Once a month, a bunch of authors and writers get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other.
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The old man took the paper off the shelf. The ungainly stack felt heavy in his thin, worn hands, edges of mismatched pieces poking out all around. He’d bought the slick, expensive folding paper when he could afford it, on the recommendation of the witch-doctor he’d consulted, but resorted to raiding the art school’s trash can every Thursday night. Days, months, years he’d spent hoarding paper.
Huffing and puffing, he carried the irregular pile to his workbench and set it down. He spread the papers out, displaying the variety of colors and patterns in front of him. The glossy surfaces picked up the glare from the single bare lightbulb above his head.
He selected a sheet and began to fold. The job stressed his arthritic fingers, and he remembered the nimbleness of his boyhood, threading worms on the hook of his father’s fishing pole. Another fold, and he remembered being fifteen, locking lips with the girl who would later become his wife. Taking another sheet of paper, he folded it into the shape in front of him. His frail hands shook as he worked, sheet by sheet and page by page, coaxing each layer into form. The shabby flat filled with the crinkle and rustle of paper, the soft swooshing noises of moving sheets. Each new crease brought back a memory: married at twenty in a lavish ceremony in the largest temple; divorced by thirty-five — his wife walking out in the shoes he bought her. At forty, weary of legal battles and law suits, letting her take everything she wanted. A year later, buying this shitty apartment, and later yet, stopping three blocks down at the dingy storefront with the tattered “witch-doctor” sign.
The man fought for breath as his creation grew, and his fingers faltered. Three more sheets to go, and the paper seemed to weigh a thousand pounds. He sweated with the effort of picking up the sheets. It took him four tries to get the last fold right.
He woke, looking into a blinding light, with a strange shape slumped on the counter beside him. As he moved his arm to shade his face, his body crinkled like paper, and it seemed he had heard the sound somewhere before, a distant time ago…
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