ON CORBIN’S PLANET
“What do you perceive is different about Korek?”
“Well, doctor, it is difficult to explain. In some ways he seems advanced. He is only three years old, but he already speaks in complete sentences. And he began to use oral language when he was only one year and five days of age. We never even had to teach him speech from the flash cards.”
“Remarkable, Citizen Kirisi.” Doctor Valen turns to address the male parent,
fixing his gaze three inches to the right. “Have you any input about Korek, Citizen Motan?”
“Yes!” Motan struggles to shape the words that flow more smoothly from his lifemate. “Korek not only pronounce real words. He use them to communicate! To tell us what he want… And not only this, but he look directly at our eyes and he ask why happy or why sad. It like he can actually read faces. He know correct emotions with no teaching from picture cards!”
“That is remarkable indeed, Citizen Motan. And yet I believe there is something about your son that causes you to feel…” Doctor Valen checks his client’s eyes, comparing the furrows forming between them with those upon the face illustrated by his own topmost picture card. “…anxiety?”
“Yes, doctor, that is correct. We feel anxiety!” Kirisi gazes left as she elaborates. “In some respects Korek appears delayed. He fails to comprehend written language, and he shows no knowledge of mathematics beyond his ability to count. Also, his behavior appears bizarre.”
“Bizarre? In what respect?”
“He plays in complex ways we cannot understand, such as perceiving his collection of plastic representations as living animals or human beings. At times he even wishes for us to perceive this with him. He never handles them the way other children do, arranging them into even rows.”
“And Korek touch us wrong!” Motan begins rocking as he forces out the words. “He not just touch to take hand and show us what he need, he grab us with arms and hold us tight like this!” He twines both arms about his own body. “This feel right, but not when Korek do to me! Why he do this, Doctor Valen?”
The doctor hesitates before replying. He fears these parents, like most, will find the answer difficult to accept. “I believe your son has bondism.”
“Bondism?” His clients both turn pale. Motan speeds his rocking and Kirisi conceals her eyes with trembling fingers. “Is that not a serious disorder?”
“Quite serious. It means he will be obsessed for life with the need to bond with other citizens. He may never create his own reality, or learn how to properly connect with himself.”
“But is there any hope he will achieve independence in adulthood?”
“We can only determine that in time, Citizen Kirisi. But we now believe that some of history’s greatest politicians, not to mention businesspeople and media entertainers, displayed many symptoms of bondism.”
“Politicians? Businesspeople? Media entertainers?” Three vertical lines prick Kirisi’s forehead. “But weren’t many of them considered odd? We hoped Korek would pursue something ordinary, such as becoming a scientist or artist. Or even that he might do something truly commendable, such as folding squares of cardboard into boxes of rectangular symmetry….”
The words catch in her throat as she struggles out of sleep. Beside her Michael—that’s her husband’s real name—still lies limp and snores. Her own real name is Karen and they live, she realizes, on planet Earth. Why then did that dream seem so real?
Slipping out of bed, Karen tiptoes off to check on her small son. Three-year-old Corbin rocks and croons softly to himself. He’s hunched over his GI Joes, lining them up in even rows. He avoids her eyes when she calls his name, twists from her hands as she tries to catch him in a hug. But completing his row of action figures with an even eighth one, he bursts into delighted laughter.
Through tears Karen feels the haunting aura of her dream. Corbin often strikes her as a visitor from a distant planet. Could there be some place in the universe where children like him are considered the normal ones?
The thought comforts her. Their Creator rules all places in His universe, and He has purpose for all His children no matter how diverse. Whispering words of thanks, she feels her own laughter bubbling up beneath her tears. She giggles with her son, their mouths stretched in the grin displayed on Corbin’s picture card for Happy.
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