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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 26: Brown 64
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 25: Slade 51
The tooth pain came and went, and while it hurt terribly when it was there, Derek realized that other things were happening. He was finally able to move around on his own. He could lift himself on his hands and knees, and crawl.
At first, he could only go backwards; it was rather frustrating trying to coordinate his arms and legs to move him forwards. He thought this was silly, it was something he had done thousands of times. But this body had never done it, and he had to teach this body to do what the other one had done automatically for so many years. It was slow going.
He also found that he could now stand. He couldn't just stand anywhere; but if he was next to something solid at least half as tall as he was (he did not dare think what size that might actually be) he could raise himself to his feet and hold himself upright in that position. He enjoyed doing this; it gave him a feeling of significant accomplishment, no matter how simple a task it might appear.
He was getting better with his hands, too. He could pick things up usually on the first try, and could manage smaller objects than before. His parents were a bit concerned to realize that he preferred to use his left hand; he didn't know how to tell them that he had always preferred to use his left hand, so he just told them it was because he was special.
The days were cooling; his parents moved him inside, carrying him up and into a hole in the side of a tree. This gave him walls, and walls meant places to stand. Now that he was standing, he was determined to walk. He set out to walk across the room; but he immediately fell as soon as he lost contact with the wall. Part of it was apparently his sense of balance; but part of it was that the muscles in his ankles and legs were not compensating for the shift in his center of gravity as he walked. He could not think to adjust fast enough to stay upright; his legs were going to have to learn how to do it. But they would not learn without practice, and if he couldn't take a step, he couldn't practice very well.
He could practice, he realized, by following the wall. This gave him a reference point and a certain amount of support--if he was off balance, he only needed to push himself toward the wall, and his arms could keep him from going too far. Walking would come; it would not take long.
It was only then that he realized that walking was not going to be quite the same milestone he imagined. Certainly it was good that he was learning to walk, and his parents would be pleased and proud. That, however, was only a step in the right direction. He was a sprite now. He would walk, he would run, he would do all of that. If he was ever going to get anywhere in life, though--literally or figuratively--he was going to have to learn to fly.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #170: Versers Explore. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: