Please enjoy part 2 of The Blue Ribbon. Read part 1 here.
It’s been three days since Sylvie had the talk with her parents. Her father has been distant and cold. His only communication is grunts if asked a direct question; otherwise, he retreats into the den and only comes out for dinner. Sylvie’s mom tells her to give it time, but Sylvie is still sad and wishes her father would understand.
It’s cold today as Sylvie walks home from school. It’s about 4:30 p.m. and already starting to get dark. She rounds the corner to her house and slowly walks up the driveway. As she enters, she yells to no one in particular that she is home. She climbs the stairs and passes Carl’s bedroom. Carl is rocking, sitting in a corner. Sylvie approaches him with a silky blue ribbon she got at school from her friend Monica. Carl continues to rock, back and forth, back and forth, very rhythmic, almost to the point of being mesmerizing.
Sylvie slowly bends down. “Hi, Carl. Look what I brought for you.”
Carl continues to rock. His eyes appear to be looking into a faraway land, stuck in quicksand unable to reach out for help. Sylvie reaches for Carl’s hand. He sharply pulls it away. The rocking speeds up, his fingers and hands begin flapping. Sylvie gently brushes the ribbon against Carl’s forearm, through his fingers, over his cheek. The rocking motion starts to slow. Carl’s eyes begin the journey back to the present. His gaze meets Sylvie’s for a brief moment.
A way to say thank you, perhaps? Sylvie thinks.
“I want…” he says as he reaches for the ribbon.
“I love you, Carl.” Sylvie’s voice is quiet; she is on the verge of tears.
Carl retreats to his own world, his own spot in life, his box.
“Sylvie, you know he loves you.”
Sylvie jumps from her mother’s presence and rises from the floor. “No, I don’t know, Mom.” She brushes past. “I have to go.”
“I have to go!”
Sylvie bounds down the stairs, and then the window by the front door shudders as she abruptly leaves the house.
* * *
Sylvie feels like her world is falling apart. Between her father not speaking to her and Carl not able to communicate, Sylvie feels lost. She decides to walk to the library and see if Monica is working.
Sylvie remembers the day Carl arrived home from the hospital. He had been wrapped in a turquoise-blue blanket, his tiny fingers reaching out. He would nestle into her neck and coo, smelling so much like baby powder and soap.
Sylvie doesn’t remember exactly when he began to change. All she remembers is her mom coming home from the doctor’s office crying and calling her father.
Dad never came home early. Never. But that day he did. They shut themselves in their bedroom. Mrs. Drew came over to keep Sylvie company. Sylvie didn’t play outside that day. She sat in the hallway and continued to glance at her parent’s bedroom door, willing them to come out, to tell her what was happening.
An hour passed, and then her parent’s door slowly cracked open. Sylvie’s dad reached out his hand for her and led her to the swing set in the backyard. Jim’s eyes were glossy.
“Sly…Sylvie, um…your brother…your brother is sick.”
“Does he have a cold?”
“No, Sylvie, not a cold.” Dad takes in a big breath. The air swooshes out like water from a faucet.
“He has what is called Autism.”
“Can he take medicine like Mom gives me when I don’t feel well?”
“Sylvie, this is something that. . .can’t be. . .that doesn’t go away.”
“He’ll need extra attention. He may be unresponsive to our comments, our touch. He may withdraw and avoid eye contact, but know that he loves you, Sylvie; all of us.”
“It’s okay, Daddy.” Sylvie pats his hand like he has done so many nights when he has put her to bed. “It just makes him special.”
The sound of the maintenance worker’s lawnmower transports Sylvie back to the present.
“Ugh, I hate crying,” Sylvie mutters out loud.
* * *
Stay tuned for part 3
Until next time, happy reading, and have a wonderful day.