Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Tom frowned at the handout, and then at the substitute teacher. Rebelliously, he raised his hand.

“Yes?” The teacher raised her grey eyebrows, an effect that was magnified and distorted by the thick glasses she wore.

“We can’t even see these ephemerals. What’s the point of studying them?”

“Can you see the flu virus?”

“I don’t want to see a flu virus!” That was really the problem. Tom wanted to see the ephemerals.

The girl next to Tom raised her hand, but didn’t wait to be called on. “We can see a flu virus in a microscope, or we could if we had a good one.”

“Very good, child.” The substitute teacher didn’t even pretend to be learning their names. “And it’s possible that someday you will be in circumstances that are, metaphorically speaking, like looking through a good microscope. If that ever happens—”

“Yeah, right.” Tom groused, just loud enough for the teacher to hear. The magical world was notoriously secretive, though the few magical folk who’d been interviewed on the news (their faces and voices distorted or masked) called themselves “private”.

The teacher rapped on his desk with an old-fashioned wooden ruler, and Tom jumped. Where had that come from?

“If you do ever see an ephemeral, and cannot successfully pretend that it’s not there, this knowledge might save your life.”

“I thought you said ephemerals are not dangerous.” The voice came from the back of the room.

“Not normally. But most situations that let ordinary humans see them are quite dangerous.” The old woman smiled then. “There won’t be a quiz, you know. Just life. If you don’t want to study, you don’t have to.”

The bell rang then, and Tom reflexively tucked the handout into his backpack. He darted out of the classroom, glad to be away from the creepy teacher. Very glad she was just a substitute teacher. He hoped he’d never see her again.

But that evening, he found himself looking at the handout, which was already yellowing like the pages of an old paperback. He pulled out the extra notebook his mother had bought him, and started copying it, word for word, intensely enough that he missed his mother’s dinner call. After dinner, he finished the copy, as if he had been placed under a compulsion. Finally, he closed the fragile handout into the notebook; he could check his work in the morning.

He dreamed of catkin that night, a jumble of fast-paced alley adventures that seemed chaotic and unlikely when he woke the next day. Night ephemerals were everywhere, watching the whole thing as if his adventures were their equivalent of TV.

When he woke, he reached for the notebook, planning to write down his dreams and re-read the handout, but there was nothing left but dust, except for his scribbled copy. By the time he found his pen, he couldn’t remember enough of the dreams to make it worth writing anything down.

“Wow.” Tom sat there, staring at his notes, wondering who—and what—the substitute teacher had really been.

He wasn’t surprised to find his friends remembered a cute young substitute teacher who had set them to read Macbeth aloud. The magical world was very private, after all. But it had reached out to touch him, and that gave him hope. Maybe, someday, it would touch him again.


Thanks to DreamWidth user ClareDragonfly for the prompt.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 10th, 2014 07:45 am (UTC)
There are things, young man, that you are going to need to know...
May. 10th, 2014 08:23 am (UTC)

I just don't believe the huge supernatural world but we can keep everyone from noticing thing. On the other hand, part of the draw of urban fantasy is seeing the hidden magic in something resembling our world.

So I've been wondering, if people know that shapeshifters and witches and dragons and such exist, but mostly ignore them, how does that work?
May. 10th, 2014 11:34 am (UTC)
I noticed that the "teacher" had the other kids reading from Macbeth (I always want to cap the B). Wonder if she's related to the Witches 3 ... ?

It does seem unlikely that mundane folk would habitually ignore magical folk. Even when the threat of associative danger is broadcast. Perhaps--for some--especially when the threat of associative danger is broadcast. :~)
May. 11th, 2014 12:49 am (UTC)
I empathize about the B.

I figure there's lots of things in this world that people mostly ignore, though I agree that it will be difficult to strike the right balance. Perhaps I should focus more of these world-building ficlets on that aspect of the world.
May. 10th, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC)
Same Tom?
May. 11th, 2014 12:49 am (UTC)
Deirdre smiles.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Creative Joyous Cat

Latest Month

December 2018


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Jared MacPherson