Rubber Bands

I'm working in Quality Control, reviewing and packing a large order of film reels, which has a lot of loose rubber bands.  I can't resist stretching one out on my thumb and shooting it across the room. It flies true, all the way from Shipping to Processing. I retrieve it with a mischievious grin, then return to my workstation. The rubber bands sitting on the table amid plastic CD sleeves and pens and neon pink highlighters trigger a long ago memory. Paperclip Guy (the king of all random stories) takes a seat at the disc printer. As I pick up another order, I ask him if he wants to hear a random story. He has no choice.

Once upon a time I was an awkward middle-schooler. A very awkward middle-schooler. I used carry a couple rubber bands with me at all times, wearing them on my wrists like bracelets, as self protection against the middle school boys in my sunday school class.

"How did they protect you?" asks Paperclip Guy, waiting for discs to print. 
"I would shoot them if they annoyed me," I answer, "I was a vicious little thing if provoked."

He asks when I stopped. 
I honestly don't remember. I'm not sure I ever did. I tell him that I still shoot my brothers with rubber bands when then need it.
His discs are almost finished printing as he asks where I fall in birth order. 
His knowing nod when I tell him I'm number one says, "that explains it all."

All of a sudden, I see something in my story, something that reminds me of Fourth Brother James. In a moment of clarity, I see my self ten years ago contrasted against Fourth Brother now. We are so similar--our copious amounts of reading (mostly fantasy), our quirky habits. His behavior of late begins to make some sense. I can see things more from his perspective. I was an awkward middle schooler once, just as he is now. I decide at the end of this long, branching bunny trail that I can, just maybe, cut him a little slack.

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