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adalger: Earthrise as seen from the moon, captured on camera by the crew of Apollo 16 (Default)
Monday, August 20th, 2012 10:43 pm
Petey ran the fingers of his right hand along the decorative binding on the edge of the curtain. It was made of the same sheer cotton as the curtain itself, sky blue and almost transparent, but with a lacy embroidered pattern that gave it a fascinating texture. For as long as he could remember, he had done this. According to his mother, it was even longer.

When he was two, or maybe three, he had started walking away from play-dates with other toddlers when they got loud, or pushy, or when they started moving too fast, or when there were too many people around. He would walk over to the window, feel the fabric, look outside at the narrow sidewalk, and seem to forget about whatever was going on in the living room. After a minute or so, he would turn around and enthusiastically join back in with whatever was going on, until the next time.

When he was five, he had started twirling himself up in the curtains, and claiming he was a ghost or a mummy or invisible. That’s when “Petey’s Magic Curtain” had entered the family lexicon. Mom didn’t seem to mind having to wash them every week. She didn’t even get mad about the occasional jelly stains, or the residue of a runny nose when he had a cold.

She did mind when he was nine, and managed to figure out how the curtain came off the rod. She had walked into the living room in the morning to discover that a nightmare had woken him up in the night. He had fallen back asleep on the couch, wrapped in the soft blue fabric. They had had a discussion about the appropriate uses of furniture and decorations, and what to wear in the areas of the house that weren’t his bedroom. This cleared up a minor point of confusion for him, because he had been sure she had told him he could sleep in whatever he wanted. Now he knew that was based on the assumption he would be sleeping in his bed.

He pressed the fabric against his face, seeing the traffic on the road through its hazy blue filter. It did funny things to the colors of the cars passing by. He loved how his magic curtain had the power to change the world.

He became aware of the voices in the kitchen again. They were talking about him, even after he had left. That had been the hardest thing to convince his step-father to go along with, in the end. He had been eleven when his mother remarried. Daddy Steve could relate to the need to walk away from a conversation sometimes, but he didn’t really understand how Petey worked. He’d had to be shown, by Petey repeatedly coming back after a minute or two and hardly needing to catch up at all. It was worse when they waited for him, because then he felt a little guilty about making things take longer. Also, Daddy Steve got grumpy when he had to stop in the middle of a sentence, so just letting him continue on helped things go more smoothly.

Petey turned around and went back to the kitchen. He walked up behind his mother, leaned over, and kissed her cheek. He stepped over behind Daddy Steve and did the same. Then he sat back down. “Mom,” he asked, “this summer camp sounds like a great place. I don’t think I’d be scared at all, if I can take my magic curtain with me.”

Daddy Steve looked like he was about to say something, but Mom laid a hand on his arm, smiled, and said, “Of course, dear.” Daddy Steve quickly covered her hand with his other hand, smiled too, and nodded.