The Tale of Shy Boy
There was once a very, very shy boy. He was so painfully shy, that he could barely go to market to buy what his mother needed for the day. Fear of ridicule hounded him. If, at market, he misstepped and knocked an apple off the vendor's stand, his face blazed red and his ears burned with embarrassment. To him, every look people gave him, was proof of how lowly he was.
His mother fretted. “The boy’s schooling suffers,” she thought. “The other boys bully him for his shyness.” She wondered how to help the lad.
One day a troupe of thespians came to town, offering nightly plays to fill their pockets, and daily teachings for free in the hope of finding new young talents to apprentice.
Shy Boy’s mother thought, “Why, this is just what my son needs!” and she persuaded him to try the teaching. “Might help ye be less shy,” she stated.
Shy Boy really wanted to find a cure. His shyness prevented him from asking any of the pretty young lasses to dance at the town fetes. Any of the lasses at all.
So he gathered in the town square with the other boys and girls who wanted to be thespians, marvelled with them as the troupe dazzled them with an impromptu performance. Each player taking on a character very different to themselves, yet seemed to fit their bodies perfectly. They were being someone they were not. “I could be a boy who isn’t shy,” thought Shy Boy.
After the performance, which had collected quite a gathering of townsfolk in the square, the lead Trouper addressed the hopeful boys and girls.
“Thou all have within thee, a person thou art not,” she said. “The trick to letting that person out is to let them use thine own memories to colour, and shape their unique lives.”
She told them to line up on the far side of the square. “I want thee all to imagine thou art walking home. On thy journey, thou needs must cross a busy carriageway where fast moving coaches might crush thee. Then having safely navigated that obstacle, thou art to pass through thy front gate, walk up to thy front door, unlock such door, open it, then walk inside.”
“That sounds easy,” Shy Boy thought.
“Oh, and one more proviso,” the Trouper added, “Thou must take such journey in a state of full inebriation!”
Shy Boy’s mind erupted into visions of his Da staggering hither and thither from the local inn, looking like mast at the dock during a storm. He usually looked like that after one of his regular ale soaked revelrys. His Ma often begged him to fetch Da from the the inn, and he would always need to help get home by trying to keep him upright.
Shy boy used the memory of that feeling and a character was born.
The lead Trouper called for them to begin and a score of lads and lasses started across the square. Some of them just ran right across, while others affected a stumbling gait, having seen drunk people before. Only a few remembered the coaches on the busy carriage way, but of those, only Shy Boy could see them in his mind.
His drunken dodging had him tottering back to miss one cart, then stagger running to get across the road.
Next was the gate. He thought of the gate of his own house, how it would often stick when opening. His drunken self fumbled the latch open and pulled. Dealt with it getting stuck by giving up, and climbing over the low fence. To sprawl on the front path.
By now all the other boys and girls had finished their mimes, and all eyes were on Shy Boy.
He got to his feet, stumbled the final few steps to the front door and pulled out his keys. He searched with drunken difficulty for his door key. Found it then put it to the door. He dropped the keys, and had to pick them up. Searched again for the right key. Aimed for the key hole. Missed. Tried again. Got it in. Turned the key. Then turned pulled the door latch, and opened the door, and his sense of being the scene dimmed.
Just then, the worst of the bully boys, jealous of all the attention yelled at him. “You can finish now, stupid Shy Boy!”
Everyone laughed, and suddenly, Shy Boy was himself again and mortified. He ran off crying all the way home, then locked himself in his room. And nothing his Ma or Da said could bring him out.
Later in the day he heard a knock at the front door and his parents talking to a woman. Then someone came to his room and knocked gently.
“Hello?” It was the lead Trouper of the thespians. “May I come in?”
Shy Boy went to the door but hesitated to unlock the door.
The Trouper’s voice was gentle as her knock. “I know you are very shy. I was once that way too.”
Shy Boy unlocked and opened the door a crack. “How did you cure it?” he asked.
“By doing what you did today,” she replied.
He opened the door. “What do you mean? Everyone laughed at me.”
“Only at the end,” the Trouper said. “And only because you stopped ‘seeing’ what you were doing. Before that, everyone in the square was just enjoying your scene.”
“I could see everything,” Shy Boy said. “But when I opened the door, it all disappeared.”
“That was all the script I gave you. But you will soon learn how to keep the story alive beyond the rules given you by the script, as you learn our craft.”
Shy Boy felt as though his breath left him all at once. “You mean…”
“Yes, of all in this village, you alone are worthy of our apprenticeship. If you wish, a place in our troupe awaits you.”
Shy Boy was afraid, yet elated, and he accepted the apprenticeship.
He went away with the troupe, studied long and hard, and years later, when he stood again in the square of his home town, a master thespian, his mother wondered how he could ever have been known as Shy.
The End