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Glass Negative by Daniel Nyblin (1856-1923)

At the age of three, William Moore knew all about the rocks his father brought home from construction sites. The lump of igneous rock at the bottom of the mayonnaise jar his mother had given him had been unearthed near a sink hole, the chunk of smooth rose quartz beside it had been wrested from a squirrel’s nut stash. They were all precious, unique. But the one he kept on his nightstand, the strip of petrified wood, found in a rusty tackle box, was his favorite. How tantalizing, how filled with mysteries it was—this strange object glistening with red and ochre, this once living thing that had turned to stone….

* * *

When William reached his fourth birthday, he made a startling discovery: if he kept silent, and listened closely, he could hear what people were thinking. Until then, all he knew of people came from what they told him, which actually said very little of value about them. But once he heard what they weren’t telling him, he forgot about his rocks. It was much more fun to stay quiet and pay attention. What, of importance, did he need to say anyway?

His parents were alarmed by his sudden muteness, and dragged him to his pediatrician, the old greasy-haired Dr. Monroe. Dr. Monroe handed him a sour pink sucker…

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