For most of his life, Fred had been useless. The truth of the matter was that he had been labeled as such from childhood. His dad was more invisible man than dangling participle, appearing as a letter with a few dirty and wrinkled dollar bills in it for the first couple years that Fred, now 40-something, could not remember. His mother, whom he did remember slightly, used the word in the so-called lullabys she sang over his head; he thought he remembered the back-and-forth of a rocking chair and a few whisky-warbled words floating out a crooked window. Truth, fiction, or imagination, he held tightly to it, his only memory of the woman who birthed him. She had left him when he was about three, tucking him into a too-large pea coat and planting him on the top step at Our Lady of Perpetual Hope. He heard the word as he grew up amongst the other boys, mostly from them; he had minimal talents on the hardwood or with any pigskin tossed or batted across the too-tall field of grass behind their home. And because of that home the other primary word from his youth that stuck to him like flypaper was “orphan,” the moniker he carried until emancipation at 18. But one day the purpose for which he was created was revealed.
My 223-word offering for this week’s Write at the Merge. Click below to add your link.