- Autistic Ohmieby Wayne Fowler
This work has reached the exceptional level
A modern Ohmie story
Autistic Ohmie by Wayne Fowler
Artwork by VMarguarite at

“Ohmie, honey. You can keep pounding on the piano, but I need to know if you can hear me.” Ohmie continued to pound what some might call a G-minor, five note chord with his right hand and A flat major with his left in 6/8 time. “Ohmie? Drop one key if you can hear me, okay?” Ohmie’s mother, intending to give him the time he needed, heard the change in pitch immediately, even though she couldn’t name the key changes.

Ohmie continued his rhythmic percussion, not missing a beat, protesting his toddler brother’s upsetting him. Eighteen-month-old William had disturbed him by stumbling to the piano bench and standing, patting Ohmie on his back.

“Honey, thank you. Keep pounding, Ohmie. If that will help. Maybe some other key changes might help, do you think? You don’t have to look at me, Ohmie, but…” Ohmie’s mother, May, spoke only as loud as she felt necessary to be heard.

Ohmie’s banging on the keyboard began to transition to elaborate scales, not technical, but within each measure, May, mother of twelve-year-old Ohmie, could hear the progression akin to what a jazz musician might play. By concentrating, she could hear the same from both hands, though they remained in different keys. Though not being musical herself, she could still hear a degree of composition within the confusion.

“Little William loves to hear you play, Ohmie. So do your father and I. We all love you, Ohmie.”

As she expected, Ohmie’s playing took a definite turn for the harsh, his autism raging.

Ohmie’s play was weighted toward the bass, the left side of the piano keyboard. May slowly began to ease herself to Ohmie’s right. “I’m not going to touch you, Ohmie. If you can give me another inch, that is.”

Ohmie quickly scooted to the extreme left side of the bench, not missing a beat, his play morphing musical as his fingers toyed with transitioning to a different key, both hands then in the same key, at least.

“Ohmie? What I have to say is life and death. Your life and death, Ohmie.”

Ohmie’s play returned to the more chaotic, melodic would be a stretch of the imagination. More like banging than playing.

“Ohmie, before the end of your piece, you will have to make a decision. Let your hands help you. Can you do that?” May thought she heard Beethoven’s Fifth keynotes within Ohmie’s bedlam of confusion. She definitely saw the hint of his cheek dimple when she involuntarily startled with a touch of their shoulders. She had him! “Keep pounding Ohmie. Your hands and fingers are talking to you.” May settled herself, giving Ohmie time.

“Life and death, Ohmie. I’m as serious as Thanos with his foot on Spiderman’s neck.” May had no idea whether or not that was a movie scene; but she knew that Ohmie understood her point. “Ohmie… you….” May stopped speaking before her voice cracked. She didn’t want to, but she felt that dabbing her eyes would be more preferrable to Ohmie than tears on her cheeks, which would most certainly upset him. May felt Ohmie’s eyes on her for just an instant. He hadn’t turned his head, but his darting eyes gave away his affection and empathy.

“Honey, there’s an intersection coming up ahead. We can go left. Or we can go right.” Knowing that Ohmie might see through her oversimplification, May quickly added, or we can go up, or burrow a hole into the earth and drill into the earth’s core and eat all the cheese…”

Another dimple.

“Or we can stop, which would be like Spiderman laying under Thanos’ foot and not wiggle a finger. But for Ohmie…” May lifted her arms from her lap, causing Ohmie to flinch, his right hand missing a few notes as he anticipated his mother attempting to hug him. Instead, May hugged herself. Ohmie understood this to be her making believe that she was hugging him.

“One way, Ohmie, is success and happiness. Not the silly kind of happy that other kids have. No giggling, or other nonsense, but heart happiness. When your heart thinks like a metronome.”

Ohmie’s play, which had begun to sound more like play than pandemonium took a few measures of staccato beating – his response to the metronome remark. 

“You can one day live on your own, the boss of your world, the king of your domain. You can have a grand piano, a chemistry lab of your own, a library of every book you want. People to cook and clean for you and to also stay out of your way. You can invent. You can compose. There will be people like you who you will get to know… and to like… friends.” May deliberately avoided the word love at this point, a known trigger. “The world is yours, Ohmie. All that is possible. If you take the right turn. And your car is traveling fast. It’s going five hundred miles an hour. It’s like a rocket. Can you see the intersection Ohmie?” May’s tempo had been accelerating, as had Ohmie’s piano play.

Turning more somber, May showed Ohmie the other road. “Ohmie, if you choose wrong. There will be people forcing themselves on you. They will be pulling you. Your father and I will not be able to stop them. There will be no inventing except with Legos. Imagine, Ohmie, every day the pepperoni will be piled on your pizza, not evenly spaced. That is what your whole world will be like. And your father and I will not be able to help you. No matter how hard we try.”

Ohmie’s play did not return to the discordant pounding, but a soft, eerie, unnerving melody.

“Can you still see the intersection Ohmie? See, the thing is, I don’t know which way goes toward life, and which way goes toward death. Only you can see that. Let your hands show you the way. Can you do that, Ohmie? Can you do that for me and your dad? Can you do that for yourself. And Spiderman? Help him get Thanos off his neck?” May smiled, not looking directly into Ohmie’s eyes, but at his mouth and chin.

Ohime, in a matter of a beat, compressed a transition to Chopin’s Funeral March, only at double the tempo. As soon as May’s expression registered recognition, without transition, Ohmie changed to a familiar television cartoon ditty. As May grinned, she saw the unmistakable suppressed grin that Ohmie normally reserved for chocolate ice cream with crunchy sprinkles.

“Ohmie, the intersection is coming up fast. Can you see it?” May turned more serious. “Think hard, Ohmie. I know you can. Think of your school. Mrs. Mahar and Tiffany.” May gave Ohmie a few measures to put himself in the school setting with his teacher and her assistant. Those two, in conference with the principal and Ohmie’s parents only the day before, discussed whether or not Ohmie would be allowed to continue. The private school was Ohmie’s third in as many years. The public system would take him back, but schooling would be little more than day care, virtually no teaching.

Ohmie’s hands found harmonic scales, aggressively, unmusically laboring their way through, whittling with an axe.

“Left, or right, Ohmie. I don’t know which way to tell you. Only your hands know. Your hands know, Ohmie. Can you let them? Can you let your hands be the boss of you?”

May saw Ohmie’s brow furrow as his fingers loosened, playing the scales more tenderly. The contrast momentarily distracted her – Ohmie’s disquieted expression, but controlled and relaxed fingers.

“Ohmie, can you play something that tells me you understand, and that I won’t have to cry myself to sleep tonight, afraid that my sweet boy will choose death under Thanos’s foot?”

Ohmie instantly changed to the major scales. The second time through he transitioned directly into the chorus of Joe Brooks’ You Light Up My life.

Voicelessly, Ohmie pantomimed the words, tears streaming down his face as he bade the spinet piano scream philharmonicly.

May saw him in coattails, masterfully squeezing music from a grand on the Carnegie Hall stage. She hiccupped a stifled wail as she leaped from Ohmie’s side, unwilling to spoil his moment, unable to contain her joy. Ohmie had reached his intersection… and made the right turn. Ohmie would live.


Author Notes

Gratitude to FanStoryArt for the artwork.


© Copyright 2024. Wayne Fowler All rights reserved.
Wayne Fowler has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

Be sure to go online at to comment on this.
© 2000-2024., Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Privacy Statement