Freeze the frame here: black, chaotic hair falling over a sweaty forehead and wild eyes; mouth open wide; the J.R.R. Tolkien symbol at the end of a necklace that swings free of his shirt; and veins prominent in his neck—that’s my best friend, Donald.
Ben shrieks and jumps back, losing his balance. He manages to bring up his stick to block the blow. A sharp crack! echoes among the forest.
Donald’s advancing feet kick up dry leaves and he darts to the side of Ben, who trips over a tree root while turning. His eating habits have prepared him for such moments, however, and I was sure he barely felt the fall, insulated as he is.
Another shriek escapes him as Donald’s stick smacks his thigh as he rolls to his feet.
“Ah ha!” Donald says. I imagine Triumph nearly popping over his head in bubble letters. “And where are your loyal friends now, sir Fudgecakes? Hmmm; tell me, do you wish to apologize for your jeering at the court earlier, or suffer the consequences?” He raises his stick over his head with both hands, and I imagine the ideal piece of music that would play if this were a scene in a movie.
Ben pulls his shirt down over his exposed belly. His other arm is shaking while he holds his stick up to block the anticipated blow.
I hear a whistling. Something sails over my head and crashes into Donald’s stomach. Dirt explodes against his midsection and he nearly drops his stick as he stumbles back.
“Laura!” Ben gets to his feet. “I mean, Lady Emerald. Such a pleasure to behold—”
She whacks him on the head as she bounds past, and brings her stick down on Donald.
He parries the blow, his other hand to his stomach. They circle each other, tense and ready to leap.
“Ahh, Lady Emerald. So nice of you to join us.”
I cup my hands over my mouth: “Cliché!”
Donald gives me a quick smile.
Lady Emerald lunges and the real dueling begins. Smack, crackle, pop, ouch, rrrr, snarls, feet shuffling, arms flying, more grunts, a few expletives.
Ben is off to the side. He regards the stick he’s holding and then the duel. He shakes his head and joins me on the log.
“You’d think they were reincarnated, huh?”
“They do make a stick more dangerous than I’d imagine,” I say.
“Not just any—”
“Yeah, yeah, I know; not just any stick, Ben. ‘A premium slab of royal oak, hand carved in Colorado and fashioned by one worthy of a King’s loyalty.’”
“These things aren’t cheap, man.”
“I know; that’s why I haven’t bought one.”
“You really should, though; it’s a ton of fun.”
I watch Laura and Donald battle. They’re swinging those damn slabs of royal oak like crazies on a mission, and their faces are those of wolves. I’m sure they have hackles at this moment that are standing up and if I were to intervene they would knock my head off because, like two canines fighting, they wouldn’t recognize me as anything but a threat for those first few seconds.
“No man, I don’t think I’m reincarnated enough.”
Laura strikes Donald’s shoulder, then takes out his legs with a sweeping kick she’s practiced a million times. She places a foot on his chest and holds her stick to his throat, her chin tilted up, smiling.
Donald’s head falls back. “I yield.”
“That’s my boy!” She helps him up and plants a loud kiss on his lips.
Oh yeah, they’re lovers. Can’t you tell? Well, boyfriend and girlfriend. No one’s really a lover in this sense as a freshman.
Donald wipes his tunic (he bought it special online; cost more than my Xbox). “A dirt clod, Laura? Not cool.”
“Better than the rocks like last time,” Ben says.
“Dirt? It was no such thing, silly. You must have had too much mead last night. Twas a ball of lead I heated and formed all by me self. This is the Dark Ages, dear. Dirt is a commodity we do not have, much less in clods.”
In the cafeteria the next day we are talking superheroes. Well, Donald, Laura, and Ben are talking; I contribute a comment here and there.
“Superman, dude; best ever.”
Donald waves away Ben’s remark with a fork that sticks a chicken nugget. “No way. Superman doesn’t count. To be technical, he’s an alien, and therefore not a superhero.”
“And his comb-over sucks,” Laura says.
“So who’s the best, then, huh?”
“Batman, of course.” Donald plucks the nugget from the fork.
“How so?” Ben asks. “He doesn’t even have a super power. No super smell, or super flight abilities, or an innate super chick magnet or anything—he runs around with Robin, for effs sake.”
Donald points to his temple. “He has ingenuity, which he uses to make the most of his wealth in the world of crime fighting. And he’s a NINJA—capitalized—and he’ll whup your ass, and he took Robin under his wing because that’s what superheroes do. That’s philanthropy times two, plus ninjaness. Can’t beat that, my friend.”
I’ve known Donald since our first year of little league, when girls still had cooties and dirt was a toy. He’s always had a vivid imagination, and that childish aspect in him has yet to dim, at all. He thinks Hara-kiri is the coolest way to die. You know, the whole fall-on-ones-sword-so-as-to-avoid-surrender that Japanese Samurai used to do.
After school we head over to Ben’s house because he has the rich parents and therefore the biggest room for four teenagers to lounge in.
“Hey hey hey, careful on the beanbag!”
I always plop my bottom right into it from a few feet away. He’s afraid it’ll pop. I’m still trying to make it happen.
Ben and Donald get the Magic cards out and start shuffling. Laura pulls her laptop from her shoulder bag and soon the keys are clacking away. I face the forty-eight inch flat screen mounted on Ben’s wall and connect to Xbox live for some Call of Duty action.
It’s been five hours and I hear Ben’s mom hollering about dinner. I’m up and going; I love food. Ben is up and going; he loves food more. Donald gets up and Laura asks him to bring her a plate. It’s corndogs and fries every Friday, anyway, so there’s no surprise and we appreciate the comfort.
“Bros and”—Donald looks at Laura—“broset, I have something wicked to show you.” We’ve just finished our meal around the games we’ve been playing or the friends we’ve been Facebooking, or the kill streaks we’ve been achieving, so there is a bit of a lull when our stomachs want to stretch out.
“What’ve you got for us, sir?” I say.
“Think David Blaine and Criss Angel, but Donald, and real.”
“You’re not gonna walk on water, are you? ‘cause then I won’t feel worthy of your company,” I say.
“Huh-uh; not there yet.”
This is the funny thing about Donald. He has a great, off-base sense of humor, but when he’s serious about something, like really involved in something, he becomes so literal that any form of sarcasm or jest is over his head. I watch as he gets up from the card table with this look of pure, focused purpose.
He stands before us; Laura sets her laptop aside. It’s a funny scene: Laura sits cross legged on Ben’s bed; Ben is at the foot of his bed leaning against it; and I am in the bean bag on the side of his bed. Our faces are all looking at our friend Donald with a childish expectation, and we are quiet for once.
He takes a breath. “All right.” From his pocket he pulls out a quarter. He holds it between thumb and forefinger for us all to see. He tosses it to Ben and asks that it be passed around so we can all prove its validity.
I flick it back and he catches it with both hands, like a baseball player ensuring the pop fly won’t bounce from his glove. He holds it eye level, then bites the thing. Nods.
Laura is smiling sweetly, waiting for her boyfriend. I know she likes . . . loves . . . him because of how quirky he is, how secure he is with his dorkdom. It is the same reason he is my best friend, aside from us getting along so well and having spent years together. He is so secure with himself that he truly doesn’t care what others think as long as he is comfortable, and being around that type of person is relaxing.
Ben has an eyebrow cocked. “Are you gonna make love to it, right here? ‘cause I don’t think David or Criss ever did that to a quarter. At least not on television.”
“Shhhh, shut up, and watch. Trust me, this is epic.” Ben does shut up, and I think it was just because Donald is seldom this intent on something.
Donald pulls back his sleeves, places the quarter in the palm of his right hand, then closes his eyes and waves his left hand over his right. He does this two more times and opens his eyes. He shows us empty palms. He has a shit-eating grin across his face.
“B. S. That is bull, I say.” Ben stands up. He walks around Donald, looking at the ground. “Move your feet, man.” Donald shifts over. “Where is it?”
“Yeah, yeah, I get it, man. But where is it? How did you do that?”
“It’s gone, Ben, like really gone.”
“Dude, bullshit aside”—he’s lifting Donald’s arms and looking in his hair—“how’d you do that?”
“I don’t really know, but it’s gone. Like not here anymore. Get it? Do you guys get it?” He looks at me. “Do you? You saw it, right?”
“Do it in your boxers,” Laura says.
Ben turns on her. “Laura, what the eff? Ya’ll can do that later.”
“No, you dolt; if he’s in his boxers he can’t somehow slip the quarter anywhere, and maybe you’ll believe what you’re seeing.”
“Believe—what the hell are you talking about, Laura? We’re not at church. Magic’s not really real; we know this. Don’t get me wrong; I love playing the role. I just want to know how he did it. I could impress some people with that.”
I look at Laura, and she looks back knowingly. I get a tingle on my neck and glance at Donald. He’s stripping. I begin to wonder what I don’t know.
“Ben, sit down.” Laura pats his bed.
Ben acquiesces and Donald faces us again, but just in his batman boxers.
He holds up another quarter for us to see.
“Hey, wait a minute,” Ben says. “Where’d that one come from?”
“I made it come back.”
“Huh-uh; not getting off that easy mister.” Ben holds up an eraser. “Can you do one of these?”
Donald looks at Laura; she shrugs.
“I can try.”
With eraser in hand, Donald shifts his weight a few times and then shakes his legs, arms, and neck to loosen up. It makes me think we’re about to play football.
“Okay, okay. Okay, here we go.” He swallows and eyes the eraser as it sits in his palm. “Okay.”
Ben has scooched his way to the head of his bed with Laura. He puts binoculars up to his eyes.
“Oh my,” Laura says.
“All right,” Ben says. “Whenever you’re ready.”
I love my friends.
Donald is nodding his head ever so slightly to a tune we cannot hear. He waves his hand over the eraser once, but keeps his eyes open. He waves it over a second time.
I glance at Ben and he’s leaning forward even though he has a pair of fucking binoculars; his toes are wiggling. Laura is smiling like a proud mother.
I watch Donald wave his hand one last time. And then he raises his hands in the midst of that invisible filch and shows us empty palms, once again.
“No. Effing. Way.” Ben scrambles off the bed. “You have to do it again. Donald, you have to do it again. Blinked at the last moment, man; I couldn’t keep my eyes open.”
We are all standing around Donald, and as I see the urgency in Ben’s eyes, I begin laughing. It is so hilarious to me, and I can’t stop. I am laughing and laughing and laughing, so much so that I double over and fall to one knee. Then I start coughing. There are tears in my eyes.
Ben looks aghast. “Dude, how are you laughing right now? This is crazy.”
What better way to describe something indescribable than with the word crazy? I laugh some more as Ben tells me to get a hold of myself.
Donald helps me into a chair at the card table. I cough a bit more, then am done, it seems. “You all right, man?”
I wipe my eyes. “Yeah I’m all right.”
He is holding my shoulders. “You don’t believe it, do you?”
“It was no less than the epic you described.”
He stares at me a moment more, as if he has something else to say. But he doesn’t say anything. And still, that tingle remains.
It’s next Friday and Donald is not with us. He has been acting strange this last week. He skipped school today and when I called him (he doesn’t believe in texting) he said he was sick and would see us Monday.
Ben is playing a video game and I’m researching magicians on the Internet. “Hey, Laura?” I say.
“Have you talked to Donald today?”
“He said he was sick.” She doesn’t look at me when she says this, but stares at her laptop screen. She appears antsy, and has been real aloof all day, like her mind is on vacation.
“That’s what he told me, too.”
This whole week Donald has seemed distant. He’s carried a deck of cards with him everywhere he’s gone, also. The magic trick business has come suddenly. I hadn’t heard anything from him about it before last Friday, but Laura knew something. Ping pong balls, scarves, coins, cards—he’s made them disappear and reappear all week. And there’s been this gleam in his eye; different from that casual happy gleam. Something deeper.
I wonder again what I don’t know.
We leave Ben’s house around nine and I bike with Laura to her house, which is a few blocks away. I say goodnight and head over to Donald’s, which is a good half hour away.
His mom greets me. “Hey there, young man! Quite the science project ya’ll must be having for my Donald to skip on the Friday get together, huh? He’s up in his room. How’re your momma’s chickens?”
“Fine, fine . . . eggs every day.” I edge by and head up stairs.
His door is closed and I try the knob. It’s locked. I knock.
“Yello?” I hear something drop inside.
I don’t respond.
“Mom? Mom, I said I really had to concentrate on this”—the door opens—“science pro . . . ject.”
I brush past him and sit on his bed. “Science project? I must have missed that today, Donald. What’s this project about? I didn’t see you in Decker’s class.”
“Look man, this is crazy—”
“And you don’t look too sick.”
“—and I’ve got to be real careful right now.”
“Careful—what are you talking about? What does Laura know that I don’t? Why aren’t you talking to me?”
Donald looks at me real serious like. “You didn’t believe; you saw it and you didn’t believe. I have to know you believe or you might say the wrong thing to the wrong person on accident and things could get out of hand.”
“Donald, you’re not making sense. What didn’t I believe?”
“The coin. The eraser. I made them disappear. You saw it.” There is earnestness in his eyes, like some preacher wanting me to repent my sins and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior before it is too late.
“Okay; hold on. Slow this down. I saw them disappear, yeah, but magicians everywhere have done that or are doing that. Great sleight of hand. It wasn’t anything new, and I know you’re clever enough to emulate that, so . . . so what? It’s like Ben said, it’s not really real. I mean, you’re joking with me, right, that you believe this?”
He moves to his computer desk; picks up a baseball; stands before me; hand out; baseball in hand; waves his hand over it; throws it toward his window.
It vanishes before reaching the glass.
He waves his hand before me. My heart stutters as I ponder in that second what he’s doing to me. My ass is no longer supported and I hit the ground. I hop up and back away, staring where the bed just was. He waves his hand again and it returns.
“You see? I can make stuff disappear, man. Like for real. I don’t get it, either, but I can make it happen.”
I’m pressing a hand against my heart because the bloody thing won’t stop beating so fast. I’m light headed. Donald guides me back to the bed. I run my fingers over the covers as though I’ve taken an ecstasy pill. “This is something else, man.” I’m breathing like crazy and try to take some slow breaths to calm down. I’m staring at my friend and he is smiling so stupidly right now.
“How . . . how long have . . . have . . . ” I can’t quite speak.
He tells me what happened: He is Skyping with Laura one night. He has a picture of her on his desk. She is five in the picture, and has a look of disgust on her face as her mother’s Pomeranian humps her leg. Her mother couldn’t resist, and now that Donald has gotten a hold of the photo, Laura’s life is in his hands.
“Just make it go away, would you? That is the most unattractive face I’ve ever made.” Laura’s lower lip pushes out just a little as she pleads.
“But I can’t—gosh, just look at that. It’s priceless! You can never be mean to me, ever!”
“Donald, you are such a juvenile.”
“Duh, Ms. Green eyes.”
She is looking at him from her computer screen. Those beautiful green eyes are staring at his mischievous, brown ones. It is a patient look she is giving him. That look females can give that men instinctively know not to mess with.
“Oh all right,” he says, but there is nothing on his desk to grab after his hand passes over the picture to do so.
Laura leans up on her arms. “I want to see you burn it over your garbage can.”
Donald is surveying his desk; lifts up a textbook; nothing. He pushes back and there is nothing on the floor surrounding him.
“What are you doing?”
“Looking for your picture. It was just here,” he says and pats his desk. “Wow.”
He pats his desk again and lifts his hand. “Oh. My. God.” He adjusts his webcam so that Laura can see his hand and the desk. “Laura, if you see what I’m seeing, we’re either both crazy, or something crazy is happening.” He pats the desk and her picture is gone; pats it again and it returns.
“Very cute, sir. Would you quite palming it and get to burning it already?”
“Palming—Laura, no; watch. You’re picture is here, sitting on my desk.”
He waves his hand over it. The spot is bare. He waves his hand again and little Laura, the amorous desire of her mother’s dog, is back again.
She stares at her picture from her computer screen. “Do it again.”
He does it thrice more, increasing the distance of his hand from the picture each time.
“I’ll be over in a sec!” she says.
After Donald finishes relaying this to me, I feel like I’m part of a story, as though this house, my friend, the baseball—the entire last week of my life—is just some creative conception of an ambitious writer. That tingle is resonating in my neck again. I ponder whether this is a hint to my being self-aware of my situation as just a character of another man’s mind. That thought sounds paranoid, melodramatic, and yet, I feel unreal and part of a dream. I reach over my head and arms, looking up, sure that the acknowledgement of my fictional condition will reveal the strings that manipulate my actions.
There are no strings, however.
“Dude!” Donald grabs my arms and holds them, still. “Be careful with all that waving, man, especially if you’re envisioning it happening. Good thing it doesn’t look like you have the knack.”
“Well, I feel “power” or “ability” sounds too super humany; pretentious almost. So I call it the “knack,” like, I’ve somehow unlocked a deeper potential that humans—or some of us—carry inside us. You know?—like telekinesis and crazy stuff like that.”
“I know what you’re saying; we’ve talked about this.” I still feel a bit dazed by everything and probably appear high. “You said ‘envisioning’?”
“Right!” Donald grabs his computer chair and sits himself next to the bed so we’re knee to knee. “I’ve been doing a lot of testing this last week; what I can do; what I can’t do. The wave is not the reason why I can make stuff disappear and reappear; it’s simply the front so my conscious mind can accept what is occurring.”
He is gesticulating, trying to form the image in his mind to better explain it verbally.
“Okay—it’s like, I’ve seen magicians do the “wave thing” enough times growing up that it is embedded in my mind as an associated part of magic. Get it? So, my subconscious knows this and the motion is simply the spark for the catalyst, which was really the intent in my mind. Laura told me to get rid of the picture, and my mind must have been processing that request, and so to make something so far out happen, for me to believe it could, my conscious mind needed that familiar image—the wave—that correlated with such a happening.”
I look at his bedroom window, and picture how the baseball should’ve shattered it, how glass should litter the floor right now. How his mother should have walked in to find us laughing for no apparent reason, because this was where we were, what we were doing. Look at us. Talking about imbedded human abilities and magic being real— but we’re seriously serious right now. There is no recognition that we speak of imagined things in the form of what if . . .?
“But,” Donald says, raising one finger. “I’ve realized the need for the physical action in preceding the intent, and therefore don’t need it anymore.” He pushes back in the chair. One big sloppy grin.
I’ve always been the more rational, logical, I-know-I-will-have-to-get-a-job-in-a-few-years-and-can’t-afford-to-play-video-games-until-I-die one of our group, so I had questions. How did this happen, and why now?
“Puberty, bro. Think about it, besides being a baby, puberty is basically the time when the body undergoes the greatest changes—chemically, emotionally, physically. Something got knocked loose from the primal area of my brain, and the knack was let out.”
Donald wears a t-shirt with Marvel characters on the front and his J.R.R. Tolkien necklace hangs over it. The walls of his room are completely covered (no exaggeration—there is no bare, white wall to be seen) with pictures and posters and magazine cuts outs of his favorite video game characters, bands, artist portraits, book covers. He has Magic cards thumbtacked to his walls; a poster of Bruce Lee, Mount Doom, and characters from Fullmetal Alchemist; there is an old Spawn figurine atop his TV; a printout of a samurai hangs over his bed.
I thought it made sense, as much as my dazed mind could reason at the moment. And to whom better than Donald, who could believe so easily and give himself so fully?
He nods his head, noticing my acceptance. “The world is different now.”
“So what are you gonna do?”
“Not sure. I’d prefer anonymity; that’s why I’ve just shown the three of you. It’s got me thinking that there has to be others out there. Maybe I’ll start hearing their thoughts. Who knows?”
I’m wearing his same grin, and then I laugh, but not hysterical as before. Just a laugh when you can’t do much else but that.
“This is something else,” I say. “This changes everything, how we look at things and think of them. We’re fourteen, Donald. We’re still young.” I look square at my friend. “What’s the coolest thing you’ve made disappear?”
Donald smiles, like he knew I’d ask.
Sixteen years old now. Donald and Laura are lovers in the true sense of the word, and sometimes I wish I could disappear and reappear them to a room, what with all their kissing.
Everything has gone smooth. Including Donald, it is still just the three of us that know of his knack. He is careful not to use the knack in public, but he practices all the time when we’re in the forest or alone.
After baseball practice I head to his house and find him meditating; the whole shebang—full lotus with his thumbs and forefingers forming circles in each hand. He’s just missing a matt to sit on. He opens one eye. “Bro.”
“What are you doing, kind sir?”
“Meditation will help me become more in tune with my mind and subconscious, and therefore more aware and control of my thoughts.”
“You’re not going all hippie on me, are you?” I say as a joke.
“Not at all man, but the mind is where my knack is.”
I look to Laura, who sits on his bed with her ever-present laptop where it was meant to be. She just smiles.
“I’ve been thinking,” I say and pull out a piece of paper from my pocket. “You know what you need, Donald? Well, not that you need it, but trust me, you need it.”
I ball up the paper and toss it at his meditative head.
“So not cool.” He hops up and flattens the paper. “Wicked right, bro. You are so right.”
Laura lifts her head up and Donald shows her the paper.
The two of us have woodshop together and that is what gave me the idea. The passion with which he crafts it is unreal. Auto fabrication techs restoring their dream car probably couldn’t muster as much zeal as my best friend. The care and love he infuses in making this is humbling. He spent hours researching the best wood for the piece, and what would adorn, imbed, and grace it.
I take a few pictures of him at work, and I know a bunch of naked playboy girls could walk around him, probably even slap his bottom, and he wouldn’t notice.
Friday night. It’s finished and he’s brought it to Ben’s house. We stare at it for a minute and there is silence. People would think we bowed our heads for a dead loved one, but no. We are very much awed of something alive.
“It’s beautiful,” Laura says.
“It is beautiful,” echoes Ben, which is a little funny from him as he’s now 6’ 4” and is the highest-rated tackle in the state.
I step back and tell everyone to get close. I have my camera and I place it on a tripod and get the timer set. I squeeze in with the best friends I’ll ever know. Donald picks up the wand and our shit-eating grins become immortalized forever.
Donald travels the world, and takes us with him. We don’t know where we’re going to go until that morning; we vote on a place to start, and then as in Harry Potter, we Apparate. Well, we disappear and reappear, but it’s about the same. It’s a trip, let me tell you; like being in a dream those few seconds we are in the void.
But two people have almost died, and we know this is no game. Donald’s meditation has led him to attempt bolder things of the knack. He loves traveling the world, but there is more out there, and in here, and anywhere, and he is determined to explore it.
“I’ve found a few new dimensions, guys,” he tells us.
The first time he disappears into the void and allows himself to zip around a while is the time he almost dies. One feels more like an essence than anything else in the void and is free to move as slowly or as quickly as is preferred. He is aimless and has been thinking about the prospect of other dimensions for some time, just as with other planets conducive to sustaining human life, and he allows his mind to find such places if they exist. The dimension he approaches feels a touch bitter, but he appears there nonetheless, excited as he is.
“And darned if I didn’t almost spew my innards out,” he says. “I’m positive that as I was falling I was dying and if I hadn’t disappeared, I would have been dead when I hit the ground.”
Laura has tears sliding over her cheeks, and it is the tenth time or so that he’s told her. It is the first time for Ben and me, but she made him tell her over and over again. Then she slapped him.
The bitter feeling in the void was a warning from his mind, a survival response in the way that one’s stomach will vomit up something ingested that is poisonous to the body. But at least he now knows.
“An alien dimension?” Ben says. “Did you see anything?”
“Uh-uh. It was too fast. I have found a few that are safe; I mean, I’m sure there’s threats there as on Earth, but the atmosphere will sustain us. I’ve seen a bit on these places. Honestly, though the first dimension that wouldn’t kill me scared the heck out of me.”
“Why?” I say.
“Because it seemed so normal. I went from the void into what looked like the inside of a house. I saw the front yard through a window and the kitchen was behind me. I think I heard people talking. It was all unreal, almost, but so familiar that I was too nervous to explore.”
“Are you sure that wasn’t Earth,” Laura says.
He nods. “I can feel the difference. I mean maybe it was Earth, but it wasn’t our Earth, as we know it.”
“When are we going?” Ben says, moving from his bed. He claps his hands. “Guys, this is righteous—another dimension?”
“We’ve got to be careful,” I say, looking at Laura, but talking to all. “This is new territory; we don’t know what’s out there at all. We need precautions, and maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea if all of us went at the same time to an unfamiliar place. With Donald being the only one with the knack, it could get dangerous, him being our only means of escape.”
“You’re right.” Ben sat back down, then stands back up. “Need some music,” he says.
Laura giggles. “I think it would be best if someone were always with Donald”—she glares at him—“but we need to be real careful in exploring these dimensions and worlds and whatever they are. They’re alien to us, and also, what if others are in the void?”
Our silence proved the rest of us had overlooked this.
“A good point,” I say. “With all the dimensions and worlds there must be we have to assume others have the knack. We don’t, however know the specifics of travel in the void; if others are always unaware of us or whether they can share our bubble or what.”
“This has gotten deep,” Ben says.
“But I have a wand!” And Donald pulls it from the sheath he made and points it to the ceiling.
“Bravo.” I clap. Soon we are all laughing because we are travelers, and nothing in the world is ever going to be as we once thought, and this is exciting beyond all danger that we may encounter.
“Movie, anyone?” Donald says.
With a flick of his wand we find ourselves in the men’s bathroom of the movie theater.
“Why always the bathroom?” Laura says. “And the men’s at that? We could do this behind the theater.”
“Who’s driving here?” Donald says with a smirk.
“Better than the women’s bathroom,” I say. “Good luck trying to hide Ben if we walked out that door.”
“Touché.” Laura pulls the hood up on her sweater as we walk out.
The second person to almost die is a stranger to us all.
After the movie we walk across the street to grab some ice cream. I notice the truck and its speed; it’s probably doing ten over the limit. Then of course I look farther along the road because it is twilight and I feel compelled to. I see a girl jaywalking as we just did, her head down, bobbing to music I can’t hear. She and the driver of the truck seem unaware of each other.
I’m scared to yell because I fear she’ll stop in the street. I look back and my friends haven’t noticed I’ve stopped ten feet behind them. I have no time. I look back at the girl. “Donald!” I yell with my hand outstretched toward her, my mind locked on the inevitable death.
And then she is right in front of me. The truck continues on without a notion of what might have happened. She looks confused as she looks around, then back at the street she was just crossing. The piece of gum she was chewing falls from her mouth, and she scoots on, looking embarrassed.
“Holy shit, bro!” And then dropping his voice to a loud whisper because there could be people around, Ben says. “Bro, you have the knack!” He slaps me on the back and bear hugs me.
Laura kisses my check and tells me I did good.
I smile at this and my friends, loving the character of each. As Donald said, the world is different now, and we may know more than we did, but we still know less than ever before. And I wonder again if we are not just a story being written by some passionate beginner, with our tale so vivid in his mind. That shit-eating grin is back on my face, because even if this is true, we would be the types of characters that tell the author the story.
Donald stands beside me, facing the street. He places a hand on my shoulder.
“Time to make your wand.”