Was this the first armband he’d seen? He noticed the cream fabric wrapped around the clerk’s upper arm, was conscious of noticing it and at the same time certain that he’d been seeing armbands like this elsewhere. Seeing unconsciously, then, but now he was aware, so by the laws of the universe he would now see armbands everywhere.And so it was. Not every person was wearing one, not even most; perhaps 1 in 10? Quite a number, actually, for some strange new badge. But a badge of what? He got no answers: a slight shake of the head, fingertips lightly and briefly to the lips, no more than that. So he settled on a bench, studying those passing through the crowded square and watching what the banded ones did. Again, he saw long before he noticed. It was subtle, the manner in which they marked each other; barely a nod and barely a smile, but each of those recognizances added a lift to the posture, and soon he could spot a banded one merely by their walk, from a distance.
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