During the preorder phase of Stranger Will (around January(ish) of 2011) I decided to do something special, as I try to do with all of my book preorders. With Stranger Will, the temptation to integrate the preorder extras into the thematic content of the book itself was obvious and too persistent to ignore. A large part of the book deals with the trade of messenger pigeon messages between a woman named Mrs. Rose and to-be parents who are, shall we say, less than excited about their coming children. What comes of these transactions is an intricate, yet intentionally misdirected, sales pitch designed to encourage the to-be parents to abort their pregnancies. Heavy stuff, I know.
I decided to use one of those exchanges presented in Stranger Will as a base for expanding the communication chain into a longer dialog between Mrs. Rose and a parent. What became of this is a 14-part, all dialog, short story titled “Noise” (the title should be understood by those who have read the book). The distilled version of this dialog can be found in chapter 22 of Stranger Will).
Here I present “Noise” in it’s entirety. If you have a copy of Stranger Will in hand, I recommend re-reading chapter 22 to get the full effect. For those of you who don’t have a copy of Stranger Will, what the hell are you waiting for. Buy it!
(My handwriting is pretty bad, I know. Click here to skip down to the text-only version)
Mrs. Rose: It’s easy to rationalize what we are doing. The emotion is what gets in the way. That may change one day; we are still evolving.
Parent: Eugene, he’s a good kid, I want to be careful with how I say this, raising him feels like a failure from the start, you know? Of course you do.
Mrs. Rose: Of all people, yes, I know. You build this thing, this thing becomes a person, and slowly the realization that this person will never be immortal, this person will never be perfect, this person will die, that realization hits hard. This person will be forgotten.
Parent: I remember the first time I questioned everything. He was young, three or so. He burned his hand on a candle, twice in one day. Twice. He knew the pain the first time, he felt it the first time, cried for most of the day. Times like that, I wonder. But he loved me that day, too. Made me hug him more than he ever had. Maybe we shouldn’t do this. Maybe this whole idea is wrong.
Mrs. Rose: Don’t start inventing memories on me. He’s a kid, for sure, but a good kid? Sometimes people forget what words really mean, what power words have. Be more powerful than the words. Hell, power is why we started this discussion anyway, right? Or the belief in false power. Proceed as planned. Be the strength we are trying to craft.
Parent: Maybe he didn’t hug me more that day than any other…
Mrs. Rose: I am confident of that.
Parent: But maybe I’m missing something. Sometimes, I feel like one of these messages is gone, maybe. Maybe there’s something important that I’ll never have the chance to know.
Mrs. Rose: All the messages are there. You’ve already made the right decision. I just helped you see what you already knew.
Parent: So, when do we meet next? Where? I hate to take such a practical approach to things, but practicality is all I have left. I’m working on stripping the emotion away.
Mrs. Rose: No need to meet. Just send him to school like always. After that, the less you know, the better.
Parent: So this is it? I don’t need to do anything else?
Mrs. Rose: You have already done more than you, me, anyone could fully comprehend. God is, by definition, beyond comprehension. I’m not calling you God. But it’s okay to admit similarities.
Parent: He’s become a source of regret, as you know. I’m just unable to care for him anymore. Raising a child is hard. I feel out of options. So, the 23rd then? Monday. He’s a difficult child to care for and this is the best way for all of us. I need to believe this. It’s hard, though.
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About Caleb J. Ross
Caleb began writing his sophomore year of undergrad study when, tired of the formal art education then being taught, he abandoned the pursuit in the middle of a compositional drawing class. Major-less and fearful of losing his financial aid, he signed up to seek a degree in English Literature for no other reason than his lengthy history with the language. Coincidentally, this decision not only introduced him to writing but to reading as well. Prior this transition he had read three books. One of which he understood.