Updated: 3 days ago
RCN Shorts are a new kind of reading. They're short stories under 50 pages and really cheap. We are pleased to announce RCN Short's first publication, "A Kind of Seeing" by Shelley Penner. Here is a free preview of that. (Find more RCN Media Shorts here.)
Will brooded over his grandmother’s words as he felt his way along the hallway to a side entrance that led into the castle’s garden. He settled onto a familiar bench and breathed in the calming scent of roses and lavender as he replayed the conversation in his mind.
“You must go on a quest,” the wise woman had told him firmly. “You need to find a vocation that will help you make your way in this world.”
“A quest?” he replied bitterly. “I have a hard time finding my own bedroom without a guide.”
“Everyone must play an active role in this world, Will. You need to find yours. Blindness is no excuse for giving up. Your mind and body remain strong and capable. You could do things with your life that would make this world a better place.”
“But I haven’t gone beyond the castle gates since the accident. How am I supposed to find my way?”
“You may take one companion but choose carefully. Look for bravery and resourcefulness, but more importantly, look for a patient and steadfast heart. Only an open heart will know how to help you in your quest.”
So now Will sat in the garden, wondering who amongst the young men of the community would have any interest in babysitting the blind man while he stumbled around the countryside. As the eldest son of Laird Carrick, everyone treated him with deference, but since he’d lost his sight, respect remained something else entirely, and friendship seemed even farther beyond reach. The thought of refusing the quest never occurred to him, even though it filled him with dread. Old Anna knew things beyond knowing, and no one disobeyed her commands, not even the Laird. Will fingered the talisman she had given him, a circular, flat pebble with a gritty texture. ‘Wear it against your forehead,’ she’d said, ‘and it will give you a kind of seeing’.
Bright, melodic whistling drew his attention and he listened to a rumbling sound he recognized as a wheelbarrow rolling over cobbles. Then he caught the sharp, pungent scent of fresh manure, and heard a cheerful voice break into a merry song to the rhythm of the shovel scraping and dumping its load into the compost bins.
“Hello?” he called. Sudden startled silence followed. “Please, come closer and speak to me. Tell me your name. I can’t see and I don’t recognize your voice.”
Will heard soft footfalls approaching, then a light, young sounding voice replied, “I be new here, sir. My name be Sparrow. Least that’s what folks call me.”
“I am Will Carrick. How old are you, Sparrow?”
“I . . . think I be twelve, sir . . . but I be strong, an’ I’ll work hard, I swear. An’ I dinna eat much. Please, dinna send me away. I’m sorry I disturbed ye with me caterwaulin’. I willnae sing nae
“I liked your singing, Sparrow. You have a pleasant voice, and you sounded happy.”
“Aye. It’s nice to have a warm, dry place tae sleep an’ food in me belly.”
“Have you no home then? No family?”
“Never knew me da. Ma died two winters ago of fever. Bin on me own ever since.”