The Rude Awakening V.
“Jimmy, Sally, do either of you know who put the Whammy on you?”
“Yes, our parents did it,” Sally answered.
“Right. Do you know the only way to break a Whammy like this?”
Neither Sally nor Jimmy knew the answer to Grand Father’s question. They hadn’t given much thought to breaking the Whammy over the past few days. At first, all they wanted was vengeance. When they realized that wasn’t going to be a helpful course of action, they sort of forgot about it because of all the fun they were having at Tiger Tail Resort.
Now it was after dinner and water sliding. Dessert was over. The children were bathed, filled to the brim with food, and dressed in their pajamas. They sat cross-legged on the floor in front of Jimmy’s Grand Father. Gustav was playing cards in the adjoining room, while secretly listening at the connecting door when he could. He didn’t listen too much though. After all, he wasn’t trying to be rude, just well informed.
Grandfather poured himself a cup of tea before saying, “Your parents have to die in order for the Whammy to break. I’m afraid there’s no other way.”
“Okay,” Sally said.
“For how long? Like a few days?” Jimmy added.
When Gustav heard the calm, eerie, acceptance the children had just shown, he fell off his seat in the other room, making a thumping sound.
“Might as well come in,” Grand Father said. “Wait, better yet, I’ll come in there.”
Jimmy and Sally looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.
As Grand Father entered the other room, Gustav was re-seating himself on his chair.
“This is a lucky break,” Grand Father Spoke.
“How is it lucky Magus?” Gustav asked. “They are so jaded that they don’t understand the significance of their parent’s deaths.”
“Yes, but how could they? They have each died and returned so many times that it’s like they’re…”
“Frequent flyers,” Gustav said. “There’s nothing new or novel about death to them. They have no fear of it. Familiarity has made them immune.”
“It is lucky for now. They will be spared the pain of dealing with their loss. In the future, though, it will most assuredly become problematic.”
“Can they still be trained?”
“They have to be. Otherwise, they run the risk of falling into the shadows. If that happens, gods and goddesses help us.”
Gustav agreed. Both men stood up to rejoin the children who had been listening at the door this entire time.
“You two look like you’ve been practicing spying, but not practicing looking like you have not been spying,” Jimmy’s Grand Father said through a smile so Jimmy and Sally would know they had done nothing wrong.
“Do you understand what you overheard? This is a very, very serious matter and it’s important that you understand, as much as you can, what is going on.”
“Yes,” Sally began. “Our parents have to die because that’s the only way to break a Whammy, but they won’t be dead forever, just three days which is long enough for them to learn their lessons.”
“Yeah,” Jimmy said, “Like what they tried to do to us, but in reverse.”
“Will our parents get a Whammy put on them?” Sally inquired.
“No, that would make us no better then they are. The point is to break the Whammy and get their heads out of their asses so you kids grow up right,” said Grand Father, a bit exasperated.
There are not many things funnier to children, especially bad children, as adults casually using grown-up words in front of them. Jimmy doubled over in laughter as soon as he heard the word “ass”; Sally grabbed her belly and tilted her head back, tears streaming out of her eyes, huge bellows of joy escaping from her mouth.
“Aww shit, that’s funny Pop Pop,” Jimmy squeezed out through guffaw after guffaw.
There is only one thing funnier to adults than the sight of children in hysterics, and that thing is a child who swears in proper context. Grand Father and Gustav couldn’t help but throw their own laughing fits, complete with gasping for air, and tears, and saying “Wait, wait, I need to catch my….” before starting all over again with new giggles.
Grand Father proceeded to explain, with occasional help from Gustav, about how Jimmy and Sally were to be made members of The Society and how they would, that very night, receive their first lesson in True Magic.
The children sat in rapture as Grand Father explained to them exactly how the reckless actions of their parents,Aunt ,and Uncle had created in them a special kind of perspective. One that, without supervision, would lead to a life of misery and danger.
Grand Father also explained that while their behavior was only part of the problem, it was a very big part. Their cold disregard for others and their refusal to use manners made them all but impossible to correct and educate.
After he had finished, but before the children had time to formulate questions, Grand Father placed his hand on Sally’s forehead and she saw herself as a little-er kid, standing in her kitchen. She was watching her mother frantically get ready for work. Sally felt her mom was always at work and didn’t play with her enough so, out of frustration, she knocked a bunch of stuff off the table, onto the floor, and began crying.
Her mother cleaned up Sally’s mess, spanked her, and ran out of the house. Sally could somehow still see her as she sat in her car for twenty minutes before driving to work, where she cried again. All the crying and Sally’s hissy fit had made her late for work- again.
“She’s late for work because I’m bad. Because she’s late, she has to stay extra and that’s why she never has time to play with me,” Sally thought. “And because she has no time to play, I throw another hissy fit next time, and then she’s late for work again.”
Sally’s vision flash forwarded a few years and she watched herself attack her Mother with her First Dad’s shaving razor. She had never noticed how tired her Mom looked before. Sally began to sob with a sorrow that was far too big for her. Gustav draped a blanket around her shoulders and set a pile of tissues in front of her.
Jimmy watched Sally’s reactions with a cool detachment. He was pretty sure he was next and had no idea how to process that information.
Grand Father turned to Jimmy and looked at him as if to say, “This is the least painful way to go about this.” He placed his hand on his Jimmy’s forehead and Jimmy’s attention turned immediately inwards, like he was having a dream while he was awake.
Jimmy saw himself with his parents. He was way tinier than he was currently and both his Mom and First Dad looked happy. They were smiling and laughing as Jimmy flew a tiny helicopter over and over again into the ceiling, cracking himself up in the process.
“He thinks it’s the funniest thing in the world,” his father said, laughing almost as much as his mother, who was laughing just as much as Jimmy.
“I know, I know! I’m so glad we got two of these,” Jimmy heard his Mom say.
Jimmy watched his tiny self become confused at his parents laughter. Were they making fun of him? Was he doing this toy wrong? He didn’t yet understand the difference between bringing so much joy to someone that they had no choice but to laugh and being the object of ridicule. How could he? He wasn’t even potty trained yet.
Jimmy watched as his tiny heart broke and turned to stone. He turned around, hoping to see Grand Father and an escape from this vision but instead, he saw a montage of the bad things he had done and the look on his Mom’s face as he did them.
After every stabbing, act of arson, broken window, and all the other rotten things Jimmy did, he would see his Mom. At first, she looked sad. Tears were everywhere. But as the vision went on, he noticed his Mom looked different. Like she didn’t care anymore. She grew tired and old before his eyes. Just when he couldn’t bear to take any more, the vision was over. Gustav handed him a blanket and some tissues.
Jimmy quietly wept as he thought about what he’d just seen.
It took hours for the children to calm down and gather their internal belongings and transpirings together. When they did, it was late in the night or early in the morning, depending on one’s point of view. They looked at Grand Father and Gustav the way pets look at their owners after accidentally being stepped on.
The adults turned to each other and exchanged knowing glances. Gustav got up and removed himself from the room. When he returned he held two gift-wrapped boxes and handed one to Jimmy and the other to Sally.
“Go on,” Grand Father said. “Open them.”
The children did as they were told and opened the boxes. They each contained a child-sized gray robe, a white leather belt, and a real, magic- looking dagger.
“Why not try them on?” Grand Father said as he wiped a stray tear from his cheek, hoping the children wouldn’t notice. They did notice, of course. They mentioned it to each other once, and then never again.
They tried their robes on and instantly felt better. The sorrow they experienced during their visions faded. It didn’t go away, mind you, but it faded just enough to allow for tentative smiles and belt buckling.
Jimmy tried out his hood and found it nice and big, the way he liked them. Sally tested out her dagger and made sure it fit correctly in its belt sheath. It did, of course, and she nodded at it in approval. When they looked up, they found Grand Father and Gustav in similar robes, but with black belts and more ornate daggers.
“Welcome to The Society,” the adults said in unison. Grand Father continued, “You are no longer children when you wear those robes, you are Junior Sorcerers of the Society. You will be taught our ways. This is enough for one night, isn’t it?”
The children nodded and though they were full of more questions than before, they were too exhausted and dazed to form thoughts into words and fell asleep in their robes minutes later, as the first signs of the rising sun appeared.
Jimmy and Sally slept without dreaming and awoke around lunchtime feeling much better. When they finished lunch in the resort, Grand Father took them back to his house to wait until their parents returned from their dreams, which was scheduled for two days from now.
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