“Remember now, Alfie, no more magic!” shouted the little elf’s mother from the floor below. Ten year old Alfie fingered his right, long ear and looked despairingly at the sling shot before him on the bed. He would never forget what happened the last time he used a bit of magic. Unable to control his newly developed power of ‘aim’ he ended up slicing off the top of his neighbour’s middle finger, much to the amazement and anger of certain individuals who did not believe it was an accident.
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Knowing what he must now do, he picked up the enchanted toy or weapon, which ever way some one wanted to perceive such a device, and made his way to the veranda outside his room. There was nothing out there but an endless view of green grass, but somewhere along this meadow, there was an invisible force field that protected him and his folk from the world beyond it. A world where there was no magic, just plain humans getting by with their skill, intellect and labour.
Alfie inhaled deeply and reached his right arm as far back as it would go, he then flung the arm forward releasing the sling shot so far and high in the clear, blue sky that it broke through the force field and landed in one of those plain human’s freshly cut lawns. A glitter of silvery, shimmering aura surrounded the toy temporarily as it laid in its new place.
“Oh no,” Alfie groaned in disappointment, “you were not supposed to go that far,”
His mother, feeling the momentary tremor left by the break in the force field, called out to her son once more: “Alfie, have you been experimenting with your aim spell again?”
“No, Ma, that wasn’t me,” he yelled back at her. He did not like lying to her, but this time he felt as though he had no choice.
Eleven year old Derek Williamson sat up lazily in his bed. His eyes, still heavy with sleep, met the glare of the morning sun as it entered his room via a storm window. Derek squinted and lowered his head until he adjusted and focused his vision more clearly. He looked at the red shorts he fell asleep in. He did it again. Fell asleep without taking the time to put on his pyjamas. If his mother knew he had done this again, for the umpteenth time, she would be furious.
Before that could happen, he darted into the adjoining bathroom, brushed his teeth and showered. Relieved to have done those things without being found out, he dressed in his school unifrom which consisted of long khaki trousers and white shirt that was tucked into those pants. While he was examining his appearance in his full length door mirror, his mother called.
“Derek, are you ready for school? The bus will be here any minute,” she shouted from across the house in the one storey abode. Every morning they went through this same routine; her yelling at him while he was looking at himself in the mirror, already dressed for school, and every morning he gave the same answer as he was about to now.
“Yes, Mom, I’m coming,” he grabbed his grey backpack from the floor next to his unmade bed and headed out.
“Wow, don’t we look all neat today,” remarked his mother on seeing him. She placed a transparent sandwich bag which contained a pear and a roast beef sandwich made from leftover roast from the previous day in his backpack and kissed him on the forehead.
“Well, I’ll see you later,” she said opening the front door.
“See you later, Mom,” said Derek.
On stepping out on the paved walkway next to the lawn, he spied the sling shot. His light brown eyes lit up with enthusiasm upon spotting it. He looked all around him, but seeing no one, he walked ahead of him to the object and picked it up. The sound of the school bus made him suddenly stand up straight. He put the sling shot in his backpack and zipped it up before any of his peers on the bus could see it and stepped out again on the pavement by the roadside.
Derek waved at his mother as she stood in the doorway. She waved back and smiled as he got on the bus and the vehicle’s automatic doors closed. Barry Holson, a yellow haired, freckled face boy with mischievous blue eyes sat behind Derek on the bus everyday.
They were the journeys Derek did not like, for everyday he had no idea what form of mild torture Barry was going to dish out. Some days, Barry would tug at Derek’s hair, other days, he would pull his shirt by the collar. On a good day, Barry would tap him on the head a few times. Derek hoped this would be one of those good days. No sooner had Derek seated himself by the window when it began. Barry pulled his hair. Derek at once became a little agitated, but just pulled away.
“What’s the matter, Derek, a little chicken today, huh, huh,” taunted Barry.
The bus travelled on amid chatter and laughter coming from the other kids on board.
Derek lifted his head and tentatively sat up right.
Again Barry tugged at his hair. This time it was unbearable. Barry pulled his hair so hard that it hurt. Unknown to anyone on the bus, the main compartment of Derek’s backpack unzipped itself. Derek turned around and glared at Barry.
“Stop it, okay,” he said.
“Ooh, he speaks, Derek’s mad, Derek’s mad,” said Barry in a sing song, taunting fashion.
The tip of the sling shot emerged from the sack, still no one noticed, not even Derek. Then the smaller compartment at the front became opened as well. A rectangular eraser showed itself. It emerged bit by bit until it came out and headed in the direction of the sling shot. The eraser placed itself in the pouch of the toy. The pouch tightened its grip on the eraser by securing itself in a folded position, the slingshot was out of the sack by this time.
Before Derek could turn his head to the left of him to see what was happening, the band of the slingshot pulled itself back all the way in a ready position, with the eraser still in a secure position in the pouch. It then raised itself over the top of Derek’s seat and took aim at Barry’s forehead. The band was released. The eraser sped forward and hit Barry in the middle of the forehead, causing him to become unconscious.
Derek heard some girls scream in horror, when he turned to look at his backpack, the slingshot and eraser had already found their way safely inside the bag.
“What’s going on over there?” came the authoritative voice of the bus driver.
Derek felt himself becoming cold with fear as the bus screeched to a halt.
When they arrived at the school, Derek was escorted directly to the waiting area just outside the principal’s office. Barry was taken to the nurse’s office. Derek looked at the wall clock ahead of him, it was 8:15. He wondered why he had not seen the principal yet, when the angry face of his mother showed itself when she came strolling towards him. At this point, he wasn’t sure who he was more afraid of, the principal or his mother.
“I raised you the best I could and this is the thanks I get, a call from the school, so what have you done, and you better not lie to me, boy,” she began waving an index finger at him.
“I, I didn’t do anything,” he stuttered.
“Didn’t I just tell you not to lie to me?” said his mother.
At that point, the principal’s secretary, a young woman who wore glasses with round rims opened the door and said:
“He will see you all now,”
Derek and his mother entered the office and sat before the principal, Mr. John Patters, a bald man. Derek sat on a chair to his left while his mother sat on the right.
“Now tell me what happened on that bus today, boy,” began the principal. His voice was slightly hoarse. Derek recounted what took place, even the part about the sling shot.
Before the principal could utter another word, Derek’s mother turned to glare at her son.
“And just where did you get a slingshot from?” she asked.
“I, I found it,” said Derek.
“And just where did you find this slingshot?” continued his mother.
“On, on the lawn, this morning,” said Derek.
“Well, let’s see this slingshot,” said Mr. Patters.
Derek reached into his backpack which sat on the floor beside him and took out the toy.
“Ahh,” Derek’s mother gasped on seeing the object.
“Well it looks like you got some detention time coming, boy. Slingshots don’t operate by themsleves, and, er, I’ll take that,” said Mr. Patters. He held out a hand for the slingshot.
Derek reluctantly handed it over and sighed.
Later that night, Alfie silently left his house while he was certain his mother was in a deep sleep and slipped through the force field unheard. He placed a medium sized, white rock in front of it once he got to the humans’ side so he would remember the link back to his world.
All he had to do to get to Derek’s house was think of it and he was there, in Derek’s room. Derek was just about to pull the blanket over him when Alfie placed his hand across his mouth, silencing him.
“Don’t be scared,” said Alfie, “I’ve come to help you get back the slingshot,” then he removed his hand from Derek’s face. Derek threw the covers off him and got to his feet. Alfie looked at him in his blue shorts.
“Oh, I did it again,” said Derek with some frustration.
“I’m Derek, who are you?” spoke Derek as he put on some blue jeans and a shirt.
“I’m Alfie, that slingshot is mine. I came to take it back,” he said.
“Okay, but how’d you get in here?” said a perplexed Derek.
“Do you believe in magic?” asked Alfie.
By the time they made it to the school, it was so dark and quiet that Derek became scared.
“I’m gonna be in serious trouble if I get caught here,” he whispered to Alfie.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be all right,” answered a confident Alfie.
Acquiring the slingshot was not hard, before they knew it they were back in Derek’s room saying good bye to one another.
“The principal’s gonna wonder what happened to that,” said Derek pointing at the slingshot in Alfie’s hand.
“You worry too much. You don’t need anything to fight off a bully you know,” said Alfie, “just believe in yourself. You won’t be able to win all the battles that come your way, so walk away from some if you have to,”
“But you don’t understand, this Barry guy is always picking on me,” protested Derek.
“Then let him, sooner or later he’ll get tired and stop,” said Alfie.
“Are you sure?” said Derek.
“Just believe in you and you can face anything you set your heart on,” assured Alfie, “I have to go now before my mother notices I’m gone,”
“Okay,” said Derek.
They said good bye. This time Derek did put on his pyjamas before crawling into bed and as for Alfie. Let’s just say he learned to control and perfect his aim spell.
Peace and unity begin with all of us- Judy Ramsook