A Short Story Illustrating the Impact of Statues
Jesse looked out the window and smiled. This had to be the happiest day of his life. He was on the train headed to college! “I made it! I’m finally out of that house of horrors.”
Jesse sat back in his seat and thought about the first time he met Aunt “Quiet” and Uncle “Loud”. That’s what he called them at the family gathering when he was 5, back when his parents were alive. He noticed that Aunt Quiet would only respond by nodding or shaking her head and would rarely squeak out a yes or no. And even though it was summer, she wore a long-sleeve shirt and pants. On the contrary, Uncle Loud talked all the time, non-stop. And he was loud. He always had something to say about this or that. Sometimes when he disagreed he would get into people’s faces and raise his voice even louder. When the other person would look scared, he would let out a belly laugh and say he was only joking. No one really liked Uncle Loud, but he was family.
When Jesse’s parents died, it was Uncle Loud that insisted that Jesse would come live with them. Aunt Quiet and Uncle Loud had no kids. Uncle Loud blamed Aunt Quiet. So, the day after the funeral, Uncle Loud and Aunt Quiet took Jesse back to their town.
Uncle Loud was the mayor of a small town. And he was rich, having made a lot of money in business. The town loved Uncle Loud. He was always good to those who agreed with him. He took care of his friends and made sure the town had everything it needed. Uncle Loud was always able to make things happen.
The first two weeks living with Aunt Quiet and Uncle Loud was ok. Jesse stayed mostly in his room, silently sobbing, missing his parents. The third week is when the horrors began. One night, Uncle Loud and Aunt Quiet got in a big fight. Well, it wasn’t much of fight since Uncle Loud did all the yelling. This wasn’t the first time Jesse heard Uncle Loud yelling at Aunt Quiet, he usually barked at her about everything. But this was the first time Jesse heard him hit her. The smack was so loud that Jesse swore he felt it. Then he heard something fall to the ground and could her whimper come from Aunt Quiet. Jesse wanted to go see if she was ok, but he dared not. As he heard Uncle Loud leave the room Jesse quickly got under the covers and pretended to be sleep. He could hear Uncle Loud peek into the room and then walk down the hall into the kitchen. Jesse dared not even breathe for fear Uncle Loud would hit him. Jesse now knew why Aunt Quiet was the way she was.
This went on for about a year. Until Jesse couldn’t take it any longer. During one particularly vicious beating, Jesse got up and stood between Aunt Quiet and Uncle Loud. He summoned all his courage and forcefully told Uncle Loud to leave her alone. Then something hit Jesse hard in his chest. He felt his whole body move backwards until his head and back hit the wall. Jesse couldn’t breathe. Everything was a blur. He heard Uncle Loud say, “You want to stand up like a man, then I’ll treat you like a man.” Jesse could feel the punches but couldn’t do anything about them. As the world went to black, all Jesse could think was “I’m going to die.”
Now, Uncle Loud had a new outlet for his frustrations. But somehow through it all, Jesse managed to maintain high grades. So high that his college of choice gave him a full ride, a year early. But Uncle Loud refused to let Jesse go. Jesse decided he would become emancipated. A battle in the courts ensued. And finally, after months, the court emancipated Jesse. He was free to go to college.
In the months before Jesse left, Uncle Loud seethe around the house, slamming doors, yelling at Aunt Quiet, but never looking or acknowledging Jesse. But the day Jesse left for the train, Uncle Loud had this weird half smile almost smug look on his face. He never said good bye, he just looked at Jesse with that look.
Jesse was snapped back to reality by the conductor’s announcement. The train was pulling into his stop. As he stepped off the train, Jesse could see a man holding a sign with his name on it. The man introduced himself as the dean of students of the college. He would be escorting Jesse to the campus. Jesse was very surprised by this but followed along.
Along the way, the dean spoke with Jesse about the college and its particulars. To Jesse, the dean seemed overly excited about Jesse. Sure, Jesse was starting college a year early but so were other kids in this freshman class – he wasn’t the only one. Jesse pushed the thought aside thinking that they must be doing this for all the other ones as well and he’ll meet up with the group at the college.
When Jesse and the dean got to the college, the dean started talking about how grateful they are to have Jesse at the college. Jesse, who’s very confused now, asks why. The dean, a little taken aback by Jesse’s question says, “It’s not often that we get students whose families are so generous to the college.”
As they walked into the quad Jesse looks up at the statue standing before him in the middle of the quad. A knot forms in Jesse’s stomach, his heart starts beating rapidly, he can feel his face getting red as his blood pressure rises. The dean says, “As you know, a few months ago, your uncle made a very generous donation to the college. In return, all that he asked is that we placed a statue of him here in the quad. We called him this morning to let him know that the statue was ready and in place.”