When it happened it took Thing by surprise. The fact that a thought like that could go through Thing’s mind, both scared him and got him excited.
When he was younger, when he had first started school, he would have done anything for someone to say a kind word to him. Sure his teacher was kind, but as for the rest of the kids, well they treated him as their families had taught them to behave, with cruelty; seven-year-old children are born cruel, they learn it and accept it and use it.
Even when his parents left him in the cave alone, he still would cross a street to be kind to someone, to be decent, hoping that one day they would return the favor. Hoping that one day they too would like him.
Thing sometimes blamed himself. Sometimes he was so exhausted by all the hate that he nearly believed it – nearly – that he was different, that he was ugly, that he had no right to exist. When they threw rocks at him, he sometimes (only sometimes mind you) understood why they did it.
In his lifetime, there had been those who had tried to change Thing – people who had claimed they had cures for what he had – which to Thing only seemed to be that he was different from the majority of folks in town. But being in a minority didn’t make you wrong or sick. Look at Gulliver’s travels – wasn’t he the giant in one life and a midget in another? The folks of those towns had tried to destroy Gulliver but it was their fear that was the source of it all, not the difference in Gulliver.
Thing remembered when his teacher had asked the class to put their hands in the air if they had ever been sick at some point in their lives, and all the class had raised their hands. That was when the teacher said that sometimes being in the majority wasn’t necessarily a good place to be. Thing had smiled at that and it had kept him warm for several days afterwards.
All his life, Thing had wanted someone to smile at him and mean it. It had happened once or twice in his whole life and Thing had appreciated it. The first thought in his head when he entered a café, or a store, or the school was that he hoped the folks inside would like him.
It was always that way. Always.
Then one day, one glorious day when the sun was shining across the skies and life was smiling on him, Thing walked into the main street of town and suddenly he had the weirdest thought.
The weirdest thought, ever,
Instead of looking at the folks, and searching for a kind face, and wondering if any of them liked him – he looked around at those faces – all of those strange faces – and wondered for the first time if he actually liked any of them.
And that was the day that Thing started to be free and the day that Thing first knew real happiness.
That was the day that Thing started to love himself.
bobby stevenson 2017