Saturday, November 12, 2011

Something Astonishing

Each and every day our writing group members receive a short writing prompt from Jenny (QuinnMama) via email. Each of us reads the prompt and writes for ten minutes. The only rule of the exercise is: once you start writing, don't stop.

When we get together on Thursday nights, each of us reads one of our ten-minute pieces. The following is something written by our wonderful friend Mister Will. Iris and I wanted to share it with you.

Happy Saturday,

Something Astonishing
It didn't take much to astonish Wilbur. Some folks said he was "slow", but that wasn't how I saw him at all. From what I could see, he was the opposite of slow. Seemed to me that folks spent whole lifetimes trying to get where he already was, where he lived every day.

Wilbur could sit and look at a tulip blossom for an hour, easy, sometimes two. Sometimes I wondered if he could actually see it growing, see the changes happening right in front of him. He never got bored; that was never why he shifted his attention from one thing to another. Seemed like he was just all over one thing until something else came along that was just as interesting, maybe a little bit more even, and then he was all over that.

He was a hell of a brother. He used to be a bother – and ain't it funny how those two words is just one letter different. When we were both little, he used to drive me crazy getting stuck. That's what Mama called it. "Uh-oh, Wilbur's stuck again. See if you can't get him to go out and play ball or something."

Well, that never worked even a little bit. I'd throw Wilbur a ball, any kind of ball, and he'd sit down where he was and look at that ball like it had never been looked at before. And I'd throw up my hands and try to get him to do something with the damn ball, but it was never any use. Once he was stuck on something, he was stuck. S. T. U. C. K.

Well, one day, I just give up. "Wilbur, what is so damn interesting about that ball?" I said, and I wasn't being curious, I was being a little bit mean. But Wilbur didn't take it that way.

He pulled me down beside him and proceeded to show me everything about that ball – which was just an old half-wore-out softball. But he made me look at and touch and feel every single detail of it.

And damn if that ball didn't turn into just about the most interesting thing I'd ever seen. The red stitches weren't just red, they were half a dozen different shades of red and pink and orange, and there was a little tear in the thread and one end was frayed and the other wasn't. And there was one spot that was almost wore through the leather and another that had a little nick like it had been poked with the end of a knife.

And I started wondering about where all that ball had been, and who had held it, and thrown it, and caught it, and what kinds of weather it must have seen, and, I don't know, that ball just kept opening up and up and out and I swear it felt like I could've sat there all day just fussing over that old softball.

And I know damn well that anybody looking on would've figured both of us was slow and that would've been funny because everything I was thinking and feeling about that ball was coming fast and furious, once I'd slowed down and started paying attention.

It sounds damn corny to say that ball changed my life, and it isn't true anyway, because it was Wilbur who changed my life, I reckon, but I sure never looked at a softball – or pretty much anything else – especially Wilbur, the same way ever again.

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