Battle

The Silent and Brave revision page #194

The boy sits on a rock, waist high, wide enough to prop him up, flat enough that he can concentrate on the object in his hands. He’s about ten. Whiz, whir, click, he changes it, spinning its individual facets, red, blue, green, yellow, white, purple, six sides, nine smaller squares on each, spinning and mixing to the pattern he understands, whiz whir click. His hands are a blur. He doesn’t notice the cars next to him in the Wal-mart parking lot, or the people walking by. The sun is out. Whiz whir click. As I, one of the passers-by, watch, he finishes the pattern, that fast, making all the colors match up so that every side is the same. It seems effortless, boring. He pats the cube on his knee. Then he scrambles it again. Whiz whir click. His black hair is messy on his head.

A group approaches. Maybe they are not a group. Maybe they are not together. They come from different directions, converging on the rock where the boy sits. They don’t seem to know one another. In fact, they don’t notice each other, or the boy. They are looking at something each of them holds in their hands, a flat screen, their phones. They hold them up, as though scanning the parking lot. They inch forward, from every side, moving in the direction of the rock. One by one, they look up and notice the boy with his cube. Whiz whir click. He spins the colors, completes the puzzle, looks up at the gathering around him. Tableau.

Whiz whir click. He scrambles it again. He holds it out to one of the group around the rock, a short girl, of similar age, with her brown hair in braids and glasses with colorful frames. She squints at the cube, at the mixed colors. It is meaningless to her. They do not speak. Instead she holds out her phone, as if to show him the screen. His eyes drop. He is not interested. His hands go back to work, spinning, whiz whir click, putting the colors back together. The group with their phones stand in a circle around him, staring at their screens, unspeaking, intent on what they have come to find.

I get what they’re all doing, but I can’t participate. I don’t know how.

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