The boy stood rocking a body’s length away staring at those large white shoes. The owner of the shoes demanded he speak but what use? This alien understood nothing he said.
“Boy, you may be only six years old but you will speak if you expect to eat tonight."
Eyes darting back and forth, the child bobbed his head from side to side. He scratched furiously as he felt the starched checked fabric on his chest squeezing the life out of him. The pattern of the cloth terrified him. Too much to look at on himself. Too many distractions. Too many colors. Just too much.
“Well,” bellowed the too thin, too tall being towering over him, “are you going to say something or not?”
Those large white shoes were so clean, so uncluttered. Had to concentrate. Must communicate. But the aliens were so stupid. They seldom seemed to understand anything. Perhaps today would be different.
“My name is Raymond. Please be kind to me,” the boy enunciated deliberately.
He ceased rocking and expectantly awaited the being’s congratulations for speaking. Instead, the thing shook its finger and waved it violently in his face. It was obvious it understood nothing.
“You are a devil child! Perhaps a night with no clothes or food will break that will of yours. In disgust the alien ripped off the boy’s clothes, wadded them under its arm and stormed out. As it pulled the door shut to leave, it muttered, “Idiot!”
With that, the door slammed shut and the lights went out. The boy stood alone in the darkness of the small room. Naked. Eyes wide open. Alone. A putrid smell rose up in his mind and he gagged. No matter how much he tried to block the odor out he could not. Thankfully he realized the smell decreased in intensity the further away from the door he moved. With his back against the far wall, he squatted down and rocked as he held his knees.
“Yes, yes,” he repeated over and over. “Momma be here in the morning. Momma bring the magic board.”
When the morning sunlight finally filtered through the lone window of his room, he heard the door opening. He got back on his knees, rocking furiously. But it was ok. Momma was here. She wasn't really his momma but he didn't know or care. All he knew was this being was a person like himself. She never tried to smother him in her arms like the others. She never spoke too loudly. And most importantly she brought with her the magic board.
Momma knelt beside Raymond and set the board in his lap. He ceased rocking as his eyes and mind filled with wonder at the colored shapes on the board. Magic shapes. And the sour odors of the night before were replaced by the fragrance of roses.
Momma’s lips curled upwards, a signal he had learned to recognize. She was pleased to be here.
“Good morning Raymond, how are you today?”
Raymond started to speak but quickly remembered even Momma was too dull to understand the speed of his thoughts. He methodically tapped one symbol after another on the board as Momma copied them on a piece of paper. As always, his thoughts magically transferred from the board to the paper.
Momma looked at the paper; eyes scanning from left to right. The symbols on the paper looked nothing like what Raymond had seen in his mind as he tapped the board. But that was the magic of it. Momma could understand the symbols. Through them she could feel what he felt and see his dreams. All that from those black marks on white paper!
Momma ran her fingers over the symbols on the paper and made an even bigger gesture with her lips.
“I love you too Raymond.”
Raymond wished he could make his lips do what Momma’s had but instead his arms began to flap uncontrollably. Momma didn’t get angry. She simply moved her eyes across the magic paper again and repeated, “I love you too Raymond.”
While Raymond is a composite of the accounts of several severely autistic children who learned to communicate this story is dedicated to my friend Gene. Gene was labeled an Idiot Savant as a child. Momma still loves you Gene even though she can no longer be with you. She’s waiting for you! For more insight into the alien world of the severely autistic, read “Strange Son” by Portia Iverson.
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