As I gear up for NaNoWriMo, I’m dashing off little pieces-parts of stories or characters. Just for fun. Just for warm-up. Just ’cause I can’t start on the NaNo until Tuesday.
He was the international man of… knitting.
His fellow bus-riders knew him as that affable, though quiet guy; one day he looked upset, hunched over, and was asked quietly, sotto voce, ignorable-if-ignored, “you OK?” He looked up, startled, to reveal a particularly tricky bit of casting-on: fingertips of a glove, knit simultaneously from multiple strands of superwash sock yarn.
What they couldn’t tell from looking at his broad shoulders and just-graying hair was that his mind was just as sharp, flexible, and useful as his darning needle. But he interviewed well. His lack of words (when he had none) was generally taken as a sign of far greater intelligence and insight than he actually possessed.
Mostly, he listened.
He listened to his wife – of course he had a wife, whatever gender his wife happened to be – as he was told the state of the bank account, the state of the children, the state of politics these days, and the state of his mind. He listened to his boss, when his boss deigned to talk, and listened to the promises of doctors and pundits and lawyers. He listened to his favorite music when it happened to come on the radio, and listened to the irregular beat of the drummer of his neighbor’s son’s metal band, thankfully muffled by the insulated garage the community covenants and restrictions committee required – to whom he also listened.
If everyone has a superpower, his was not knitting, though that is what 10 out of 11 speakers at his funeral discussed at length. His superpower was remembering.
It is for what our hero, the knitter, was best, that he was killed. It was for this that he had to be erased.
So when I say, ladies and gentlemen, that better men and better women have come before you, have killed and been killed in this service, also know that there were worse, less intelligent, one-trick ponies of souls who have accomplished more destruction than you ever dreamed. You are average – you are each of them. You are the middle. And as we say (here, I point to the letters painted on the wall, retouched every year) The Middle is the Middle. Without you, the edges have nothing. They fall apart without us.
The bell rings, and the sea of average faces attend to their notes, their books, their baggage. They don’t really need to take notes in my class – I just let them keep that fiction, rather than make a big deal about the usefulness of an active brain. No, that’s not for this branch of the service, the Middle ones. That’s for classes on floor 82 of the Excelsior building.
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