He began to go around again to delve deeper, but his progress was hindered by a string of some sort at knee level – oh, a strand of yarn, he recognized from its fuzziness, and the exact same color as his sweater which – Hey! His sweater had disappeared, the body of it simply gone, leaving only the sleeves hanging by friction of the raveled shoulders and rolled cuffs against the cotton shirt beneath, and the ribbed "V" still around his neck. He was terribly embarrassed, first at not having noticed; the heat and lack of ventilation in the room perhaps helped disguise the disappearance of the layer. And his shirt! A poor representation of a shirt, what with the buttons straining over a belly too accustomed to sausage and pizza and the smear of some stain – gravy, most likely, or maybe root beer – edging out from the placket just below his breastbone.
His shame was soon overtaken by consternation: how had his sweater leapt from his back, to become the strand at his knees? He looked around Main Fiction, and saw more of the yarn – an easily visible yellow in the beige room (he never realized how bright a yellow; he'd always considered himself a modest person not given to shows of vanity) – snaking around the stacks, from the New Releases kiosk to the R-S aisle, then looping from E-G to H-K right where he had passed perhaps a half hour before, and again between C-D and A-B, and sure enough, a line of yarn stretched from there out the door, toward the elevators.
He headed toward that door to see where he had started to lose his sweater, but only halfway through the room, the V-neck of his sweater drew taut against his throat as he was now tethered on a very long yellow leash. He became a bit frantic, yet determined to find out where all this yarn, an entire sweater's worth, had gone. Rather than merely slipping the collar over his head, he retraced his steps back around the New Releases kiosk from West to South to East to North, and back down the R-S aisle, following the strand. It had caught on The Grapes of Wrath, then dipped to the floor, leading him to the N-P aisle where it rose up to knee level again, thanks to a bolt in the shelving next to Mr. Biswas' house. He rolled up the yarn as he went, down L-M and up H-K and down E-G with an ever-growing yellow muff in his hands, until he finally emerged from A-B and followed his thread out to the elevators.
Between those elevators stood a sculpture of strange letters – what were these letters, like no letters he'd ever seen? – wrought in iron mounted on a knee-high pedestal, stretching a foot or so over his head. The end of his yarn was caught on the calyx of a metal pomegranate nestled in the letters; he must have brushed against the piece when he left the elevator and turned toward Main Fiction, only to have his sweater unravel slowly as he walked on unaware.
Here then was the origin, this sculpture he'd never really looked at, this poem he'd never read. A small plaque declared its title "Three Apples from Heaven, an Armenian poem" and two pages mounted on the wall under glass explained it all, the translation and background right there in black and white but unexamined for all the years he'd been coming here, (how could he have missed it?) like the tales his mother's mother told of her mother and his father told of his father's father, fables and folk tales and the truth of a lied-about expulsion, a genocide nearly successfully denied, stories he'd never read in any aisle nor any class, stories fading, fading, clinging to the universe by a single strand of yarn, stories far more important, much closer to him, than those found on the New Releases kiosk or the Main Fiction aisles where he'd lost himself so often – his own story, ignored so long. And so Tatossian began, finally, to read.
Zin Kenter lives in Maine and writes goofy stories, poems, apologies, etc., but as a child was traumatized by a raging wild bio and thus can not write them now, but oddly, enjoys reading them as long as they are securely penned near the story of another author.
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