The Story of Lilly and Edgar
When I was a child, there was a boy I knew as Edgar. He had dark hair, dim eyes, and would have been unnoteworthy — had it not been for the eerie habits.
Namely, he didn’t have what we would consider traditional friends and the consequence of this fact, led to his weirdness. Edgar surrounded himself with a motley mash-up of make-believe mates. For the sake of alliteration, he was also British but lived in Kansas. Most of the boy’s conversations were, in fact, one-sided and directed at inanimate objects.
He had a portion of a red clay roof tile that he called Steve. The piece was roughly rectangular and while broken, not very jagged. On one occasion I heard Edgar tell the roofing fragment the end of a joke followed by an earnest, “Now you tell me one.” Following the request, he pressed the tile to his ear. When a moment passed, and he broke into an honest and earnest laughter. I would have sworn the clay lump had reciprocated the humor, whispering it from its slight curve into the hollow of Edgar’s head. There were other visible clues to a dialog, such as changes in his facial expressions or gasps of air.
His odd relationship to objects didn’t end there. Edgar had a classic glass bottle that might have once held a dark soda. When the weather was unusually nice, he could be found scanning the river through his glass, the open mouth of the bottle facing the world — the flat bottom pressed to his face. The other children would tease him. Their jokes were sophomoric and focused on obvious abuses. They snickered about him being a pirate or claimed that he used the reclaimed trash as a telescope aimed at searching for his real home on a faraway planet. One voiced a chilling thought that bottle sucked up the images that Edgar saw — keeping those visions to be savored in the future.
To me, the strangest of all his antics, was when Edgar would read out loud from of his college-ruled notebook. If he had simply been reading out bits of fiction, it wouldn’t haven’t been notable, but what I heard made no sense. The phrases would rattle of like, “I just got your letter,” or “Did you see that sunset that I sent you?” Each utterance was spoken as if there was another person he was communicating to through the pages.
For these oddities, we excluded him.
At the start of a cold spring semester, a new student was ushered into our class. She had rosy cheeks, bright billowing blonde hair, and was the opposite of Edgar in every way. Her name was Lily, and we adored her. She excelled in each of the traits that the rest of the normal population took for granted. Popularity took to her, and within a week she set the tune that we all danced to.
I had just started to notice girls and noted that it must have been a contagious conditioned, as the rest of the boys each took a turn flirting with her. The girls desired her grace and poise and began changing their wardrobes to match hers. She was admired and imitated.
She was the apex of what we thought a person could be and the opposite of Edgar.
One day, while we sat in the cafeteria, she pulled from her purse a small cosmetic compact and brought it up to her ear. “Hello,” she said into the hinged object. “This is Lilly.” She paused for a long moment as we stared at her. Then her lips parted and gave a sweet smile which I could see reflected in the mirror adorning her clamshell blush. “Edgar, is that you?”
–British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke formulated the adage, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Is this a parable of perspective?
Is this a warning about admonishing early adopters?
Or is it just a sweet cliche story that brought you smile?
Today it’s up to you. You see, the thing about stories is that when they are well crafted or told, they invite you into the lesson — part of the point is that you come to it on your own.
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