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Rated: E · Short Story · Young Adult · #1494515
An unusual young man finds out just how unusual he is.
A little Soap and Water

I did what I had to do.  I did the unthinkable.  I survived.  It was not supposed to happen; very few things were, but they did anyway.  I was living proof of that.  My scars were indelible reminders.  None of them were on the surface, and few people knew they existed.  I tried to forget, but like many things in life, I had no control over that.

I grew up thinking I was your average kid; a little short, arms a little too long, and head, a bit too big.  I thought I looked like everyone else.  No one else thought so.  I was teased.  Guys would slap the back of my head and girls would run away from me saying I had "the cooties."  I'd join in the laughter, feign a good sense of humor, and cry all the way home, blubbering like the sissy that I was.

I'd get home and tell my Mom I was beginning to feel sick.  She'd take my temperature, benignly agree with me, and I'd go back to school two days later as though nothing had happened, but something had.  I'd grown a little colder inside even if I didn't look any chillier on the outside.

By the time I was ready to go off to college, number three in my class; right behind the head cheerleader and the football quarterback, I'd become used to not quite blending in.  I was remarkable for being unremarkable.  I was a ghost, and though no one could remember who I was, they all had a sense I'd been there.  I doubt anyone could match my face to the single clear picture of me in the high school yearbook, even though I was in the background of many others; a simple shadow without a clue. 

I remember those days as the happiest days of my life.  It's like I said, "I was no different from anybody else; remarkably unremarkable."

As I set off that day to college, I figured life would pretty much proceed the way it had.  I'd skate through class barely paying attention because I didn't really need to, and then I'd go back to the dorms and do what I really liked to do; nothing but sit and ponder.  But life was not to be that way.  Just as I thought I'd gotten away with something, I got noticed. 

I made the inexcusable mistake of noting an error in a solution being written haphazardly by my physics professor; a dour woman of some notoriety.  She did it often.  I didn't say anything during class, but while I slowly exited as the last person in class this particular day, I quietly mentioned it to her as I headed toward the door. 

I expected her to note the error, mumble her thanks, and perhaps dismiss me with a nod, but instead, she asked me to sit and wait a second.  As she erased the board while never looking at me, she asked if I'd noted any other mistakes.  I told her I had, and proceeded to list them by memory.  She seemed to do it every Tuesday.  She nodded knowingly and then she smiled broadly as she turned towards me.  "Just as I thought," she said.  "Every year I write out the same solutions with the same errors and wait for the one or two freshmen amongst hundreds to notice.  Nicely done and with such respect.  Thank you."  Then she dismissed me, but she seemed to be humming to herself as she now erased the board with gusto.

I didn't know what to make of it.  Surely, others could hear the rhapsody dissolve when it hit a wrong note, couldn't they?  Was I that rare?  I'd always thought so, but then thought it was simply a protective mechanism God gave the pitiable amongst us to help us survive.  Pride is not a virtue, but a vice unworthy of being noticed, and purposefully extinguished.  I buried an erupting smirk and set to pondering the universe and my infinitesimal place in it.  Maybe tomorrow, I'll start dressing nicer and actually pass a comb through my hair.  Tonight I'll open a book.
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