Other Stories

Learning to Call Something from Nothing

There was a girl who loved to blow bubbles. Every morning before she went to school she ran into the garden and blew bubbles. In the winter, she wore a heavy coat. In the summer, she didn’t wear shoes and her hair was cut short. Every afternoon, when school ended, she ran home and blew bubbles again. Her mother was worried. She said, “It’s strange.” The girl’s father said, “What’s wrong with bubbles?” The girl’s father and mother did not understand each other very well.
One day the girl blew a bubble, but there was something different about it. The girl looked at it floating in front of her. It was square. That whole summer, the girl blew square bubbles. As she got older, she learned to blow triangles and half circles. By the time she was in high school, she could put the shapes together and make trees and houses, cars and buses. She could make whole little towns floating through the air.
The girl didn’t join clubs. She didn’t play sports. Her mother was still worried, but the girl studied enough to keep her teachers happy. And she kept her bubbles a secret. She couldn’t say why she kept it a secret. The girl became a woman. She could now blow bubbles of cats, dogs, and horses that ran through the air. She worked as a designer at a small clothing company. Her clothes were simple, clean, and very popular.
Years later, she sat in her own garden, with her own children, and her own husband. Her daughter was holding a small green wand in one hand and a small bottle of soap in the other. The woman reached out and took the bottle and wand from her daughter. It was a late spring day. The sky was darkening. The woman dipped the wand in the soap and held it to her mouth. She whispered something. It sounded like a prayer. One perfect butterfly, purple against the evening sky floated free and up. The butterfly waved its wings slowly. It passed in front of a white moon. It disappeared in an instant. Her son, a boy of three who liked to break things, asked his mother to teach him how to make a butterfly. The woman’s daughter, who was a quiet girl and understood more than her brother, did not ask anything. She already knew. You did not make anything in this world. You worked until you found the right way to call for what you needed. If you were lucky, the call was answered.

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