Our short story of the week is a story about difference by Benedict Cross.
Benedict Cross grew up in Ealing and studied English with Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham. He has just graduated from a further Masters in Creative Writing, and Fairlight Books marks his debut as a published author. He has always loved the soaring horizons of science fiction and fantasy, but his degree also taught him how to write about everyday subtleties, and how to spin the dully mundane into the wonderful.
‘Zebra Stripes’ follows a conversation about neurodiversity and acceptance.
I finally explain it to her as we walk by the lake. It’s a warm day. The sun glimmers off the soft waves and throws rippling stripes of colour over the boughs of the trees. Sparrows and moorhens call out over the rhythm of the rocking light.
She says she’s heard of it before, but doesn’t quite know about it. So I carry on explaining. I wheel out all my old jokes. I say that it’s nothing much, nothing really. I explain why I always wear noise-cancelling headphones as I walk beside a road, why I get lost on a route I’ve taken twenty times before, why sometimes every human being in the world seems inscrutable as an automaton. She nods. She has her face turned to mine, but I keep on looking ahead.
I tell her what I was like as a child, that if she could have seen me then, she would have known; I couldn’t have hidden it. I quote myself at eight years old, talking like a dictionary, angry, lashing out because I couldn’t understand. I joke about how I hid underneath the therapist’s table the day I was diagnosed, and pretended to be a dragon.
She’s silent for a moment, her eyes gliding over the ruffled water.