“Marcus?” his caseworker said, her hands folded on Mama’s kitchen table. “Did something happen to your sneaker?”
Marcus looked down at his size thirteen feet—two shoes, one old, one new. “No ma’am.”
“Why don’t they match?” She didn’t understand that matches weren’t the same as pairs. Daddy never told her about arks.
“They’re opposites,” he said. Daddy explained it better because he had more words. That was okay. Marcus was better at pairing.
“Like your socks?”
One foot, two foot, red foot, blue foot. Marcus smiled and nodded. “You and me, we’re opposites, too.”
“I guess we are. Is your father still spending all his time at the hospital?”
One knock sounded on his door at 12:01 AM on the first of November, as it had for 250 years. Anthony hesitated, even though the request was familiar. He glanced out the kitchen window at the moonwashed cliff of Beachy Head and the Channel beyond. Then a million knocks, a billion, pounding away in unison, a coruscating knot of sound that quaked his small home. The knocking made dishes rattle in their cabinets and his glass of whisky to dance and crash to the floor.
I remember quite distinctly the day I met him. One does not easily forget the strangest day in one’s life. It was a soggy morning, gray and overcast; fitting indeed I should think for what would soon take place. He stood at my doorstep, gripped my hand with unearned familiarity and smiling at me, attempted to enter my house.
While he appeared vaguely familiar, I was quite certain I had never made his acquaintance. “Pardon, sir,” I said abruptly, blocking his path. “But I am not in the habit of allowing strangers into my home.”
Greetings fellow graduates, parents, and faculty. No one is more surprised than me that I am speaking to you tonight. When we first walked through the big glass doors of Happy Valley High four years ago, did anyone imagine that this budding goth girl might one day be valedictorian of the class of 2014?
So many students studied more than me. So many worked harder than me. So many were smarter than me. Yet somehow none of them survived the high school gauntlet, so here I am. I didn’t even take any AP classes. In hindsight, that was probably lucky. Otherwise I might have suffocated on the chlorine gas Mary Llewellyn mixed from those mislabeled ingredients in chemistry lab. Or perhaps I would have suffered acute radiation sickness in AP Physics after that unfortunate typo on the laboratory supply form. You probably wouldn’t have found me in AP Biology though. My strict vegetarian principals made me uncomfortable dissecting fetal pigs. Who could have guessed that my squeamishness would save me from contracting flesh-eating bacteria? There’s a lesson about the importance of sticking to one’s principles in there somewhere.
“Druy, where did you find that pitiful looking piece of space junk?” Capitan Saga asked as he slid off the ramp onto the lower deck of his ship.
“In the emptiness,” Druy said and continued circling the disk shaped object.
“And why wasn’t I informed?” he asked.