Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac
Sean ran down the path cursing his choice of flip-flops. They weren’t exactly the best footwear for running around in the woods. He looked down at his feet thinking that he was going to have to start waiting a little longer after waking before leaving the house. He reached the location where the altercation had taken place that morning and looked around. He said, “Now I find out if it was a dream or not.”
The three dwarves stepped out of the woods. Surprised that they were actually there, he said, “You’re here.”
“I know. So are you,” Chom said. He leaned over to Pip and asked, “What kind of a greeting was that?”
“I don’t know,” Pip answered.
“Given that he doesn’t even know how to give a proper hello I’d have to say that he’s not too bright,” Chom said.
“I tend to agree,” Pip said. He sniffed the air and said, “At least he brought silver.”
Sean held out the sock and said, “This is all of the silver that I was able to gather in time to be here at noon.”
“Idiot doesn’t know about daylight savings time,” Chom said.
“Give him a break. Noon is noon according to whatever clock people are using,” Clea said.
“Are you sure?” Chom asked looking over at Clea.
“There’s no rule about it, so we can just accept the local time,” Clea said.
Not quite sure that he believed that, Pip asked, “There isn’t a rule?”
Surprised, Chom said, “There should be.”
“Can you come up with two other rules about time?” Clea asked.
Chom and Pip looked at each other with blank expressions on their faces and shrugged their shoulders. Finally, Pip answered, “No, but it just seems to me that noon is a time of day and not a time on the clock.”
“These humans with their mechanical clocks and daylight savings time really know how to bugger things up,” Chom said disgusted.
“What has daylight savings time got to do with anything?” Sean asked confused by the discussion.
“It is only eleven by our time,” Chom said.
“Oh,” Sean said thinking that no one had mentioned anything about daylight savings time to him. He asked, “So are we supposed to wait around for an hour?”
“No. It is close enough,” Clea said. She looked over at Pip and added, “Pip isn’t looking too good.”
“I guess the sooner the deal is made, the better,” Chom said realizing that Pip was still on the verge of fading away.
Pip poured the coins out the sock and picked through them. Looking up at Sean, he said, “Most of these don’t have any silver in them.”
“They are dimes and quarters. Everyone knows they are made of silver,” Sean said confused.
“Told you he was an idiot,” Chom said.
Pip said, “Everyone knows that they stopped making dimes and quarters out of silver forty years ago.”
“They did?” Sean asked. He scratched his head trying to remember if he had known that. Fortunately for him, he hadn’t even looked at the dates on the cardboard coin holders when he had grabbed them. If he had, he wouldn’t have brought any of the older coins with him.
Nodding his head in the affirmative, Pip picked through the coins to gather the ones with silver. There were a few of the older coins. Once Pip was satisfied that he had all of the silver, he squeezed his hand into a fist. A small trickle of copper ran out between his fingers and dropped onto the ground. He opened his hand and looked at the small bit of pure silver there. Shaking his head, he said, “There’s not much silver here.”
Clea asked, “Is there enough?”
“Yes,” Pip answered. He looked around for a small stone. He found one and picked it up. He held the stone in one hand and the lump of silver in the other. He made as if he was a scale comparing the weight of the stone against the lump of silver.
Sean asked, “What are you doing?”
“Making sure it is a fair trade,” Pip said. He quickly rubbed a thumb across the stone and dust floated off from between his thumb and the stone. He stopped and juggled the two hands. He said, “That ought to do it.”
“You’re sure,” Chom asked.
Holding out the rock to Sean, Pip answered, “I’m sure.”
“You’re giving me a rock in exchange for the silver?” Sean asked.
“No, you idiot,” Pip said. He dropped the rock in Sean’s hand and said, “This weighs the same as the amount of silver you gave me.”
“That’s not much,” Sean said. It was just over two ounces since the silver had come from seven quarters and ten dimes.
“No kidding,” Pip said, but the rules were the rules and they had to abide by them.
Clea said, “Give him a break. He’s a kid. Where is he supposed to get a bunch of silver from?”
“Good point,” Chom said.
“What am I supposed to do with this rock?” Sean asked looking at the stone. It was really more of a pebble than a rock.
Pip said, “Now throw the rock as far as you can down the path.”
“You just gave this to me and you already want me to throw it away,” Sean said looking at Pip while thinking it was kind of a stupid thing to do.
“That’s right,” Clea said, “Throw it as far as you can.”
Sean leaned back and threw the stone as far as he could. He asked, “How’s that?”
Chom made a big production out of estimating the distance the rock had gone. After a long low hum, he said, “Not bad for a girl.”
“I agree, that was pretty good for a girl,” Pip said enthusiastically.
“I’m not a girl,” Sean said and then realized that he had just been insulted.
Chom and Pip chuckled while Clea rolled her eyes. Chom said, “That’s the point.”
“I’m glad you’re amused,” Sean said wondering when he was going to get that magic gift they were talking about.
“Let’s pace the distance to where it landed,” Pip said.
Sean counted out the steps as he walked to the stone. Upon reaching it, he announced, “Forty three steps.”
“Not bad,” Clea said. Too much more weight and he wouldn’t have been able to throw it that far. Less weight and it probably wouldn’t have gone that far.
Pip picked up the rock and handed it to Sean. When it touched his palm, it felt like a bolt of electricity shot up his arm. Surprised, Sean asked, “What was that?”
Pip answered, “That was the gift of magic. You can now command any object that weighs up to the weight of that stone from any distance within forty three steps of where you are standing at the time.”
“Huh?” Sean asked.
Clea said, “Tell the rock to float.”
Sean looked at the three dwarves and, feeling a little foolish, looked back at the rock. He said, “Float.”
The rock lifted out of his hand and drifted on the breeze. Staring at the rock, he said, “That’s amazing.”
“That’s magic,” Chom said. He looked over at Pip and noticed that he was already looking a lot more substantial. He asked, “How are you feeling?”
“I feel a whole lot better,” Pip said. At least one person believed in magic and that was enough to keep him from fading.
Sean grabbed the rock from where it was floating in mid-air. He asked, “What else can I do?”
“That’s it,” Pip answered.
“I can only make this rock float?”
Chom looked disgusted. He said, “I swear that humans are getting dumber every generation. Ten thousand years ago, they might not have had very good vocabularies, but they were a lot smarter. They only had to be showed once how to use a stick as a weapon.”
“I’m smarter than a caveman.”
“That’s what you think,” Chom said nudging Pip in the side with an elbow.
Pip said, “I told you. You can command any object that weighs up to the weight of that stone from a distance within forty three paces of where you are standing.”
Sean frowned and looked around. He pointed to a leaf a dozen steps away and asked, “I can make that leaf move just by telling it to move?”
“Try it,” Clea said.
Sean looked at the leaf and said, “Walk across the path.”
Much to his surprise, the leaf walked across the path. He looked at Pip and said, “It really works.”
“Of course it does. It is magic,” Pip said feeling a whole lot better.
Clea said, “Come back here this day a year from now with gold. You will get another gift of magic.”
“Cool,” Sean said wondering where he would get some gold.
Chom said, “Go and use your gift of magic.”
“Doing what?” Sean asked.
Pip said, “It doesn’t matter. The more you use magic, the stronger the magic in the rest of the world gets.”
“Is that a good thing?” Sean asked.
“Yes, that is a Very Good Thing,” Pip answered.
“Okay,” Sean said looking down at the rock. He looked up and the three dwarves were gone. He said, “I meant to apologize to her about that request this morning. It wasn’t a very polite thing to do.”
From deep in the woods, he heard Clea say, “Apology accepted.”
Sean looked down at the dimes and quarters scattered where Pip had dumped them. In a way he was kind of glad that he hadn’t lost his entire collection of dimes and quarters. It had taken him years to collect those coins. He knew that it wasn’t really worth much money, but it did represent a minor accomplishment.
He ordered the sock to come to his hand. It rose from the ground and flew to his outstretched hand. He ordered all of the coins to enter the sock, but nothing happened. He realized that he had to order each individual coin. He looked at each coin and ordered it into the sock. He was grinning like a lunatic as the coins made their way to the sock. He said, “I’m not going to have to pick up anything from now on.”
Holding the sock closed, he made his way along the path. He made leaves dance out of his way as he walked. Little sticks crawled out of his way. He didn’t think about how the sticks crawled, just that they moved out of the way. Having fun playing with his powers, he took his time returning to the house.
His pleasure was somewhat dampened when he discovered his mother waiting for him at the head of the path. She had her arms crossed and was looking at him with an expression on her face that let him know that he was in trouble. It wasn’t just trouble, it was trouble spelled with a capital ‘T’. In a very irritated voice, she said, “There you are.”
“What’s the matter?” Sean asked.
“You just ran off without telling me where you were going,” his mother answered.
“Sorry,” Sean said realizing that he had just kind of run off without saying anything to his mother. He wondered if he was allowed to talk about the gift of magic.
“Until I get to the bottom of what happened this morning, you’re grounded,” his mother said. She knew that there was more than a little bad blood between Sean and Max. She was concerned about the confused story that he had told that morning. He was still acting a little odd.
Sean thought about it for a moment and said, “I think a more suitable punishment would be to require me to sleep late every morning for the rest of the summer.”
His mother tapped him lightly on the back of the head and said, “In your dreams, buddy-boy.”
“Hey, it was worth a try,” Sean said rubbing the back of his head. He figured that by the time he moved away from home that he’d have a permanent callus on the back of his head. He idly wondered if that was the reason so many men had bald spots on the back of their heads.
“It is lunch time now. After lunch, you’re going to mow the lawn,” his mother said trying to think of something to keep him occupied.
“I just ate breakfast,” Sean said looking at his mother.
“Well, it is lunchtime now,” she said.
Sean frowned and asked, “How am I supposed to eat lunch when I just finished eating breakfast?”
“That’s what you get for sleeping all morning,” his mother said.
“That doesn’t make sense.”
His mother said, “It makes plenty of sense. You’re the one who has lost his senses.”
“It still doesn’t make any sense,” Sean said.
Noticing that he was carrying a sock, she asked, “What are you doing carrying a sock around?”
“I put my money in it,” Sean answered. He held up the sock and shook it so that she could hear the coins.
“Why put it in a sock?” she asked wondering if he used that to hit Max earlier that morning. She didn’t remember seeing him leave the house with a sock filled with coins that morning.
“My sweat pants don’t have a pocket,” Sean answered.
Sean followed his mother to the house tossing the rock in the air and then catching it. She looked at him and asked, “What are you doing with that rock?”
“I like it. It’s special,” Sean said.