Jonas had put more than a few years behind him. He wanted to pretend they weren’t his best years, but they probably were. He bore the scars of a hard life and many of those scars were not written upon his skin. He’d grown up in a simple home with a fearful but loving mother. His father, conversely was a proud, angry man and Jonas realized only much later in life that his father’s pride and anger probably stemmed from the fact that his old man was weak and insignificant. Jonas was neither of those things, he’d made sure of that.
After the Army had had their way with him, he’d drifted for a while. He had few memories of happiness when he was a child and so the concept of “home” did not bring comfort. He liked to move around. Mobility kept him from making connections with other people. Isolation was freedom.
Drifting, like the Army, had taught him self-reliance. He’d been forced to learn many new crafts and skills and now, in the latter chapters of his life, he thought of himself as the proverbial “Jack Of All Trades”, although truthfully, in most everything he did, he was masterful. One of the enduring lessons cruelly imprinted upon him as a child from his overbearing father was that it was unacceptable to do anything less than your very best. “Be great or be nothing!” his father had shouted at him, usually when criticizing something Jonas had done. So Jonas strove for greatness.
The latest town to shelter him was no different than all the ones that came before. It was small, quiet and the townsfolk treated him the same. He could see their eyes on him when they thought he wasn’t looking. He’d become adept at keeping watch all the way around. He knew what thoughts lay behind the furtive glances he got. People were quizzical and judgemental, but mostly they were afraid, because it’s natural to fear that which is different or not understood. Jonas was different. Jonas was misunderstood. Jonas, most importantly, did not care about the thoughts or fears of others. He knew the fear would keep them at bay and that’s what he wanted.
Once, only once had Jonas broken his rule and allowed himself to become close to someone. Two someone’s actually. Their faces still haunted his dreams, both during the waking hours and those that danced in his head while he slept. Sharise had been as beautiful as the breaking of dawn over an Alpine valley and despite his best efforts to keep his distance, he’d fallen for her. She had not been alone in the world and Jonas realized that in loving Sharise, he had opened himself to loving her daughter Sarah. Radiant Sarah who was only eight, but smart and curious and undaunted, had captured his heart with no more than the simple gesture of taking his hand one day while they walked through town. She never saw the grizzled, fearsome stranger that caused most people to cross to the other side of the street when they saw him coming. Her gaze pierced through the facade and saw directly into him and she felt nothing but love. Sharise and Sarah. Not a day went by that his heart did not ache for them. Their memories now were all he had.
[This is not a story, but a simple character description that came to me one morning. I don’t know if I’ll ever use Jonas but I suspect I will. To me, he’s the reluctant hero, the man who can rise against the forces of nature and win, but may be unwilling to do so because he’s lost touch with his humanity.
Being the loner, I thought he might go well in an ensemble cast. He might be called to set aside his comfortable cloak of isolation and work together with others, which would cause him no end of discomfort. But then, when we are pushed beyond our comfort zone, is that not often when we do our very best?
Keep a watchful eye on my blog. I think there is much more of Jonas’s tale to be told and if he insists (as characters often do) I will share his tale with the rest of you.]