| I spent something like a month trying to figure out the idiosyncrasies and oddities of this ... this gift, if you will. There were things I still couldn't quite grasp, especially young as I was. For example, I couldn't understand why, once I'd made someone say something, I could never do it to them again. I tried it twice on everyone - on Erin and Steven and Billy and even Mrs. Herschel, but no matter what I tried, it didn't work.
I thought for a while that maybe I'd lost the little ability, that it had stayed with me just long enough to let me have some fun before it abandoned me again. I was disappointed, to be sure, but I didn't dwell; and in the way that children tend to do, I forgot about it eventually. It became a "oh, man, that was a cool couple of days" kind of thing, like the memory of an extra-fun birthday party, but that was all.
It was a couple months later when the gift resurfaced unexpectedly. I was out on the playground, and I'd pulled myself up to sit on top of the monkey bars. I was lounging there, feeling perfectly content with the height, and pretending to be oblivious to the other kids' cries of "Joooooooohnny, let us have a turn, too!"
I didn't notice the playground monitor approaching until she was standing below me, looking up. It was Mr. Benson, one of the sixth-grade teachers, who frightened nearly all the younger kids. For good reason, too: When you're three feet and six inches tall and walking down the hall, a tall, well-built six-foot-three man coming the other way can be slightly intimidating. Needless to say, Mr. Benson could have been a very effective loomer if he'd wanted to be. Still, he was one of the nicest teachers I knew, and he wasn't the looming type.
"Jonathon, get down from there," he called. "Before you fall!"
I didn't really want to. I liked being up above everybody else, balancing on top of the monkey bars instead of swinging beneath them like everybody else did.
Mr. Benson stood there and watched me, waiting expectantly for me to meekly climb down. I remember thinking, 'Aw, come on, I'll be careful!' And then, a split second later, fueled by annoyance, a picture popped into my head of Mr. Benson saying -
"... Never mind, Jonathon. I know you can handle yourself."
... Of course, the picture had been accompanied by Mr. Benson giving me a big smile and then turning and walking away. He did turn and leave, after a moment of bewildered bemusement, but there was no grin. His steps were slow as he walked away, and he cast several glances back at me. I wonder now whether he must have thought he was going crazy.
I spent the rest of that recess as king of the monkey bars, enjoying my perch and the thought that maybe I had my little power back after all. I couldn't help thinking about all the things I might be able to do (many of them involved letting other people talk my way out of school for me), and I was very unhappy when the bell rang to go inside.
But now I was curious too - how come I could use that power on Mr. Benson, but not on Mrs. Hersch? Why couldn't I use it on any of the kids in my class anymore?
That occupied my thoughts for the last three classes of the day (because that was more intriguing than math and science). I didn't come up with an answer right then, but it definitely reignited my curiosity
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