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Shirk “With eager minuteness, you take note of the table near the fire-place, the book with the ivory knife between its leaves, the unfolded letter, the hat and the fallen glove.” --Nathaniel Hawthorne. “The Haunted Mind” He had always been shy. Normally, being shy is just a minor setback. But within him it festered, grew, compressed like a piece of carbon that would one day become a diamond. He left the house less and less. People began to talk. The extra attention did not help his situation. So he spent more time locked away in the dark room above the garage. In a room that saw no sunlight, that never felt the soothing warmth. Maybe that’s why he liked it. The tall, gloomy trees that shrouded the garage and room above made him feel shrouded. Forever protected from embarrassment, from having to share himself. Peering from the small window in his room; his only connection to the outside world, he watched his legend grow. Schoolchildren, on their way home from, well, school, would stand in the street watching for a glimpse of the reclusive young man. What was wrong with him, they wondered? Some conjectured that he was horribly disfigured. Others maintained he was insane, plotting to kill all. That wasn’t it. He was just really shy. What did he do up there, they pondered? Evil experiments on poor helpless animals and children who came too near the house. That wasn’t it at all. He wrote stories, short stories. The prototypical artist he must have seemed. A diminutive young man, back hunched away from his stiff wooden chair. Room empty except for his tall, mahogany desk. Dark except for his diminutive desk lamp. His arms cocked at forty-five degree angles leading to long fingers methodically searching their next victim. The letter A, perhaps? Or F. Only he knew as his eye scoured the keypad of the dilapidated old typewriter that sat dead center of the desk. He sent his stories under the nom de plum: Shirk. He was really shy. The stories were not well received. Letters came, day after day, with the same message: your stories lack something. But what? Perhaps it was connection. The shyness, maybe it was to blame. So completely and utterly shrouded had he been, that his stories were meaningless. Encased in his dark little tomb, the pulse of the world had eluded him. What do people think about? Worry about? Care about? It was unknown to him. One day, he came outside. Just around four o’clock, when the children had begun their short journey’s home. They saw him; pale, eyes timidly darting side to side. There was a certain nervousness in the way he walked toward them; short, tentative steps. And then he said hello.
Date Written: June 09, 2006
Average Vote: 3.5