The teacher stood up and the murmur of voices finally stopped. “Thank you,” she said. “This is a creative support group to help us further explore and develop our talents. I’d like to begin by having everyone introduce themselves and tell us about a talent that they have. Let’s start with the lady in the green shirt and go around the circle from there.”
The lady in the green shirt stood up and giggled nervously. “Hi, I’m Sylvia. I like to paint in my spare time. I’m not very good yet, but I think if I keep practicing, I’ll get better.”
Sylvia sat down and there was an awkward pause where the people sitting on either side of her just looked at each other. Finally the teacher stood up. “Thank you, Sylvia,” the teacher said. “And welcome to the class. I’m sure that you’re better than you think you are. Let’s hear from the gentleman in blue next and then go from there.”
The gentle man in blue stood up and smiled. “Hello,” he said. “My name is Kyle and I can sneeze on command.”
A few people laughed, but Kyle looked serious. “It may not seem like much,” he said. “But it’s my talent and I’m proud of it. I practice a lot to keep my skills up, and I’ve done what I could to share my gift with the world.”
Sylvia scooted her chair away from him a bit. “What do you mean?” she asked. “Do you go around sneezing on people in public? That’s not very nice. You’ll spread germs.”
Kyle sighed. “A talent like mine isn’t very common. It’s normal for me to be misunderstood.”
The class began to murmur. The teacher finally stood. “Settle down,” she said. The noise stopped. “That’s better. Let’s let Kyle explain more about his unusual talent before we jump to conclusions, all right?”
The class mumbled and nodded and turned to look at Kyle again. “Well, There aren’t many people who can sneeze whenever they’d like. Allow me to demonstrate.” Kyle sneezed. “There, you see? Now you try.”
The class members made various odd sounds. Sylvia clutched her purse and looked ready to run out the door. Kyle laughed. “It’s not easy, is it?” he said.
“How do you share your talent with others?” the teacher asked.
“Fake sneezes are always inferior to the real thing,” Kyle said. “I get small parts in plays and television shows and commercials. I help the artists who need a sneeze for their script realize their creative vision.”
“Very good, Kyle,” the teacher said. “Why don’t you have a seat, and we’ll hear from the next person.”
The man sitting next to Kyle stood up. “Hi, I’m Jim. I’m double jointed. Look, I can put my leg behind my head.”
“Wow, another unusual talent,” the teacher said. “I can tell that this is going to be an unusual class. Next?”
“Ahoy, I’m Susan, terror of the classrooms. I can speak like a pirate, mateys. Arrrrrr!”
The next student stood up. “I’m Dave, and I’m good at filling in crossword puzzles.”
“That’s not a creative talent,” Sylvia said.
“I fill out crossword puzzles in pen,” Dave said.
“Nice,” Jim said. “That’s really gutsy. Do you get the answers right?”
“Mostly,” Dave said.
“But it’s not art,” Sylvia said.
“It’s performance art,” Kyle said. “Like walking on a tightrope or reciting poetry or singing opera or something.”
“But no one would come watch someone fill in a crossword puzzle,” Sylvia said.
“People pay to listen to opera,” Dave said. “I wouldn’t do that.”
“Class, let’s be respectful of other people and their talents. Everyone has a place here. Now, who’s next?”
The tall, pale man wearing sunglasses stood next. “My name is Vlad, and I can change into a bat.”
“That’s it. I’m leaving,” Sylvia said. She stormed out of the classroom.
“That’s too bad,” the teacher said. “So, who’s next?”