They’ve little curiosity, these people, and they don’t like what can’t be swiftly dismissed, what they can’t finish us with. They do like it when we go away with a hat.
We want possibilities, but they want to make periodic resolutions of us. Of course we return to them before much time has passed, because our hats are cheaply made and do not last long.
Still, they’re very well-meaning about it all. They want what’s best for us, I’m sure of it. They have kind paws and kind eyes.
These well wishers directed me to a house congested with complex games and heavily eyebrowed people. These eyebrows were all endowed with efficient tongues. It is important that they believed their words, and perhaps more importantly than this that they believed one another. To me, the notions divulged by their words seemed admirable ones, but once I took my seat I began to feel like a covert hazard, lingering perilously. It seemed they had no idea just how dangerous I was. I knew it, but I couldn’t fix it.
Like any proper neighbor I yearned to be free of such corruption. I wanted to be good…although, if freedom is defined as inclusion and goodness as communal designation, my desire could not be fulfilled. It’s true that I wanted most of all what I thought my neighbors already possessed, yet at the end of each regular period of me and eagerness, I remained periodically alone, amid phalanxes of relaxed knees.
I left the eyebrows and the games, and between streets and trees, between doors and windows I tried my best to live. In the end I felt more miserable than ever, and more destitute. Ultimately I returned to those kind animals — the well wishers — hopeful that I could be reassured, that they might calm my nervous hands with their gentle paws, to adopt me into their care, to lead me and find me a new home. My hands they overlooked, however, and then declined to redirect me. Instead they gave me a new hat, and a matching cane with someone else’s notches, then set me on my way.
I don’t doubt their wisdom. These people are designed to be as wise as they are virtuous. They do not see the hazard in me, and this is assuring. I absorb their illusions and it makes me feel better.
On the sidewalk, people were momentarily curious of me. Moving their eyes from cane to hat — a vertical line continually repeated — they seemed to regard me sympathetically. On occasion they smiled.
I decided, then: this new hat was superior to the old, and the cane made for it a genial companion. I thought: Perhaps I’ll find new things that they can do in unity, this hat and this cane. I fell into reverie, contemplating an adequate future.
Owen Kaelin lives alternately in Boston and northeast Connecticut. He edits the webjournal Gone Lawn, was a founding member of the Step Chamber literary collective, and is currently co-writing a literary computer fantasy game titled “The Pale City.”