Autism Prose

Joyful Noise by Basil Wright

Boredom is standing in a line outside of an event hall. You and your sibling have planned this outing weeks in advance. The actual event itself will be memorable, even though you know every sound after it will feel like pins and needles on your brain, even though when you exit the building, the sun will be too bright for your sensitive eyes, and even though you’ll need to construct a blanket cocoon and nestle yourself into the heart of its warmth, you know it will have been worth it. “No one’s getting in here.” You will mutter happily to yourself, reciting a cartoon as well-worn and loved as the blankets that surround you.

All of those events are tasks set before your future self. Right now, you are bored. And when you are bored, you cluck. You cluck once, low and soft, testing the mood of the crowd around you. No complaints. You cluck again, louder and with more confidence. As you cluck, your brain sets off joyous sparks of light and color, pushing back the boredom and allowing you to focus better on your surroundings. Your sibling looks at you and you smile encouragingly at them. They’re not as much of a fan of making chicken noises as you are, but when you start to clap they join in, keeping you on time to the music you’ve constructed in your mind. Your sibling shimmies as you jerk your limbs into odd contortions, your soul glowing orange as you clap and cluck.

Others in line stare at your strange behavior, but your focus is captured by the notes whirling within your mind, crafting your bird call piece by piece. Life is simply too short to concern yourself with whether or not being a dancing chicken is appropriate behavior while standing in line.

Farther ahead, a woman turns around to see what the noise is about and your eyes meet. You mimic your sibling’s shimmy and continue clapping. You can see the bright glow fill her eyes as she begins clapping as well, bopping her head along to the beat.

To your delight, a few others join you in your clucking: a cacophonous choir of chickens, cheeping and chirping to the same shared song. You take turns clucking back and forth with the man ahead of you, before he succumbs to a fit of giggles. “This is so weird.” He admits, but continues with his bird song.

When at last the doors to the event hall open, an employee pokes their head out to look at the crowd. “Was it just me, or did I hear a bunch of clapping…and clucking?”

Your sibling looks at you with a good-natured smile and gives one last shimmy.

You throw back your head and belt forth a rooster’s cry of affirmation.

Basil Wright is a Black and Indigenous autistic queer writer that lives in Florida with their sibling. Their work has appeared in Perhappened Mag, The Daily Drunk Mag, and Disability Madison’s Black and Disabled Virtual Showcase.