I typically sleep with one eye open. You have to around here. I knew Special was coming to see me that night; I’ve got a sixth sense about these things. But the real reason I knew was because her wagon made an awful racket as she pulled it through the bumpy grass.
“Mr. Potmis! Mr. Potmis! I made more!”
I sat up and rubbed my eyes; palms flat moving up and down. “Well, bring them over so I can see.”
She parked the wagon in front of me. Three human-like creations stared back at me. They weren’t moving yet, but I imagined what they would look like if they were.
“Wow! These are beautiful. They don’t look like the other ones you made.”
“Are they supposed to be people?”
“Of course! Can’t you tell?”
“I can.” I got off the bench. My legs went crooked for a second before straightening out. “Let’s go see what happens when they come alive.”
We walked together to the staircase next to the freeway. A younger couple was standing in the enclosed bridge, their fingers wrapped around the metal chain-link as they looked down at the freeway. Special gave them a wave, but they didn’t return the gesture and ran away. We had just interrupted their juvenile delinquency.
Special picked up the three paper mushy humans from her wagon and set them inside the barrel. I took my normal spot on the rug, crossing my legs and arms and waiting for the miracle to happen again. It didn’t take long for the three paper mushies to climb their way out and stand in a line. I clapped my hands and cheered. Special did the same.
The paper mushies’ footsteps were broad and zig-zagged because their legs were glued together and made of wood. It reminded me of a seismometer; the needle moving up and down in a diagonal pattern. I was amazed they could even move at all.
“Ah, they’re so cute!” Special said. She picked up the black one and handed it to me. The eyes that Special had so eloquently painted on the face blinked a few times when my hands wrapped around the torso. There was a warmth to the hardened newspaper.
“These are incredible,” I said.
“I know! I like how colorful they are.”
“I do too.”
“I wonder if it would have been better to use paper fasteners on the arms and legs, that way they could move like how we move.”
“That’s an idea. Could you get some at school?”
“I don’t know. Maybe?”
“Do we know if it would hurt them or not? I mean, modifying them after they’ve come alive?”
Special thought about this for a minute before saying, “I don’t want to hurt them. Let’s keep them how they are right now.”
“Ok, Special. I’m with you. Maybe for another time.”
We watched the three paper mushies until it started to get dark. Special gave me the task of keeping watch the first night. I felt honored to be entrusted with such an important duty. She hugged me goodnight and pulled her wagon back to her house. I sat there with the three paper mushies, letting them climb over my legs and arms, letting them act like the newborn children they were. My mind took me back to many years ago when I was a young lad playing with my children. They used to hang from my arms like branches from a tree. The youngest of the three, Benjamin, would always hang the longest. That boy had hands that could have made millions catching footballs in the NFL. He never made it past college after a devastating injury to his ACL. Things tend to go bad in my family. Watching over the three paper mushies that night brought the past back into the present. It made things that felt far away come right up to me, almost as if they were tugging on my shirt like a young child begging their mother to buy them a treat.
I’m right here, mommy. Did you forget about me already?
Special’s paper mushies were more than a miracle, they were a sign from God. I finally had a purpose again.