It was the end of another hard day as Thing made his way up back home, to his cave. After such a trying time, he liked nothing better than to sit and look out over the valley and watch the town below.
It was hard sometimes for Thing not to believe what folks said about him. ‘Freak’ was a word that Thing had to cope with since he was very small. Now not all people used it, in its worst sense, but they still used it none-the-less, even if they thought they were only joking.
When Thing was young, his mother used to read him stories from a large book which sat at the back of the cave. His favorite ones were about Gulliver’s Travels. He imagined an island where everyone looked like Thing and it was only the human who was out-of-place. And Thing bet that if there was such an island they would make the human feel welcome and not treat him like a ‘freak’.
The point was that each person who said the word ‘freak’ to Thing probably thought they were the only ones that day who had said the word. But the truth of matter was, Thing heard it maybe fifty, or even a hundred, times a day. That sort of stuff sank in and lodged itself at the back of his brain and no matter how hard he tried, he’d sometimes start to think that maybe they were right. Maybe the great Creator had put him down in such a place to teach him a lesson – but for what?
It had been easier when Thing’s mother and father had been in the cave with him. On those days the place felt warm and loved, but since his parents had gone to the hospital and not come back, he felt really alone at times.
Yet Thing knew that his own heart was every bit as warm and as caring as any other living creature. Yet people couldn’t get over his appearance in order to find that fact out.
So Thing came up with a plan. It meant going into old garbage and searching for stuff. Yet after a few weeks he had enough to carry out his plan. He had found an old human wig and a suit and hat. With a little fixing up here and there, Thing was able to dress up as a human and a pretty accurate one, at that. If he didn’t know any better, he’d have thought he was a human after all.
So the next day, dressed like all the others in town, Thing made his way down the mountainside.
It was strange, there was no other way to say it. No one said anything, no one crossed the street, no one hit him, spat on him or told him to go back to Hell from where he had come.
So this was what it was like to belong. Except he didn’t belong, did he? He was hiding, he was disguised as one of them. Maybe that’s what all humans did; hide who they were so they wouldn’t stand out – so they would belong.
But when Thing thought about it, he didn’t do anything to stand out – he just walked the streets the way he had been created by the universe and that was the only honest way to be.
So Thing went into the town’s library: a place where he was always asked to leave within five minutes of entering. Why would he, a monster, need books? Need to read?
Sometimes they looked at him as if they wished Things like him had never existed. But Thing knew that once his kind had gone, they would only pick on something or someone else, that wasn’t quite them – that kind of thinking would never stop. If the universe had wanted that to be the way, then it wouldn’t have created life the way it did.
So who knew better? The universe or the man in the library? That was when Thing decided to sit at a table and piece by piece take his disguise off.
And yeah, it only took a minute for him to be asked to leave. That was when Thing realized, it’s better to live as you are, than die as something you’re not.
And you know what? He whistled all the way back up to the cave. That was another talent he’d found out about himself – he could whistle too.
bobby stevenson 2017