Hello once again. Today marks the last day for this first weekend of this long endeavor. This will probably be one of many last weekends where I can really mess around, but, hey, it was all worth it…. I tell myself. Word count: 14 726. Here you go, Chapter 8 of “Home for the Unwanted”.
“One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six,” Ryan said to himself as he placed out his fingers in synchrony of his counting.
“Six kids out of eight, and that’s assuming Lorna wasn’t messing with me.” Ryan quickly thought about it again and figured that Lorna probably wouldn’t lie about a topic like that.
“Two more kids to meet huh? If I remember correctly….It’s Carrier, and Spark.” Ryan was alone at the back of the building, tending to a bed of flowers that Winter had recently made. She spent a whole day working on it, and now she was inside sleeping. Ryan promised her that he would look after the flowers while she was sleeping, and thus, he sat basking in the mid-day sun, quietly admiring the small buds. Ryan was unsure of where the other kids were, or where Lorna was. That was the most important part; knowing where Lorna was. Ryan had declared that the only way to counter against Lorna was to know where she was at any given time. And if you still can’t figure out where Lorna is, then you best be ready for a whole load of Lorna. As Ryan thought that, he shivered, and a grasping chill went up his spine. Ryan looked to the right, to the left, and behind him in search for Lorna. Once he had finalized that she was nowhere to be found, he sighed and let his head drop.
“Hey lover boy! What you up to?” Ryan should have been confused and surprised, he thought, but with Lorna, anything was possible.
“Oh cool! Cool. Winter made this, right?” Lorna pointed at the flower bed, and Ryan nodded.
“Just–” Lorna went over to the small flower bed before finishing her sentence.
“Like–” She then stood at the base, and begun stretching down.
“She–” Lorna then stretched out one of her fingers and glazed over a small bud.
“Said.” Lorna then got up and jumped ecstatically with great energy; energy that Ryan wasn’t sure where she even got.
“It’s good that she’s keeping her promises?” Ryan asked, without much reason behind his words.
“It wasn’t a promise,” Lorna crouched down to the dirt of the flower bed, and traced one finger over. Her eyes were solemn, and her body calmed. Her expression was still, and for a moment, Ryan thought that he was looking at a painting. His mind slowly started fading the colors out, the brown of the dirt, the green of the grass, the yellow of her hair; they were all fading.
“It was a goal. An agreement. She said that she wanted to do it. So she did. She did.” Lorna’s words drew Ryan back into reality before he could fully slip into a stupor.
“I’ve been wondering about this, but…. the kids really respect you, don’t they?” Ryan asked brazenly, not really wondering or knowing if his words were insensitive or not. He was just simply curious.
“I don’t know if its respect, or if its sovereignty.”
“I’m Lorna. Lorna. The person who brought these kids together to form one big happy family. A family where they can finally belong in. A family that they can finally reside in.”
“A family where anyone can call their own, if their condition so allows it. Is that it?”
“That’s it. That’s it. And you know what?”
“You were the only one brave enough to bring them together?” Ryan answered with great fluidity, to his mild surprise.
“I was the only one dumb enough to bring them together,” Lorna corrected.
“Dumb? Do you think what you did was dumb?”
“It’s not up to me whether I think what I did was dumb. It just is. It just is.”
“If it’s not up to you. Then who are you basing it off of? Who’s saying its dumb?”
“The world, lover boy. The world. Everybody and their goddamn world. It’s all so choking, don’t you think?” Ryan didn’t respond, for he had no understanding of how to respond to Lorna’s philosophical ramblings. Ryan was a person who never thought of the world that deeply. It was just a norm, and he was simply placed in it. Whether it did good, or bad, was not up to him, nor did he care for it. He was simply a star in a sea, and the sea to a waterfall.
“Sometimes, I feel like I’m in a haze. You know?”
“Everything becomes fuzzy. My vision, my hearing, my smell. It all just, becomes like a mist. You can’t distinguish anything and you feel like you’re in a high. ”
“Yeah. Elated. Like you’re free falling. Almost wistfully at that.” Lorna got up and stretched. Her hands reached for the sky, and her time stood still. Lorna wanted the clouds, however, her hands were too short. She was too short. Lorna couldn’t touch the clouds, and this notion made her sad. Her voice was solemn, but to Ryan, it felt almost lofty. It was almost as if Lorna was speaking to herself.
“Why…. are you telling me this?”
“Because your you. And I’m me. I don’t get many visitors, if you haven’t already noticed.”
“I wouldn’t think you get visitors out here, more like lost souls, and deprived bodies.”
“Quite the poet.” Lorna smiled, much to Ryan’s surprise, as he didn’t think through what he said, he just said it.
“But no. I don’t really get much people my age. Sunflower is Sunflower. Winter is Winter. And even Spear is Spear. But you….. you’re you. And that’s why I can trust you.” Ryan didn’t reply, but simply adhered to the facts that Lorna had stated.
“I’ve told you that before, haven’t I.”
“Yeah.” Lorna walked up towards the building and stood at the porch. Her eyes were distant, and the only thing that she had on her mind was the everlasting foolishness of her actions. To Lorna, that foolishness was all self assigned; something she believed, and something she trusts.
“And…. I hope I can talk to you, about these kinds of things. And I hope that you can talk to me about these kinds of things. We’re friends after all….We’re family.” Lorna’s tone had shifted dramatically, Ryan noticed. She was softer, and there wasn’t a single shred of her playful attitude. She was sincere, and her lips slowly turned into a weak smile.
“Yeah. Whenever you need to talk about something, feel free to swing it my way. And…. If I have something I want to say…. I’ll talk to you about it. You can count on it,” Ryan replied, however, his reply was filled with uncertainty. Ryan was still very much stuck in a norm that wasn’t even his, nor was it Lorna’s. It was a norm that Ryan wasn’t sure if he could ever talk about. It was a norm that he had locked away, but, Ryan wanted to believe. He ensured Lorna that he would, and hopefully, he ensured himself that he would.
“After all, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you,” Ryan added.
“Oh my, what a bold one you are.” Lorna said with her usual playful demeanor. However, Ryan couldn’t pick up on why Lorna had made that remark, or why he should be worried about being bold.
“You know what?”
“What is it this time?” Ryan replied while rolling his eyes.
“I have a name for you.” Ryan almost choked on air upon hearing Lorna’s words. Lorna jumped down from the porch and landed in front of the flower bed. She crouched down once again and placed her fingers on the dirt, all the while with a big smile on her face.
“R,” Lorna said as she finished tracing on letter.
“A,” Lorna stopped after tracing the ‘a’, but then continued shortly after.
“Y.” After tracing the ‘y’, Lorna got up, and with a big show of arms, revealed Ryan’s new name.
“Ray. That will be your name. Ray.”
“Ray. Like it?”
“I…. Don’t know,” Ryan answered. To Ryan, getting a name like this was strange. It was the first time he had ever received a nickname, although, it would be the first name that the children and even Lorna would recognize him by. As Ryan thought of it like this, he slowly started growing calm. He was able to place it comfortably in his norm. This was no less than a name, and no more than a nickname. It was his name. Ryan was Ray. And Ryan accepted this. It was a nice name, Ryan thought. It was really nice. And for some reason, Ryan felt extremely happy. In fact, Ryan felt so happy that he began smiling without realizing it.
“Oh? So you do like it!” Ryan quickly realized his smiling face and looked away in embarrassment. What made Ryan even more surprised, was that he was able to feel embarrassment. Ryan had never once saw anything he did as embarrassing or shameful. Ryan did the things he did because that was what he had to do. There was no choice, Ryan was Ryan. But just for today, and, as Ryan quickly put it together in his head, just for the rest of his time together with his new family, he will be Ray. Ryan was Ray.
“That settles it!”
“You weren’t planning to go back on your word anyway, right?” Ryan said as he looked at Lorna indifferently as she paced back and forth with excitement.
“Exactly! Exactly. My names are final! I have never gone back on a name before.”
“Because you think long and hard about them?”
“Oh? Do I sense a little bit of sarcasm? Sarcasm?”
“No. I don’t know what you mean,” Ryan said trying to conceal his sarcasm.
“Well, whether you really do like it or not…. It doesn’t matter! I’m going to tell everyone now!” Lorna suddenly jumped back onto the porch. Her balance was shifted as she landed, and she swung back with her arms flailing wildly. However, she got her footing in the end, and ran straight inside the building. Without having to move or focus, Ryan could hear Lorna’s voice boom from the outside. Ryan sighed and rolled his eyes.
“Congratulations on your name.” Ryan didn’t turn his head to greet Winter, and simply nodded, “Thanks. Were you listening the entire time?” Winter nodded, and walked over to the flower bed, “Thanks for taking care of it.”
“No problem. After all, you worked hard.” What Ryan didn’t realize that day, was that the same could have been said to Ryan. Lorna saw that, and that was why Lorna had named him. To Lorna, every single moment is important, and every single action done is another that she reads into one’s character. Ryan was a simple person, and he was simply in the norm that he had found himself in. His puzzle pieces were coming together, but he failed to see one thing. Every picture has a name, every painting has a name, and every piece had a name. Even the puzzle that Ryan so desperately wanted to put together had a name. However, that name was not for Ryan to decide. That name had been founded by Lorna. That name was not his, but he embraced it as his. That name was special. Ryan was Ray.