Katydid tried not to think about it.
The thing about her tricks was, they didn't work if you focused on them - you being her, them, anyone. Lots of her brain worked - or didn't work - that way; the minute you tried to pin something down, it was gone. Home? No, nothing there. When she was thinking about something else, she could remember the smell of the kitchen, or the feel of the old leather couch, or hugs. She remembered hugs the most often. School? Chalk dust and notebook paper and exactly how to fold a note for maximum cuteness and pass-ability.
Some things she stared at until she could no longer see them, memories she’d rather put aside, moments that didn’t belong in her cheerful, shining life. And if anyone brought up those times, or asked questions she couldn’t answer without those memories, she would stare at them, too, smiling, bright, until they, too, went away.
Her tricks, she liked those, and they helped people, so she didn’t look at them any more than she had to. She knew they only worked if she started with something; she couldn’t make soup from an empty pot, but she could make it from a rotten tomato and half a bay leaf.
She knew they worked better if the gifts were freely given. When she wove a rug from three pieces of string carefully picked from the trash by Old Hattie, and three hairs from Joe Arclight’s head, she got a piece that would hold out the strongest north winds.
She knew they worked best when many people contributed, when they sat and stirred the pot with her or helped her set up her trash-to-treasure loom; when seven or eight people brought her pieces for a new shanty and four or five more people contributed knowledge and skill.
She knew they only worked at all if there was need — but that the definition of need could be broad and wide.
She glanced at the deed to the downtown property — an old shoe factory; nobody had used it in years but it had been built solid and still stood strong. She’d started with a newspaper clipping, an ancient, scribbled IOU, and a red paperclip. Now she owned a building, three old debts had been cleared, and a young legal secretary had a piece of information she needed to make her career.
She tried not to think about it too much, but there was nothing wrong with feeling about it. Katydid folded the deed and slid it in her pocket, a broad smile on her face.
Inspiration for Katydid's Gifts come from: