followed mesmerized him. Fingers rubbed light comforting circles across his forehead as something was gently placed into one of his uncooperative hands.
The hazy image of the worn wooden animal brought an uncharacteristic giggle forth.
"A damn toy horse, whatever was that woman thinking?"
Ezra muttered quietly, but he knew. The cool morning air didn't register with the man caught up in myriad of old nearly forgotten memories.
He had giggled then too. The absurd notion that someone had brought a boy his age a toy, but the proffered object had his rapt attention, understanding the person knew his mind was functioning by getting through such an archaic turn of phrase.
Hold your horses.
Ezra giggled again, the quiet voice that had been whispering to him all along came in clear.
"That's right young man patience..." Still not able to properly focus his eyes, Ezra weakly turned his head towards the source.
Even though it was a key part of the skills that his mother taught him, the games, which she so readily educated him with, it still didn't prepare him for this. His recovery stuck in wretched quarantine.
With each passing day Ezra got better, his strength slowly returned but the monotony brought on by long hours spent isolation was taking its toll. After a week a steady improvement, the boy lapsed back into a malaise that wouldnt let up.
No matter what the hospital staff tried Ezra refused to get up, much less move from his sick bed, glaring and growling at anyone who came near, it was during one of these episodes that she returned.
Blankets pulled tightly overhead the thirteen year-old was adamantly refusing to move inch, a frustrated aide was trying to reason with the boy. The woman merely smiled at her exasperated counterpart signaling that it was okay for the aide to leave the youngster in her care.
The grumbling underneath the covers ceased, Ezra sensing something had changed pealed away the light blanket from his face, and peered out into the room. An older woman was standing across the room watching him. A stern look flittered across her face as she spoke, but that did last long as a gentle smile softened her features.
What did I tell you young man? Seeing the bewildered look on the boys face the woman elaborated. Ezra Standish, as I said before you need to have a little more patience these things take time She continued as she walked over and pulled back the sheets and raised the head of the bed whilst fluffing pillows under his head.
Maam, it would appear that you know who I am but I am at a lost as to who you might be? Even as Ezra said the words he felt he already knew her in some fashion that eluded his faulty memory.
Evie Travis, I am one of the hospital volunteers.
Excuse me Mrs. Travis but do they normally let civilians into a quarantined ward? Ezra asked genuinely puzzled by her presence.
Oh honey those who survive the illness are immune Mrs. Travis answered his question but quickly changed the subject ducking down and pulling out a box from underneath his hospital bed placing its contents on the bed. Now Ezra let see if we can keep you entertained.
Much to the boys surprise it was a chessboard and he stared at her as she unfolded the old game board and careful set out the pieces.
Three weeks later
The thirteen year old was getting wheeled down the long hospital corridor by an orderly. A small suitcase sat in his lap blankly staring out at the world deeply immersed in his own thoughts. He was a more than a bit distressed because he would not get to say good-bye to Mrs. Travis. Maude Standish had decided since her boy was no longer in quarantine it was time for them to move on, despite knowing that this was his mothers way it pained him to leave without saying something to the woman spent the better part of the last few weeks playing games, reading books and simply talking about the everything and anything allowing him to be the boy he was. Still preoccupied with the happy memories when they passed through the Hospitals main entrance to where their car was waiting for them and Ezra handed over his suitcase to the driver, it slipped out of his jacket. He tried to shove it back before Maude noticed and failed.
Ezra Standish what are you thinking? I thought I told you to leave that ridiculous thing behind?
I will not let a young man of your age tote around such a childish folly
With that said his mother grabbed the old carved horse and unceremoniously dumped the treasured object into the nearest waste receptacle as he was being ushered inside the car. Maude didnt say another word as she climbed in clipping out orders to the driver with Ezra staring out as the car slowly pulled away leaving the hospital to meld into the urban landscape.
His presence at the early hour had garnered some attention, although the main street had been empty when had had come down a lone patrol car pulled up curbside. Ezra swiveled in time to see the vehicle's window roll down, the occupant leaned forward out of its shadowy confines revealing the smiling face of Sheriff Wilmington.
"Hey Standish... what brings you out "
"At this ungodly hour? " Ezra finished out the question before Buck had a chance to, giving him an ambiguous response as well. "Ghosts... Mr. Wilmington...ghosts."
How about you leave those ghosts lie and join me for some coffee at Lonigans? The sheriff didnt even hesitate as he asked.
I believe I will. Knowing that Buck had extended the friendly gesture out of genuine kindness Ezra willingly accepted the offer.
Meet ya there. Ezra waited for Buck to pull away before headed over to the brightly lit diner, knowing that a little later when the general store opened its doors he would fulfill a childish folly and buy that worn out toy horse.