When Hiccup ran and why he ran.
|Hiccup ran. He learned how so long ago and wasn’t going to have it taken from him. He liked moving to somewhere else. Staying still was for babies, and he was two years old. He wanted to see things, and most things were too far to see from where he was, so he ran forward. He needed to know who everyone was and what they did and where they came from. He wanted to meet everybody. All around him, these people were his. They stood over him, smiling and calling Hiccup by name in kind voices. They knew him, and his dad, and his mom. Her name was Valka, and she went away, they said, and couldn’t come back. People still said her name, so maybe she would hear her name and come home.
His da was in charge—a Chief— and he heard his da say the people on Berk were his to look after, “just like I look after you, son.” All the people on the island knew who Stoick the Vast was, too. If the people here knew his name, then he had to learn all their names, too. Gobber whispered once that even grown people needed looking after. He had a loud whisper, and Hiccup’s da laughed and said Aye. When he sat in his da’s big arm that night, Hiccup learned other people would watch him all the time now. Being Chief meant going places Hiccup couldn’t go. He looked at his son and explained that Hiccup had work to do now. Listening to the grown people and doing what they say was his job. If Hiccup did that, he and his da could help everyone together. Hiccup understood; he planned to help his da to look after all the people on Berk, even if he had to pretend they were looking after him.
The grown people stood high away from him, and took bigger steps than he did. The only way to keep helping them was to move: climbing high and running fast and skidding far to keep up.
Hiccup ran. He ran through the forest, or past the docks, or over the hills of Berk. His restlessness drove him, encouraged him to chase after something no one could see or imagine. Hiccup’s energy needed an outlet, and going all around the island, unhindered, helped him manage his time. He spent much of his time in motion, going through the village on his way to somewhere else.
It was a quandary. The cheif’s son wasn’t learning fishing or farming or carpentry as his peers were. Yet he was too young and too small to keep up with his father. He fell behind, knocked things over, and didn’t pay attention. With no mother to confine him, Hiccup had too much time and not enough to do.
His father Stoick tried to contain him, setting his son chores and lessons to occupy the boy’s time. Hiccup drank in the knowledge—his mind was as quick as his body—mastering every lesson as quickly as he could. The tasks Stoick provided were done with speed, if not skill, before he charged off again to find the horizon.
Hiccup explored the forests of Berk, clambering over rocks and climbing trees, trying to discover its secrets. It was hard. No animals would stay put if he made noise. Climbing trees chased the birds away. Running led to falling over rocks and being tripped by vines. Hiccup realized his headlong crashing through life didn’t work in the forest. The forest ran on slow time. The creatures wanted stillness. Only then could he observe them.
Hiccup practiced being still. It was challenging. Often he left, finding somewhere else on Berk to run without disturbing the quiet. The forest, though, drew him back. The trees and dirt and birds were patient with Hiccup as people never were. They didn’t frown. They always listened when he spoke. He wasn’t chided or criticized. His unquiet heart, running away from the people who found him tiresome, found rest there. He fished, watched the birds build nests, and began to spot creatures intent on hiding. He drew in the dirt, collected tree branches, and whittled them. He’d return to the village, smudged and smiling, carrying a whistle he made that day.
§ § §
Hiccup ran. He ran through the forest as if Hel herself was chasing him. His legs pumping like pistons and his breathing ragged, Hiccup was escaping again. He was escaping the disdain of the villagers, the harassment of his peers, and everything between himself and his dad.
His dad. Stoick the Vast, Chief of the tribe, had Hiccup for a son. A seven foot tall hero of Berk, whose roar quieted all other voices, Stoick was not simply a Chief, but a force of nature/a volcano of a man. Everything about the man was larger than life: a thick, bushy beard, a commanding gaze, and an aura of power that left other chiefs amazed. Stoick wasn’t simply born into the right family line to become Chief; Stoick was born to be a Chieftain as surely as he was born with flaming red hair and sharp green eyes. Dauntless, Stoick was confident in a way few ever were. Stoick never doubted—publicly.
The only problem Stoick appeared to have was with his lone child, Hiccup. Hiccup, who was all Stoick was not. Undersized and clumsy, Hiccup drew trouble with every breath. He caused disaster after disaster, injuring himself, crashing into people, breaking fences, and scattering sheep. Hiccup never planned for any of it to go wrong. Scrawny, but imaginative, Hiccup thought more than he fought. His ability with weapons was nonexistent. In the Hairy Hooligan tribe, thinking was secondary to physical prowess. In the opinion of his tribe, Hiccup was useless.
Stoick had no idea what to do with his son.