The Key

A little scene based on a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth… I found a bunch that I’d missed, so I’m having fun catching up.


Schuyler didn’t miss that when people called him by his nickname they were also saying something more.  People called him Shy and it was true.  He was a shy person.  He couldn’t open up to people.  He couldn’t tell anyone what was on his mind or how he really felt about them.  He didn’t know what to do about it.  How could he change it.

“You seem rather lost in thought.”  Schuyler looked up to find that Mr. Stamford standing behind him.  He felt his cheeks warm and nodded.  Mr. Stamford gave him a ready smile and sat down on the chair near his own.  “A penny for your thoughts,” he said, arching his brows.

“I’m… Why am I so shy?” he asked.  Tears stung his eyes and he looked up towards the rooftops of the buildings across the street.  “Why can’t I tell people what I’m thinking?  Why can’t I tell anyone how I feel?”

“Shyness is a learned behavior,” Mr. Stamford said, his voice soft.  When Schuyler looked at him, he nodded firmly.  “It’s true, Schuyler,” he said.  “There are people who aren’t personable – who prefer to be alone, like Mr. Buckley.  There are those people who come to be alone through tragic circumstances, like Mr. Tollerton.  However, there are those people who come to be alone because… people have hurt them and, fearing further pain, they pull away.”

“Who hurt me, though?” Schuyler said, shaking his head.

A faint smile touched Mr. Stamford’s lips.  “I don’t think it was anyone who meant to do you any harm,” he said.  Shrugging, he said, “You’re the middle son of three, with two elder siblings and three younger siblings.”

Schuyler frowned and shook his head.  “What’s that go to do with being shy?” he asked.

Mr. Stamford released a sigh.  “Your younger siblings got a great deal of attention, being at an age where they need that sort of attention,” he said.  “Your elder siblings are old enough that adults listen to them.  Has anyone ever taken the time to listen to you Schuyler?  Hasn’t it often been rather the opposite: people ignore what you have to say or simply tell you that you’re too young to know what you’re talking about?”

Schuyler’s eyes widened.  He nodded slowly.  Even Konrad and Hannah sometimes ignored him.  He knew they didn’t mean to hurt him, but he realized now that they had.  “What can I do to change that?” he asked, his voice faint.

Mr. Stamford set down a book with a key on top of it.  “Start by writing your thoughts,” he said.  “When you’ve reached the point where you’re comfortable expressing your thoughts in writing, it may be easier to expression in the spoken manner.”

Old key lying on antique books with locks

Old key lying on antique books with locks

“What’s the key for?”

Mr. Stamford pointed at the book.  “This book can be locked closed,” he said.  “It will keep your thoughts private and safe – unless you choose to share them.”

“This… you’re giving this to me?” Schuyler asked, looking up at Mr. Stamford.  When the man nodded, he smiled.  “Thank you, sir,” he said.  Nodding and hugging the book close, he said, “I’ll try it.”

“That’s all anyone can ask of you,” Mr. Stamford said, giving him an easy smile.  Then, he stood and ruffled Schuyler’s hair before heading off down the boardwalk towards his saloon.  As Schuyler stared after him, he wondered if Mr. Stamford was ever as shy as he was.  A part of him thought that was probably the case.  He seemed to be speaking from experience, after all.


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