Sounds of Children

Three glass cups sat upon a bench in the sunken Children’s Court of the monastery, about twenty feet away from five-year-old Sunar’s intent stare. What little attention not focused on the glasses before him made brief note of his teacher beside him. He did not notice the other children staring out of windows two and three stories above him, how his under-shaped wings quivered with his concentration, nor how the children above pointed at the wings and quietly giggled to each other.

Sunar took a deep breath, held it for a moment while he carefully set his mouth and lips just so. He felt the air in his lungs, straining to get out, set his throat to do as he desired, focused his vision on the middle glass, and pushed. The air left his lungs as a great rush, while something in his throat turned what might have been a roar into a force that delivered at least as much power as anything his fists had ever managed.

The blast of air could be seen as well as heard in its deafening rush toward the bench. The stone walls of the courtyard seemed to make the sound even louder, and then a wall of air hit the middle glass and shattered it into tiny pieces. The glass a mere foot to its right tilted slightly, but stayed upright. Sunar could take no joy in this, however, because the glass on the left shot away with great force and shattered against a wall.

The sounds of shattering glass faded to be replaced by giggles coming from the upper windows, and false-whispered comments followed the giggles. “See? He can’t learn to fight on his own, has to be taught how to cheat…”

“…why our parents are afraid? He has no control…”

“…can’t break glass with his hands, I bet…”

“…look at those stubby wings, maybe he’d do better without them…”

He did his best to let the comments roll over him, as he’d been taught, but the wings he couldn’t let slide. He stalked over to the glass remaining on the bench. The teacher told him over and over to stop, but he paid the man no heed in his anger. The comments continued, now to the tune of “little Sunar going to do something to us? Maybe he will beat us with his puny wings?”

A swift motion placed the glass on one of his wings, and a sharp snap of wing and back sent it hurtling toward the second story. Squeals of fear and surprise came down, followed by sounds of shattered glass, followed by more squeals.

“Let’s see any of you do that with your wings, huh? Oh, you can’t, can you? Because you don’t have them and I do, and all of you are jealous. Nothing but a bunch of jealous, that’s all you are!”

Silence came down from the window, and a hand roughly seized Sunar’s arm to spin him around. The stern look on the adult’s face made him feel ashamed, but he stood his ground. He knew the other kids watched.

After some moments, his teacher spoke, loudly, his voice pitched to be heard by the other children as well as himself. “It is beneath you, Sunar, to respond to such petty, childish, unwise, and foolish taunts in such a manner. Almost as far beneath you as it is for others to be saying such things. You will go up there, right now, and clean up every piece of glass from that hall. After that, you are excused. I know you have duties to attend to.” The adult then, somehow, directed his voice straight upstairs without moving his head, “This courtyard does need a good cleaning, however. I think that a bunch of children with nothing better to do than mock their fellows should use their idle hands to clean it.”

Sunar nodded, and ran upstairs to do his task. He felt happy that the other kids had gotten in trouble, but the angry looks, the ones that said ‘You got us in trouble’ changed his mind. Mostly.


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