Editor: This story was originally posted on November 4, 2011. It was archived because flash fiction doesn’t fit with my approach to Special People anymore.
A smiling father strode along Yates St., carrying his little girl on his shoulders. She bounced and laughed and played with his hair, eliciting grins and chuckles from those who passed them on the busy sidewalk.
It was a beautiful summer morning, and Victoria was filling up with shoppers, tourists, and people-watchers.
“Daddy, what’s he doing?” the girl exclaimed as they passed by one of the countless downtown coffee shops.
“Who, honey?” asked Daddy.
“The man on the ladder.” The girl pointed towards Coastal Coffee, where a short, thin man in a brown shirt and jeans was perched several steps up on a ladder that was leaning against the building. He had one arm extended over the main entrance, and as he moved his finger through the empty air he left glowing orange marks behind. He was writing out the daily specials.
A small crowd, mostly tourists, had gathered on the sidewalk to watch, murmuring to each other. The locals, used to the sign-writer’s daily routine, were forced to step out among the parked cars along the side of the street to get around the knot of watchers.
“How can he do that, Daddy?”
“Well,” said Daddy, tentatively, “some people are very special, and they can do things that other people just can’t do.”
“Does somebody teach them in school?”
“I don’t think so,” said Daddy. “There are some things you can’t learn, darling.”
The man put the finishing touches on the sign, wrapping a big, friendly oval shape around the glowing letters with a broad sweep of his finger, and a few people applauded. He turned and gave half a bow before descending the ladder.
“Let’s go see if Mommy is done shopping yet,” Daddy said. He resumed walking.
After a minute, the little girl asked, “Daddy, am I very special?”
Hesitating almost imperceptibly, Daddy said, “Yes, dear, of course you are.”