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Gentle Rocking

the lurker

The gentle rocking of the dock comforted him. And he didn’t know why.

The Hudson stretched on alongside the rocks, the wind blowing mildly through the branches of the trees. The air had a crispness to it; it was the last touch of winter’s icy fingers, mixed with the coming fuse of spring. It carried the last breath of frost and the first smell of blooming flowers. He smiled, as he watched the train approach from the south, the sound of its wheels hitting the railroad ties, creating a rhythm which could not be mistaken for anything else. The box cars flew by him as he turned and watched it disappear to the north, across a bridge over the water.

He put his hands in his pockets and walked down to the very end of the dock at the boat basin. The slap of the Hudson up against the rocks stirred the edge of a memory within him. He looked down into the swirling water below, and concentrated on the sound of the water and the gentle rocking of the dock. And still a memory pulled at him, teasing his mind to dredge up the past.

Jarod’s brow creased trying to recall what was familiar about the sound, but it remained just out of reach. The sun was beginning to set over the Englewood Cliffs, and he sat down on the edge of the dock, allowing his feet to dangle over the side. He watched as the sky turned from a medium blue, to a bright orange, to a striking pink. Finally, it faded into a pale rose, followed by twilight, soon to be overtaken by the blackness of night.

And still the sound called to him. He closed his eyes and pulled in a breath of air through his nose, trying to clear his mind. He could smell the brine of the water, the saturated earth beginning to thaw, and the wind, which was filled with the wet bark of the nearby trees. The gently rocking of the dock eased him into the recesses of his mind, and then he picked out another scent.

Jasmine. The sweet smell of spring.

An image flashed through his mind: A woman with beautiful honey coloured hair, blown by the wind, holding him tightly. There was laughter, and the sparkle of dark blue eyes. And the smell of a coming spring. The sound of water splashing upon rocks. The salt of the water carried by the mist of the ocean filled his nostrils. He felt warm and safe, rocking in her arms. His mother.

Jarod opened his eyes and felt the sting of loss. It was the first time he had had a waking dream of his mother. He felt joy, and at the same time, deep regret. He closed his eyes again, hoping to recapture the moment in his mind’s eye, but it was gone. He looked over at the large ash tree growing in the rocks. It looked sturdy, grounded; he longed to feel such strength within himself.

But he was filled with doubt and turmoil. He wondered if it would always be so. He no longer felt the measure of protection around him, as he always had at the Centre. As an adult, Jarod found the Centre stifling, and longed to break away from the confines of what he considered a prison; but as a child, he had felt secure, knowing that Sydney would always be there as his refuge in a storm. But nothing felt as shielded and safe, as the memory of his mother’s arms.

A tear silently rolled down his cheek. How much had Sydney truly known of Jarod’s abduction by the Centre? Part of him feared he would never know the truth, and another part feared that he would. Sydney. The only parent he’d ever known. The only person he had ever trusted. At least he had trusted him until he was old enough to question what had been done to him.

Jarod looked out over the now dark sky and the darker water. The wind blew through his hair, softly caressing it. Another memory asserted itself in his mind, one that the five year old Jarod had buried away.....

The nightmare was relentless, and had permeated his dreams for weeks. He had tried to keep it from Sydney, but it was becoming more difficult. His teacher had begun to notice the edge in his protégé’s demeanor, and the difficulty he was having to concentrate. The Sweepers had brought Jarod back to his room for the night, and locked him in. Quietly, Jarod sat against the backboard of his bed, his knees drawn up to his chest, his head buried into his hands. He didn’t want to fall asleep.

A hand covered his mouth, and all he could taste was leather. His eyes popped open wide and he tried to scream, but no sound would come. He struggled against the man who was holding him, but it was no use. He heard his lunchbox hit the floor as one of his legs kicked out and hit it, knocking it off the nightstand. He felt the hood being yanked over his head, and overwhelming panic hit him, and he screamed.....

He felt strong arms gently lift him, pulling him into an embrace.

“Shhh, Jarod, it’s all right. You’re safe.”

He struggled against the man, but then recognized the soothing voice; he cried into the material of his mentor’s shirt, “Sydney....”

Sydney held the small boy close to him, rocking him gently, “It’s me, it’s okay.”

Sydney stroked Jarod’s hair, and held him until he fell asleep in the comfort of his arms.

Jarod shook his head at the memory. Why he had blocked it out, he wasn’t entirely sure. Maybe it was that he didn’t want to dwell on any memory which reminded him that Sydney cared for him, despite his mentor’s inability to admit any attachment. Or perhaps it was because Jarod wasn’t sure if it had really happened; maybe he wanted so badly to believe that Sydney loved him, he had merely invented a scenario to fit the bill. Jarod missed the gentle embrace of his mother, and sometimes, even the strong arms of Sydney.

The gentle rocking of the dock comforted him. And he knew why.


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