All stories begin with the words 'Once upon a time,' so, naturally, this one does, too. Now then, let's see, where were we…? Oh yes; now I remember.
Once upon a time, in a small village, there lived a boy named Clarence Lewis. Unlike the other, sports-loving boys, Clarence had one, undeniable passion - cooking. On the particular day that this story begins, Clarence, with a pearl white apron around his waist, was putting the final touches on his apple pie.
Steam arose from the pie, issuing an elegant and mouth-watering aroma throughout the kitchen. Clarence breathed in deeply. The smell of a true masterpiece, thought Clarence happily. Humming and with a potholder in his hand, Clarence carried the steaming pie into the dining room.
"Desert is served!" he said. He tore off the apron and sat beside his mother on the right side of the table.
"That looks delicious," his mother said. She looked across the table at the spot set up, but with an empty seat and her smile quickly faded.
After a quarter of the pie was missing, Clarence's mother stood up. "You, young man," she said, "should be going to bed."
Thirty minutes later, Clarence sat in his bed, but with no intention of going to sleep. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't clear the empty spot in the table from his mind, where someone should be, where there should never be an absence…
Clarence awoke the next day, and his feeling of sorrow seemed to have doubled over the restless sleep of the previous night.
There would be questions…why he had been pulled out of the class on Monday…why he had been absent for a week…and Clarence wasn't sure whether or not he was ready to answer those questions. If only they knew…if only any of them knew…
His breakfast had no taste, his clothes no color, the sun no shine. The world seemed like something long past, something that he could no longer relate to and live in. The wind blew without blowing at all…he entered the school while he was still outside.
He could see the faces of countless children, all wondering what had happened, Clarence wishing he could leave…
All the children were talking, laughing; they had no clue about all the grief and sorrow in the world, about all the sorrow that seemed to be pouring out of Clarence.
People always said that you could find comfort in your friends, thought Clarence. They didn't know what they were saying.
Clarence met grief at every corner, with no cooking to stop him from thinking, to stop him from remembering…Clarence sat down in a chair, and wished that he could be one of the children talking. He wished he could be anyone but himself.