“Every choice you make will alter you. It will change the chemical makeup of your body and shape the way people see you. It will give you a baseline for every decision that will follow.” Looking tall and strong, Charles Ferguson stood beside him, his wide hands with their stubby fingers splayed on the edge of their kitchen table as he leaned down, staring him in the face. Shane knew his father was only five foot seven, but in that moment his memory made him look so much larger. The feel of it was like his dad had been towering over him, blocking the bright sunlight that had been shining through the kitchen windows. Looking at his own hands now, especially the one holding the pen, he tried to feel a connection to that man who had worked so hard to make him understand something that day. The lesson hadn’t been lost on him, but it hadn’t been learned either.
His own fingers were long, more like his mother’s, with narrow palms and soft tips that seemed to read their way along every movement. Charles had called it a natural gift for learning, an ability that connected directly to his brain through his eyes. Whatever he saw, he could do. His hands would move, copying the motions of what he was seeing, duplicating the rhythms. It didn’t matter if he was watching someone type a letter on a computer keyboard or being mesmerized by how a machine could carve a small peg from a single block of wood. His hands would move, following the patterns and flowing along invisible pathways that he could feel.
The pen in his hand was warm, the heat from his skin having created a bond between himself and the plastic. It was a common pen, a simple thing purchased in bulk in boxes of twenty-five with a personalized logo printed around its cylindrical exterior. The casual appearance of the pen was a sharp contrast to the paper in front of him. His eyes were captivated by the form, it’s perfect beauty a drug for his eyes. Whoever had made this had cared very deeply for its shape. They had taken the time to feel their way along its creation and respect the rhythm of its purpose. The pen was typical, just ink in a tube. The employment agreement was a siren’s song captured on paper.
“If you will sign your name at the bottom of the form that you are accepting the position we can move along to wardrobe and have you fitted for your uniforms.”
A perfect form. A casual pen. A voice that scratched his ears.
Rolling the pen between his fingers he ignored the blonde woman with her short, frozen hair and impeccable gray, wool suit. The lesson wasn’t lost, it just hadn’t been learned. Why now? Why that memory at this moment? His spirit ached for him to sign his name, to write it on the amazing form and become a part of what had created it. His mother had called that rubbing against popularity. People liked to be near things that were magnificent, feeling they could absorb the greatness and enhance their own existence with it. Was that what this was? Was he just trying to rub against popularity?
Ripping his eyes away from the beautiful form he found the woman smiling at him, the bottoms of her perfect teeth barely showing between her painted, pink lips. Her eyes were fully open, the pupils expanded in the flourescent light of the interview room that somehow brought a deeper blue to them. Was she wearing contacts? Keeping his teeth to himself, he smiled tightly back at her.
“We should move along now. We have a lot of ground to cover yet.”
Nodding his understanding he rolled the pen around again, looking for a cooler spot to grip. Carefully he turned the paper, positioning it at the exact angle he needed to get the proper slant on his signature. It was his way to write in an upward motion, away from him. His second grade teacher had made a fuss over it, trying to force him to write from right to left instead, but he had ignored her, waiting until she walked away to turn his paper back to the angle he liked. Positioning the pen over the line at the bottom of the form he took a last look at it, letting his eyes soak in the love that had been imbued into its creation. He took a deep breath and touched the nib to the paper.
“Okay, let’s move along to wardrobe.”
Feeling like the room had become slightly darker, he shoved the paper away from him, not looking at his signature. The form was ruined, its beauty destroyed the instant he had touched it. All he felt now was regret.