Wednesday, June 20, 2012

THE PAPER MAN

One night in college I was sitting at my desk thinking longingly of my long-distance girlfriend, Sarah, when I heard a slight rustling sound behind me, and turning I laid my eyes for the first time on the little paper man.

The little paper man is a very knowing and sympathetic sort of person who visits the loneliest people in the midst of their misery. Perhaps they are imprisoned, or maybe homesick at summer camp or long-separated from those whom they love. Maybe you've been visited by the little paper man. If so, then you know what a kindly fellow he is.

He stood about six inches from the soles of his paper shoes to the top of his paper hat. In fact, every inch of him was made from a single piece of white, college-ruled paper. You know the sort- with faint blue lines, margins on the left-hand side and three holes punched along one edge. The little paper man could spiral his entire length like a tight needle so he could slide through a key hole and he could also flatten himself out so he could slip beneath a door. He could take the shape of a heart, flowers, the profile of a loved one or really just about anything. Mostly though he resembled a dapper little man in a white suit with faint blue pin stripes who made a distinct rustling sound as he moved, and whose voice sounded vaguely like the scratching of a pencil.

He begged me to lift him up onto the surface of my desk, which I was at first too frightened to do. Afraid of a paper man? Yes, if you are ever visited by something so unexpected as a paper man I expect you would also be a little cautious. However, as I already stated, the little paper man is a kindly soul, and after he explained himself I carefully lifted him up onto my desk. Being made of paper he cautioned me to be gentle as he was as frail and unsubstantial as...well...paper. I set him down on top of my desk and he set about kicking the clutter this way and that until he had cleared space enough for an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper to lie flat. Then in a flash he simply unfolded himself into a crisp, clean sheet of college-ruled paper. There on the top line, in Sarah's unmistakeable handwriting, was written, "I love you! XOXOXO Sarah"

I stared at the paper for a few minutes, feeling quite overwhelmed and also a bit confused as to how I was supposed to respond. Then I heard a little voice which, as I mentioned before, resembled the thin scratchings of a pencil instructing me to take up a pen and write out a reply. I looked in vain for a mouth from which the voice may have come, but couldn't find one. As I put pen to paper and began writing out a response I heard the paper giggle as though it were being tickled. I wrote, "I love you too." and "This is strange, isn't it?," before signing my name.

After putting my pen down I watched in amazement as the paper wrippled like the disturbed surface of a tranquil pond before twisting and folding itself once more into the shape of a dapper little man in a pin stripe suit. He saluted me smartly and winked his eye before walking to the edge of the desk. He paused for a moment, gave me one last look over his shoulder, and then threw himself over the edge. However, no sooner did he jump then he transformed himself into the shape of a paper airplane that caught an upward draft off the radiator and floated out the window.

1 comment:

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