1. Not Now, Not Ever
“Come, on, Faramir,” says Master Enedlammen. “Boromir and I are here to help you. We will not let you drown, or get hurt in any way. Come on.”
I violently shake my head ‘No.’ There is no way I am going in there. Not now, not ever.
“The water’s not even that deep,” says Boromir, straightening up. “See? I can stand in it.” He hesitates for a moment, then attempts to paddle around in the water, legs kicking wildly. He looks so ridiculous I have to choke back my laughter. He stops suddenly and stands upright. “I can even swim in it,” he says proudly.
“Very good for a first attempt, Boromir,” says Enedlammen. Boromir beamed. “Your father will be pleased by the time we are done.”
Boromir looks at me, and I can almost read his thoughts. Do you hear that, little brother? ‘Your father will be very pleased.’ Do you not want to please your father?
Of course! I almost shout out loud. Of course I want to please him. I have spent most of my short life trying to please him, yet it is never enough. He will never be pleased with me. Not now. Not ever. So what is the use of trying to earn his pride? For as good as I may be, I will never be as good as you, dear brother. What is the use of trying?
But even as I think these thoughts of mine, I know in my heart I will never stop trying to please him. I know, sooner or later, I am going to get into the small lake with Boromir and Master Enedlammen and learn to swim. And then father will come out, and watch the two of us swim together. He will compliment Boromir and find fault with me. Then I will go to try and find some other way to please him, but it will never work. It’s an endless cycle that I am caught in, and can only escape by death.
“Faramir?” Boromir heads toward me, drying himself off with a soft yellow towel. “What troubles you? Why do you refuse to go into the water?”
“It’s no use,” I say. “No use at all. I’ll never be as good as you. Not now, not ever.”
“What does that have to do with it?” asks Boromir.
I take a deep breath. “I can never please father. Not with horseback riding. Not with fencing. Not with archery. Not with medicine or healing. And not with swimming lessons.”
“You don’t have to please him, Faramir,” says Boromir. “I’m sure he’s already very pleased with you.”
“Then how come he never shows it, or says anything?” I ask. “Never! Not once has he said ‘I am proud of you, Faramir.’ That’s all I want to hear.”
“Father has an…unusual way of showing he cares,” says Boromir. “He prefers finding our faults and helping us improve them to wonderful compliments. He just wants you to live up to your great potential.”
“Like you?” I ask.
Boromir laughs. “I still have a long way to go before I reach my full potential,” he says. “And so do you. So let’s get started by learning to swim.” He takes my hand, and together we walk towards the water. I carefully touch my big toe to the surface of the water, and suddenly leap back. It is icy cold. I look up at Boromir and shake my head ‘no’ to tell him I am not going in there.
Boromir sighs. “Come on, Faramir, it’s not so cold once you have been in it for a while-”
“No!” I yell.
“Quit acting like a child,” says Boromir.
But I am a child! my mind protests. And so are you, big brother, so are you.
“If you don’t learn to now,” says Boromir, “you will never learn.”
I know that is not entirely true, but Boromir does make sense. So I timidly put one foot in the bitter cold water, then the other. Slowly I walk further in, trying to act oblivious to the sharp cold that feels like a thousand needles trying to pierce my skin.
“That’s it,” says Boromir. A smile is on his face.
Master Enedlammen takes my hand and walks me further into the water. I can just barely stand in it. He hold my stomach as I practice breathing and kicking, and then Boromir and I attempt to float on our backs.
The swimming lesson is almost over, when Master Enedlammen suggests I try to swim without his aid. I am not keen on the idea, but he motions to the shore. I turn around to see my Father standing there, his gaze on me. “Make your Father proud,” whispers Master Enedlammen. Oh, if only Master Enedlammen knew I can never make my Father proud. Not now, not ever. But this knowledge will not keep me from trying, though.
My legs spring up from the bottom of the swimming hole, and begin to kick wildly. My arms fly and I pray that I will not sink. Water shoots everywhere, and I see, out of the corner of my eye, Boromir and Master Enedlammen back away from my wildly flinging legs. Then, I move.
When I have swum the whole length of the swimming hole, I stand up, and Boromir and Enedlammen smile and applaud loudly. I turn to the shore to see if my Father is pleased. He has a small smile on his face. That is good enough. A huge grin crosses my face and Boromir comes up and gives me a hug. “I knew you could do it!” he shouts.
“Now that you two know how to swim,” comes my Father’s deep voice from the shore, “why don’t you have a race before you get out of the water?”
My smiled fades. I hate to oppose Boromir at anything, he always wins and I always make a fool of myself trying to win. “How about it, Faramir?” asks Boromir with a gleam in his eye.
I look at my brother, then at Master Enedlammen, who nods, then at my Father. He stares back at me. I may not be as good as Boromir, I say silently to him, but I will do whatever it takes to make you proud.
Boromir and I set up at the edge of the swimming hole, and Master Enedlammen calls “Ready…get set…GO!”
We push off of the wall, and Boromir springs ahead. Both of us kick wildly and sputter, but I kick more wildly and sputter more often. The flying drops of water that rocket off when Boromir’s strong legs hit the water hit my face and blur my vision.
My life will be one big swimming lesson: I will try not to drown and my brother will swim ahead, accidentally kicking water in my face. He will act humble and try to help me improve, but I know his game. He likes things the way they are. He likes being the one to always float on the top while I sink farther and farther beneath him. We are always racing, and I am always losing.
I will never be Boromir, I can never be Boromir. Not now, not ever. Maybe that is my problem.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.