Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Microstory 1758: Octant Rule

Growing up, I had seven friends. We all moved to the brand new neighborhood at around the same time, but we were of all different ages. We decided to call ourselves the Octant, and didn’t realize until we were older that the word octet made much more sense. By then, the name was established, and changing it would have felt strange. Besides, it’s unique to us, so I think it’s for the best. You think you’ve heard this story before. You think we’ll have some dark secret about something bad we found one summer, or that time we killed a drifter. Nothing like that happened when we were kids. We had our ups, and our downs, but for the most part, our lives were unremarkable. I will say that, while I wouldn’t call any of us nerds, we did have a shared interest in understanding. Or perhaps it was more about the younger ones wanting to maintain relationships with the older ones. They would teach us the things they learned in school, so that when we got to that point in our respective educations, we already knew a lot. It wasn’t enough for any of us to skip a grade—well, one of us did, but she probably would have done that anyway—but it did help make school a little easier. It did not come without its downsides. We learned about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree in elementary school, but our eldest explained that this was a lie, and our teachers did not like being contradicted. In the end, growing up together isn’t even the most interesting part about us, though. How our relationships managed to hold together like welded metal is what’s really interesting here. We still have each other’s backs. I would never call us evil, but we don’t always use our positions for good either. I’m the worst.

We each developed our own interests, and these led us down our career paths. We’ve helped each other along the way, and not just the elders for the younger ones. When I say we, however, I should really be saying they. They all have their lives together, and I’ve always been the odd man out. Two are in law enforcement; one being a cop, and the other a federal agent. Two joined the military; one stayed in, and the other leveraged his experience and clout to go into politics. The last three are a corporate executive, a lawyer, and a doctor. They’re all in positions of power, and I’m just an underemployed nobody that the others should have started to ignore years ago. Underemployed may be the wrong word to use too, because I’m actually not qualified for anything better than the odd jobs I’ve found. They’ve had to help me out of so many jams, I can’t count. I’ve been driven to crime on numerous occasions, but have rarely suffered consequences. I’m reckless and stupid, but I’ve always had the best medical care in the world, and I get it for free. The CEO keeps trying to give me a job in her IT department, but I don’t want to disappoint her, so it’s easier for her to just give me money whenever I desperately need it. I’ve done so many dumb things, even as an adult, yet I remain inside of the Octant. I’ve never even heard whispers of them kicking me out, or simply ghosting me. I really wish I could just find some way to pay them back, and contribute to the group. I mean, I’ll never be President of the United States, but maybe I can infiltrate a street gang or cult, or...I dunno, carry extra ammo for a secret elite antiterrorist strike team? That’s a bit of a stretch, but there has to be something I can do to show them that their efforts haven’t been wasted, and that I appreciate all they’ve done for me. I suppose I have enough time to think before my lawyer returns from vacation to get me out of jail again.

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