Paper Cranes

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“Honey, you can choose any book you want. Okay? You’ll take it home, then we’ll come back next week and return it.” She smoothed his golden haired fringe back over his forehead with a tight, clothesline smile.

“Okay.” Matthew agreed.

She pat his shoulder and pointed, “I’ll be right over there.” She indicated with the delicate point of her manicured finger. He squinted as she wobbled on her heels toward the isle. The paper sign taped to the end read ‘S-E-L-F H-E-L-P’.

Left without any further instructions of his own he teetered this way and that. Hands plunged in the deep pockets of his jamborees, he looked around. He only looked. Far too wide blue eyes slid across each spine. They absorbed them and made flash judgments before moving onto the next. Each aisle only held his attention for as long as it took for his feet to chase each other down the length of it. His hands were carefully kept away in his pockets. He shouldn’t break a thing lest he bring attention to himself.

“Matthew?” A hushed call in her familiar voice.

His head peeked out the end of the aisle.

“Pick a book and let’s go.” They couldn’t be late.

He reached up, felt a spine, thin and laminated and pulled it from the shelf. “Or-i-gam-i?” There were colorful faceless objects on the front. His feet never quit moving.

“Ready?” She reached down for his hand and he reached up for hers. When he held up the book he discovered he’d made the right choice. The clothesline stretched, tightening, until she spoke, “We’ll have to get you some paper.” She whispered excitedly.

“If you’re going to sit around and be useless at least go do it in your own damn room!”

The yelling had become such a constant static that the golden haired boy didn’t even realize it was directed at him. He was trying to force the hard crease of the paper to bend to his will.

“Rich, honestly, don’t say that.” They weren’t in the library anymore, but she still whispered.

“You couldn’t have gotten him a book on baseball or something? Football? Weightlifting? My god, we’re just asking for him to get bullied!”

Momma laughed even when the things he said weren’t funny. “He’s six. Honey, go play in your room.” She tapped his arm and Matthew looked up. He and his dad had the same eyes. But Rich’s looked like painted glass while his own felt fleshy and real.

He took the book and paper and his feet fled to the room. He shut the door and slid under his bed because that’s where you went when things got loud.

“Side corners…like this.” Matthew whispered, too.

Outside his door Richard yelled. Momma whispered, but with so much urgency. But he knew no matter how fast her lips moved her clothesline would snap and water would leak from her eyes.

The first paper crane was a success. When he pulled the head and tail the front door shook the house. The crane gave a little leap. “I wish I could fly, too.” He admired the flightless wings with blue eyes made of eye ball stuff.

Paper Cranes. Did you know that if you make one thousand of them you can make a wish and it will come true? Matthew knew that. He read it on the internet. He made three hundred of them that summer by the beam of his flashlight underneath his bed. They were his secret flock. Each time they fought, threatened, and laughed in a way that wasn’t funny, he made a friend.

“Leonard,” He whispered as he pulled the tail. “By the time they separate we’ll have wished them back together. If they fight I can always make more cranes.” He smiled.

Leonard was placed on the ‘lake’, the blue plastic bin he kept his cranes safely tucked in beneath the bed. He pulled out another piece of paper and began again. This time, when the door slammed, Matthew told his swans, “I’ll wish for a new house next and we’ll have one of those spinning doors.” He nodded wisely.

This story was inspired by a prompt from the above pictured 642 Things to Write About by The San Fransisco Writers’ Grotto

I thought I would share what I wrote from it. As you can see from the picture I started with the end and worked my way back. I don’t know if this story is complete yet, but this was where the prompt took me. It was a lot of fun. I hope you enjoyed reading it.



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