A Departure

I’m stepping away from the theme of the week to write for pleasure’s sake, and to (I hope) remind myself that I have a way with words.  You may, in the end, disagree as you must.

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“Whose country is this?” he asked.

There was not, as you’d expect, a look of surprise on the man’s face as he stared down at the humble boy before him.  In fact, the man allowed nothing to appear on his face.  He stood silent, imperturbable, stolid, looking at the boy as if the answer were not some matter of fact but were something he would read in the boy’s own appearance.  He studied the boy quite seriously, gravely.  He did not look unkind.

The boy withstood the study.  He wanted to turn his eyes elsewhere, even did so several times, but always caught himself and looked quick again to the man’s face.  He did not wish to appear weak.  

Weak he was.  Everything about him practically screamed it.  His clothing was the stuff of thrift-store fodder: an old red t-shirt with design printed on the front declaring “God’s love, faster than a rocket-ship” and a picture of a rocket with a rainbow blast behind it, the design faded and fractured from many years of washings; grey jeans with what appeared to be ink stains around both pockets, and inseams a tad too short for the boy’s legs; and, if you can believe, a pair of mismatched shoes, one well-worn and the other nearly new.  The boy stood awkwardly.  Wonderful thing about children, how their posture reflects their atmosphere.  He wiped grubby hands on the fronts of his pants as he waited the long moments.

At last the man spoke… 

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