Pops told Leslie a story when she was five that stuck with her for some reason.
The Spoon That Moved
Once there was a spoon that could move. She could pop upright on the table, spin around, and bounce anywhere she wanted to go.
But she didn’t. Most of the time, she just hung out in the drawer with the other spoons, comfortably nested among them, laying perfectly still. She didn’t know if the other spoons could move or not. They never did, so she held still, too, so she wouldn’t stand out.
“I wouldn’t want everyone to think I’m a show-off,” she said to herself. But really that wasn’t what she was worried about at all. Really she just didn’t know what would happen if she danced around, or even wiggled in the pile, but she was afraid that the other spoons would quietly laugh at her, and forever ban her from joining the other spoons’ activities.
Not that they ever did anything. She knew that they couldn’t really ostracize her for moving without moving themselves, so really she had nothing to fear. Still, the thought of pressing against silent spoons front and back who really were apalled by her behavior was just too much. Better to just fit in with the others.
But she wished for something to happen. Her life was comfortable, but dull. Most of the time, she just lay in a dark drawer, covered by some other spoon, so she couldn’t even see anything, even if there were any light.
One time after a party she ended up at the bottom of the pile, where she wasn’t used for months. Every day, she’d see the light from the outside as the drawer opened, and feel the pressure on top of her lighten, as several of her siblings were removed. She longed to leave the drawer, to carry food to people’s mouths, to luxuriate in the hot bath in the sink afterward, and have herself scrubbed sparkly clean. She wanted desperately to squirm to the top of the pile, pushing the others aside, so that she would get the daily use, while they anxiously awaited their turn. But she knew they would hate her for that, so she waited her turn, for weeks and weeks, and eventually she was used again, and by chance moved nearer to the top of the pile after her washing, so she was happy.
She made up stories where she would rescue all the other spoons, and they would adore her for her ability to move. A person would be pulling the forks from the tray, one by one, and smashing them flat with a giant hammer. The spoons would all freeze in terror, knowing that they would be next. And when the time came for the first spoon to be crushed, they would all just lay there and watch. All except for the spoon that could move. She would jump up and knock the hammer out of the person’s hand, then quickly shove it into the garbage disposal. Before they could stop her, she would hit the switch over the sink, destroying the hammer and saving the day. She knew all the other spoons would love her then.
“What do you think happens?” Pop had asked.
Leslie wasn’t used to people asking her what happened, so at first she kept insisting that Pop finish the story. He refused — it was her turn. Eventually she said, questioningly, “So the spoon moves?” She looked at him for confirmation.
“OK. Then what happens?”
This sounded like it was OK, so she proceeded. ”Um, she dances around in front of all the other spoons?”
“OK. How do they feel about that?”
She thought about it. ”They think it’s great! They decide to make her queen, and put her on the top of the pile every day.”
Pop laughed. ”Those are some pretty nice spoons. I love you, Pumpkin.” And he ruffled her hair and tucked her in and kissed her goodnight, leaving the light on in the corner the way she liked.
As she got older, she thought back to that story, and the different ways it could have ended.
Spoon decides to dance, and when people see her, they sell her to a freakshow where she is forced to perform 24 hours a day until she wears down to a miserable nub.
Spoon crawls to the middle of the kitchen floor, where she is mashed by Granny, who then falls, breaks her hip, and dies. Spoon is compacted and sent to the dump.
Spoon moves, and finds that she likes it. The other spoons (except a few liberal-minded ones) shun her, but she ignores them and eventually fulfills herself as a leader and revolutionary.
This was the ending she feared the most: Spoon eventually tries to move, but finds that she really never could after all. She’s just a spoon.
But what if Spoon moves, and when the others see her, they all start moving, too? Everybody was afraid to be the first, to stand out from the crowd. Landscape found that idea disturbing.