Scrawled in Crayon, Abandoned on a Park Bench
Woe unto the pitiful mortal who created Algebra.
I can transmute matter with but a thought, I can alter the properties of the very elements, I can even happily defy the laws of physics, but I cannot seem to make these miserable x’s and y’s become something equationally cohesive. What’s worse is that I can’t even pretend to buy into the myth that this will once day be important. It might be to all of 1% of this class, but even when I was human I wasn’t part of that percentage. Still, I keep plugging along because frustration and hatred of a class are all normal things for someone my age, and I am desperately trying to hold onto as much normalcy as I can.
My name is Joel and I am twelve years old. If my writing seems a bit intelligent for my age, that could be because I Am a bit intelligent for my age. It’s the reason why my advanced placement class is already looking over algebraic equations despite my youth, though admittedly only the barest bones of the material. Of course, it could also be because a year ago I woke up as an altered being. Most of my kind calls themselves gods, and while it functions as a unifying term I can’t help but feel a bit presumptuous at using it. Altered being works fine for me.
I don’t have to deal with the others very often anyway, since I’ve been charged with the governing of magic, a domain that everyone is convinced went extinct. The truth is it didn’t, but I feel overall it’s better if I’m the only who knows that for now. I’m still new at this I’ll admit, but it seems to me that these misperceptions tend to happen for a reason.
The teacher calls on me to write an answer on the blackboard. I have no idea what it is, but there’s no reason for that to stop me. As I walk up to the board I look through the teacher’s mind. She’s quite a sight, sixty and wrinkly with a slouch already manifesting in her posture. Her hair is nearing full grey a bit more each day, and her face gives me the impression she just bit down on several lemons. She’s a hateful one, and she dislikes me especially because I’m always right. She chose this problem for me specifically so that I wouldn’t be able to answer it. She did a good job, I’ll give her that. I couldn’t solve this thing if she gave me all day. I picked up the chalk and quickly scrawl out the correct formula and answer. I might not know the answer, however she certainly does and plucking things like that from a mind is child’s play. No pun intended.
I return to my seat, savoring for a brief moment the frustration she feels at her impotent attempts to stop me. I know it’s petty for me to engage in this feud, but in my defense she started it. Besides, I am only a child after all. I’ve often speculated if that is why I was chosen to be responsible for my domain. The majority of the others believe the choice is a random occurrence when a preceding “god” exits the world, however I think there is more at work than the fickle workings of fortune. I believe I was chosen because while magic is not gone, it is hidden deeply in the world. Children can still see it because they have the faith enough to look. A child with an advanced intellect would be capable of dealing with such things in a more rational capacity, yet still be youthfully ignorant enough to interact with it. These are the qualities needed to govern the domain of magic, and they just so happen to be the ones that I possess, though admittedly the past year has spurred on my mental advancements beyond their previous pace. I can still see magic though. That’s the trick to it, you only have to see it once to believe, and you only need to believe to keep seeing it.
My first time was about nine months ago. I was finally settling into my new role as a non-human. Oh sure I did all the things you would expect at first. Mountains of ice cream, toys and games enough to overflow a landfill (something which I am ashamed to admit I did), and of course revenge against all of those who had tormented me. I grew tired of it all quickly though. Ice cream simply tastes better where there is an aura of the forbidden to it, toys become cumbersome when you begin categorizing their weight in tons, and when seeking vengeance for petty wrongs it becomes far too easy to turn oneself into a bully. So I was past that new phase and had committed myself to keeping my lifestyle as normal as possible. By this point I had met another “god”, Albert who found me in my dreams, and had explained the basic rules and responsibilities to me. Since my domain seemed to no longer exist, I assumed keeping a normal life would be easier for me than the others, as I would have virtually no responsibilities. If only.
I was walking home on that day, enjoying the freedom that comes from appearing to be utterly defenseless yet knowing with absolute certainty that nothing can harm you, when I felt an odd tug. It wasn’t a physical one; rather it was like my tummy was tugging me in a direction of its own volition. Of course now I know that this was my domain asserting its need for me, however at the time I was fearful my stomach had developed sentience and powers of its own. If you think this is silly, please keep in mind that only three months prior I had woken up with more power than your average super hero and uncovered no plausible explanation.
I followed the tug anyway, and it led me to a back alley tucked between an antiques shop and a Chinese take-out place. Lying there, presumably discarded from the antique shop, were a pair of small pink ballet slippers. Without understanding why, I picked them up and slipped them into my backpack.
I kept expecting something to happen, for the shoes to spring to life or surge with power, but all through the afternoon and night they stayed just as they were: small, pink, and somewhat ugly shoes designed for a dancer. I could feel a strange hum coming from them, like the crackle of power lines if that sound could be somehow tweaked to be relaxing. I realize my descriptive skills are failing in this attempt, but I can no more explain this to you than you could describe the color green to a blind man. All one can do is create a general sense and hope the impression gets through.
I kept the shoes in my backpack the next day at school. The old me would have been petrified someone would find him with girl’s shoes, girl’s dancing shoes at that, but one of the fringe benefits of these powers is that I don’t really to worry about what normal people will or won’t see. I spent the day hoping something would happen, something would tug at me and reveal what I was supposed to do next. It wasn’t until recess that my anticipation paid off. I was standing on the playground, looking a little ridiculous holding my backpack to be truthful, when I felt another tug. This one was from the shoes themselves. I followed the pulling direction, and as I did I could hear the crackling sound getting louder. I traversed all across the grounds, past the kickball court and the monkey bars, all the way to the jungle gym.
Sitting alone inside the half-sphere cage was a girl my age. She was wearing large pink glasses and her thick dirty blonde hair in pigtails. Add in a horrendous pink set of overalls and she was pretty difficult to miss. I’d seen her around the school, but she wasn’t in the advanced placement classes so I’d never gotten to know her. The shoes apparently did though, as they roared with sound when my eyes settled on her. She looked sad in a resigned sort of way. Given that she was all by herself during recess it wasn’t hard to figure out why. Of course in fairness the same could have been said for me, but at least I had an excuse. Being a whole different species from those around me made relations a bit strained on my end.
Contrary to what the shoes clearly wanted, I wandered away from the sad girl in the jungle gym and joined in a game of kickball. Visually I ignored her while tracking her with my other senses. The whole rest of my day was spent watching her through the walls and keeping tabs on her activities. When school let out I dashed into the bathroom, closed a grey stall door and slipped myself out of the spectrum of visible light. With no one able to see me, I quickly passed through the walls of the school and began following my apparent charge.
She was walking home, dragging her feet in the process, eyes kept steadily on the ground. It was no wonder I didn’t know her name, this girl had all the confidence and outgoingness of a garden slug. With time to kill on the walk, I rifled through her head. Her name was Tiffany and she lived five minutes away from the school. She was an only child and both her parents worked most of the time. Her mother was constantly worried about her child’s lack of social skills so she was frequently subjected to the newest in self-help techniques and being forced into sociable activities. She was absolutely terrified of that night because she had to be in a recital with the dance troupe her mother had made her join. Ah, well that seemed to explain the shoes at least. My only dilemma was how to get them to her. I could leave them on her doorstep, but there was always the chance she would think they were from a parent and reject them out of spite. I could become visible and give them to her, but I somehow didn’t think a boy she might only barely recognize giving her some slippers would go over to well. That would be assuming she even could bring herself to talk to me when I appeared, which given her shyness was a bit of a stretch.
I decided on a method that needed no explanation, because it was too bizarre to require one. I flew up about thirty feet above her, pulled out the shoes and let them drop. They reappeared as soon as they left my grip and landed inches in front of her, the wind of their descent ruffling the front of her bad haircut. She jumped when they struck, then craned her neck around so furiously I was afraid I’d wind up having to heal a pinched nerve on her before she gave up. She couldn’t see me or anyone else around to account for their appearance though, so she bent over and carefully picked them up.
As soon as her hands closed around my former pink burdens, it was evident she could feel the same hum in them that I could. I don’t know if she felt it in the same way, but it was clear she knew there was something special about these shoes. She darted her eyes around one last time then bolted for home. I noted with a dash of pride that her she definitely not moving with the same sullen gait she had used previously.
I slipped into her recital that night, eager to see what a pair of magical ballet shoes could do for a girl like Tiffany. I learned two very important lessons that night. One was that magic doesn’t always work in the way you expect it will, and two was that doesn’t mean it won’t make for an enjoyable show. The stage was set in a lush cardboard and crepe paper forest. The cast consisted of a variety of wild animals, though I can’t say they were striving for geographic accuracy. At least not unless penguins have become deep tropic animals. Tiffany was dressed as what I believed was a koala, but her pink slippers were unmistakable on her untrained feet. I thought she was sure to wow us all.
After watching Tiffany slip, trip, and fall her way through the first half of the show, my new thought was that the only thing more mortifying for her than her stumbles must have been her mother in the front row chattering on a cell phone amidst the glares from the other parents. Apparently she had some pressing business regarding a court case, but since every book she read had advised her to support her insecure daughter’s forced activities there was no way she could take the call outside. I knew this not from looking into her mind; rather it was from the several belligerent explanations she loudly thrust at the poor attendees who asked her to keep it down.
The show took a delightful turn in the final hour though, when another girl was startled by the ringer from Tiffany’s mother’s phone and fell to the floor. I suppose that must have been the last straw. Tiffany’s retaliation for her mother’s noise terrorism was marching to the center of the stage, peeling off one of her magic slippers, curling back her tiny arm and letting fly. The shoe moved like a pink missile and deposited itself directly in her mother’s open mouth, silencing the woman for virtually the first time all evening.
Tiffany the koala received a standing ovation.
I slid out at that point, but I still kept watch on her over the next few months. She’s grown up a lot in that time. She plays with the other kids now, changed out her huge pink frames for ones that fit her face, and most importantly she gained some confidence in herself after that recital. I’d assumed she needed those shoes to make her feel beautiful for a night. It turned out all she really needed was a chance to make her mother shut the hell up. That’s the thing about my domain. I get all the same instincts and tugs as the others, but I can never really predict the outcome my actions will have.
Truth be told, I think I prefer it that way. It’s a bit more exciting to not know how things will work out. I mean, I won’t be twelve forever, I might as well blame as much as I can on the foolishness of youth. On that note, I think today my tormenting teacher will find one of her tires has been replaced with bread dough. Oh she’ll suspect me off the bat I’m sure, things like this always happen when she tries to pick on me. She’ll never be able to prove anything though. After all, I’m just a normal twelve year boy.