This is a story I wrote while thinking about adjectives. I was trying to play with how adjectives affect, or don’t affect, a story. It was originally intended to be a three part story, the first being what I have posted below, the second being a version with the opposite adjectives in place, and the third part would omit as many adjectives as possible. I was hoping for an exploration of how these simple words could affect the entire tone and plot of a story. But then I realized that my plan would make these stories completely unreadable. But I don’t think the whole thing was a total waste, I realize what is below is astonishingly unpolished but I also find it to be remarkably… comforting. I don’t know. Something about the idea of a struggle to find a word to describe something you have never seen before seems incredibly romantic to me.
But I digress. The story, unedited, is below. Don’t hate it too hard.
The Smallest Boy
In a small town, in a small city, in a small country, in a small planet, there lived- quite unsurprisingly- a small boy. This small boy was quite unremarkable as small boys went, the only thing that separated this small boy from all the other small boys in his small town was the fact that he was- quite surprisingly- quite smaller than everyone else. There was no end of debate about what to do with the small boy, though he lived in such a small town there was, as common sense would dictate, such a thing as being too small. Some people argued he should be made to be not quite so small and others, calling these ideas inhumane, said that the boy should be sent away from their small town, so that they would no longer have to bear responsibility for the small boy. No one ever asked the small boy what he wished to do, or who he wished to be, or where he wanted to go. He was a small boy. Small by the small town’s small standards. What right did he have to choose?
The small town decided the small boy’s small rights were too small to be considered. The decision was made, as all decisions in the small town were, by the least small among them. He sent the small boy on his way, out of their small town and into the small uncharted world beyond. None of the small people, least of all the least small among them, could have ever predicted what was going to happen to the small boy on his small journey from his small town. The small boy wandered the small roads and small trails, looking for small ways to survive in his small world. The small boy was surprised, quite so, by the amount of small assistance he received from his small world. The small animals would approach him, and leave small presents for him. Small bits of food, small cups of water (where, the small boy wondered, did the animals find such small cups?) and small pieces of clothing. Soon, the small boy was wandering his small world with more than his fair share of small things.
Yet the small boy’s small journey was not free of hardship, the small boy often found himself caught outside during the small thunderstorms and small tornadoes that ravaged his small world this time of year. Despite the small hardships, the small boy felt something odd when he looked at these small storms. A vague uneasiness settled in his small stomach. But this wasn’t something that the small boy was afraid of, it was something new in his small world. Something new, in such a small world, was something that needed to be explored. The small boy was sure of this.
The boy, uneasiness flowing through his veins, looked at the small storms again. He studied the small storms, their small fluctuations, their small gusts, their small arcs of lightning. One small cloud, in particular, was slowly drifting into another small cloud. The small boy wondered what would happen when the two small clouds ran into each other. The small boy realized this was the source of his uneasiness. What happened to two small things when they were combined? The small clouds drew closer together, until, inexorably, the two small clouds became one cloud. This shocked the boy, until this moment in his life it had been inconceivable that anything small could be anything less than small. He didn’t even have a word in his head for something that wasn’t small, so the boy did the best he could. He called the new cloud “non-small.” The non-small cloud slowly drifted back into two small clouds again, and the small boy felt a new, small, sadness. Though he could not explain why.
The small boy continued his small journey, leaving the small storms behind him, the small animals behind him, his small town behind him. The small boy climbed a small hill, and paused to take a small breath. The small boy did not know how long he had been on his small journey, but he wanted to take a small look at the small town he came from. He turned his small head toward his small town but, much to his surprise, his small eyes could no longer see his small town. This surprised the small boy, he never knew his small world was so… non-small. The boy smiled suddenly, filled with a small joy beyond describing. The world was non-small, the boy yelled triumphantly. The boy looked at himself, looked at how his small arms flowed into his small chest, how his small chest flowed into his small hips, how those flowed into his small legs. The boy realized that his small parts, when put together, much like those non-small clouds, also made him non-small.
The boy wanted to turn and run, taking as many non-small steps as he could, back to his small town. The boy wanted to show all of the small people there, especially the least small among them, how he had become non-small. But, as the boy placed one non-small leg onto the suddenly non-small road, he realized that the small people would still be small and they would still judge him for being the not right size of small. They may even try to make the boy small again, and the thought of being small, and not non-small, made the boy almost vomit the food the animals had so graciously given him. No, the boy told himself, he would not go back. The small people in his small town were too small for him. He would press on with his newly found size.
Still, the boy wandered. He grew tired of calling everything “non-small,” he knew that some where in this non-small world of his there had to be a better word to call these non-small things. The boy came across a non-small town, full of non-small people one day. The least non-small among them welcomed the boy into their non-small town, and made the boy feel welcome. The boy had many questions for these non-small people. Politely, one of the non-small people asked the boy why he called everyone in the town a ‘non-small’ person. The boy responded, quite confused, what else am I to call you? Are you not all non-small people? The non-small towns person smiled, a sad smile, and told the boy to look carefully at the size of the people around him.
The boy looked. Looked carefully. And finally, with a force that almost took the boy’s breath away, he realized what the non-small person meant. The non-small people around him were not in fact all non-small. Some were quite small, some were non-small, some were small, some were double-non-small. There were too many non-small and small sizes of people for the boy to even hope to keep all the names of the sizes of these people straight in his head. The boy started to panic, not knowing how to address any of these people, knowing the inadequacy of his words to describe people would now become even more obvious.
The boy looked around, looked at anything but the people all around him, all the sizes confusing his poor non-small brain, desperately hoping that he could go back to his small world, with his small people, in the small town. The small boy wanted this desperately, but unbidden the memory of the two small clouds came to his mind. The small boy’s mind paused. Was his mind small, or non-small? Was he non-small? Were the clouds small? The small/non-small boy could not decide if the answers to these small/non-small questions were important. They seemed important, but irrelevant at the same time.
The small/non-small/double-non-small people paused in their tasks to watch the boy. They knew what a dangerous place the small/non-small boy was in. He was on the edge of something grand and terrible. The small/non-small/double-non-small people had all been to that terrible place inside their minds, the place where none go willingly, yet all must go eventually. The small, tiny, almost insignificant void that exists within every person.
The small/non-small boy reached out at the same time as the townspeople reached out to him, and he saw, and felt, and heard, the smallness, the non-smallness, the double-non-smallness, inside of all of them. He could feel the voids inside of all of them, and he knew what that void was. It was salvation or damnation. The small/non-small boy found his own void. He went there, seeking an answer. The question was irrelevant, for the answer was for all questions. The small void inside his small/non-small mind could not contain the answer to that question. The small/non-small boy embraced this answer.
The boy found the word he was looking for.
The word, is vast.