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Youta Anderson is much too small for his age. His doctor believes it is his sadness that holds him back from not only growing, but also from breaking out of the never-ending chain of depression that is continually thrown at him through his blinding surroundings. His father thinks it is schoolwork that causes Youta not to play with children his age, and constantly offers a vacation get-away to Maui always forcefully brandishing a fat brochure under his son’s nose. But Youta knows better than to say yes, and quickly walks away, carrying his depressing crown of thorns with him.
Youta was born not being able to speak, and because of this he was usually being made fun of at his school. Always having spitballs spit at him or having the fear of an atomic wedgie when he went to school was a problem, but when ever he was teased Youta just couldn’t speak his mind so instead he opened his mouth into the shape of a silent scream. He hated it.
Every day Youta came home from school to his over-cheerful dad, and to the same routine. So with that I will begin Youta Anderson’s story.
“Hi!” Mr. Anderson called as he heard the front door shut with a soft thud, “how was school?” he shuffled into the cramped entrance hall to greet his eleven year old son, Yuota. Youta looked sadly on his dad’s appearance: the kind face that wrinkled perfectly at the eyes when he smiled, his fathers bronze-colored hair that was just beginning to thin, his eyes that were a gaunt fading blue still shone but were growing more dull in the passing days, Youta merely glanced at the old stained shirt that his dad wore it read ‘kiss me, I’m middle aged’, and lastly the smell coming off him: lavender. Youta made quite a process of sniffing so that Mr. Anderson would notice than he raised his eye brows towards his father. “Like it?” Youta’s dad asked, “Just got it today at the men’s perfume store.” to Youta this is not unusual, though if you were merely a passing bystander and you had heard this it would be most likely that you would notify the police right away for thinking that this guy was seriously mental. But to the people who live in The Middle of Nowhere it is completely normal for guys to smell like lavender.
Like all big cities, The Middle of Nowhere has its strange traditions; except The Middle of Nowhere was not a city, it was not even a town. Most consider it as a large neighborhood or a tiny town. But one of the main problems was the traditions. Youta didn’t know what it was but he knew that he had to be stuck with his dad for what would seem like a millennia he would much rather die.
“Well? How was your day?” Mr. Anderson asked again. Youta shrugged and sauntered off into the kitchen trying to ignore the sharp throbbing pain in his side. Youta heaved his back pack into a corner and walked back to the other side of the kitchen. Stopping at the refrigerator Youta pulled it open glancing into its shallow depths he thought to him self, the only thing that slips my dad’s mind about ordinary house work is buying produce at the store, specifically when there is a distraction such as men’s perfume. Youta rolled his eyes at his dad’s own pitiful yet extremely stupid habits.
Not having anything to eat Youta sulked back to his backpack and lugged it on to the counter top, sat down and pulled out his math homework. Mr. Anderson walked into the room, leaned against a wall and studied his son who was now absent mindedly rubbing his hurt side and frowning at a particularly hard problem. Youta looked a lot like his father he had the same bronze-colored hair that was just a bit wavy towards the front of his head, his body shape was nearly identical to that of his fathers it was only just skinnier and less worn down, the major difference was hardly noticeable, it was the eye color. Youta had gray eyes, the same as his mothers.
Youta gave up on his home work and put it away in his backpack, instead he pulled out a well-known book that looked like it had been over-read; judging by its shabby cover and the now illegible golden writing on the ancient cover that had actually been chewed of in some places by an unknown animal (probably some type of rodent creature). Mr. Anderson took a quick look at the book’s worn cover and said in a bright voice, “why don’t you throw that old thing away? We could get you a new one at the book store down the street.” Youta looked up, and put on a face that made it look like he was considering his dad’s presents for the first time; than he glared, hard. He looked his father strait into the eye sending him a message of pure anger, that he hoped would shoot down his father’s spine and pierce every inch of him, like one thousand tiny invisible Porcupine quills jabbing his flesh over and over again.
Youta’s dad winced as he now watched his son thrust his finger toward the refrigerator, still glaring, and then back visibly poking his stomach as though meaning to say why don’t you go do something useful?! GO GET ME FOOD! Then Youta waved his finger at Mr. Anderson and back this time towards his nose his meaning clearly being, why I even bother! Do you know what I go through every day, of coarse you don’t all you ever DO all day is buy men’s perfume at some smelly where house that doesn’t sell anything useful! How dare YOU even call your self a father!
Youta knew that he had gone too far, quickly he gathered his things, but leaving the tattered book on the table he pointed one more time though instead he pointed it at the book and then at the trash can then he lowered his finger and shot a look of pure terror towards his dad. Youta had no choice he knew what was coming so he rushed out of kitchen, his sad gray eyes cast upon the ground so his dad would not see the emotion as it started to bubble up to his eyes. Youta broke in to a run in the hall turned sharply into a doorway, nearly bumping into the wall as he went, dropped his backpack into a dusty corner, lay face-down on his bed and tried wailing at the top of his lungs, but when no sound came out he made a silent what-would-be-furious shriek, and broke down sobbing.
Mr. Anderson stared at the ratty book on the kitchen table, knowing what the jesters his son had given him meant; there’s the book, throw it away if you want, take it away, buy a new one if you want, though I’ll have you know that I wont read it even if my life depended on it. It just wont ever be the same… it wont be hers if you buy a new one. That was the thought that drove his son out of the room, nearly in tears.
Mr. Anderson knows of the real reason of his and his son’s sadness but it is one of those things that you can’t talk about in public because it would make too many at once depressed, depressed and lonesome. The exact way Youta and his dad feel; they would never want anyone else who lived in The Middle of Nowhere to come across the same horrible fate as they had. It had happened it August, her favorite month of the year, it was known to happen it could of come any day but they didn’t expect it to come so soon, none of them did. She happened to have cancer in the larynx, it was untreatable they all knew that it was going to creep down into her throat, and eventually leak into her lungs killing her off. But not even the scientists and doctors who cared and tried treating her would ever have expected it to end so fast. but she did not even try, she was not a fighter; so one day, when Youta was nine years old, they had come home finding his mother, Youta’s one true mother, dead.
This was so hard on Youta and his dad for the next year. And to top it all off Youta could not speak, so strangely enough he developed a habit of reading. He read every single book that he could get his hands on, he read to let the characters’ swarm into his mind to chase any thoughts of fear or sorrow out. But there was one book that couldn’t do that; it happened to be the shabby old book in Mr. Anderson’s hands at the moment.
When the Andersons’ moved to The Middle of Nowhere they brought with them one book. The book had come from Mrs. Anderson’s childhood; the book at the time was shabby and frayed with parts of the cover that looked as though some type of rodent had tried to chew it off. And in faded gold lettering on the front of the book, you could just make out the title: The Winner.
Mr. Anderson gingerly carried the ancient book down the hall, letting each step fall in a mechanical rhythm, slow and loud. Be for long he reached his son’s room, only to find him face-down on the sheets shaking up and down. Mr. Anderson sat down in the corner of the bed, waiting. Fourteen minutes later Youta has raised himself into a cross-legged sitting position, Mr. Anderson hands him back the old book and says, “no matter what I go through in the day, no matter how hard it is to get through life, I always look forward to seeing you later. For you are a hero my son, so you will always be a winner to me.”