**This is meant to be one giant metaphor, a puzzle for you, the reader, to figure out. Also, the picture for this story is the "hat" that inspired me to write this.**
The Hat was made of soft, green velvet, and had a black leather brim that went all the way around (but it was thicker on the front and the back). Belts of all colors and sizes were wrapped around the crown, until only the really green part of the Hat was the very top. The belt buckles were every manner of thickness and glinted in the sunlight. That one Belt, the medium-width black one with the gold buckle, was the belt everyone noticed first. It was a commuter's hat, worn to keep the sun out of your eyes as you drove, and then to keep the sun off your neck while you sat in the window seat of the train. Except, no one knew why they wore it. They didn't have any particular reason, actually, and never thought even once about its intended purpose. I suppose the best reason they had was that they "couldn't find anything else to wear". The hat was not the most fashionable of accessories, but it certainly gave people something to talk about.
Take Lizzy Perkins, for example. Why, just last week she absently reached her hand into her closet, the room still dark with early morning sun, and pulled out the Hat. She didn't think twice about putting it on, even though it clashed with her red and blue sweatpants and sweatshirt.
She walked out of the house like that: red and blue sweat-wear sagging and the green and black Hat bouncing. People stared at her. Of course they stared. The Hat was the strangest hat they've ever seen, and even those who've also worn the Hat didn't recognize it on Lizzy Perkins. They couldn't seem to get over the fact that the Hat did not match Lizzy Perkins' sweatshirt and sweatpants at all.
But Lizzy Perkins did not notice the stares. And if she did, she didn't let them bother her. The Hat swelled up with importance and power as easily as a sponge would soak up that juice spill on your counter.
That day, I watched Lizzy Perkins stand up to Eddy "Beef" Calloway, who'd been bullying Sammy Crocker for two-and-a-quarter months. I graded that spelling quiz she got a "-0" on. I was next to Lizzy Perkins when she decided to help the class dunce, Kyle Fielder, with his math homework, and then sat with him at lunch. I was in the car Lizzy Perkins stopped her mom from crashing in to.
The next day, Lizzy Perkins tried to put the Hat on again, but it no longer fit. Something had changed. The Belt with the golden buckle had tightened. In a huff she threw it back into te closet and spent the rest of her Saturday watching "America's Got Talent" and "Say 'Yes' to the Dress" re-runs.
The next person to wear the Hat was George Smith. He saw the Hat on his coat rack and knew right away that it was the hat for him. However, as the day wore on, the Hat seemed to get bigger and bigger. Its Belt was loosening itself. It flopped over his left ear as he successfully stepped over a lake-like puddle. It almost covered his eyes and nose when he scored the winning goal for the third time in a row. I thought it'd fall off while he did his victory dance. By the end of the night the Hat had swallowed his whole head and he accidently pushed his date into the same oceanic puddle he'd stepped over that morning. The Hat fell off as he tried to apologize to her, without much success. He went back into the bar alone and left the Hat on the wet pavement.
Rachel Wright wore the Hat on a sunny Sunday in June. She put the Hat on right before she stepped up to the podium to give a speech at her class' baccalaureate. Immediately afterwards she threw the Hat away like she was afraid of it and fled to the bathroom to puke. It took half an hour for Rachel's family and friends to coax her to come out again.
Many have tried to wear the Hat. But no one, not Lizzy Perkins, Eddy "Beef" Calloway, Sammy Crocker, George Smith, Rachel Wright, Joey Dickenson, Mateo Jorges, Philippe Gusto, Maria Romano, Xang Du, or anyone else managed to wear the Hat for very long. There are those who've had the opportunity to wear the Hat, but they passed it by. Sometimes without even meaning to.
Some have worn the Hat and everything turned out pretty good. They say the trick is to not wear it for too long. If you only wear the Hat sometimes, you'll confuse the Belt. That's the Belt's job, to confuse. How poetic to do the same to it!
As it is, the Hat lies unused for now. Most people fear it, but they should be fearing the Belt. They're not very brave for doing so, though.
Some days, you wear the Hat, the one with the green velvet and black leather and numerous belts. And other days you don't. It'll be noticeable either way.
After I finish this I'm going to take this Hat on my desk and throw it into a paper shredder. Its belts flop too much. The green velvet is dirty. The black brim is uneven. It was a rubbish hat, anyway. Good riddance.
**And that's that. Call it the ramblings of a crazed writer…or consider it to be something more. Now I want to hear what you think, since this is a metaphorical piece and everyone has a different viewpoint. What is the Hat? What is the Belt? Have you worn the Hat before? If you have, did you enjoy the experience?**