You learn, not long after you've learned to walk, to love the imperfection in an otherwise perfect pane of glass in the door, through which the sunlight is bent and forms rainbows on the kitchen floor. You sit yourself down, touch the arcs of strips in colors, see how the colors bend to the shapes on the back of your hand.
He watched a black and yellow spider weave its web in a wide camellia bush under the picture window at the front of his house. The long tendrils of frames between branches in a hollow space where flowers should have been and stems were cut back and bleeding sap that glistened in the sunlight.
He lost track of time as the spider worked the latticework of silk in growing circles from the center, pausing when a tentative wasp, a flitting moth and bees flew near.
Brian never noticed time in the presence of things like this, the miracle of witness. Let the others wonder at the finished work, he wanted to watch the unfolding no matter the time, no matter the heat of the day that sucked the water from within through every pore, no matter the pain of standing still, lest the spider see him and stop.
He never saw his mother in the window, never noticed that she watched him as intently as he watched the spider build its web, never noticed that after five long minutes during which he remained perfectly still, perfectly intent, she shook her head, frowned and moved away, wiping her hands on her apron. He never heard her whisper, never knew the words she said, or that she feared for him, that she thought her own son strange, somehow flawed.
You sat on your knees in the damp grass in the morning of one of the long dog days of summer, wet with perspiration, the knees of your khakis stained with green, the fabric creased and damp, as wet with dew as the t-shirt was wet with a sudden brief rain you hardly noticed, but loved for the little arrows of cold that pierced the heat. You held shears with which you were supposed to cut the tall weeds on the fence.
Instead you watched the aphids there, the ants that seemed to herd them, worry them up and down the stalks. You wondered what they were doing and why.
You noticed a clump of onion grass, leaned over and put your nose in the center of it, breathed in the delicious scent and laughed.
He did not see his father behind the screen on the porch. He did not notice how intently the man watched him, wondering what the boy was doing and why. He did not see him frown and shake his head.
You heard the door on the porch behind you closing. You looked up. No one was there.
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Generations rise and fall, while no one really knows the hearts of their children.