A collaborative effort in creative writing.
February 2001 Collaboration
Laura of ~Snerkology~
"A older gentleman is sitting at a bus stop. He is dressed in quality clothing, with a middle eastern feel to them. He is bronze, with tight hair and a beard startlingly white against his skin. On his lap he holds a leather bound folder, tied together with a thong, containing thick, pulpy paper. He stares ahead, but occasionally allows his eyes to follow passing cars or pedestrians. The sky overhead, dark with clouds, begins to release fat drops as the bus approaches. The man lifts his face to the sky, and grips the folder tightly in strong, sinewy hands."
The bus stopped before him but he made to move to board it. The doors opened and expelled a single little girl of about eleven. She paused at the bottom step and blinked at the man. He smiled at her. His hands moved in his lap and the little girl's attention was drawn down to his folder.
"What's that?" she asked, coming to stand before him. Behind her, the doors closed and the bus moved along its route.
"It's paper," he replied.
The girl looked disappointed. "Is that all?"
The man smiled again. "Well, no, not all. It's paper that I made myself, you see."
The girl moved to sit beside the man on the bench, and he opened the folder. He withdrew a piece, thick with uneven edges, and handed it to her. She held it, flat between her palms. She turned it over and over, feeling the thickness between her fingers. She noticed that the sheets weren't all the same color. Some were light hughes of purple, and blue, and the palest yellow. Some combined several different colors in abstract designs. The one she held was pink, with a light blue swoosh cutting through it in what, she thought, was an appealing way.
"Hey, these are pretty! I've never heard of anybody making paper before."
The man nodded his appreciation of her compliment. "I've seen you before, haven't I? Aren't you usually with your mother?"
The girl sat straighter on the bench, meeting the man's eyes and grinning with self-importance. "We go to the library together every day. This morning she was sick, and she told me I was big enough to go by myself."
"I see. Perhaps she wouldn't like you sitting here with me like this, talking to a stranger?"
"Probably not. But I see you every day, and you're just a little old man. I mean, you wouldn't hurt me or anything. You couldn't."
The man smiled again, this time at the girl's lack of tact. He closed the folder again and tied it securely. The girl made a move to give the paper she held back, but he gestured for her to keep it.
"Thank you," the girl said, uncertainly.
"Actually, I would greatly appreciate it if you would indulge me in something," the man replied. Noticing her uncomfortable movement, he hastened to reassure her. "Oh, it's nothing extreme, or boring, or anything like that. Just take the paper, do something with it, and return it back to me."
"Do something with it?"
"Yes. Draw a picture. Write a story. Make something with it. Anything at all, anything you want. Just give it back to me when you're done."
The girl rose from the bench. "Well, okay. I'll be coming back here the same time tomorrow. I'm sure I'll see you then."
"I'm sure you will," the man agreed. "Goodbye, then."
"Goodbye," the girl replied, and walked quickly down the sidewalk, between drops.
The man looked at his watch. Rising, he tucked the paper under one arm and opened his umbrella. The sky continued to threaten, the drops coming faster and closer. The man walked beneath overhanging tree branches and crossed drives along the sidewalk. He came to a townhouse, fished keys out of his pocket and opened the door. He shook out the umbrella and rested it inside, removed his shoes and rested his folder on the hallway table.
He smiled as he entered his study. Above his desk, pinned to a corkboard, were dozens of sheets of his home-made pulp paper. The drawing of an infant given to him by the doctor who takes the 5:15 every morning. The folded origami shaped like a bird from the college student who takes the 8:05. The poem, lines slanting unevenly, embarrassingly submitted by the hard-working single mom on her way to her second job. All snippets of the lives and creativity of the people whose names he doesn't even know, yet who live in the same circle of life he does. Who pass him, and each other, every day. Who all consented to take a moment of their time to humor an old man. Or, as was his intent, to step away from themselves, and their busy lives, and reawaken the sense of imagination that had slept within them for too long.
A neighborhood, a cross-section of humanity captured in the artwork on his board.
The man stood, admiring, and thought of what the little girl might bring him tomorrow.