Music is Super

Julie squinted at Mandy’s necklace. “That’s an unusual pendant.”

Mandy smiled. “Thank you.”

Julie shook her head. “No, I mean that it’s kind of strange. Where did you get it?”

Mandy looked around and leaned forward. “Can you keep a secret?” Julie nodded.   Mandy smiled. “Hidden among the populace there are people who are hiding something spectacular.”

“Aren’t you too young to be a spy?” Julie frowned.

Mandy shook her head. “I’m something even better. This pendant isn’t just for decoration. In an emergency, I can pull it off my necklace and I can enlarge it and use it to save the day!” Mandy raised her arms in the air and cheered.

“But it’s a tambourine,” Julie said. “Does it shoot out lasers or cause earthquakes or something?”

“No, it just plays music like any other tambourine,” Mandy said. “Isn’t that great?”

“I guess so.” Julie folded her arms and nodded. “Let’s see it, then.”

Mandy flipped it over. “It looks just like a full-sized tambourine on both sides,” she said.

“No, I want to see it grow,” Julie said. “Do you need to say some sort of magic words or do a dance or something?”

“It only works if there’s an emergency,” Mandy said. “I can’t use my powers for selfish reasons. That’s the path to the dark side.”

“What kind of emergency? A tambourine wouldn’t stop a robbery or keep werewolves away or push away meteors,” Julie said. “Unless it really does shoot lasers.”

“No lasers,” Mandy said. “But music can calm down crying children. It makes boring car rides fun. And it makes a long wait in line seem shorter.”

“I’ve been waiting here for my mom to come pick me up for a long time,” Julie said.

“Really?” Mandy said. “Let the music begin!” She jumped up and her necklace started to glow. Light flashed. Somewhere, cymbals crashed. Suddenly, Mandy was holding a full-sized tambourine.

“Wow! It’s true,” Julie said.

“Of course it is,” Mandy said. “Any requests?”

“I really like The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy,” Julie said.

Mandy rolled her eyes. “I have a tambourine. Give me something with words.”

“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star?”

Mandy sang the song and played her tambourine. She ended the song with a flourish. Julie looked around. “Is something supposed to happen?”

Mandy sighed. “You’re supposed to clap after the song.” She lowered her arms. “The music lives on in our hearts.” Light flashed. Cymbals crashed. Mandy’s tambourine transformed back into a pendant.   “So, are you still bored?”

“Nope. I guess you fixed my emergency,” Julie said. “So, why did you tell me all this?”

“You noticed my pendant. That must mean you have potential. Do you play an instrument?” Mandy asked.

“I play the piano,” Julie said.

“That’s not portable at all,” Mandy said. “It’s no good for being a Super Musician. Maybe you’re the sidekick type.”

“I think I see my mother,” Julie said. “It was nice talking to you. Maybe I’ll see you around sometime.” She hurried away and resolved to avoid Mandy in the future. She’d seen enough superhero shows to never want to be a sidekick. Not even a musical sidekick.

Super Strong

“I can be anything I want to be, right?” Alex asked one night at dinner.

“Of course you can,” Dad said. He paused. “But you probably shouldn’t choose to be a veterinarian. Or a doctor. That might not go well.”

Alex frowned. He clutched his fork a little too tight. It broke in half and the metal pieces landed on his plate and cracked it. Alex burst into tears.

“It’s all right, honey,” Mom said. “There are still lots of things you can do.”

“Like what?” Alex asked. He sniffled and blew his nose on his thick canvas napkin. It tore down the center.

Mom handed him a new fork. “Well, um, you could be a newscaster,” she said. “Or a writer.”

“That’s right,” Dad said. “They have those programs now where you can dictate everything and you don’t have to type or hold a pencil.”

Alex frowned. “I just want to be like all the normal kids. You know, do the craft projects for the holidays. Play sports after school.   Write down my own answers on assignments.”

Dad sighed. “Life isn’t fair sometimes, huh?”

Alex nodded. “Yeah.”

“You’re not the only kid at school who can’t do all the normal things though, right?” Mom asked.

“One kid has to keep his eyes closed all the time, because he has laser eyes. And this one girl can’t talk at all because her voice shatters glass,” Alex said.

Mom smoothed Alex’s hair. “You see? It’s not just you.”

“It’s still not fair.” Alex picked up his new fork and speared some lettuce. The tines curled under.

“Maybe you can find a way to use your talents to help other people,” Dad said.

“Like what?” Alex asked. He ate the lettuce and bent the fork’s tines back into place.

“Well, you could read to that boy with the laser eyes,” Dad said.

Alex frowned. “But I’m not supposed to touch the books. The pages keep ripping when I turn them.” He speared another bite of lettuce and the tines curled under again.

“But he can pick up the books, right?” Mom asked.

Alex nodded. “There’s nothing wrong with his hands.”

“Then maybe you can help each other,” Mom said.   “I’ll bet there are a lot of stories you both want to hear.”

“You’ll find more work-arounds for your problems if you can work with other people,” Dad said.

“It would be nice to help people,” Alex said. “Do you really think I can?” He straightened the fork’s tines again.

“You’re the strongest person I know,” Dad said.   “I’ll bet there are lots of ways you can help people. All you need to do is look around and notice.”

“But what if I see a problem, and I can’t help?” Alex asked.

“Then you could try to find someone who can help,” Dad said.

“Okay,” Alex said.

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Mom asked.

“A space pirate,” Alex said. “Do you think I can?”

“Maybe,” Dad said. “If you find the right crew.”

“You might need to invent a good spaceship first,” Mom said.

“I could do that,” Alex said. “At least I think I can.”

“Well, then you know where to start,” Dad said.   “Now who’s ready for lasagna?”

“Me!” Alex said. “Can I help?”

“Sure,” Dad said. “You can help me check to make sure it’s done. What do you think? Does it look good?”

“I think it looks great,” Alex said.

“Then it’s ready. Thanks for your help,” Dad said. Alex grinned.



The teacher stood up and the murmur of voices finally stopped. “Thank you,” she said. “This is a creative support group to help us further explore and develop our talents. I’d like to begin by having everyone introduce themselves and tell us about a talent that they have. Let’s start with the lady in the green shirt and go around the circle from there.”

The lady in the green shirt stood up and giggled nervously. “Hi, I’m Sylvia. I like to paint in my spare time. I’m not very good yet, but I think if I keep practicing, I’ll get better.”

Sylvia sat down and there was an awkward pause where the people sitting on either side of her just looked at each other. Finally the teacher stood up. “Thank you, Sylvia,” the teacher said. “And welcome to the class. I’m sure that you’re better than you think you are. Let’s hear from the gentleman in blue next and then go from there.”

The gentle man in blue stood up and smiled. “Hello,” he said. “My name is Kyle and I can sneeze on command.”

A few people laughed, but Kyle looked serious. “It may not seem like much,” he said. “But it’s my talent and I’m proud of it. I practice a lot to keep my skills up, and I’ve done what I could to share my gift with the world.”

Sylvia scooted her chair away from him a bit. “What do you mean?” she asked. “Do you go around sneezing on people in public? That’s not very nice. You’ll spread germs.”

Kyle sighed. “A talent like mine isn’t very common. It’s normal for me to be misunderstood.”

The class began to murmur. The teacher finally stood. “Settle down,” she said. The noise stopped. “That’s better. Let’s let Kyle explain more about his unusual talent before we jump to conclusions, all right?”

The class mumbled and nodded and turned to look at Kyle again. “Well, There aren’t many people who can sneeze whenever they’d like. Allow me to demonstrate.” Kyle sneezed. “There, you see? Now you try.”

The class members made various odd sounds. Sylvia clutched her purse and looked ready to run out the door. Kyle laughed. “It’s not easy, is it?” he said.

“How do you share your talent with others?” the teacher asked.

“Fake sneezes are always inferior to the real thing,” Kyle said. “I get small parts in plays and television shows and commercials. I help the artists who need a sneeze for their script realize their creative vision.”

“Very good, Kyle,” the teacher said. “Why don’t you have a seat, and we’ll hear from the next person.”

The man sitting next to Kyle stood up. “Hi, I’m Jim. I’m double jointed. Look, I can put my leg behind my head.”

“Wow, another unusual talent,” the teacher said. “I can tell that this is going to be an unusual class. Next?”

“Ahoy, I’m Susan, terror of the classrooms. I can speak like a pirate, mateys. Arrrrrr!”

The next student stood up. “I’m Dave, and I’m good at filling in crossword puzzles.”

“That’s not a creative talent,” Sylvia said.

“I fill out crossword puzzles in pen,” Dave said.

“Nice,” Jim said. “That’s really gutsy. Do you get the answers right?”

“Mostly,” Dave said.

“But it’s not art,” Sylvia said.

“It’s performance art,” Kyle said. “Like walking on a tightrope or reciting poetry or singing opera or something.”

“But no one would come watch someone fill in a crossword puzzle,” Sylvia said.

“People pay to listen to opera,” Dave said. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“Class, let’s be respectful of other people and their talents.   Everyone has a place here. Now, who’s next?”

The tall, pale man wearing sunglasses stood next. “My name is Vlad, and I can change into a bat.”

“That’s it. I’m leaving,” Sylvia said. She stormed out of the classroom.

“That’s too bad,” the teacher said. “So, who’s next?”



Magician on Trial

At first, it all seemed like fun and games. Peter the Great was a magician who made a name for himself making things disappear. Not apples and bunnies and watches, like so many other magicians. He’d disappear things like people’s left thumbs or entire parking lots.

His breakthrough was when he was invited to a popular daytime talk show and made the host’s hair disappear. “This is great!” the host said. “It’s like my hair is really gone. I’ve always wanted to see if I have a beautifully shaped head. I think I do. What do you all think?” Everyone had laughed and cheered and waited for the hair to come back.

“For my next trick,” Peter said. “I will need a bowling ball. I think I have one in my coat pocket.”

“What about my hair?” the host asked.

“Oh, if you want that back, you’ll have to invite me on again. I think I’m free two weeks from now,” Peter said.   He patted his flat jacket pocket and pulled out a bowling ball.

The host laughed nervously. “You’re joking, right?”

“No, this is a real bowling ball. Here, see how heavy it is.” Peter handed over the bowling ball. The host nearly dropped it.

She handed it back. “Yes, that’s a real bowling ball. Please may I have my hair back today? I really prefer to have hair.” She rubbed a hand over her shiny bald head.

“Oh fine,” Peter said. He handed her a hat.

“I don’t want a hat. I want my hair back. Give it back,” the host said.

“Put the hat on,” Peter said.

The host jammed the hat on her head. Her hair flowed out from under the hat and past her shoulders. The audience cheered. The host cried. Peter became an instant celebrity.

Peter the Great went on disappearing things like noses and trees and shopping malls and airplanes and rivers, and mostly putting things back when he felt like it and not a moment before.

And then, one day, the Statue of Liberty went missing, and everyone knew who did it. Weeks passed, and it didn’t come back. The National Park Service called Peter on the phone. “Did you take the Statue of Liberty?” the park ranger asked.

“Yes,” Peter said.

“Will you give it back?”

“No,” Peter said. “I don’t think so. Not yet.”

“Then we’ll see you in court,” the ranger said.

Three weeks later, Peter showed up in time for his trial in a flash of brilliant blue light. The judge blinked and motioned for the bailiff to start the trail.   “The next case is the people versus Peter the Great,” The bailiff said.

“I object,” the prosecuting attorney said. “That’s not his real name.”

“You can’t object yet,” the defense attorney said.   “Court isn’t officially in session.”

“I don’t know his real name,” the bailiff said.   “His paperwork disappeared. The file was filled with paper flowers. I’m not sure how they all fit in there, honestly.”

“Surely his information was still on the computer,” the judge said.

“No, the pages are full of dancing bananas,” the bailiff said.

“Obviously, we can’t hold a trial without the proper paperwork,” the defense attorney said.

“I’m willing to dismiss the case if he’ll give the Statue of Liberty back,” the judge said.

There was a puff of blue smoke and Peter the Great disappeared. When the law caught up with him, he was making streetlights blink morse code. “Is that a message?” the policeman asked, as he closed the handcuffs around Peter’s wrists.

“Yes,” Peter said.

“What does it say?” the policeman asked.

“It says run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me…” and Peter disappeared in a puff of blue smoke. The handcuffs dropped to the ground, empty.

He appeared a week later in a jail cell. By the time anyone noticed, the cell was filling up with white rabbits. “Are you Peter the Great?” the warden asked.

“I might be,” Peter said. “Would you like your statue back now?”

The warden looked around. “I don’t think there’s enough room for it in here,” he said.

“Fair enough,” Peter said, and he disappeared in a puff of blue smoke.

The statue appeared back on its base on Ellis Island.   No one ever saw Peter the Great again.  He’d disappeared himself.

The Magical Veterinarian

“Paws and Miles?” the pretty dark haired nurse asked.   When a young man in the crowded waiting room nodded and stood, she smiled. Her fangs showed, just for a moment. “The wizard will see you now. Follow me.”

Miles tugged a little on the lead and his dragon uncurled and stepped carefully over the unicorn and the basket of rainbow colored bats. They followed the nurse further down into the large underground tunnels. She left them in a cave lined with straw after checking the dragon’s vitals.

“We could fit your whole house in here, Paws,” Miles said.

The dragon blew out a puff of smoke and curled up again.   The young man found some chairs lined up along the back wall of the cave. He picked one and set it down next to his friend. There was a little chime, and then someone knocked on the open door.

“Come in,” Miles said. “Are you the wizard?”

“I’m a wizard,” an older man said. “I’m Wizard Andrew.” He pointed to his nametag.

“What does the MV stand for?” Miles asked.

“Magical veterinarian,” Wizard Andrew said. “Are you Miles?”

Miles nodded. “And this is Paws.” He patted the dragon’s side. The dragon opened one eye and snorted.

“What seems to be the problem?” Wizard Andrew asked.

“He loves ice cream,” Miles said. “But it puts his flames out. So he’s too cold all the time. He has a coat he wears around the house, but he won’t wear it outside.” Miles frowned, and Paws curled up even tighter and turned his back on Miles and the wizard.

“That is a problem. Ice cream isn’t very good for dragons,” Wizard Andrew said.

“Yes, I know,” Miles said. “It’s kind of a weird story.”

“I’d love to hear it,” the wizard said.

“Well, my grandparents gave Paws to my parents as a wedding gift. You know, to guard their new home and such.”

The wizard nodded. “It’s not uncommon. I assume he was still pretty young.”

“Just hatched,” Miles said. “I was born a few years later.”

“So you grew up together,” the wizard said.

“Yes,” Miles said. “And I’m a shapeshifter, and Paws was my best friend.”

The wizard laughed. “So, I suppose that half the time, your parents were raising two little dragons.”

Miles smiled. “That’s pretty much it. They tried to limit sweets, and mostly they did pretty well.   We both had a bit of a sweet tooth though.”

“That is unusual,” the doctor said. “Usually dragons prefer spicy food.”

Miles laughed and patted Paws again. “Oh we do. But, we’ve both always liked the same things, and I love sweets too.”

“And you haven’t had a problem with his flame going out before now?” the wizard asked, writing some notes in his chart.

“Before last week, we never gave him all that much ice cream. Just a scoop to go with a slice of cake or whatever,” Miles said. “But, last week Miles was pretty sick, and my parents are out of town. He wasn’t eating, so I took him to the store to see if there was something else he wanted.   All he wanted was the ice cream.   He was better in a day or two, but he’s still refusing to eat anything but ice cream.”

They both looked up at Paws. Paws looked over his shoulder and blew a puff of smoke at them. Wizard Andrew laughed. “A stubborn one, is he?”

Miles looked embarrassed. “Mom says he learned it from me.”

Wizard Andrew laughed again. “Well, I’ll tell you what I think we can do. I’ll prescribe a mix of herbs and peppers to use as an ice cream topping.   I recommend adding some vegetables as well. The topping should balance out the ice cream enough to stabalize his body temperature.”

The wizard wrote a list on his notepad and handed it to Miles. “Thank you, Wizard Andrew,” Miles said.

“I would suggest you offer him his favorite foods first, before you dish up the ice cream,” the wizard said.

Paws grumbled and Miles laughed. “We’ll try it,” he said.

“Now go get him home and back into his warm coat,” the wizard said. He smiled and gently patted Paws on the side.   Then he left to see his next patient.