This story is based on Cece’s character, Thomas Flynn. Cece is a fellow student in my degree program at Full Sail. Hope you enjoy!
Thomas Flynn is a sheep farmer. He didn’t always live in Ireland, and he didn’t always live alone. He was a humble man who worked hard for everything he ever had. He had a family. He had a business. He also had a pet that was very dear to him: Tim the wombat.
At the time, Thomas had settled in the outback of Australia where he could herd sheep and make a decent living for his brand new family. He had twin sons and an endearing wife. Often they would gather round the television and watch Sesame Street together so their 4-year-old sons could learn about their numbers and colors and such. Besides the occasional jet liner roaring above, the television was one of the few portals they had to the modern world. Everything else would be as you would expect it to be on a rural sheepherder’s farm.
Firstly, the water had to be pumped from the well about 20 yards away from the house from an old pump that screeched each time one would pull down on the handle. There was the west field to the left and the east field to the right and one narrow dusty road leading straight up to the house, then around the house. Behind the house, the road branched out in three different directions. One led to their neighbor’s house about 5 miles away. The one in the middle went farther to eventually meet with a deserted freeway. Between that and the last road, about 100 yards away was a gigantic dead African Baobab tree with its branches twirling out creating just enough shade for the family to have a sit underneath during the day. On the weekend nights, they used the same area to sit around a pit of fire and tell stories to one another. The twins always looked forward to these nights because that meant they could both eat they candy that “melts in your mouth” and it was better than anything else they could ask for.
The dusty and bumpy third road, the one on the right side behind the house, led to their own secret oasis. This is where Thomas found Tim.
Thomas was wearing his favorite sweater. His wife had knitted it for him when they were first dating, and he has worn the wooly thing religiously for years. It had this generic looking kitty on it licking its paws. He never knew the significance of the cat, why it was licking its paw or even why his wife decided to knit it specifically for him. The only thing that mattered was that his wife loved him and wearing the sweater was his way of showing his love for her.
Thomas liked to go out to the oasis and read on his days off, for it was quiet and there were no children, or sesame street to bother him. This day, he noticed there was a noise coming from behind a rock by the pool of clear water being fed by a small waterfall. Thinking it might be a poisonous critter, Thomas slid slowly off the hood of his jeep, landing toe first, one foot at a time. The noise got louder as he crept closer, clutching his copy of The Iliad. It sounded like Elmo choking on the letter E.
Thomas, hearing this, decided it was not a threat and came much closer. He smelled rotten white potatoes behind the rock, reminding him of home. He saw a wombat gasping for air next to the water’s edge. Thomas quickly knelt over the dying creature and thrust two of his fingers in to the marsupial’s stomach area, projecting out what looked like a giant snail from the wombat’s mouth! From that moment on, Tim, as he was then named, and Thomas , were inseparable. The Flynn’s had a new member of the family.
Thomas had fashioned a house for Tim to live in out of sheep droppings, mud and hay. It was an igloo-shaped structure. It was this way because of how cold it gets at night and Thomas had read somewhere that eskimos stayed warm in this kind of house. He had built it right next door to their house in case there were some kind of flash flood where he would quickly then have to fetch Tim to save him from the waters. Sure enough, it had happened a couple of times and the igloo washed away like it was never there. But there was always a steady supply of dirt and sheep poop and hay to build the igloo over again.
Thomas had sheared the sheep many times by now and his sons seemed to never stop growing. They were 14 now, and helping out with the family business and Tim was always there to cheer them up. Mrs. Flynn, however, had never liked the wombat. She had always thought the nasty rodent would die and leave her family in peace. She thought about it everyday. How everyone thought Tim was so cute. Tim was so smart. Tim could do anything. Every time, which was all the time, Tim had a bowel movement, everyone would coo, except Mrs. Flynn who had to clean it up.
She couldn’t understand how the wombat could have lived for so long any way. She thought to herself that it had been ten years since Thomas brought it home, surely it should have died. But Tim lived on.
Thomas was going to the oasis that day and announced it as he was putting on his last dusty boot.
“I’m going to my quiet place for a while, is that alright?”
His wife was two rooms away in the kitchen. “Enjoy yourself, dearie,” she had mumbled sarcastically.
“What? Did you feed Tim?” It came off quite incredulously.
“Of course, dearie!” This came out louder and happier than Mrs. Flynn actually speaks. Thomas picked up a random book and headed out to the oasis.
It was like any other day that Thomas would have gone to the oasis. The sun spat stinging rays of sunshine down on the desert, no clouds, no wind and most importantly, no sounds. The only thing that could be heard was the quiet trickling of the shrunken waterfall at the pool of water where he found Tim 10 years ago. His mind wandered to that moment and he chuckled to himself, remembering some obscure moment only his warm feelings could identify.
Only a few minutes had passed and he was already thinking about that night when he and his family get to sit around their tree and eat M&M’s and spend the time with each other. He hadn’t even started reading yet. He looked over his shoulder in the direction of his home and noticed a pillar of black smoke rising up. His entire body seemed to shift up gears too quickly and he could feel the cold adrenaline rush through his vessels. He knew it was from his property, there was nowhere else it could be from. He dashed to his jeep and drove home as fast as he could. Even though it was desert, and there was no traffic it would take him 20 minutes to get there. The tortuous thing about the drive was that his property was in straight sight the entire time, but he couldn’t see what was on fire.
What was it? He couldn’t see the flames coming from the house. Could it be Tim’s igloo? That is what Thomas decided it was. The igloo caught fire somehow; the kids were playing with the matches again. All he could hope for was that they were unharmed and that Tim was okay. He figured his wife was safe. She had dealt with fire professionally before they were married.
What he didn’t know was this: His wife, feeling under appreciated for years, finally took matters in to her own hands. She thought that if her husband and children would be able to see how useless Tim was, they would decide to love her instead of a smelly wombat.
She was able to borrow some jet fuel from their neighbor a few days before. They owned a jet they rarely used and didn’t question Mrs. Flynn’s needs because they had plenty.
She had cornered Tim shortly after Thomas left and put him in a small cage. Her plan was to restrain her sons and her husband to the Baobab, and burn Tim alive in front of them so there would be no reason for them not to give her attention any more. After she put Tim in his cage, she saturated a cloth with some more jet fuel and searched for her boys. One was just getting out of the bath. She knocked on the door to lure him out of the room and forced her palm with the cloth in it into her first son’s face, using her other hand to push from behind is head. She brought him down softly as he passed out so she wouldn’t alert the other son who was coming up the hall at the same time.
She leapt towards the unsuspecting teenager, knocking his head against the wall, struggling to keep the soaked cloth over his writhing face. He was able to scream a little bit, but some of the fuel got in his mouth and it burned his lungs as he inhaled. After about 2 minutes of struggling, her second son was passed out.
She dragged their rubbery bodies to the tree and secured them sitting upright with rope. When she made sure that her sons would not be able to escape, she went back inside to get the cage. The whole house smelled like jet fuel and shampoo. She opened all the windows to air out the place and grabbed the wombat.
When she came back out, all she had to do was wake her sons up, explain what she’s doing to them and wait until her husband came back to douse Tim and set him on fire. After the wombat burned, she would untie her children, she would make dinner and all of them could eat M&M’s that night around their fire pit. Or so she thought. She went over to wake up her sons. She went to the first son and nudged him gently. He slowly opened his bloodshot eyes and looked at his mother. Then he looked at his twin brother, who was bleeding from his mouth and ears profusely. Mrs. Flynn saw the gesture and panicked. She started to shake her second son violently, yelling for him to wake up. The first son hadn’t stopped sobbing. He was biting his bottom lip, only opening his mouth to breathe, every time letting his saliva roll off his chin mixing with tears that seemed to burn his skin as they ran down his cheeks.
Mrs. Flynn realized that she had killed one of her sons.
She grabbed what was left of the jet fuel from the aluminum canister and started to weep tears of it all over both her sons and herself. The first son starts screaming at her,” Ma! What are you doing, Ma! Stop it, Ma! I don’t want to die! Where’s Da?!”
She reached deep inside her pocket and pulled out a book of matches. “Don’t you see that I love you?”
“Please help me, Da,” her son was no pleading. Every word was on the next breath, for between all the jet fuel and the crying, it was becoming very difficult to breathe.
Tim was still in his cage, watching everything. Though Tim couldn’t begin to understand what was happening, he was screaming in fear. He still sounded like Elmo from sesame street, except this time it wasn’t funny.
“I hate you!” She kicked Tim’s cage away from them. She lit the matchbook on fire and threw it on her second sons lap and then knelt down and hugged her children.
After a few more minutes of screaming and pleading, Mrs. Flynn and son passed out from the heat and burned like kindling for the old tree.
When he pulled up, he found he was far from knowing what possibly could have been the problem. It was impossible for him to comprehend the situation at that moment, and even now, after decades of living on his small sheep farm in Ireland, he could never understand what happened.
He saw three bodies against the old baobab tree and stood in horror as the tree lit up with brilliantly green, blue and yellow flames. He watched as it grew hotter, it’s branches falling one by one to the ground, leaving the tree in a smoldering pile of ash. Tim had apparently died from the kick Mrs. Flynn gave the cage and left Thomas Flynn with nothing
No one knows of what happened that day. Thomas doesn’t even know why. In his old age, he could now look back and be happy about his time with his family. He now lives a solitary life on a small sheep farm in Ireland. Everyday, he walks out to a giant oak tree and eats M&M’s, wearing that cat sweater, wondering if his family still loved him. He’ll die under that tree. He knows he’ll see his family again.