Story a Day Challenge – Day 2 – Silence (Pickpocket)

*** Temporarily removing this story

The Prompt

Your character’s an extremely talented pickpocket. He learned the skill when he was young and poor. Now he has a good job, a healthy bank account, and a respectable lifestyle, but he thinks it’s a shame to let such remarkable talent go to waste.

(I struggled with this prompt. I don’t like all the pre-determined specifics in it: background, gender, current status, even motivation. What follows is my somewhat rebellious interpretation of it.)

Silence

The cacophony was so astounding, debilitating even, it was almost impossible to remember the time of Silence. It was so long ago, his memories of it were skewed, tinged by everything he had experienced since. He often wished for the Silence now.

He had hated it then.

He listened well when he was younger. He had always been good at hearing and reacting to certain tones. It was easy when his mind was so Silent that there was nothing to distract. His reflexes had been quick, supple, fluid. Even so, he had envied the verbose ones.

That was when he discovered the Pocket.

Now to Pick it.

The rhythm of each was so distinct. Unique. Tuning out all the outside voices, he focused on just one. His father. Listening intently, past the words, past the tone, past the contorted red-faced visage, to the core. The Pocket. The rhythm and cadence unique to the man he hated most, the boy started humming.

Like matching a heartbeat, but less loving.

Like tuning a piano, but less musical.

The boy hummed in time to the anger, growled deep in his throat to the nuance of his father’s voice, then spoke with the rhythm of his father, the voice of his father, the Pocket of his father.

And the father was struck dumb.

The woman huddled in the corner blinked in disbelief. The boy had spoken. The boy had shocked the brute into silence. She shook her head and almost reached out to him before she realized that the man was grasping desperately at his own throat, eyes bulging, rage stronger than ever in his contorted features as he gasped inaudibly.

The woman fled.

*****

The cacophony was so astounding, debilitating even, that he almost missed hearing it. He was not very good at listening outside his own head anymore. Sometimes it took him a while to hear anything that was real past his collection.

This one was unique, though. Unique. His downfall. They were all unique, if he was honest with himself. He had known that truth once before.

“But this one is different,” he insisted to himself.

Purely melodic. Light and lilting. The counter, the calm breeze, to the torrent of voices tumbling around his head.

He needed it.

Surely this one was the answer.

He listened. Focused. Willed Silence once again in his mind. The murmuring, yelling throng quieted in shock. Possibly fear. He’d never managed to enforce Silence before.

Shoving the errant thought aside, he focused again. The rhythm, the cadence, the Pocket. He was so intent on Picking the chord of this one that he didn’t feel it coming. A name like a lullaby.

“Sebastian.”

The man blinked and felt vulnerable like a boy. Stumbling toward the voice that he needed so badly, to calm the cacophony, he knew it was one he could never  Pick.

Weak arms enfolded him and he wept on a narrow shoulder bowed by age.

“Mother,” Sebastian murmured in the one voice he never stole.

His own.

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