For the righteous one may fall (even) seven times, and he will certainly get up...
The Space Cadet
" Excuse me space cadet, but did you hear about the boy who was arrested for stealing the pig?"
" How did he get caught?"
"The pig squealed?
Joseph Armstrong searched Evie Eversoule's face suspiciously as she snapped back from her trance. He was surprised at how quickly she slid back into a conscious, coherent response and her eyes were wide open during the entire transference.
When Evie came to her beta senses and answered him so spontaneously, she started to realize that drifting off into outer space was turning into a habit. She actually heard and saw him at the alpha level, and that wasn't suppose to happen. Joseph kept flailing his arms and waving his hands in front of her face, as Evie slowly transferred back from her meditative day dream. She'd been bobbing in and out of alpha, all morning, and lately, she did it without her biofeedback tapes. Her mind was advancing and it all seemed too easy.
Even her sense of smell changed from the essential oil scent of patchouli - that she wore all the time - to Eucalyptus musk. Maybe I wasn't in alpha, thought Evie. Could I have stumbled into the elusive theta level while standing on my feet. I can't wait to tell Gran Muffin. That's a major break through for me.
Ever since this morning, when she tried to cure Tossy's allergies
in the bathroom, she felt like she was floating in space without boundaries, obstacles or a Mary Poppins's umbrella.
"Do I look as embarrassed as I feel. Caught in the act?" She smiled rigidly waiting for an answer or acceptance. She was weird sometimes, and he actually caught her in the act of weirdness without running away.
"Hey don't mind me," said Joseph, apologetically. "I have my moments too. You'd be shocked, maybe. The places I go can be far out, but I'm open minded. That wasn't a judgement call. Blame it on the monthly or...." He stopped immediately, as a dark expression seemed to travel across Evie's face like the look on the face of a serpent before it strikes. Joseph knew a lot about snakes and critters, and he recognized a bad vibe from an overworked cliche' when he saw one. He wished he hadn't said it even better...could take it back. He always went too far...got too familiar...much too fast. "Scare them off why don't you." he whispered diaapprovingly.
" I hope you're not trying to imply that my hormones are controlling my (girl) emotions. Everyone day-dreams once and awhile, you know. The 'hysterical female' and 'the curse of the monthly' has played out to. As far as I'm concerned, Joseph, there nothing but tired, dead, stereotypes." Evie's voice rose just enough to let him hear the wrath of irritation in her voice.
"Did I mention anything about hormones?" Joseph went into defensive mode as he stepped closer to Evie. " He bent down close
to her ear. "Sometimes it just doesn't come out right." He touched her cold, stiff, shoulder, warmly, but it didn't melt. "I mean, sometimes, what you meant to say and what you say can be two different things. Maybe I should just shut my trap all together." He stepped back from her and started setting up the experiment.
"Maybe you should," she agreed.
Evie cleared her throat, and started organizing the lab utensils
on the gray and white marble counter, on her side, according to their size even though it wasn't necessary. Nervous, she tried to calm down and act as if nothing was wrong or unusual. She'd been in a state all morning (ever since trying to cure Tossy's allergies) and anything might set her off when she was like this. She decided to go to her place and chill - a place that took her back to her seventh birthday.
Gran Muffin had warned her to pick her battles carefully and keep a low profile. But Evie was feeling overly confident today,
and her ego took over. She found herself reminiscing about the
first time she performed PK or psych-kinesis unexpectedly in a fit of anger.
On punishment, and in her room on the fourth of July, angry
Evie hurled the fork out of her bedroom window with her willful mind - on the first try. It was easy. Only, the fork wound up landing on her dad's head below - stabbing him - as he mowed the lawn. Later, Evie had trouble explaining how it all happened and convincing him that it wasn't done intentionally.
"No sir, I did not try to spear you in the head." she exclaimed. Good thing he was wearing his, "So What" cap at the time. Because the cap saved him from a scar and the penetration of the prong into his skin.
"Oh really, exclaimed her dad, then explain your actions young lady. Don't tell me it just floated off your dresser and out the window." said Mr. Eversoule."
Evie was sure she might be sentenced to '30 lashes with a wet noodle', there father-daughter joke, but her dad didn't have a trace
of a smile on his face. He looked at her like he didn't recognize her, and Evie felt very alone and remorseful. Later that year, when he died, Evie learned what real pain felt like. She missed his sounds, his voice, and the hum of his lawn mower. She realized that everytime she found herself grounded in her room, she deserved it, and her dad was right and fair.
Then there was the time she answered the English teacher's question in class when it wasn't her group. She actually read the pages in B group's book, while her A group was solving multiplication problems. Only problem was, Evie answered without
a book in her hand and she answered the question - out loud. Mrs. Scott gasped in horror, and Evie wound up staying after class to explain that phenomena - even though she answered the question correctly.
" Pride comes before the fall," said Gran Muffin. "Stop exposing yourself like that," she warned. "You must keep a low profile." Self control was a hard pill to swallow for Evie. In fact, self
control was Evie's biggest challenge. Gran Muffin was right. It required a lot of discipline to avoid becoming someones lab rat.
"Why don't you just ask and stop asking for permission Joseph,"
said Evie. "Ask away."
"I'm not trying to be funny or nothin, but it's a dumb question. I'm emphasising the dumb, lab partner?"
" Ask away, but like I said"... Evie repeated her warning"
" Yea, I know - you might not answer."
Dear Diary: On Monday, September 14, Evie Eversoule met this hand-some boy named Joseph Armstrong - with a wall of hair - for the first time. It was the seventh day of school in Biology
lab class and the third period. He was a sophomore, and she was a seventh grader…freshman, at the Arts & Science Junior Academy in the city of Faith. That’s exactly what Evie planned to write in her diary later tonight, when everyone was asleep and couldn’t interrupt her thoughts. “By the way, do you prefer Joe or Joseph?”
Joe felt awkward around Evie, though he tried to make light
of it. He thought Evie hadn‘t heard him at first. She seemed to
time travel light years away in her thoughts. "I tend to answer to both. It doesn't really matter to me as long as you don't call me late
to dinner." He looked away in the opposite direction, because what he meant to say didn't come out right.
" I think I prefer calling you Joseph."
"I meant don't call me late for dinner."
" I know I heard you," said Evie. You screwed it up
He laughed nervously because he blew it.
"You're not very good at telling jokes are you...forget the punch line, did you?
" Never...I never forget the punch line. I have trouble pulling it off. I'm dyslexic - a klutz with words. I have a speech impediment. Tongue tied. That's how my mother puts it. It sounds better...she thinks. She explains it then laughs it off."
" If you hadn't told me, I'd never notice. You have a lot of labels for it. What's up with that?"
Evie nodded her head when she really wanted to say it was all right. What Joseph didn’t know was, his deep voice and flamboyant mannerism mesmerized her, and the I’m sure way he talked about things - with his head tilted to the side- made him the most endearing boy interest on Evie’s list. No boy alive had instantly affected her
that way. She also liked the deep, mysterious, wide set eyes, and thick black brows that rose and fell expressively whenever he looked puzzled.
“So…you mean you wouldn’t help a guy out if he needed an answer to his question and he was dyslexic?”
Evie was convinced the dimple that popped out of his right cheek just then was a trap. He used it quite often when he spoke. Evie was sure someone planted it there on purpose to taunt her. Joseph turned fourteen in January - eight month’s before her thirteenth birthday. Being the lab assistant had it’s perks when she needed personal information on someone. She also liked the fact that he was little bossy in a take charge sort of boyish way and sort of manipulative.
Evie smiled back at him and her mouth hung open, just a little, like Geneva Sage’s whenever she looked in the eyes of her (jock) boyfriend, Maynard Henderson. Evie always thought, 9th grader, Geneva always looked smitten. Now she had the same dim-witted expression on her face. Speechless, she desperately felt a need to speak and searched her brain for something clever to say. Nothing happened though. So she just stood there looking dumber like a witless wonder with a space cadet grin - with her lips parted and her tongue dry as a bone. She was totally floored by sophmore.
Then she remembered. He asked her a question. Finally something triggered her brain after 30 seconds or more, and she swallowed what might have turned into drool running down her sweater. “Of course. I’d help you if you were really desperate and struggling for an answer,” she managed to say with a slur.
“Yah know, I get the feeling we’re on some kind of time delay when I speak to you, Evie. Do you, think I'm hard to talk to or something?"
“No of course not,” said Evie straightening her back. She knew she was acting creepy, and she needed to reign in on her uncontrollable emotions. “Why’d you say that, Joseph... Is it all right to call you Joseph?”
Joseph shrugged, “So what else, would you call me? Didn't we cover that already?” He smirked.
Evie thought of a lot of things she might call him, but they were all much too cozy to mention: sweetie pie, darling, handsome hunk all came to mind. He was definitely all of those. A horse of a different color - he even cared about how he came across to a girl. She couldn’t wait to tell Gran Muffin how smitten, by him, she truly was. Sure glad we only have one class together, though, she surmised. He's too distracting to me in a charming sort of way.
“I got to ask yaw, I know it’s none of my business.” Joseph persisted. He intended to get his question asked and answered no matter what, or how long it took.
"Yaw, know, I think it's great how you act so at ease around girls," said Evie - interrupting his question. "It's so refreshing and something different for junior high boys. They always act like girls are alien air benders chasing them or shooting them down."
" No kidding? ...Wow, that's deep," said Joseph. " I never knew girls thought that. What kind of air bender are you?"
"Well according to my friend Tossy her boy friend, Nicolas McGuire, broke up with her because he said she wasn't giving him enough room to breathe." So I guess that means she's an air sucking air bender."
Joseph nodded and then scratched his head. What exactly did
he mean by that? She was sucking up all the air in his space, or crowding him...or suffocating him, you think?"
"I don't know," said Evie. "I wasn't there, but according to his father’s diagnosis, Tossy was sapping his air - too controlling. An
air sucking creature with eyes he called her.
"Oh. So how did his dad know?"
Evie hunched her shoulders. "According to Tossy, with her allergies, and constant stuffy nose, she was barely breathing in enough air herself. She didn't bother to ask, I don't think."
" Joseph howled as he bent over in laughter. "Evie you're so funny. A natural comedienne. You say the darndest things. What a sense of humor you have."
"Yaw think. Why thanks," said Evie smiling sarcastically. I'll take that as a compliment. I 'm certainly glad your breathing is perfectly normal. You don't seem to be gasping for air or trying to steal it back from me."
"Sure glad I didn't feel you sucking any air out of my nostrils or windpipe." Joseph chuckled and looked amused. "You just never know about (birds of a feather) bff's who stick together. You and Tossy good friends.?"
"BFF number two. By the way, bff doesn't stand for 'birds of a feather'. It stands for best friend for life.
Joseph nodded "Then I better be careful. He started easing away from Evie as if he was afraid. "Funny, I never felt that way about a girl before. But, all guys don't think the same or feel the same about girls or anything else. We're all shapes and sizes, and we all have different opinions, yaw know."
For Evie, that’s what was both strange and wonderful about him.
He reminded Evie of some one she’d seen or met, before or maybe it was just wishful thinking. She knew she hadn’t actually met him in elementary school or at summer camp, but she had met him before. She decided to let it go for now. Eventually total recall would kick
in when she didn't expect it or force it.
Everyone, except her two closest friends, were strangers in this international academy. That's what drew her to this magnet school in the first place. New people and new experiences were a good
thing. She never forgot a face only the names escaped her. She was terrible when it came to that.
“Okay, ask away," said Evie jokingly. "I’m not promising I’ll give you the answer you're looking for but do get it off your chest.”
He looked up and smiled and the deep tanned dimple popped out of his left cheek, again. How did he know she was a softy for dimples.
“Yeah…I know…I heard you,” he said riled.
The high mound of tight black curly hair that stood straight up like a wall was a different look than the rest of the boys who cut their hair close or wore shaved bald heads. Their were no piercings, or earrings on the right or left lobeand no hidden tattoos that she could see, yet. Being different and undecorated didn‘t seen to bother Joseph at all.
“The eyes…what’s up with the Asian eyes?” asked Joseph reluctantly.
Evie laughed. “Is that all? I know what you mean," she said cryptically. "Did you know that before the great flood, in the Bible, the continents of Asia and Africa were all one continent." She raised her hands palms up. Go figure. She lit the Bunsen Burner and pulled the days assignment out of her bag. Maybe I'm mixed
"Highly possible I'd say, looking at you." said Joseph.."I think we're all mixed."
"So, you ready for this?" She scanned the lab instructions.
"Now that I answered your oh so pressing question? I really hate
labs on blue Monday and Fridays. Any other day works for me
"Ready for what?”
“The lab experiment on coffee and caffeine, dummy."
"Where are we? asked Evie jokingly. She started looking around. "Oh, yea...this is Biology...science class, right?"
Joseph snatched the paper from her out-stretched hand. “We’re going to extract the caffeine from these coffee beans - right? When we’re done we’ll melt it down…. I mean burn off the liquid and
melt it down to a white crystal like powdery substance…Caffeine
is white - according to these… instructions.” Joseph placed the coffee beans, and coffee flakes in two separate water-based glass beakers, then put fire retardant gloves on. I'm disappointed. Thought this was an AI class for biological robotics. I guess I signed up for the wrong course. I must have read it wrong.”
“It is, but first we have to do these experiments," said Evie.
Mr. Wade said there’s a correlation between the two. Ask him why don't you”
“These gloves are too big - in -the- way. Their too clumsy to work with.” He handed the gloves to Evie to inspect.
She stared at the gloves then at him. “What?” He snatched the gloves out of her hand and put the gloves back on.
“Check,” said Evie, "Now what do we do first?”
Joseph pulled the gloves off again. "Their too clumsy,” he said tossing them aside. He looked annoyed like the imp in her cousin Tomaso’s poster. “Technically you don’t use gloves when you cook at the stove. Right?”
“No, but Mr. Wade uses the gloves for science class.” It’s required. A safety issue.”
Joseph looked annoyed, and the rest of the class started to murmur.. Everyone was mumbling. "Technically, they don’t fit, and
I could get burnt, because there too big. So I’m not using gloves, okay. It’s a bigger safety issue, too me. You can do what you want.”
" I usually do...." I ordered...."
“Calm down people,” said Mr. Wade walking up from behind. “What’s the problem?”
When Evie turned around to answer him, Joseph eased in front of her. “No problem sir," he stammered …"Well technically, that’s not true. There is... It’s just that the gloves are too big and awkward. We’re having problems holding the beaker-flasks steady, sir. Like working with all thumbs. Look the paddings too thick.” He crossed his arms and kept nodding his head as Mr Wade examined the gloves.
Evie grimaced as she stood behind Joseph staring at his head bob up and down and the basketball image on the back of his shirt, and so did Mr. Wade, as he examined the gloves. Joseph totally blocked her view, and Evie noticed he didn't seem to have any trouble expressing himself from what she heard . There was no lisp or speech impediment or trouble with his speech that she'd heard so far. She side stepped him, and watched as Mr. Wade continued examining the gloves. He flipped them over then back.
“I see...” He tried them on his hands. "Not good. You know Armstrong, I think those people at Bard sent us adult, male, construction gloves and they're much too balky for lab.. They could be disastrous." He turned to look at the rest of the class. "People! How many of you think these gloves are two big for your hands?” Every seventh and eight grader in the lab, twenty in all, raised their hands - male and female. Then the chatter stopped.
"All right than," said Mr. Wade…change in plans. We’ll have
to forgo the lab experiment today." He shook his head and fingered the gloves, again. "It's a safety issue."
The students grumbled and moaned as they turned the Bunsen Burners off. “What about the experiment?” asked a kid named
Masey. “I wanted to see what caffeine really looks like.”
"No he doesn't," Evie whispered. "Masey hates lab. The phony."
“Well, it all comes down to white powder. However, we don’t want spills or accidents. Now turn off your Bunsens and meet me
out in the hall. Make sure you put all your equipment back in the drawers and straighten up your area. Make it look like before you entered, please. We’ll have to double up or stay after school one
day this week. Each lab must be completed for mid- terms and
finals. I assure you they will be done or no AI.” Everyone started
to moan or murmur, again. Drawers slammed shut and lab utensils clanked.
" Mr. Wade turned back to Joseph, “Thanks Armstrong. There could have been a disaster in here, if you hadn’t pointed it out. Evie Eversoule front and center!”
Evie was expecting him to say something to her, but she still startled and jumped when he called her name. “Yes, Mr. Wade.” Evie stepped forward and the whole class focused on her.
“As Lab Assistant, it's your responsibility to check out the supply orders after delivery, and to make sure everything is ready for class. Yours and Palmer’s, I believe.” Mr. Wade looked around for him. "What happened?"
"I do the lab tops and Evie does the drawers,” called Palmer
from across the room. “That’s what we agreed on.” He slew
footed his way across the room and squeaked his sneakers as he moved towards the science teacher. His freckles stood out between the red hairs on his arms, and there were patches of red hives dotting the exposed skin of his neck. His cheeks flushed like he wore rouge or painted them red. Palmer reacted to everything. His neck was covered with pinkish blotches down into his chest and beyond by the time he reached Mr. Wade.
“So-o, who ordered the over sized gloves? Do I dare ask?” asked Mr. Wade.
“Evie again,” said Palmer breathing a deep sigh of relief. “I’m a terrible speller.”
Mr. Wade lifted his eyes up to heaven and sucked in a gob of air. “Okay, perhaps my assistants need an assistant, I reckon. This day is shot,” We’re suppose to start building robots next week people,” he announced. “Armstrong, how would you like to help them out by being the check-mate guy on the team? He didn't bother to look at Evie. Since you and Evie are lab partners this semester,
that shouldn’t be a problem. You’re already working together I assume.”
Evie knew it was meant to be an official order "A Dig" at Evie, and it was set in stone. It would also affect her stipend. Mr. Wade didn’t even bother to wait for an answer from Joseph. "Armstrong's your new check mate, Evie,” he announced. “Please… please …please do a check and balance so this semester runs smoothly and
no accidents occur. Because, I'm a no accidents kind of guy. Now reorder the gloves immediately and give the invoice to Ms. Harper. Armstrong, you go with her to make sure she gets it done right.” He tried to lower his voice to a whisper, but Mr Wade whispered, much too loudly.
Joseph hunched his shoulders humbly, and Evie bit and gnawed her lip in disgust, as she silently questioned whether Joseph Armstrong really was humble pie. He seemed to enjoy his 14 minutes of fame and adulation. He was grinning and showing all 42 or was
it 32 pearly whites from ear to ear.
"I’m really sorry Mr. Wade …I."
He waved his hand at Evie and finished her sentence. "I know. You don't know how it happened." He repeated his dismay
as he walked away unconsoled. “Don’t know how it happened…yes I know.
Evie sighed and sucked her tongue. Joseph stood next to her, quiet as a mouse.
"One thing for sure class, this day is shot, and we must find a
day to make it up. I just hope this is not ‘the shape of things to come’ this term young lady."
“So there it is,” said Evie in an undertone. "I’m to blame It's my fault. No way did I order these gloves." She tried to retrace her steps from last week, but was too upset to recall what she signed for. No way was it these large utility construction gloves, but the invoice in her drawer said differently. It was her signature, too. She couldn't deny it.”
As she straightened her lab site she vowed that no one would blame her for any more mistakes. She chastised herself, and wished she could go back and fix it. She felt stressed out and confused because she knew what she was doing and didn't want to jeopardize the stipend, she received as a lab assistant. By her senior year she could pay the first years tuition at the medical school,
where she'd be accepted. It was a major factor in her future plans.
When Joseph approached her, Evie exploded inside.
“You okay?” he asked. “I tried to protect you from…”
Evie didn’t bother to look up but kept writing. “Protect me! Do I need you to protect me. I’m so incompetent…Why do you care?” she barked as she gathered her things. “Here…take it." She thrust the invoice into his chest. “Make sure this gets to Ms. Harper, Checker. I don’t think I’m capable of delivering it myself.”
“Whoa! Wait a minute, countered Joseph. “I didn’t mean any harm….”Evie ran out of the lab and down the steps. She was sure everyone in school - especially middle school - knew about her near
fatal foible by now. She could almost see the headlines in the schools weekly "Tattler": Did you hear about that Evie E. the seventh grader? Well, guess what she did that was dumb and dangerous…! They’ll probably even misspell my name, thought Evie as she charged down the steps
I think I'll by pass lunch today thought Evie. I'm gaining entirely too much weight, and the waist band on my favorite jeans and pleated skirt felt tight - even after my menses was over last week. I could afford to miss a meal. No way am I going to buy 'chunky' jeans with elastic waist bands at my age. "I hate lab on Mondays," mumbled Evie. "Blue Monday."
She barrelled down the steps like a young woman on the edge of hysteria as tears formed in the inner canthus of her oval shaped, chestnut eyes.
* Next week, we'll present the graphics for chapters one and two and discuss the scenes and character development for Chapter II at www.writwstuff-writenow.blogspot.com/.
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“I usually do. I don’t need you to tell me that,” snapped Evie. She wondered why she suddenly became annoyed at him. He was turning these gloves into a spectacle and a debate.