“The Omitted Man” / Memorable Fancies #008

In our village, a man has been formally shunned by order of the authorities. That was many years ago, and he is now old.

His name was erased from the public monuments. There is a rough-gouged gap in the list of donors carved in our hospital’s waiting-room wall.

His wives have other husbands now; his children, other names.

No one remembers the cause for which he was shunned. The omitted man himself is vague about it, no longer knows if he committed any particular acts, or none. He has thought about them so often, for so many years, that he might as well be guilty.

He is a familiar figure in our village, shambling about. We may not approach him in the marketplace, but we may silently serve him. We would like to speak with him, but it is forbidden. If he were to ask a question of us, we would shrug and turn away.

His last question was long ago. It still hangs in the air.

[“To know how to ask a question is to know how to wait, even a lifetime.” – Heidegger]


Buy it at amazon.com/author/terencekuch: Everything Wants to Happen, the first thousand Memorable Fancies from this blog, revised and updated.

Happen cover pshopped

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