Short Fiction: Leaving Home
This is a short piece I've had in my heart for awhile...
Before I left home, I weighed the pros and cons for a long time. After all, I had an ideal situation here: perfectly safe and comfortable, surrounded by love. Nothing lacking. Except in a way I can’t clearly explain, I wasn’t really advancing. Perhaps because everything was almost too perfect.Plus, I had a curiosity about so many things, and which couldn’t be satisfied by just asking questions or observing life from a distance. They told me I would likely learn more in a very different environment, that what I needed was experience. So, eager to follow their advice, I agreed go. Once I made that choice, I felt an incredible rush of hope and excitement. In fact, we were all filled with incredible joy, something I hadn’t thought was possible—-how could we experience more joy than we already did, here in this place of light, of perfect peace?
My Friend was very supportive. Of course, the plans we made were rather large in scope while being suitably vague—we didn’t consider too many details. After all, trust is a big part of this whole process. And the surprises along the way have a huge amount of value, right? It was expected there would be challenges and setbacks, pain and disappointment. Those were all vital parts of the exciting adventure I was undertaking.
Before I left, My Friend told me I was going to be so engrossed in my new environment, I wouldn't remember much—or any—of the important conversations we had in getting ready for this venture. And that I would likely be confused and frightened at times, but to remember he’d always be there for me. So when the time was right, I said goodbye and took that first big step into my new living space.
My quarters were far stranger than I had expected. And they were extremely dark. Yet also very soft and comfortable. But surprisingly loud. At first, the most noticeable sounds were steady, unrelenting, rhythmic thumping—like from the furnace or plumbing systems. And sometimes, there was—outside, beyond those other sounds—a different sort of noise. I couldn’t fathom what it was, but I did know that it wasn’t the sound of happiness.
Over time, I heard more and more kinds of noises outside those walls and finally figured out what they meant. One day, in a dim sort of ‘a-ha’ moment, I sensed these were the sounds of voices, of communication between beings. Usually there was a steady drone, but sometimes louder outbursts, and from more than one speaker. Again—not the sounds of happiness. But having no other information, I didn’t think much about the voices. I guess My Friend was right—once I arrived here, my senses were confused and sluggish. I really could not remember where I’d been before, or what I was doing here in this dark, soft place.
Eventually, I became vaguely aware my quarters were growing smaller, but for the time being, I could still get around without bumping into anything, and there was plenty to eat. I wasn’t anxious to hear more of that angry shouting first-hand without a thick, protective wall between me and whomever was screaming. But I also sensed I couldn’t stay here forever— that hadn’t been the point of leaving home. I wasn’t meant to just hide away in the dark, eating and sleeping.
In the end, I had no choice about my next move. It happened after another bout of sustained rhythmic noise—sobbing, maybe—and more shouting. Lots of shouting. This was followed by that powerful humming sensation I had come to realize was movement in some kind of machine. And then walking somewhere, more shouting, then the quiet drone of more voices. And then stillness, and waiting in anxious, ignorant limbo. Then my cramped quarters shifted and heeled over in that way I knew meant ‘lying down’.
And then came loud sounds from another machine. Agony swiftly followed the harsh sounds. And slicing and whirring, and the end of everything. Before I realized what was happening, I was back home in the light and the peace. As he held me, My Friend rocked me gently, saying, “I’m sorry, she wasn’t ready for you, she was terrified and bullied. You must forgive her.”
But it felt bitterly unfair. There was so much I was supposed to experience—like learning to hear my own voice, see with my own eyes. Feel the wind and sunlight on my face, the softness of a kitten’s fur beneath my fingers, the taste of ice cream. I was prepared for so many other moments—good or bad, or even the mere, simple pockets of wonder-filled nowness. Especially those. But they would never be.
“You must forgive,” reminded My Friend kindly but firmly. “You must help her find the love she couldn’t give you. Otherwise—she’ll never be able to join you here.”
Of course, I didn’t want that. So I continue to watch over her, hoping that my brief stay inside her touched her in ways that she’ll learn to understand and accept. And that one day, she’ll join me here, and I’ll be able to tell my mother to her face that I forgive her choice and I still love her.
(c) 2022, S.Kirk Pierzchala