The Last Moments of a Noble Man

by Julien Verdeaux-Gonzalez, age 15
The Last Moments of a Noble Man Julien is a French-Peruvian writer who is passionate about writing novels and short stories. His themes consist of the darkness of moral choices and the perception of people, as well as elements consisting of family and companionship.

“There lies a man flat on a bed, his hackle horrendous, his skin frosty, his eyes a certain color of impassive magnitudes. The hoarseness of his breathing infected the atmosphere with dense tension.”

To obtain the quietness of a mournful passing, one must have the grandeur of the coronation of a promising king. The silence is all there needs to be, the warm touch of a predecessor of life, the assurance that a mark is left in continuous progress. Let there be that touch in all that is bonded, for bondage is not to be hidden. The heavy breathing of all that witness, that of the dying, that of the skies, that of the following, it all comes together in unison, a monologue of dreadful sadness, and yet, there is a hearth that lies at the opposite side of the room. The heat is belittled with each passing moment until there is nothing left but ashes, but may these dusty forms represent the eradication of pain, and an epiphany of equilibrium. The silence is a moment of respect that is acquired through the actions in one lifetime. To all that is unsaid, is the greatest triumph of all, formulating an epitaph that feeds on the dripping tears, to make something much greater; a legacy. There is no sound louder than the radiating pound of quietude.

There lies a man flat on a bed, his hackle horrendous, his skin frosty, his eyes a certain color of impassive magnitudes. The hoarseness of his breathing infected the atmosphere with dense tension. For such a small room, with even a blazing fire, the family could not produce enough body heat to thaw the pain from nature’s debt. There is a love to be had, and as great as affection might be, there is a hardship that must be endured. The negative correlations that are lived through the flow of a starry damsel who meanders in the sky, and then takes a good long look at the moon, and realizes that if the beginning of such a beautiful gift known as life can be mysterious, then the embrace of the unknown shall be more inviting to explorers of the edge between reality and fantasy. A paradise is what people crave, an eternity of serenity, though do people deserve such a reward? Those that have silence very much do. Their acts are imprinted in the past, but also an example for the future, and morals, even when altered by different time periods, are never to cease to be. Existence will always gaze down from the patterns in the sky, but nothingness will never have a voice in a universe so filled with pioneering. Such pioneers waltz to the tune they have formed by themselves, as their closest friends and family gaze in amazement and see that the elegance of death is that it is just a phase, much like a benchmark that unlocks a new establishment of freedom.

Some relatives step outside for a break of strain. They see an ensemble of colors that paint their faces with the subtle light of dusk. The variety of colors masterfully splattered on a view most magical for a reality. Some of their fingers tremble and decide to light a cigarette, while others just let the water flow from their eyes, and accept that it is an alleviation from the burden of watching a loved one in pain. None of them interact with each other, for they would not hear each other anyway. The silence could not be talked over; too deafening. The grass grazes their ankles, the wind tickling their ears. They all import this image to a fond memory. An instance of the innocence in youth, a grin, a harmless mischief, a celebrated union. The memories recollect and meet in the span of a few moments, a place taken by the present. To the amazement of the wanderers, they realize that all they craved from the past is put on display at the death of a noble man.

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The man of high honor but no aristocracy traveled to the depths of his memories and remembered believing that what is considered customary is the natural forgetfulness of happy times. Foolish in character, wise in mentality, he was never a boy who sat still, nor a boy who meandered off into abstract proportions. His priorities lay with his mother, a pure nonpareil of justly strictness who made the absolute best pastries in the entire village. A village in Central America where sand sprinkled on the streets, and the breeze of the ocean whipped the faces of the inhabitants. Tall palm trees sprung, blue skies glowed, and clouds enveloped themselves in the warm blueness of serenity. There was a spicery on almost every corner, and on a specific one, the manager installed himself, ready for the day. He pulled a picture out and placed it on his desk every day to remind him of what type of father he was. A father who acted as a jester for the sake of an image of a grinning baby. Both parents devoted themselves to family, both diving in dangers, and both loving every second of it. Any other type of family that considered themselves the epitome of unification were caught with dropped jaws of mediocre conduct when compared to a family such as that of the noble man’s. Were they wealthy? Not too deep in impoverishment, but on the fair side of needing, but not receiving. In fact all that was earned, was given to those who did not know if living the next day was an option. Thrown off by benevolence, the parents came down ill. With money scarce, and a denial of interrupting their alms, proper treatment was but an illusion.

Word of the sudden deaths of the two parents dispersed throughout the village, and so the flood of tears flowed under the gloomy eyes of friends, and rushed into the cracks of the streets. Their ends were not far apart, only a gap of a few days. Though for their son, he crouched on the floor and picked up his mother’s favorite flowers–dahlias. He placed them on both of their caskets and said indistinguishable words. Never were they repeated, until the day of his final gasps.

The orphan had an aunt, a physical replica of his mother, though with ill-founded motives, and abusive teachings. The orphan had more quality time with a belt from auntie’s husband than with the pair during dinner time. There was to be no leisure, and education was said to be a waste of time, a blockade of entering life earlier. The orphan liked to look at books with pictures in them, though he never understood the words on the page. However, even gazing at the books was most punishable in a family of farmers. His mother never had such extremities of either complete neglect, or conscious beating. Mother always rewarded for goodness, and only dare smack him for doing something repulsive. Something against the rules she always made. Father always had a soft spot for his little boy, but he knew there had to be a balance in parenting, a balance that the little boy would never receive.

Quotas were to be met; number of cows milked, berries picked, and fields shredded. No protest was ever uttered by the little boy, until one day he left a scribbly drawing depicting that he was to never return to the household, the household in which he was dying at the very moment.

The boy became a lad through the discovery of starvation and thirst. He joined a group of street kids whose rags matched the dark colors of the ashen streets. They robbed from the central market that placed itself in the grand courtyard in the middle of the village. Even with the exotic name of Plaza de Fortuna, no men nor women of high status mingled in that courtyard. The adolescent knew it was against the lessons his mama had told him, but he was just so hungry. It took him three days to decide to take an apple from an old man who only had a few coins in his jar. The juice of the apple burst in his mouth, the sweetness pouring and flooding over his taste buds. He moaned at the beauty of the savory taste. The skin of the apple melted in his mouth, until the second bite. The second bite tasted of corpses, rotten, spoiled. The apple, so beautiful in its shining redness, was now thrown on the ground, the smack of his mother’s backhand imprinted on his cheek. But now, even his mother was not there to discipline him.

A homeless man stood at a corner of a collapsed church, a gold cross hanging on his neck, a single shoe on his right foot, and a beard that stretched to the base of his neck. Though the man had the eyes of a youthful being, his wrinkles made him look old and worn. He was playing a melodic tune with his embarrassingly scratched guitar, and tapping his shoe with the rhythm. Like the merchant, nothing but a few coins in a jar. The boy, without even greeting the beggar, approached the old man, placed the apple next to the jar, and decided to simply sing at the melody. It was not for a moment of glorious spectacle, nor was it for an income. It just seemed comforting to have some music with an accompaniment of vocals. The man did not protest, and so the strings of the guitar danced with the pitches of the boy’s singing. It lasted from the morning all the way to midnight, with no meal in between. The jar had filled up to a decent value of a loaf of bread to split between the two. What was thought as a one-time occurrence, became a daily occupation, and everyday the two would split a loaf of bread and even add some jam, without even a conversation spoken. The only language they needed was that of their music. There was one day where the boy purposefully tripped on the sidewalk near their usual music spot. The scrape against the rocky pavement left a bright red bruise with a thick smudge of dirt mixing with his weary skin. The old man helped the boy up, tore a strip of his sleeve, and patched him up with that. The old man told the boy not to be so clumsy, but it ended in a brief gaze of bondage between the two. However, once again, few words were exchanged.

After several months of trudging, though rather enjoying the frustration, the old man bought a book with the title Blueberries for Sal printed with large font on the cover. The boy told the man he did not know how to read. The old man said that he would teach him, though he admitted he knew little as well. They worked during the day, and read during the night. The words, the sentences, the pictures, it all became an obsession to the boy. With permission from the old man, the boy bought more books. Each night became an infuriating passage of perseverance, understanding what each word meant, what the story wanted to say.

It led to one night where the boy finally spoke to the man under rags.

“Where are your parents?” said the young boy.

The old man did not look at the child. “Far and happy,” he said. “What about you? I assume you ran away. Why?”

The little boy sighed but did not shed a tear. “I would never run away. But I would say they’re far and happy.”

The old man regretted his question. His relation to the young boy still disoriented his manners towards him.

The boy knew the silence in between was for that very reason of mixed communication. He did not feel offended, for he was the one who commenced the conversation. “Do you have any kids?” asked the boy. His curiosity was greater than his proper manners.

The old man leaned on his elbow, believing he had not heard correctly. “What?”

“Do you have any children? Like the bears in Little Red Riding Hood. The bears have a smaller bear. He’s their child. Do you have a smaller version of you?”

The old man looked away and sighed. “Go back to sleep,” He felt his closure to the topic was rude on his part, and added, “Have a good night.”

“You too, papa.” The man did not hear the last word, but they both slept soundly that night.

The old man coughed horrendously and in colossal intervals. His strength was weakening, his motivation was deteriorating, his eyes were fading. The little boy knew what was happening to the old man, for he had seen it twice before, and it was about to be three times too many. The old man passed away within the spectrum of a few days. No proper funeral, no relatives, just the little boy. He decided to cry only after the man’s death, because for a man so dear, the moment belonged solely to him. The boy trudged through the sadness and thanked the heavens that he had the opportunity of having two great fathers. The old man was buried in a rotten field, with an unpolished cross sticking from the ground. It read in carved letters, To the Father Who Was Kind Enough to Give Me Blueberries.

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With the noble man’s memories slipping away, he decided it too painful to keep looking there, and instead focus on the people that stood near his bed. He hated the house for all its malice, but the people that were in it–each had a light inside of them that gazed into the noble man’s heart, and built a connection. All that was needed to say farewell was received, but not spoken. The relatives that stepped outside resumed their positions in the room, standing tall as if to prove that the next generations of the family would be in good hands.

The noble man’s eyes scanned the room, his neck creaking, his bones snapping, his muscles tingling. He met the eyes of his daughter, a beautiful woman with dark brown hair and a stance that shouted promise. Her two children, teenage twins with blue eyes and bright hair also had the same stance, though their eyes were watery and red. The noble man found his son, a man with the eyes and mouth of his mother and the distinguishable nose of his father. It reminded the noble man of his own parents, a lovely pair they were, and lovely he indeed saw in the room. The noble man’s grandchildren, Sophia, Maria, Thomas, Daniel, Fernando, and the littlest one, Paula, all sat at the edge of the creaky bed. The noble man smiled at them, and he saw a little glow behind their soaked cheeks. Cousins, nephews, nieces, friends, neighbors, they all came with pretty faces and ugly expressions. The thought saddened the dying man, but he soon grinned as much as he could, because it was the first time in a long time that all these faces were in one room.

The male nurse nodded his head to the noble man’s children. The dying man closed his eyes slowly, he tilted his head back and listened to the sound of paper unfolding and the sweet voice of his daughter break the silence–the words spoken, the same words he had said to his own parents and the old guitarist: “I thank you, not just for being a figure for the family, but for being the person that everyone needs. It is tragic that you are passing, but be assured that your legacy of goodness will not end here. All is good, because now, we will always be together, in life, in death, and beyond.”

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