Arthur’s Stone

by Suzanne Conboy-Hill

 

 

 

Arthur has a stone in his pocket. It is large, smooth, satisfying to the touch. He is turning it over and over in his hand as he walks to the library.

 

‘Stop doing that,’ his mother hisses. ‘People will think you’re, you know …’

 

Arthur is not listening. He is somewhere in his head, generating the ticking tocking time his feet need to keep him moving. He stops momentarily at the crossing. She sees him check his watch,  one, two …. She sees him rotating the stone in time to his internal beat, … three, four …. She traces his mouth in her mind as it shapes his muttering count, … five, six …. She shuts her eyes as he skips across the road on the balls of his feet.

 

‘Fucking moron!’ A silver Mondeo dips at the front as its brakes send smoking screeches from its tires. Then it moves off again; two elevated fingers stabbing the air from the open window, its exhaust blowing accusatory fumes over the black and white stage that might have changed the driver’s life forever.

 

Arthur is oblivious. His mother heaves a breath of resignation, and pulls her face into an apology for no one in particular as she crosses by silent agreement before a green Volvo. She thinks it is probably a woman driver. She thinks the woman thinks she is harassed and that she can identify with that. She thinks the woman does not know the meaning of the word. But she drifts her hand upwards in a thank you wave, anyway.

 

Arthur is off and away, heading for the science fiction section of the library, where he expects to collect his new book. Where he knows his new book will be, because he expects it to be there. His mother hurries behind, catching at her coat as it starts to flap with the new pace in her steps, and shifting the strap of her bag that keeps sliding off her shoulder as she goes. As she goes, she also observes the expressions of the people Arthur has passed by. There are eyebrows furrowed in curiosity, and tight little smirks of knowing amusement. But others show fear. What kind of monster scuttles along sideways on tiptoe, head down, muttering; and with a large bulge in his trousers? Her monster.

 

When he was little, she had sometimes worn a T-shirt that read ‘WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?’ on the front and ‘GET ONE OF YOUR OWN!’ on the back. Today she wears bruises on her arms, chest, and thigh. The black, red and violet insignia of Arthur’s vengeance for a change of logo on one of his must-see TV programs. Then he had sat quietly down and waited for his supper.

 

The library trip must not change either. Tuesday-mornings-10am-exchange-two-DVDs-and-a-book-on-Star-Trek. She gathers in the wings of her coat, clutches at her bag, and canters, soft-soled, to arrive at the library steps alongside Arthur.

 

‘They might not have the book today.’ she says again. She hopes he will hear. She knows he will not.

 

‘It came out yesterday, I saw it on the news.’

 

‘Yes, but that’s bookshops. It can take a while to get to libraries.’

 

‘They’ll have it, John Sheldon said so. You’re not as smart as John Sheldon. He’s got a degree in economics.’ Arthur tilts his head further away from her. He slaps the side of his face with his free hand.  ‘You’re stupid if you don’t see that.’ A petal pink flush crawls up onto his forehead, and the small muscles in his jaw twitch blossom white. But this flower is deadly. Arthur once attacked a stranger for dropping a chocolate wrapper. He once punched a neighbor in the face when she wanted him to smile at her. He once admonished with a knife, a man who ignored the Don’t Walk light, and who will never ignore another. Arthur is back home now, with new medication and a fantasy care plan. He is still Arthur. Her Arthur.

 

Arthur’s mother reaches into her pocket for her phone, and presses a speed-dial button. Arthur dances on; tippy-toeing up the wide stone steps, and into the building. An athletic crab on demi pointes with outrage waiting for him at the desk.

 

 

Suzanne Conboy-Hill is a UK psychologist who has worked with people like Arthur and his mother. She has published in Every Day Fiction, The Other Room Journal, Boomunderground, and PowFastFiction. Suzanne lives in Sussex with a fluctuating number of cats and dogs, fish and visiting wildfowl. She likes rock music, pizza, and connectivity gadgets, and tries to be kind to spiders. She blogs here http://conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com/ and here http://demtigerpaw.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suzanne Conboy-Hill is a UK psychologist who has worked with people like Arthur and his mother. She has published in Every Day Fiction, The Other Room Journal, Boomunderground, and PowFastFiction. Suzanne lives in Sussex with a fluctuating number of cats and dogs, fish and visiting wildfowl. She likes rock music, pizza, and connectivity gadgets, and tries to be kind to spiders. She blogs here http://conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com/ and here http://demtigerpaw.wordpress.com/

 

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