A story by Elaine Fisher
“If only we all can ‘break through the barrier’ that keeps us from
loving, understanding, and accepting those who are different from us.”
Five-year old Alex surveyed his surroundings, data
streaming into his eyes and ears. He watched his baby sister looking
out through the crib railing, her soft cry becoming a wail. Almost
immediately, he clasped his hands over his ears. Following a prescribed
exercise, he dutifully mimicked the baby by contorting his face, moving
his fingers along his gaping mouth, feeling his facial expression, and
finally giving out a cry.
His mother, Lisa rushed in and picked up the baby,
singing the same song he heard whenever his sister cried. He stood
stiffly by his mother’s side, looking away from her. His feet stamped
to the rhythmic, but expressionless words that spilled out of his
mouth. “Baby is loud. Alex is loud. Hate it loud…loud, loud…hate it
“Alex, it’s alright, I’m here, now. Abby needed her
diaper changed.” Lisa hesitantly touched his face to comfort him and
then tried to reinforce an “emotion” word. “Abby is unhappy! I am going
to help her.”
Alex’s expression remained blank as he reached for
the colorful rattle in the crib, and then ran off to sit in a corner of
the nursery. His mind and body relaxed as he shook the rattle with a
Lisa swiped at her tears and then placed her child
on the changing table.
Alex left the corner, ran to the diaper pail, and
lifted the lid releasing a foul smell. He played with the hinged lid,
like a mouth opening and closing, oblivious to the smell.
Lisa changed Abby and then walked over to the
rocking chair. At the sound of his sister’s cooing, Alex left the
diaper pail. He approached the chair focusing his attention on the
“Look, Alex, Abby is smiling. Show me your smile.”
She modeled a smile and said, “Happy.” Alex tried to
say it, adding an artificial grin to his face as an afterthought, and
then stretched out his hand toward her waiting for an expected reward.
As they practiced, the supply of chocolate Kisses grew smaller. Lisa
always had them ready for her son, chocolate Kisses replacing real
kisses for imitated feelings. She reached in the bag for a Kiss for
herself. Its bittersweet taste lingered as she watched her son abruptly
Without a word, Alex left the nursery and headed
back to his bedroom where his computer lived.
After placing Abby back in her crib, Lisa walked
down the hall to Alex’s room. The closed door separated her from her
son and his machine. The house became unnaturally quiet except for a
few electronic beeps seeping out from the room. At one time, those
sounds were harsh to her ears, now they strangely provided comfort. She
gently touched the cold doorknob, gave out a sigh, and walked away.
# # #
On the day that Alex started 5th grade, he awoke
early to play Power Planet: Android Adventures on his computer. He
mimicked the synthesized voice of the android pilot that sounded very
much like his.
“Need to break through the sound barrier. Need to
break through the sound barrier…”
“Alex, you’re going to be late for school!” Lisa
shouted at her son’s bedroom door.
“Need to break through…”
Lisa entered the room, pulled him from the computer,
and led him to the kitchen table while his body fought back, his voice
rose in volume as he logically negated her complaints. She left the
room until he calmed down and finished his breakfast.
She returned with his matching Power Planet backpack
Alex grabbed the handle of the lunchbox, his eyes
never leaving the picture of the android pilot. He automatically
punched the air in a power salute, escaping into his world, so far away
She quickly squeezed him to her, not allowing him to
squirm away as he came back to life.
“Love you, Alex. Left you something special in your
lunchbox. Better hurry, now!”
“Love you, better hurry, love you, better hurry,” he
repeated rhythmically, eyes scanning the lunchbox. No longer did he
need to open it to know that his mother’s note and a chocolate Kiss
waited for him inside.
“Have a happy day, Alex…you have the power!” Lisa
cheered, watching a tense Alex leave the house. She watched his body
relax as he gave out a final power salute.
# # #
Alex’s emotional challenges continued as he entered
high school. Sitting at his desk during homeroom, he tapped out a
rhythm with his fingers. With his other hand, he began sketching
another adventure for his super hero, an android from the planet
Alexithymia, the same name as his rare condition. He glanced at the
pretty girl sitting across from him and showed her his sketches. His
palms got sweaty, his heart felt like it would burst out of his chest,
and his body went into meltdown. Then the android inside him downloaded
the appropriate words into its memory bank.
“Love…you.” His hand opened and stretched out toward
her, waiting for his reward.
The girl gave him a sneer. “Go back to your planet,
“Overload, overload,” he heard himself spew out and
then all systems crashed, zoning out into the safety zone where a
younger Alex lived.
Later at home, he sat next to his mother and told
her about the girl. Avoiding sitting too close, he allowed his mother
to hug him, which pleased her. Then, squirming out of her embrace, Alex
held out his palm and patiently waited. A chocolate Kiss was the one
thing he couldn’t get on planet Alexithymia.
Copyright © 2016 Elaine Fisher
2013, Elaine Fisher has been a member of The Writing Journey and had
two short stories, “Corpse Du Jour” and “Metamorphosis,” published in
the 2015 Journey anthology, Voices from the Dark. Besides short stories, she also enjoys writing flash fiction and poetry.
Each November, you will find her busy writing her 50K novel during
NaNoWriMo- National Novel Writing Month. She is very proud to have
completed three first draft novels as a participant in this worldwide
competition. Currently, Elaine is in the process of editing her most
recent NaNoWriMo novel, Traveling to Spice Town, Book 1 in a YA historical fantasy series.