He didn’t miss often. The crinkly sounds, the lighthot breath of the sun–they usually told him the right things.
His mother told him he had a gift, maybe he could be an elder someday. He used to love to hear her say that, but lately there was something else these days in the crinkle of the paper. Something subtle. “Always read the fine print,” was his dad’s constant advice. This something else was like the fine print, only finer. You know how in comic books you have to look hard to see everything in the frame or you might miss a surprise detail? This was even more subtle than that–almost like you had to pay attention to the shading of the secret hideaway or the crevices between super-hero muscle to get it. That something more subtle than shade or crevice told him that his mom was only half right.
But this woman who was both happy and sad wasn’t even half right. She was like the kids who always laughed, who almost fell out of their chairs when they asked him his favorite rock group, and he told them, honestly, “Metamorphic.” He was not cute. He could listen to the crinkle and see the crevice, and he would tell her something she needed to know.
But the sun only told him not to be angry. Gentleness, patience, kindness, it reminded him. For prophets, these things were the only things.
So he decided he would tell her something that he didn’t need the crinkle to tell her, but something that the crinkle would more fully illuminate the next time he saw her.
“Do you know those little hills down off the by-pass? They’re not hills, you know. They’re Indian mounds. Indians threw their trash in there, thousands and thousands of years ago. People think there are secrets buried there, but the only secrets are the kind like we hide in the trash.”
He turned to her, “You know what I mean?”
She didn’t call him cute again. She just stared.
He smiled back at her stare.