By Sean Maguire
“Keekin come on!” cries Annie.
“You’ll be late for school.”
She is standing by her car beckoning her son to come out of the house. The front door opens and a small child stumbles out into the driveway. He is no more than five years old and is dressed in a hoodless jade cloak; his most curious features are his long ears and two stubs protruding from his forehead.
“Do you have your school books?” Annie asked Keekin.
The boy promptly nods his head. She kneels down and kisses her son on the forehead and pushes him towards the school where other children are gathering. Like Keekin these children possess the same curious features, unlike him however they have flat noses. As he walks among his classmates some of them glare at him, others even scowl.
“I’ve never seen anyone like him before.” One of the children mutters,
“Is he even a Gaizan?” says another.
Keekin looks around himself as more pairs of eyes stare at him.
A large Gaizan woman approaches the group of children; she is dressed in a large grey cloak with a symbol that translates to teacher. She leads the class to their room and assigns them to their seats. Keekin is placed next to the window, through which he can see children playing. They don’t possess flat noses, or long ears, or stubs upon their foreheads.
While the other children play, the teacher raises her head and scans her charges. Her gaze falls upon Keekin staring outside. She scowls at him and calls his name from across the room.
“Keekin” beckoned the teacher
“Chin up, eyes forward!”
The teachers demands startles Keekin, he hurriedly obliges.
The day carried on, Keekin fixates on the clock’s hands as they slowly turn. His eyes grow heavier but then his head jerks forward, something has struck him; he clasps his hands at the rear of his head. His eyes begin to tear up, as his face turns red.
The hands on the clock reach 10 and the bell for break time rings. The children spill out into the hallways and make their way outside. Keekin stands up from his desk walks slowly towards the door, he is still clutching the back of his head. When he reaches the playground he is set upon by the same scowls and stares from the same unwelcoming faces as before. Keekin lowers his head and stares at his feet.
“No one will play with me” Keekin thought to himself.
Keekin walks towards the huge bush that separates the play area from the school’s perimeter boundary. He sits down within the bush, out of sight and cradles himself in a foetal position. Minutes pass as he sits alone when all of a sudden a foray of broken branches and laughter breaks his mood.
A body crashes through the bush and lands at Keekin’s feet. It is lying face down, it’s hair is laced with many different flowers, and covered in the mud. Keekin hurriedly backs himself against the branches in shock. The body immediately jumps up and it’s a girl from Keekin’s class, she is grinning and giggling as if amused by her folly.
“Are you playing in my house too?” said the girl.
Keekin glares at the girl in front of him, she is not scowling at him, rather she is smiling. Keekin leans away from the branches as he relaxes himself from the shock.
“I… I didn’t know it was your house.” Says Keekin
“I’ll go find somewhere else, sorry.”
As he picks himself up the girl reaches forward and grabs his hand.
“Please stay a little longer, I don’t get many visitors.” Says the girl.
“My name’s Yanya, what’s yours?”
Keekin looks down at Yanya as she smiles at him and tugs on his hand, a look of surprise falls across his face.
“Keekin, Keekin is my name.” He says.
“That’s a cute name.” Says Yanya
“It is?” he asked, Keekin looks confused by Yanya’s statement about his name.
“Don’t you know?” She says.
“It means Little Star!”
“Where’d you get a name like that?”
Keekin clenches his fists.
“My mom gave me my name.” He sternly proclaims
Yanya laughs and jumps to her feet. She plucks a yellow flower in her hair and she presents it to Keekin.
He stares at the flower, when he reaches out to take it he notices that she is trembling. He pulls his hand away; Yanya lowers her head and looks at the ground. Keekin notices a small drop of water drip from her face; he looks at the flower again and takes it from her hand. When he takes the flower from her, she leaps forward and embraces him in a hug.
Playtime ends and the students return to the classroom. Keekin returns to his desk, he’s still receiving scowls from his classmates but he ignores them. He stares at the clock hands as they edge closer to 3, not long until home time.
Keekin looks across the classroom and notices Yanya waving at him from her desk; he waves back. He then looks at the flower that she gave him during playtime and smiles.
The bell rings to signal the end of the school day and the students pack up their things and leave. Keekin sees his mother waiting for him at the gate, she waves to him, and he runs over to her. She crouches down and scoops him up in her arms.
“So how was your first day at school?” Annie asked him
Keekin raises the flower that Yanya gave him to show his mother.
“I made a new friend.” He exclaimed while cracking a smile.
As Annie put him into the car to leave, Keekin turned to look back at the school.
Little Star is told from a third person objective POV (Baily 2000: 38) as it allows me to create a window for the reader to see into Keekin’s world and focus primarily on the character’s actions, and create their own interpretation. I presented the story to Vitoria and Felicity who had slightly different interpretations of the narrative and moral, which differed from my intentions.
The theme of the story was inspired by The Night of the Ugly (Benedetti 1997). Both of the stories carry the theme of the need for companionship and loneliness, both main characters are ostracised from society because of their physical appearance but that is where their similarities end. Little Star taps into the theme of racism as opposed to physical disfiguration, this is a subject feel passionate towards so I made one of the stories major themes.
I wrote Little Star entirely in a present tense because I wanted use a style that had been presented to me during my creative writing lectures and The Night of the Ugly (Benedetti 1997) was also written in present tense. This is new territory for me and I believe the story turned out better for it. However it would be interesting to go back and write the story in a different tense and see how it would change the narrative. In conclusion I feel this experience has improved my writing abilities, which will prove invaluable in the future.
(please note I am aware that the header on the first page should not be there but I was unable to fix this problem)
Baily, T. (ed.) (2000). On Writing Short Stories, New York: Oxford University Press
Benedetti, M., Alegria, C., Flakoll, D.J., & Balderston, D. (1997). Blood Pact and Other Stories, Conn: Curbstone Press
Hosoda, M. (2012) Wolf Children (trailer) [online] available from <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xLji7WsW0w> [29 November 2013]