One of my first short stories, really just looking for some feedback. Thanks so much
Life in a bottle
"I'm getting tired of having to tell you the same thing over and over again Noah."
Noah dropped his head into his palms, submitting, yet again to an unreasonable disciplinary speech. "I'm sorry Mum." He mumbled through his hands, "but if I could just explain to you-"
"I've told you more than enough times that these things you come up with don't and never have existed. Kolor? Mewzik? Nobody is interested in crazy ideas here Noah, our goal is to survive. We don't have any need for things that aren't useful." His mother softened as she noticed her son's deflation. "You're a good boy Noah, I know you study hard, but what really matters to people is getting through to the next day. A war is no place for foolish ideas."
Could this mother not see what a precious gift she had been given? Ideas and imagination were not a common thing to see in a war-ridden world. Noah had a spectacular imagination and, left to himself he could paint the whole world with a single dream. Instead, he tried, in vain, to squish all his ideas into a tiny corner of his mind. Praying that they'd vanish. I watched as each day brought new ideas and as each outlandish thought was pushed forcefully into a dark corner. I prayed for his safety. For the world's.
I slipped through the walls to follow Noah into his room, he sat cross-legged on his bed with a notebook open on his knee. His eyes had a dazed quality to them as they stared blankly out the little grey window and onto the empty street. 'Red.' He muttered, 'is the feeling a fire gives you when you stand too close. Yellow is the sun's light, which shines into my window when I wake up. Blue is the leaves that grow on trees-' His forehead furrowed and he looked down to his notebook again. I watched as the cogs and gears in his mind worked to reset themselves. Such an extraordinary human. 'Grin- no, green.' Noah picked up a pencil to scratch something out in his book. His mind worked at an excited pace, turning over on itself, inside out and back-to-front. Something inside this boy wanted to reset, to go back, grasp something that used to be taken for granted. If only he could figure out what he was missing.
When the war broke out, the people of this world started doing away with the things they felt they didn't need. Games, alcohol, television, song, art, love. Anything that didn't serve an immediate purpose was forgotten. The world faded and it's people along with it. I vowed to fix them, make them see what they were losing. I failed. Miserably. Humans are such ungrateful creatures. It was worse than trying to feed a baby pea soup.
I was lost in the never-ending shades of black, grey and very dark grey when I found him. Noah. The little hero this world doesn't deserve. He's got an imagination larger than the universe and here he is, sitting in his little grey room, doing his best to stop his imagination from spilling over the edges, just because it causes his mother a little distress. Bless him.
I watched him struggle with his morals a little longer before deciding on the best course of action. Extricating myself from the wall, I soundlessly moved to Noah's bed and positioned myself behind his ear. Before I had a chance to open my mouth, the floorboards in the corridor on the other side of the door creaked, promising an unwelcomed visit from a concerned parent. Noah slammed his notebook shut, picked up his pen, launched himself towards his dresser and fumbled with the bottom drawer, trying to get it open so he could hide his precious imagination away.
I scowled moodily and fell back into the wall behind me. When the door opened Noah was sitting on his little grey bed, a picture of innocence, behind his faked surprise mask his ears burned with guilt and shame. His father came in with a dark cloud about his head, 'Your mother told me about your... incident, from earlier today. That's the third time this week Noah. You need to stop filling other children's heads with ridiculous ideas.'
With his hands back in his lap and chin to his chest, Noah apologised yet again for his gift.
'I'm sorry Father. I don't know what's wrong with me.'
'You lack self-restraint. Your teachers need to be firmer with you; all of this nurturing and encouragement makes for soft adults. Children should be taught discipline, not conceptualism.'
Noah nodded into his chest. I watched his mind think about the notebook in his dresser and how easy it is to burn paper and please please please don't be angry at me Dad. My insides burned.
What happened next was a blur of slow-motion. A few notes left my mouth, having the same effect on Noah's brain as fire does with gasoline. His dad was leaving the room as the beginnings of a song made their way into the world, via Noah's unsuspecting mouth.
"A Long, Long Time Ago. I Can Still Remember. How That Music Used To Make Me Smile"
Noah's father turned back to his son, who was desperately trying to keep his mouth from making music. His black cloud was thundering and crackling as he lifted his fist, their eyes met for the briefest of seconds.
At the same moment his father's fist came into contact with his face, Noahs tears fell over and onto his cheeks, it was an explosion of shades other than grey, black and very dark grey. It was the fire that could burn down an entire forest, it was the purple of a raging sky, the yellow of a newly hatched duckling and the green of the northern lights.
It was colour and love and music and all things that are impractically beautiful that exploded from first Noah's tears, then his mouth and ears, it swallowed him in a cloud that sounded and felt and looked and smelt of all the most wonderful things that used to be. Noah looked up into his father's storming face, the same face he'd sort recognition and love from for the whole 14 years of his existence, eyes brimmed with self-loathing and a heartbreaking sadness at his inability to please his own parents.
I watched a hand fall through empty space and I saw an overwhelmed fist unclench in a hopeful sort of way. The explosion of all things beautiful dispersed in a definitive sort of way, misting the room and no doubt the rest of the world- no universe in a fine, colourful cloud. Noah's father sat heavily on an empty bed. He looked down at his unclenched fist, his fingertips coated in a thick red liquid. The father put his hands to his face and sobbed.
Red had always been Noah's favourite colour. Not that his dad would know.