Monday, June 18, 2007
"Oh, no, I like it here." His kind eyes were wide. "There's very little real furniture, but I was never much of a couch potato." Laughter. "Heh, okay, maybe I am," he smiled, "but, you know, even without a sofa it's got places where I can stay on the edge of things, watch what's going on. I like that, too." He eased back in his chair, marginally.
"And these?" He flexed his hands. "I thought everybody did this. I was well into adulthood before I realized most didn't. Did it hurt? Oh, my, yes: like a hot sidewalk on an August afternoon. Imagine walking on hot, hot cement for a week; it was like that...I didn't mind because I didn't know any better, and after the bandages came off and I went back to my regular routine..." He laughed again. "Oh, I was a terror, like most little ones, but I wasn't getting swatted or yelled at any more, and I got all the lap time I wanted, no problem, so I guess it was worth it. I mean, I really, really like—need—my lap time. It just makes me feel good, the motion, the softness." He flexed his soft, soft hands again. "You just get over it, I suppose."
"Was my nest soft? I honestly don't remember. What fabric is that you're wearing?"
"That first voyage? To Mother Adler's? Of course it was; everybody's is. No one I've ever asked says it isn't. You know, one minute you're surrounded by family in the only home you've known, the next you're enveloped by strange smells, maybe riding in a car, in a new place with nothing familiar. It can only be a shock. But you get over it."
"I was four when Mother Adler passed." He was poised on the edge of the chair, eyes wide. "I don't want to talk about what happened next. Can we please move on? I want to move on."
"Okay, I've mentioned I don't like talking about that." He stood up and quickly, smoothly, to stand behind the counter.
"I like it here. It can get noisy, especially when people come in who are very scared, which happens a lot. But then I just come back here," he waved a hand toward the darkened room behind the receptionist's desk, "and I sit for awhile until I calm down. I don't have to come out here unless I want to. Dr. Bennett put an old coat in there for me; it has that fuzzy wool lining. Mmm, yes." He muscles unclenched a bit, though he made no move to come back out into reception.
"I don't think about my nest-box, or Mother Adler or her grandson or any of the others; what's the point? I live in the here and now: I stay behind the counter or in my room and listen and watch what's going on, I sit on my coat and smell the smells lingering deep inside it. The night tech usually wears polyester, but sometimes I come out and she lets me sit in her lap and make the motion." As he spoke he slowly, smoothly, glided back into the dark of the storage room until all that was visible were his wide, wide eyes. "I don't like the feel of that fabric, but I like the lap time, so I get over it." He turned his head and was gone.