Elisha knows the angry voice is from her 7-dimensional mother who knocked her down but now she likes her 3-dimensional mother better. She hollers, “You are not nice to play with. Just go away.”
Alde, fearing the power of the 7-dimensional girl and her ability to destroy the entire universe says, “Wait! What we need is to schedule some playtime with you. How about if we all play tomorrow after school. I will have a new person you can talk to. It is a boy. You will like boys. Don't be angry. We will play with you then and have lots of fun.”
A face made up of floating parts appears and says, “Oh okay” and then disappears.
Alde then whispers to Elisha and her mother, “Don't make her angry. She could hurt all of us.”
Elisha whispers back what she heard Miss Alde say just a few minutes ago, “She will have to hurt me first.”
Just then they see a face made of mishapened parts saying, “Gnnnnrfff … Waaaagschhh” and then disappear.
Alde says, “I think that was the girl's parent. Prob'ly her mother. I wonder what she was trying to tell us.”
Elisha and her new mother say, “We can't speak or understand that language in 3-dimensions. You need two more working dimensions to speak it and to even understand it.”
Alde says, “We need all three dimensions plus time to speak here. Are you saying you only need five of the seven dimensions plus time?”
The mother says, “There are seven dimensions plus time in real world. There are only 2 dimensions you don't have here, those used for speech giving the five needed plus time. The last two are here. You have them but can't use them because they are squished down to nothing.”
Alde understands what the woman is saying and says, “You can think of those two dimensions here that are, as you say squished down, as a 2-dimensional sheet of paper contracted or compressed into a line and then that line is compressed into an insignificant point. It is like if we were squished down to two dimensions like a comic book character we couldn't talk because we would not have the third dimension to make a breath to make our vocal cords vibrate.”
“Exactly. They are here but you cannot use them. That means you could never understand or see what is going on in the seven dimension world.”
“Why are they compressed?” asks Alde.
“Because a young girl cannot create much more than 3 spatial dimensions when she plays. Three is easy for a little girl in seven dimensions. It is easier than for a little girl in your 3-dimensions to draw a 2-dimensional picture. A four or five dimension creation would be impossible for the young girl as only the most talented artists in 7-dimensions can make a 5-dimensional sculpture, and of course no one can create a seven dimensional world they live in.”
Alde is thinking about everything the mother has just said and quietly answers, “Only God can do that.”
The mother asks, “Do you know someone who can create a 7-dimensional world?”
“Why yes. My God created their world. He created everything. I talk to him every day.”
“Ohhh. You have a friend that is most powerful.”
Alde asks, “How do you know so much when Elisha had to be taught everything when she was first made?”
“We now share the same knowledge. Isn't that how mother and daughter work together here?”
“No. Each has to learn his or her own knowledge.”
“I better have that corrected if we are to be just like humans. Should I become four years old like Elisha to start learning everything?”
“No. You are her mother and you are the correct looking age right now. Keep the knowledge you have and the body you have. Fourth grade knowledge from my school is more knowledge than even most grown folks have here in three dimensions. Jest start learning on your own from now on.”
“Miss Alde? I'm having trouble understanding the Partial Differential Integral LaGrange Equations for airfoil lift”, said Elisha.
“I'll review them with you after supper. Even some adults have trouble with them.”
That evening Alde Long dreamt she heard someone calling to her. It sounded like the person was drowning. “Galbdi … Balbdi … moof Albdi” and suddenly she felt something on her shoulder. She startled awake to see a large disorganized face above her head with a mis-shapened hand on her shoulder. “Whaaaa?! … Who are you?!” hollered Alde.
“Moothra. … Mothra of poopilon.”
“Are you the mother of the child who made our world?”
“Yes. Mother of child. Poopilon maake troufle for ooo.”
“Yes. Make trouble. Oonce ear woods dencaba sayum.”
“Once you hear words then you can say them?”
“Yes. Yes. Hoost earning.”
“Just learning, eh? Well I'm a teacher of people who want to learn”, and Alde spent the night teaching the large disoriented face all the words of the English language. In return Alde Long listened to the story of a mother from seven dimensions:
“Life in your simple 3-dimensional world goes so fast. You are born, grow quickly, move fast and die shortly after being born. Yet you seem to accomplish everything you need to continue in that short time.”
“What is life like in your world?” asked Alde.
“We do not grow in time like you do. We grow in stages. The first one is something like what you would call a cocoon, from that is born a poopilon, which then becomes a papalon which is similar to a teenager, then it becomes a matrilon who mates and finally a grapilon who is an elder. We are not allowed to talk about the stages and it is forbidden to teach anyone how to get to the next stage in life. Each must learn on its own. That means some take much longer than others to go through the stages. My poopilon is taking forever to become a papalon, which would then make me a grapilon, but I must let her learn on her own. She is gifted in what you would call art. She made your universe as a home project all on her own. All poopilons make a 3-dimensional playhouse where they watch things move around. Most of the playhouses are poorly designed and the poopilons get tired of playing with them and it is the boredom with their stage that makes them grow into the next stage. When my poopilon saw that your world could make things all on its own, like air bugs, water bugs, and land bugs like you, she became engrossed in her playhouse and began to shun her own matrilons … yes, shun her own parents. I'm afraid she will never grow into a papilon.”
“What happens to the playhouses when the poopolons grow into papalons?” asked Alde.
“They are discarded. There is no more interest in it. All motion in the playhouse is stopped and the matter is squished, so to speak, back into the tube for the next poopilon's playhouse.”
“We will be killed?”
“No, no. You will just stop moving. You will just stop being. You are, after all, just short-lived bugs. It is not like we stopped the motion of one of our own. You are just artwork of no value.”
“We have value to ourselves and others like us just as you only have value to yourself and others like you. We demand a say in your decision.”
“Oh Alde. Don't be ridiculous. You belong to my poopilon who can do whatever she wants with you. Maybe we will talk again sometime”, and the mother disappears.
The next day Alde was scheduled to play with the 7-dimensional girl after school. Alde is sitting there with Colel Washington and his daughter Alma along with Mildred and Jonah and Elisha and her 3-dimensional mother. Suddenly an eye appears in the corner of the room with an upside down nose appearing above another eye in front of Alde Long. Alde gets a mirror and says, “Look at us and then look at yourself in this mirror. How can you create something beautiful like Elisha and her mother and not be able to make yourself even to look like a human?”
The parts of the face move to their correct places as one eye keeps looking into the mirror and then Alde heard, “We don't have mirrors as they only work in your dimensions. How's that?” as the new face now rests in front corner of the room.
“Where is the rest of your body?” asks Alde.
“Why do I need all of the body when I'm only going to talk?”
“Well, um …oh … um … you would need the rest of the body in case you wanted to dance.”
“What is dancing?”
“ Alma , please put on that 45 record on top of the pile, and Miss Alde starts doing the twist to The Everly Brothers “ Wake Up Little Suzie ”
Colel and the children never thought someone as sophisticated as Miss Alde Long would dance that way. They thought it looked funny and they laughed a little bit. But they laughed loudly when Alde started singing to the song with the Everly Brothers:
Well I told your mama we'd be in by ten
Well Suzie baby it looks like we goofed again
Wake up little Suzie
Wake up little Suzie
We gotta go home
And Alde danced to the music like she was a teenager again, legs moving every which way, hips popping side to side and front to back with her arms flailing in the air, making the children laugh out loud with a feeling Miss Alde was just like they were. They saw the mouth in the face of the head in the corner stretch sideways like a poor attempt at smiling but hear a groaning sound. It was the same sound that Alde heard before, when she danced after being lifted out of three dimensions, and knew the 7-dimensional girl was laughing. Alde next put on Elvis Presley's “ Jailhouse Rock ” and waved everyone to dance. Colel stood in front of Miss Alde trying to duplicate her moves while Alma and Mildred danced together and Elisha and her 3-dimensional mother danced together, leaving Jonah alone, so he danced in front of the head in the corner that suddenly had what might be called stick legs that moved together as one. Her dancing was only something a cartoon person could do because it defied gravity. But it looked funny and Jonah laughed, which made the groaning sound louder as the mouth of the head spread amusingly wide to match the smile on everyone's face.
Then suddenly the head with stick legs disappeared and everything went pitch black, again like it was before light was invented, but only Alde and Colel were in such complete darkness like that before. “Don't worry children. We are just having an experiment. The lights will come on again shortly” reassured Miss Alde. But they didn't.
Mildred started to cry. Alma held her and said, “I won't fall off the log this time my little monkey friend”, which made Mildred laugh.
After about a half hour the lights came back on. Everyone was huddled in the middle of the room. That is, everyone except Jonah, who was missing. Alde, who knew where they just were, whispers to Colel, “Jonah is still in seven dimensions.”
After school Alma goes to Alde's school office to tell her about what the kindergarten children saw. She hears talking through the door like Miss Alde was scolding one of the children. She thinks it must be a bad time to try to talk to her and leaves to wait for her father to pick her up.
Meanwhile in Alde's office we find she has been talking to the 7-dimensional girl through her 3-dimensional home-made body. “You do not even look like a human that would be alive. You must read up on physiology to understand how humans work and then you must have a body that looks like a human. And you need a name. We will call you Elisha.”
“I already have a name. It is Whaaa … Glaaa. I can't say it.”
“We cannot pronounce your name in 3 dimensions. That is why I gave you a new name”, as Alde hands Elisha a book.
“What do I do with this?”
“Read it. It is a book on Physiology. Reading the book will teach you about the human body so you can make a better one.”
“I do not know what reading is.”
Alde Long drops her head into her hands and shakes her head like she was indicating the word ‘no' over and over again. “You better be a fast learner Elisha”, and Alde reaches for her kindergarten first reader and starts a two hour lesson with a little girl whose looks would only pass for a dismembered corpse from some different planet. At the end of the session Elisha was reading at a college level, for she was a very fast learner. “Now read the book on Physiology and rebuild yourself into a human-looking replica” said Alde, and with that the little girl disappeared.
The next morning when Miss Alde was starting the kindergarten she noticed the children looking frightened and watching something behind her. She quickly turned around and saw what looked like ghosts made up of human parts. They quickly disappeared. Alde, being a quick thinker, said, “What do you think of my laser projector of virtual boogeymen, children. I'm surprised no one mentioned anything. I thought it wasn't working, but I guess it jest turns out no one is afraid of them anymore, even though I made em look like they was floatin' in the air.” She then leaves the classroom, goes to her office and hollers, “Elisha!”
Elisha appears and Alde says, “You cannot appear to anyone but me. If you want to pretend you are a human to play with us you have to remember we cannot appear or disappear.”
“That wasn't me. My parents were trying to look in my playhouse to see what I was doing.”
“Our universe is your playhouse?”
“Yes. That is why I made it. I never thought it would grow anything and I certainly didn't expect it to grow people who could make tiny things themselves. You became my little friends and now I want to know what you are like. I will hide everything so my parents can't find you again.”
“Good. We don't want your parents finding us and ... um, what would they do if they found us?”
“They would probably crumple you and throw you out.”
“They would make everything stop moving and squish it back into the little ball I made it from.”
“Oh. … Well, we don't want that to happen, do we?”
“No. You are in my playhouse that has made you and you are my friend who I want to play with.”
“How would you like to come to my school to play with me during the day. I play teacher where I teach little children like you all about being a human?”
“Oh I would like that. Can I start now?”
“You have to look a little more like a little girl first. Use the knowledge you learned from the Physiology book to make your self as close to human as you can. Make yourself smaller and look like this” as Alde shows her a picture of a four year old girl in Europe . Elisha disappears and immediately reappears as that girl carrying the same kind of book bag.
“Well now you look jest like a little human Elisha. Now go hide your playhouse real good so's your parents won't find us.”
Elisha disappears and reappears. “I hid you way in the back of my oomph … molch … I can't say it, but it is only used in emergencies” she says. “Now can we play school?”, and Alde takes her little hand into the kindergarten and announces, “We have a new class member. Her name is Elisha. She is a fast learner, so if she quickly skips grades do not think that means you are slow learners. Everyone here is as smart as a little whip, but now and then we get a special person like Elisha who is like our great benefactor Enos who accomplished so much at a young age and who left us this nice school. Go sit next to Mildred, Elisha”, and Mildred smiles a big smile while she waves her tiny hand to show who she was. Elisha was only slightly bigger than Mildred, and they seemed to be friends immediately.
Jonah brings over a drawing of Elisha showing her in a beautiful gown surrounded by flowers. Elisha looks at the drawing and reaches into her book bag and brings out a beautiful sculpture of Jonah, that just happened to appear there, which was made from a kind of wood no one has ever seen before. Jonah was dumbfounded and asked, “How did you do that so fast? It is really beautiful.”
Elisha said, “I did it earlier when I saw you here yesterday when I came to register. The teacher said I was a fast learner.”
Mildred says, “Call her Miss Alde” and looks sad that her new friend liked Jonah, because she also liked him but never gave him anything. Elisha noticed Mildred was sad and pulled out a sculpture of her also, which also just appeared in her book bag, and handed it to her. Mildred could not stop giggling and didn't ask any question but took the sculpture of herself and held it to her tiny chest.
Alde Long asks Elisha to see her outside of the classroom and says, “You cannot make other things appear or disappear either. Humans cannot do that and you must not either if you are playing the part of a human. Do you understand, Elisha?”
“Yes, Miss Alde”, and Alde Long is surprised to see this human representative of a powerful 7-dimensional girl suddenly show the respect that a 4 year old human would.
Elisha did not have 3-dimensional parents, so solving the problem of a last name and an answer as to where she would live posed a problem for Alde. She decided to have her live with her and gave her the name Smith. She told everyone Elisha was the granddaughter of an old college friend who passed away and Elisha had no other place to live seeing as “her parents are not of this world”. The children would automatically assume they passed away and Alde Long would not be lying. This also gave Alde a chance to learn more about the 7 dimensions through Elisha's creator who now wanted to be called Elisha's mother seeing as how she built Elisha. But Alde got little chance to learn from Elisha's mother because the mother was acting like a mother, that is, she was trying to control her daughter by scolding Elisha for every little thing Elisha did that the mother thought should be done in a different way.
In four weeks Elisha was in the fourth grade. She indeed was a fast learner, but
Alde saw she was asking for a repeat showing of the solution of the LaGrange equations for airfoil lift in the aerodynamics class. She couldn't understand the effect of humidity on air density. This concerned Alde because it was understood by all of the other fourth graders. That night as Alde and Elisha were having stew for supper Alde asked, “How are you feeling, Elisha?”
“Feeling? Alma said feeling is like a pin sticking in your finger. Mildred said feeling can also be like candy in your heart. I have no pin in my fingers and I have no candy in my heart.”
“Do you seem different than, say, last week?”
“My mother makes me feel like a pin sticking in my heart.”
Alde cannot believe she heard that and asks in a different way. “Do you not like your mother?”
“Mildred says I am supposed to love her, but I don't think I do. Mother asks me questions I don't know the answer to.”
“Like what, Elisha?”
“She wants to know what it feels like to be a bug. I tell her I am not a bug, but she says I am just a 3-dimensional bug to her and she wants me to tell her if I enjoy being a bug. I told her I liked the other bugs here and I said she was just a bigger bug. Then she got mad and knocked me down. She knows she promised you she would not make anything appear or disappear, but she said she could make me stop moving. She said you said that means she would kill me. I don't want her to kill me”, and Elisha starts to cry. Alde gets up and holds Elisha, saying, “She will have to hurt me first.”
Later that night after Alde put Elisha to bed she goes into the kitchen and says, “Elisha's mother, I want to talk to you.”
A beautiful woman of about 35 years of age appears and she says, “How do you like me as a mother bug?”
“You are doing a pretty good job of replicating humans, but you don't know the first thing about us. You don't know what the feeling of hurt is or what love is. You are a very stupid girl.”
“What is hurt and love? Why do you have them?” asks the mother, and Alde sits down at the kitchen table and describes all the feelings normal humans have. To her surprise the mother seemed to understand and wished to see her daughter.
“She looks like she is what you call happy laying there”, said the mother in the doorway as she looked upon Elisha sleeping.
“Young people mostly have only fear and happiness in their lives”, said Alde. “They are happy most of their young life and only fear harm coming to those they love.”
“Would she love me?”
“Children almost always love their mother the most. Would you like me to wake her to introduce you to her?”
“Can you do that?”
“Elisha”, as Alde lightly rubs her little shoulder. “There is someone I would like to introduce you to.”
Elisha rubs her eyes and sees a stranger. “Who are you?” she asks.
“This is your mother, Elisha.”
“Yes Elisha. I made you and I am now a bug just like you. Could you love me?”
Elisha has tears coming down her chubby cheeks and hugs her mother, when suddenly they hear a booming voice say, “I don't like this. You are supposed to be playing with me and everyone is playing with each other. I don't like this playhouse anymore.”
Colel looks at his daughter Alma's eyes when he gets home and sees she does not have what he assumes would look something like eye buds on the sides of her eyes. “I'm just checking for jaundice, princess. I heard the flu was going around” he reassured her. He then moved his hand on the side of her head and asked, “Can you see my hand move?”
“Of course I can, Daddy. That's called averted vision. Miss Alma checked everyone at school for that just yesterday. I have 180 degree motion detection. Jonah can actually see at 90 degrees. He could name the color of every crayon Miss Alde put next to his ear. No one else could even see the crayons that close. She then checked his eyes for the flu too, but I don't think he had it either.”
“Jonah? Who is Jonah?”
“He's the twelve year old boy in kindergarten who is the artist, Daddy. He drew my princess drawing I showed you.”
“Oh yes. I remember. What other things can he do other than draw?”
“He knows magic tricks. He can make stuff disappear and reappear in new places.”
Colel had a fearful look on his face but just said, “He is a different kind of boy, isn't he?”, but the next day he insisted on meeting with Alde Long before classes started. “Jonah is from other dimensions, Miss Alde. No one here can do the things he does. He must be the older brother of the five year old girl.”
Alde laughed and said, “Jonah has a wonderful sense of humor and the children just love him, but he merely has sever dyslexia and cannot learn to read, but he can do things many others cannot do.”
“Yes. Just like that little girl. He has eyes that can see right next to his ear. He can make stuff appear and disappear. None of us normal people can do that.”
“Wait right here, Colel”, and Alde calls Jonah into her office. “Sit down here, Jonah. I want to test your eyes again. What color is this?” says Alde smiling as she holds a Burnt Sienna color crayon in back of his ear.
“I don't know, Miss Alde.”
Alde rotates his chair a little and says, “Try again”, and Jonah precisely names ten colors in a row of crayons held behind his ear.
“Now I'm going to throw a crayon, a small ball, and a piece of chalk to you and I want you to make them disappear.” She then tosses a Fuchsia colored crayon to Jonah who catches it with one hand, tosses it back and forth to his other hand and suddenly it disappears. He does the same with the ball and piece of chalk.
“Now I'm going to toss you an eraser, Jonah, and I want you to do your best to make it disappear.”
Jonah catches the eraser, tosses it back and forth and suddenly it is stuck in his sleeve. “It is too big, Miss Alde” says Jonah as he tips his arm letting all the other objects fall out.
“Colel. Now you sit here and tell me what color crayon I'm holding behind your ear.”
Colel smiles and says, “Blue”
“Wrong” says Alde, “It is Aquamarine, which is a shade of blue-green. You would have to start in my Kiddygarden to learn colors if you went to this school, young man, but at least you saw the mirror like we used for Jonah to see the colors so's he could entertain the other children with his magic abilities. Jonah learns magic quickly, but magic is all smoke and mirrors, slight of hand and misdirection of attention. Magic is important because it shows how we can misinterpret what we see. Remember Colel, what you see is true, but what you see is not always what is there. Now I want to show you an amazing ability that Jonah truly has. Sit down again Jonah” as Alde brings a big picture covered with a piece of thin metal having a thin slit in it showing one line of the picture only fifteen thousandths wide. “Jonah has never seen this picture cuz it jest got mailed to me yesterday” she says as she holds the picture in front of Jonah and asks “What is this picture?” as she quickly slides the slit down the picture so Jonah can only see a line at a time. Jonah says “It is a picture of a mother and child.”
Alde says, “Yes, but what color were the mothers eyes and what was the child holding?” Jonah says, “Her eyes were the color Cerulean and the baby was holding a pink, no it was a Mauvelous colored rattle in its left hand.”
Alde removes the metal cover and shows both that Jonah was correct. “Now you will see a truly amazing ability, Colel” as Alde brings out a machine she made where a camera shutter was on a motorized track which allowed a twenty thousandths hole to be seen at a time of the picture otherwise totally hidden behind it with another metal cover. She goes to her closet and brings out a picture rolled up and places it in the machine without allowing Jonah or Colel to see it. “You ain't never seen any of these pictures, Jonah, so look closely” she says, and when she presses an electrical key the shutter moves very fast, opening for ten thousandths of a second as it traverses randomly over the picture. It took five minutes for the computer to show the entire twenty by twenty inch high definition picture in its entirety and then the machine stopped. “What is this a picture of, Jonah?” she asked.
“It is a picture of a Magenta colored rose with a broken petal. There is a honey bee hovering above it and two Mallard ducks flying in the sky above it with the male on the right and the female on the left. There is a white house with a picket fence around a vegetable garden in the background with a little girl with peach colored hair wearing a Lavender party dress with a black cotton belt swinging on a swing and a collie puppy is standing beside the swing.”
Alde removes the picture and shows Colel that it was exactly as Jonah said. “Jonah is a common boy with amazing skills. I think his skills might be valuable someday, don't you Colel?” and Alde looks at Colel knowing what he is thinking.
“Thank you for your time, Jonah. Would you get the Kiddygarden started while I start the other grades?” and when he leaves she turns to Colel and says, “I think we should meet at the Research Institute this Saturday again. Perhaps we should consider inviting Jonah this time.”
“How can he do that?” asked Colel.
“He says he pictures a white sheet of paper in his mind and places the lines or dots on it as they are shown to him. When they are all shown he has the picture in his head and can jest look at it like he was lookin' at the real picture.” Alde then looks at the door that Jonah walked out and adds, “I can only do that for big black squares and big black circles. I guess what Ol' Remus once said is true.”
“What was that, Miss Alde?”
“He said: ‘Everyone knows the same amount of stuff … it's jest different stuff.' I guess that holds for abilities also. We all have abilities, jest different ones. All anyone needs is someone to bring those abilities to blossom.”
“Why do you keep him Kindergarten?”
“There Jonah is appreciated. He is with children with his own reading ability. It reminds him that he must try harder to overcome that handicap and by trying harder he becomes smarter. He does know upperclass material. He can do amazing arithmetic in his head and solve complicated math problems in his head. He knows all of the old artists' works and can paint, carve, and sculpture amazingly beautiful things. He jest can't read nor will he ever be able to. Yet I do not worry about him because he will become one of the most decent men I will have known, and decent people, Mr. Washington, is what we are here in these 3 dimensions to become.”
“How can he learn math and stuff about the old artists if he can't read?”
“Jest cuz a man can't read, Colel, doesn't mean he cannot understand when he is being read to. I read to him myself, and I must say I never have to go back and read anything a second time with that young man. I don't know if that dyslexia was a blessing or a curse, but he is learning right nicely with it anyway, so iff'n it was meant to be a curse it ain't workin'.”
But Alde Long soon will become worried about Jonah as he sits at his kindergarden desk drawing pictures he does not recognize
Meanwhile Alma is now in the second grade. She likes not being in the first grade anymore but liked the children that are still there. She particularly likes the kindergarten children who were her first friends and has become close friends with Jonah who she often meets at lunch break for lessons in art. “What is that a picture of, Jonah?” she asks as she sees what he has just drawn.
“I don't know. It is something I saw, but I don't know what it is.”
“It looks like something Picasso would draw. He drew people with both of their eyes on the same side of their disfigured head too, but even he didn't draw two eyes in one. That is gross, Jonah.”
“I know, Alma , but I see it and keep remembering that Miss Alde always says ‘what you see is true, but what you see is not always what is there'. I think I am not seeing what is really there.”
Alma stands up and says, “Whatever you are seeing looks horrible. I don't want to learn that kind of drawing” and she leaves to play with her tiny kindergarten friend Mildred.
“Hello Alma .”
“Do you think Jonah is acting funny?”
“Jonah can't learn to read.”
“I know. Isn't that awful?”
“No. He is nice just the way he is.”
“Well, I know he is nice, but wouldn't it be nicer if he could learn to read?”
“No. Then he would be different. I like him just the way he is.”
“He's not happy right now. Wouldn't you like to make him happy?”
“He is working on a problem. Jonah is smart. He will solve the problem and be happy again.”
“He is drawing funny pictures that he doesn't understand.”
“He drew a picture of something I saw and now he sees them too. Jonah will tell me what I saw when he solves the problem.”
“Both of you saw those funny pictures?”
“The whole class saw them. They were there when Miss Alde was there but they left when she did.”
“What did the kids do then?”
“Everyone rubbed their eyes and didn't say anything. We all thought it was just sleep in our eyes. Jonah didn't look scared so we told him what we saw. He is big and strong. I'm glad he can't read or he wouldn't be with us.”
“What did they look like?”
Mildred put her tiny hands near her face with her little fingers bending every which way. She stretched her mouth up and down and pushed her nose from side to side. Then she said, “It was like a face being made from parts that didn't fit, or a face coming apart”, and then she started crying. “I'm sorry. I'm afraid. I don't mean to be a baby” and she hugged Alma like she was offering what little protection she could give someone bigger than her with the hopes the bigger one would reciprocate.
Alma said, “We are two monkeys on a log, Mildred.”
“I saw a program about the yearly floods in Africa . It showed how the animals coped with the drought and then the heavy rains. The area was flooded with deep water all over the place. There was a frightened monkey on a floating log watching another monkey in the deep water desperately trying to reach the log. You could tell the monkey on the log wanted the one in the water to reach the log but didn't know how to help it. Finally the monkey in the water reached the log and managed to climb on. Once the monkey was on the log they both stood up and ran towards each other with open arms. They met in the middle of the log and hugged each other for safety, each hoping the other would keep them safe, but both fell into the water with their arms around each other.”
“Did they die?”
“No Mildred. They both climbed back on the log and just sat together after that. I just wanted to tell you a story about two frightened people who hug each other because they care for each other and who will help the other as best they can, even if neither knows how.”
Mildred smiles and hugs Alma again saying, “I wish you had trouble reading too.”
Colel steps back into Alde's office ten minutes later and says, “I can't get out.”
“This is a building completely under my control, Colel. Nothing happens in here that I don't control. I'm sorry I forgot to allow you to leave. I was deep in thought about this four eyed doll. It is corrected now and you may go if you still want to.”
“You have no control over what a little girl does, but you have complete control over a grown man just trying to leave your building?”
“That little girl has more power than in our whole universe, Colel. Can you imagine how easy it was for her to make perfect replicas of us in dolls? It is as easy as a two year old human putting one block onto another. She is at least seven dimensions and is only playing with three. It is like one of our one year old nippers drawing a line on a sheet of paper with a crayon. They all can do it with ease, but to a one dimensional creature it would be like they created a whole new universe. We have discovered a power greater than what we have known could exist. Doesn't that make you curious as to why we are just making contact now? Don't you want to know this little girl, if that is indeed what she is?”
“What if she is some kind of evil we are letting into our world?”
“Then she will torture or kill us. We have no power against what she does. Didn't you say you were not afraid to die?”, and just then Alde Long has a fearful look on her face and suddenly and completely disappears. Colel screams an almost silent scream and suddenly disappears also. If there was another person in the room it would have seemed like they only blinked their eyes, for they returned almost immediately, but with a frightful look on their faces.
“Whad'ja see Colel?” asked Alde almost immediately.
“I don't know.”
“I saw a 3-dimensional world I didn't recognize. Izzat what you saw?”
“Yes. I think that was what I saw, but I heard a noise like a groan … no, it was more like a song sung by a really bad singer.”
“I heard that too, but all the time I felt like I was floating in air. I think that little girl, or maybe it is some kind of ogre, picked us up.”
“Then why would you disappear?”
“Think ‘bout it, Colel. A 2-dimensional creature could easily slide a 1-dimensional creature off his line onto the 2-dimensional plane. To the 1-dimensional creatures still on the line it would look like that creature disappeared. Same with a 3-dimensional creature lifting a 2-dimensional creature off'n a plane. To them other 2-dimensional creatures on the plane it would look like their friend jest disappeared. We jest got lifted outten our 3-dimensional world. Talk about space travel, Collel, we are the astronauts to the astronauts”, and Alde Long dances as though she were a teenager just asked to the Prom, but as she turned Colel noticed she was like a sheet of paper; she had no depth, and then he noticed everything looked like it was drawn on a sheet of paper. Then he saw a flat picture of a very large little girl and Alde Long was like a picture dancing on the picture of the young girl, like you would perhaps see in a comic book or a drawing. Again they heard the groaning sound as the girl looked like she was laughing. Alde stops dancing as soon as she notices the girl and suddenly they hear a loud noise, the girl disappears, and everything goes back to 3-dimensions.
“What jest happened, Colel?”
“I … I … ooohhh”, and Colel faints.
Five minutes later Colel revives and Alde is patting his forehead with a wet washcloth. “You is the scarediest scaredy-cat I ever met, Colel. We had the most exciting experience anyone has ever had and yer mind jest blanks out.”
“I don't understand anything that is happening.”
“I don't neither, but that is why it is so exciting. It is the beautiful unknown, Colel, and we are part of it.”
Suddenly both are with a little girl that looks like she was five years old. “Hello” she said.
“Who … who …who” and Colel just looks around and sees there is nothing around him but Alde Long and the girl … no walls, no floor, no trees, just white.
Alde asks, “What is your name?”
The little girl made a noise that sounded like bottles being thrown into a stone quarry.
“Can you speak our language?” Alde asked.
“Yes. I watched you and I know it. I'm not really here, you know. I just drew myself onto where you live. You can't come to where I live, so I drew myself onto where you live. My mother says I shouldn't make you my friends, but I like you things. You are funny.”
“Why doesn't your mother want you to be friends with us?” asks Alde.
“She says I can't learn anything from playing with bugs like you. My girlfriend is coming over to see you. She might be afraid like my mommy is, so if she tries to hurt you I will close you off like this”, and suddenly Alde and Colel are in total darkness, floating in a vacuum but yet able to exist, and just as suddenly as the lights went out they returned.
Alde asks, “Where were we just then?”
“I put you in a world where you do not live. Don't worry, I won't hurt you. You are my friends. Oops, Mom's coming”, and Colel and Alde are instantly back in Alde's office where the sunlight coming through the windows suddenly goes out … everything becoming black, really black, like it was midnight in the rain forest on an overcast night during a complete solar eclipse or, to better describe it, dark like before the Sun existed. It was darker than any human ever witnessed before, and a split second later the sun was shining again just as though nothing happened … other than it was very quiet. There wasn't a sound to be heard through the windows. The tractor noise not noticed before was noticeably not heard now. The birds singing that were not noticed before are now noticed by their absence. Alde runs to the window and sees everything is as it should be, except there is no life seen. She looks at the sky and sees three suns shining down and can see hundreds of moons of different colors and sizes all somehow floating in the sky and presumably revolving around the Earth. “We are in a different part of the Universe, Colel, or maybe a whole new universe” she gasped.
Colel was shaking his head trying not to faint as Alde runs to the picture controlling the portal and flips the picture seven times clockwise and twice counterclockwise. She sticks her head into the portal and sees just blackness where she should have seen herself as a mother of three children in the parallel universe where she married a sea captain she met in a bar. “Our little girl friend does not know how to do everything, Colel. She does not know everything about us.”
“We are toys to a monster” was all Colel said, as his eyes rolled back into his head, giving up the strength of his body to control his mind with the only defensive mechanism it knew to fight off freight as best it knew how. He lay there limp on the floor.
Suddenly the little girl reappeared and said, “How do you like your new home?”
“Where is everyone else?” asked Alde. “Where are the birds, the other people, the animals?”
“You two are my friends. The other things are not. I made a nice home for you hidden in my room where my Mom can't find you. Do you like your new home?”
“We like our old home better. How old are you?” asks Alde.
“Old?” replies the girl with a question.
“You look like you could be my child or my grandchild. You look like you could have been born from me.”
“I have seen you born from frogs. I have seen your world born from fire. I have seen your universe born from a wish I made. Don't be angry with me. I was just lonely and want you to be my friends.”
“Are we the first friends you ever had?”
“No. I had others, but they stopped moving. They weren't fun anymore.”
“Your other friends died?”
“Died? They just stopped moving so I made them stop existing.”
“Do you know their names?”
“One was called Amelia Earhart , one was Jimmy Hoffa , then there was also Agatha Christie , Glenn Miller , and many others. I also took this that had friends in it ”, as she shows an enormous boat .
“That's the USS Cyclops what's been missing since 1918. It had 309 people on board. What happened to them?” asks Alde.
“They all stopped moving.”
“You killed them. You made them stop living. You caused pain.” said Alde with the sternness a mother would use.
“I don't know what killed them means. Did I do something wrong?”
“Yes you did. You have no right to let those people stop moving. Being able to move is essential for us to be happy. We need protection from those who would let us stop moving and we need food … the food grown on our own world. Why did you take these particular people?”
“They were alone and I thought they wanted someone to play with.”
“You did a bad thing, but it is done now. Just don't do it again. We must go back to our world now. You can come visit us in our world so you can learn about us.”
“Can we play if I send this make believe body of me to where you live?”
“Yes. I will teach you all about our world and you can teach me all about your world.”
“Oh, that would be fun”, and suddenly Colel and Alde Long were back in Alde's office.
Alde immediately ran to the window and saw the tractor plowing the north field and heard the birds. She ran to the portal which had already been set and peeked in to see the three children she had in a parallel world. She turned to Colel who was just reviving and said, “We are home again … at least for now.”
Colel sits in his chair rubbing his head and asks, “How can a five year old child have so much power?”
“Children are children Colel. Everything is new to them and they want to learn.”
“How can you teach little children at your school to be so smart so young?”
“Children are the most wonderful thing, Colel. They want to learn and don't know their ability to learn other than they know what is expected of them. At my school they see what I expect of them and they see all the other children learn, so they learn. You see, Colel, they was never told that learning fast wasn't normal, so they don't know they are learning fast. It's not like public schools where they teach as fast as the slowest learner. It's not like public schools where they do not punish children for breaking laws or refusing to learn. The public school system is designed to fail. It will only turn out stupid children who will become criminals in order to live. The only ones benefitting from public schools are the teachers who are milking the public for a cushy life and who bear no responsibilities for the cheap product they turn out.”
“I am afraid to stay here and I'm afraid to go home” says Colel staring at the desk top.
“Go home, Colel. I will make the decision for you. Go home. Tomorrow will be a whole new exciting day.”
As Colel was leaving Alde's office they both hear the awful noise they heard when they saw the smiling five year old girl. He turns to see Alde smiling and wiggling her fingers as a goodbye gesture. Colel wanted to run but now knew there was no place in 3-dimensions to run to.
Colel comes to and Alde Long is sitting at her desk just looking at him. “Tell me what ya saw, Colel.”
“You fainted. Tell me what ya saw.”
“I think it was something evil or powerful or maybe both. I was never so frightened before in my life. What was it?”
“I don't know, but I seen somethin' too and I wanna know if it was the same thing. You have a secondary pupil and lens on the side of your eye which focuses on a second optic nerve near yer nose. To my knowledge we are the only two that have this ancillary eye. It is in both of our eyes. I think we are seeing something that we are not supposed to see, like this secondary pupil was depressed in evolution or is developing because of evolution. However we got em, I never liked being the only one to have something. I never minded being the only one to know something, but not having something. So tell me what ya saw, Colel.”
“I saw moving lines … lots of moving lines. Somehow I knew it was from something alive that I didn't understand. I was never so frightened in my life. Most people are afraid of dying, which they think is the worst fate that can happen to them. I have never been afraid to die. I wasn't afraid of dying when I saw all of those lines, but I was afraid of what I was seeing … as though I was looking at God himself.”
“It weren't no God, Colel. God is a spirit what's ya can't see. We saw this and now gotta figure out what it was. What we both saw was lines all over the place, and dots too. Lot'sa lines and dots. What would cause that? … I think we was lookin' into other dimensions.”
“What? Can we do that? What are other dimensions?”
“If you was one dimensional you could only see ahead or behind. You would be like a number on a string. If a 2-dimensional plane or 3-dimensional object crossed the line you would only see a dot. Now iff'n you lived in 2-dimensions, like on a 2-dimensional plane, and some 3-dimensional person stuck his hand through the plane you would only see a line. Ya with me so far?”
“Now spose a 4-dimensional creature put his hand in our 3-dimensional world. What would you see? Taking it one step further it would seem like you would see a plane, right. And a 5-dimensional creature putting his hand in a 4-dimensional world would create a 3 dimensional image. But we are 3-dimensional and we see lines and dots, so I think we are living in a world where there are 7 dimensions in order to see lines and dots in 3 dimensions. I think we are seeing 7-dimensional creatures moving around.”
“What would we look like to them?”
“We would look like just 3 dimensional critters in a 7-dimensional world, Colel. We would look like bugs on a string or something totally useless to them, like maybe cartoon characters on a sheet of paper that lived their life never knowing about them higher dimensional creatures.”
“Yes. Until now, Colel. We have no control over them, so I would think we can jest continue living as we have. We should not fear them as they seem to have never had any interest in us before. Oh, look what time it is. Alma must be getting hungry for her supper. See you in another month Colel.”
But Alde Long did not see Colel one month later, so she sent a note home with Alma demanding him to meet her on Saturday morning at the Enos Marsilvia Memorial Research Laboratories on Ezekiel Marsilvia's farm. Colel reluctantly complied. He entered the large building but no one seemed to be there. There was a lighted green arrow with the words “Follow me, Colel” on it. The arrows led down a long hall, up two flights of stairs and down a long hallway again. It was a type of building that Colel never thought existed, for the rooms had no doors and the doorway was just opaque. He could not see what was inside any of them, other than he saw they were far apart meaning the rooms were large. He came to a doorway where the green arrow said “Here”. Suddenly the opaqueness faded and he could see through the doorway. There was Alde Long sitting at a large desk in the corner of a large room. She looked up and said, “Come in Colel” and pointed to an empty chair across from her.
Colel slowly walked into the room looking around. It was like a room from the future, for there were things that seemed far beyond his understanding.
“This is the office that belonged to one of my former students. His name was Enos. He was the smartest person in the world and he was the most humble person that ever lived. I loved him as though he was my son. He decided he had to move on out of these dimensions to learn what he could in the afterlife. He left all of this to me. I am the only one who comes here now. No one else can understand what Enos did and he never wanted his discoveries to make any one powerful, as humans never learned to handle power. You are the first person other than me to be in this building since his death a few years ago, other than his older brother and sister who jest step into the front door every Sunday to change the flowers in the entryway. I have asked you to come here because I think together we can discover something worthy of our being in this fine building. You know what it is.”
“I'm afraid of what we saw and I'm afraid of being in this building. I'm afraid that it could be evil.”
“Knowledge is never evil, Colel. It can only be used in an evil way. Knowledge is what every person should strive to acquire, but most folks are too lazy unless they learn the love of knowledge at a very young age. I was afraid Alma was too old to discover that love, but it turns out she was not. Are you too old to learn new things, Colel? I know you are willing to learn knowledge others have had, but are you willing to discover new knowledge?”
“I will try not to be afraid.”
“Let me show you some of the things Enos has discovered” as Alde walks next to a picture of a man and turns it around so it is now facing the wall. Stick yer head into the wall, Colel” she said.
“Do as I do, Colel” as Alde sticks her head into the wall with her head seemingly disappearing.
When Colel comes to Alde is standing above him with a stern look on her face. “You really are a chicken, ain't you Colel? Maybe I should have told you what would happen first. Ya see, this is a portal into parallel universes that exist right along with ours. It is all the worlds that exist when something else happened other than what happened in this world. I wanted to show you the world that would have been yours had you studied a little harder and graduated with yer wife Pearl . If ya wanna see it ya gotta stick yer head into the portal.”
Colel stuck his head into the portal and Alde walked in holding his hand. They were inside a fancy house where they were peeking from behind a curtain and could see some black women leaving the large room crying. There was a casket in the room they were leaving. “Who died?” asks Colel.
“ You did” whispered Alde while hiding behind the long heavy curtain. “You didn't die. You was murdered by yer wife Doreen” she added as she walked from behind the curtain into the now empty room, save but for Colel and his corpse also in there.
Colel looks into the casket and almost faints. “Who is Doreen and why did she kill me?”
“You met her in college. You thought she was beautiful because she was white with long flowing blonde hair. You became rich to please her, but she was what we call a gold digger. She met someone with more money and you would not give her a divorce, so she killed you with cyanide. In this world a white person can kill a black person with impunity. You were only twenty five when you died in this world, Colel. Touch yer dead body to know it is real.”
Colel touches his dead face and cringes. “What happened to Pearl ?” he asks.
“You thought you could do better. She never married.”
I want to go back” he whispers.
They walk behind the curtain and back through portal. Alde says, “There are millions of Colel Washingtons that exist, Colel. Each one has his own life depending on what he did earlier. Enos had a friend named Rodney Thumbecker what gave him this portal entrance and Enos then expanded on its abilities. I brought you here to tell you that in every world that can be visited through this portal we only see three dimensions. I think together we have the ability to look into other dimensions. That is new knowledge. Newer than new in that it is not built on previous knowledge … it is unbelievable knowledge, meaning we cannot tell anyone because they won't believe us. We would be like Christopher Columbus except we would be discovering not jest one new world by an infinite number of them more fascinating than what we see in the three dimensional portal we was jest in.”
“Can I think about it, Miss Alde?”
“No” and Alde whispers something into his ear that changes his mind.
“I'll do it” shouts Colel with enthusiasm, not knowing why he had a sudden change of heart.
Alde smiles and says, “Let's look into each other's eyes again. Keep looking no matter what you see”, and they both shudder as they stare at each other for what seemed like forever but was only a few seconds.
Colel smiles as they both look away simultaneously. “A teddy bear?” asks Colel.
“They think we are toys”, said Alde, and continues, “It was like we were looking from the inside of a book that was opened jest a crack and a girl's face passed in front of us that we saw line by line. Is that what you saw too, Colel?”
How do you know that was a girl?”
When you know how to draw perfectly you can recognize a picture from a line-by-line sequence.”
“Look, Miss Alde. Someone gave me a teddy bear”, and Colel pulls up a small stuffed animal from below the desk. The animal did not look like any from this world as it had six legs and five arms and four pairs of eyes.
Alde just looked at the four pairs of eyes. “So that's why we need each other to see em” she said. “Four pairs of eyes are needed and together we got four.”
“I felt like we were loved by a little girl”, said Colel.
“Why would you say that?” asked Alde.
“You never had children, Miss Alde. When you have a little girl there is a special feeling you have when you know she loves you. I felt that when we were watching whatever we were watching, and I feel she is watching us.”
“Watching us now?”
“Yes, Miss Alde. I felt someone was watching us from the first time we tried this and that thing is now watching us most of the time. I think it is a young girl who just gave us one of her favorite toys to play with.”
Suddenly there was another stuffed animal on Colel's lap. This one looked like Alde Long. Then another that looked like Colel's wife Pearl , then one that looked like Alma . Colel stood up and ran from the room carrying the dolls that looked just like Pearl and Alma, while Alde Long sat there looking at the four eyed doll, feeling how real it was, and pondering what had happened.
It was a one half hour drive to the next county in Colel's 1955 Chrysler Newport.
Colel finally finds Alde Long and learns she charges 10% of a persons wealth to teach a person's children. It didn't matter how many children or how much the parents were worth, be they billionaires or penniless poor. She charged ten percent to educate their children … and that was only if they were acceptable children, meaning they were well behaved. Colel is worth an enormous amount of money and only has one child. Alde tells him he must do good with all of his money, while always looking into his eyes with an odd look on her face. She then asks, “May I have a closer look at your eyes, Mr. Washington ?”
Colel eyes open wide from a sudden fear she sees something wrong and asks, “Is there something bad with them, Miss Alde?”
“No. I don't mean to startle ya. It is jest that they are a little different than normal. I only wanna git a close look.”
With Colel's consent Alde looks deep into his eyes with her eye only ten inches from his. He has a strong urge to look away from her eyes. It was like she was reaching into his soul and was learning every detail of his past, but he had so much respect for Alde Long he put up with the uneasiness for the minute she took. “Hmmm”, she says as she looks into the other eye with the same curiosity. “Ya might have flashiopticrevertiosis, Colel. Nothing to worry about. Ain't gonna git ya sick or shorten yer life. Lemme asks ya a question. Does ya ever see flashes of light from the side of yer eye?”
“I see like snowflakes sometimes. It is just a streak in the corner of my eye and then gone. I can never turn my head or even just turn my eyes fast enough to see what it was, but I never saw anything landing so I always thought it was something in my head from when I was hit so hard to do my work faster when I was young.”
“No one is sposta touch an employee Colel. Why didn't you have him arrested?”
“A bad boss was better than no boss at all, Miss Alde. I needed the money to help my Momma back then. He never knocked me out, just made me see stars for a second. I always thought those flashes were some stars just finally getting to me, like I would see stars from the Canis Major Dwarf galaxy right away, then, shortly after the hit in the head, I would see the stars from the Andromeda galaxy, and now stars from Abell 1835 IR1916 are just getting to me.”
“I see you have continued your studies since we parted. We never got to the interesting field of Astromony in our lessons. I am impressed, young man”, says Alde Long with an approving smile.
“So do many people have that flashioptic thing?” asks Colel.
“Don't know. I never saw it before. I jest made up that word fig'rin you would feel easier with somethin' with a name behind it. I learned to make up words from Ol' Remus what's was one of my students. Let's do an experiment, Colel. Don't try to look at them flashes. Jest keep noticing them from the side of yer eye. Let's see if that cures it. Like they say, if you ignore somethin' it might go away.”
“Can my daughter come to your school?”
“Yes she can. You can take your time with the payment if you need to. Alma will be starting in kiddygarden with the four year olds so's she can learn art, all the names of the colors in the big box of Crayola crayons and to review basic reading skills. She already knows addition, subtraction, multiplication and division so she won't have to learn that there. I spect she will only be there a few weeks and will go on to the first grade then where she will learn algebra and geometry along with acquiring intermediate reading skills where she will read all of the classics like Homer and Dante. Tell her not to be intimidated by the age difference of her classmates, as knowledge is not age related and she will meet a boy in her class that is even older than she is. Tell her to jest relax and learn to love learning as you did. Also I want to meet with you for an hour at least once a month for a little discussion about her and you and anything we might think of at the meeting.”
Colel stands up and thanks Alde with a slight bow. “I will have your money within a week, Miss Alde. Do you want a wire transfer or a check or cash? It will be several hundred thousand dollars.”
“However you like” was Alde's calm response, surprising to Colel that she was not surprised at the amount, not knowing many of her successful students were now wealthy and had children of their own attending her school.
Colel sat in his big chair at home and told his daughter about her new school. Alma was crying. “I can't be in the same class as four year olds! I will look stupid.”
“It will be only until you learn what is expected of you in the upper grades, Princess. Everyone at that school is smart. Just try it for a week and if you still don't like it you can go back to the public school where you are the smartest of the dumb kids.”
Alma looks at her father and runs to her room crying.
The next day Colel drops Alma off at Alde Long's School of Technology . The building was large and impressive like a school for rich kids, but most of the children wore raggedy clothes like they were poor and were being dropped off by their parents who drove old rusting cars. Everyone was smiling and laughing except Alma who just stood in the parking lot after seeing her father drive away. A very small girl walked up to Alma and asked, “Are you the new girl? My name is Mildred. I can show you to our classroom”, and she held out her tiny hand as though she was taking and protecting an even younger and frightened girl into the unknown. Alma had tears on her cheeks and just followed the little girl with her head hanging.
There were twenty children in kindergarten. Most were four years old but one looked like he was about twelve. There were two bigger desks in the room and the twelve year old boy was in one of them. Alma correctly assumed the other was for her and sat down. Alde came into the room and said, “We have a new person with us today. Her name is Alma Washington. She is here to brush up on her drawing skills and I hope everyone will help her learn as quickly as possible. I have to start the first grade now, so open yer text book and review every lesson up to the fifth where we are now. I want ya's all to walk Alma through what you learned so far.”
As soon as Alde left the classroom a little blonde girl behind Alma felt her puffy hair. Alma turned quickly and glared at the little girl saying, “If you ever do that again I will punch you.”
The little girl became frightened and said “I'm sorry. Your hair looked nice and I wanted to see how soft it was.”
The twelve year old boy looked up and Alma thought he was certainly big enough to punch her back, but he returned to writing something on his big pad. She said she was sorry to the little girl saying, “I am embarrassed about my hair.”
“But it is beautiful and soft” said the little girl.
“No it isn't” said Alma .
The twelve year old boy brings his big pad over to Alma and shows a beautiful picture of her in a gown with a tierra on top of her puffy hair. She looked like a princess. Mildred says, “Jonah is the best artist in the whole school, but he can't learn to read, so he is stuck here in this class. We really like him just the way he is.”
Jonah carefully tears out the page and hands it to Alma , saying, “You may keep this if you want to.”
Mildred says, “We better get busy before Miss Alde returns and finds we haven't done our work.”
“Would she be angry?” asks Alma .
“Miss Alde never gets angry. She would just remind us that we will never get that time back.”
Just then Alde looks into the classroom and sees Alma looking at a drawing. “Looks like Jonah's work. Do you like it?”
“It's beautiful”, says Alma .
“Yes you are”, says Alde.
“No! Not me … the drawing. It looks so real.”
“I want you to look closely at the drawing and tell me why you think it looks real. Tell me what he did to make it look real other than that he drew your face perfectly.”
“I don't know what he did.”
“What color is this at the end of your nose?”
“It is a dot of pink.”
“Where would that pink dot come from on your dark skin? And why would he make the skin under your ears pitch black when your skin is neither the color pink shown on the end of your nose or as dark as he shows under your ears?”
“I don't know, Miss Alde.”
“Because that is how he saw them from where he was sitting. The pink dot is a reflection off your smooth skin from the light above yer head. It would be pink for everyone with a nice shiny nose. The darkness under your ears is jest the darkness of the shadow. Where there is no light there is darkness for every color of skin. Remember, Alma , what you see is true, but what you see is not always what is there. I will teach you a little about what I mean in the later classes. For now I would like you to work with Jonah to learn about art”, and Alde leaves the room.
At four o'clock when Colel picks up his daughter he finds she waiting with a smile on her face. She runs to the car and says, “I think I'm going to like it here. Do you know the kindergarten kids already are learning addition and subtraction? Miss Alde calls it the Kiddygarden. I told her it was pronounced kindergarten. She said, ‘I knew that, but children that age are the most pure that humans can be. Their minds are like little flower buds just ready to open up and learn as soon as a light shines on them. They are the kiddies and my classroom is the garden and I am the sun they need for the light to blossom.' She is nice daddy. Look what one of the kids drew”, and she shows Colel Jonah's drawing.
“You look beautiful.”
“I don't look beautiful, silly. The drawing is beautiful. Look, I have a dot of pink on my nose from the light above my head. Miss Alde said, ‘What you see is true, but what you see is not always what is there.' She said she would explain more stuff like that to me when I get to the upper classes”, and Alma opens her reading lesson to start studying.
A shudder ran through Colel's body when his daughter said that. He drove home without saying another word but kept thinking, “What you see is true, but what you see is not always what is there.”
It was one month since Alma started in The Alde Long School of Technology. She was now in the first grade learning Algebra and Geometry. It was a Friday afternoon and Alma was doing her homework in her classroom while her father was having his first monthly meeting with Alde.
“ Alma is fittin' in jest nicely, Colel. She is makin' up for decreased learnin' ability due to her age by working harder than many of the other chillun. She might never git to the class she would'a been in in her public school, but she will be a whole lot more educated.”
“She really likes it here and she like all of the other kids. She says the poor kids are smarter than the rich ones.”
“Poverty makes folks try harder, Colel. There ain't nuttin wrong with havin' no money. The best people are the poor people, and they are the best Americans also. They don't got much, but they are citizens jest the same as rich folks and they treasure being a citizen more than rich folks. Have ya seen many snowflakes outta the corner of yer eye lately?”
“I can't seem to stop turning my head to look at them. For some reason I am afraid to look.”
“I want you to slide yer chair right up to my desk and look me right in the eye. Don't take yer eyes off'n mine no matter what. That's it. Jest stare into my eyes.”
Suddenly Colel drops his unconscious head onto her desk like it was shot with a rifle bullet and Alde Long has an ominous look on her face as she muffles an evil-sounding laugh.
It was another warm summer day. Well, no it really wasn't. It was a hot summer day. It was one of those hot muggy summer days that people who like winter point to as the reason why no one should like summer.
Colel didn't mind the heat. “It jest makes me sweat more and sweatin' cools ya off”, he would say to himself as he picked tomatoes. Nothing seemed to make Colel angry any more. He was tired of being angry. He had been angry almost all the time when he was young, but now he had ten acres of land with a house on it to live in with his sickly wife. Some would call his house a shack, but not Colel. The roof didn't leak anymore and there was plenty of heat in the winter from the fireplace. Life was not great for Colel, but right now it was the best it's ever been. You see, Colel is a seventy two year old black man who worked hard all his life for other folks. Now he was retired with a small amount of Social Security money coming in every month. It wasn't much money, but Social Security payments are based on how much you've earned to pay into it. Colel was never able to earn much money in his working years to contribute much for making his Social Security payment very large, but it was money he never thought he would see and he was grateful to get it. One advantage of a small house in poor condition were low taxes, and as long as his back held up he could grow most of his food right there on his ten acres of land. He stands up, wipes his brow and thinks, “Life is pretty good.”
As he looks towards the road he sees the children walking home from school. “Must be about three thirty”, he thought as he sees little Thelma and her sister Nerissa wave to him from the side of the road about one hundred feet away. He quickly waves back while they are looking. “Those are going to be wonderful women when they grow up. Yes sir. Mighty polite and sociable they are”, he thought as he picks up the two peck baskets of tomatoes to put onto his field cart.
A field cart is just a platform with very large wheels which make pushing it on rough terrain easier. There was one smaller swivel wheel for turning the cart on the same end with the pull handle. It was easier to steer with the swivel wheel right at the end of the pull handle. Colel had the two pecks of tomatoes on it, one peck of string beans, three green peppers, two small heads of lettuce, about thirty large radishes, twenty carrots of different sizes and a peck of potatoes. “This is going to be a good year for crops”, he thought as he pulled the cart towards his house. Suddenly he was hit in the back of his head with something. He reached back to rub the wound and then looked at his hand. “Blood!” he thought. Then he saw some seeds in it. He turns around quickly and sees two eighth graders running back to the road from his tomato field. It was Jamar and Oba, the children of neighbors he had not met yet. Years ago he would have run after them and hurt them, but now he remembers he was just like that when he was young. “Kids have no understanding of the damage they do when they don't think”, he thought. He hollered out, “Someday you will want a tomato and will not get one.” The two young boys stood by the road and gave Colel the finger. “They will learn like I did”, thought Colel, then corrected himself thinking, “Few people will have the knowledge and understanding I now have.”
As he brings the vegetables into the kitchen his wife Pearl stands by the sink and inspects her new treasures as she washes them. “These looks real good Cal . You is a good farmer. If youse give me a hand we can have these tomatoes canned tonight a'fore they even git a hint of spoilin'. Now look in the pot on the stove”, and she giggles. “Got that rabbit with the pellet gun behind the house jest a hour ago. We ain't ever had such fresh food a'fore we lived here. Now you git that salad ready and I'll add some taters and carrots to our rabbit stew and we'll have a fine early supper.”
Colel and Pearl were childhood sweethearts who met in grammar school … kindergarten actually. Colel left school in the eighth grade to start work. He was sixteen then and his parents thought he was just wasting time in school. Pearl was a sophomore in high school when Colel quit and she was afraid she would never see him again, so she enticed him to father a child with her. They were married when they were just sixteen and one half at the demand of both of their parents and were forced to be on their own to make a life together with no one else's help. “If you are old enough to make a baby on your own then you are old enough to make a life on your own also”, both sets of parents said.
Colel could only be a farm hand at sixteen. You had to be eighteen to work in a factory where the best money was to be earned. He lived right on the farm where he worked and had the rent for the little cabin deducted from his pay. He earned forty dollars a week for seventy hours of work after the rent was deducted. That was a pretty good money in the early ‘50s. It was almost the amount a factory worker made for forty hours of work. Colel and Pearl were happy when their new daughter arrived. They named her Alma .
Back then Calel would sit in their rented cabin in the evening and would read while Pearl would do housework. Pearl could read much better than Calel and would have to tell him what some words were and what they meant. When she didn't know the word they both looked it up in the old dictionary left in the cabin when they moved in. After two years, and with the help of a library card he got as soon as he was able to afford an old 1950 Plymouth to get himself into town, his learning advanced quickly … not because of the card or the car but because in the library one day he met a woman named Miss Alde Long who offered to sit with him for one hour of teaching and guidance if he was at the library at precisely eight o'clock Saturday evenings. Calel would plan his whole Saturday around that appointment just so he would always be there early. He knew from the first meeting that Miss Alde was a woman of precision and he pictured her looking around the library room where they were scheduled to meet and thought she would promptly leave if she did not see him after the big grandfather clock in the library hallway gonged its eighth gong. She was an amazing teacher that seemed to know just how to open Calel's brain and pour information in. She made everything she taught him seem both interesting and important. She would not accept money for her time, so Calel would always bring something for Alde from the farm like a bag of apples or peaches or whatever was in season as a thank you. The farmer that Calel worked for would gladly sell Calel extra produce when he had it, so Calel felt no one was taking advantage of anyone and all were benefiting.
One Saturday, after two years of meetings, Alde Long said she would no longer be able to meet with Calel as she was now going to help her best pupil named Enos do research all day Saturdays from now on. She spent that last Saturday teaching Calel how to learn on his own and spent three hours with him. She didn't say goodbye when she left. The first day they met she said she hated goodbyes. This last Saturday just before she left she just said, “In the school you went to you would have graduated from High School eight months ago. In my school you would not even have made it to the third grade. The amount of knowledge you have is relative to that what others have, but no one is done learning until they have learned everything there is to know, and relative to that standard we are all very stupid. So the main goal that you can reach is to always be a gentleman and an honorable man. You will know if you truly have these qualities when they are tested, and your conscience will tell you when you are being tested.” She then smiled and said “Till we meet again, Monsieur Calel Washington ”, and she left.
That was the last time Calel saw Miss Alde Long. It was almost nine years ago. Calel was eighteen when he met Alde Long and was twenty when she left his life in the library that day. Lately he often wondered why he didn't find out where her school was and just go visit her himself, but he always knew the answer: He is a black man and she is a white woman. In the library on their very first Saturday meeting two men hollered to Calel, “If you even touch that woman you will be one dead nigger.” Alde Long had gone over to their table and whispered something to the two men that Calel could not hear. The men then came over to Calel's table and apologized, and quickly left the library. He always knew his place with whites and thought if Miss Alde wanted to meet him she would have to do it on her own initiative, but he had dearly missed her company.
Calel then spent Saturday evenings at home, unless he went to the library to get more books and perchance hopefully run into Miss Alde. He was interested in everything now and his knowledge of farming grew to a point where his continual suggestions to his employer on how to improve his crop earned him the position of foreman over the other black workers. Calel now had something he thought he would never have: money he didn't need. He could invest fifty dollars a week into something, but what? He asked Pearl to look into things they could do with the money to make it grow. After two years of thinking they decided to invest in companies with state-of-the-art electronic products because Calel was amazed that people could control electrons, something so small they couldn't even see them, and make them do both heavy and complicated work. They bought stock in Hewlett Packard, IBM, and a small company he heard about called Haloid. Calel also started a corporation to purchase things in the company's name so he would not have to use his own name. His corporation bought a farm in the next state that went bankrupt while trying to develop bug resistant plants. He had the same people run it and gave them guidance, the finances necessary to buy what they needed and authority to solve the resistance problem on their own. They had success the following year and were immediately profitable.
With the money he was earning on the farm where he was an employee and the income from his investments, which he would turn around and reinvest, he had little to do in his spare time but read and enjoy his daughter's company. Alma was now ten years old, very active and couldn't go into the fields without returning with her hair filled with burdocks that had to be removed by hand since no one could get ever get a comb through her hair. She also liked reading … especially comic books. One Sunday while she was reading a comic book she hollered out, “Dad! Do you know Superman's real name?”
“Sure I do, sweetheart. It's Clark Kent .”
“No, his name from the planet he is from. His name from Krypton is Kal-El. That would pronounce same as your name does”, and she smiles at her father and asks, “Are you really Superman', Daddy?”
“Of course I'm superman. Ask your momma. She'll tell ya. Ask her if I'm as fast as a speeding bullet at night. She wishes I weren't so I try not to use my super powers around her no more, but I still got em. Why I got a super appetite. You seen me use that at suppertime. I got the super power to keep everyone out of a room for hours without me even being near the room. You know that power from sometimes going into the bathroom after me. But most of all …” as he picks her up, “I got super love and can hug you forever”, and he spins her around three times while she giggles.
Colel sits down in his chair with Alma on his lap. “If I could be any kind of father you could wish for what kind of a father would I be?”
“You would be a King in a fairytale kingdom who everyone loved and I would be a beautiful princess who all the boys wanted to marry.”
“Did you ever read comic books about a beautiful princess like that?”
“Yes. It made me dream of being one.”
Can I ask you a question about all of those princes who fell in love with you?”
“What color was their hair?”
“That's a silly question. All the princes have blonde hair.”
“What color was your hair?”
“Mine was blonde too. It was long and straight but with slow waves in it.”
“Was your complexion very light like the people who have blonde hair? Were you like a white girl?”
Yes. I was beautiful.”
“You are beautiful, but you have short black curly hair and dark skin. Are you sure that was you as the princess in your own dream?”
“It was just a dream, Daddy.”
Let me ask you the same question again: If I could be any kind of father you could wish for what kind of a father would I be? If you would rather answer a different question let me ask you: If you could be any kind of daughter you could wish for what kind of daughter would you be … but only one of us can change.”
“I would be a beautiful princess with golden flowing hair.”
“Then I couldn't be your father, because I can only be a father to a beautiful princess with short kinky black hair. Who would be your father?”
“You would be, Daddy. I would just be prettier than I am now.”
“But you are already pretty. Do you just want to look different for a while? We could bleach your hair if you think that will make you prettier, but it would make you look funny to me.”
Alma looks at Colel and starts to cry. “White girls are prettier than black girls and I'll never get to be a white girl.”
“Why would you say they are prettier? Crank sees all the blonde white girls walking home from school but he always runs to you with his tail wagging because he thinks you are the prettiest one of them all.”
“Crank is just our dog.”
“Just our dog? Ol' Crank would have given his life for you when he faced down that fifty pound cat of Mrs. Mitchell's who wanted to scratch your eyes out for getting too close to her kittens.”
“That was his job, Daddy.”
“It's no one job to love anyone, but if you do love someone then it is your job to protect them. When Billy's dog Queenie got lost last year you told Billy if you see the dog you would call him, but when Crank didn't come home last week you stayed out all night looking for him thinking he might be hurt. You did that because you love Ol' Crank.”
“It turned out Crank is married to Queenie.”
Alma leans over and whispers into her father's ear, “I seen Crank giving Queenie babies.”
Colel whispers back. “Do you hope the babies have white skin with long flowing blonde hair?”
“Daddy! They can't look that way. They will look like puppies.”
“I see. So the children always look like the parents. Is that how it works?”
Alma looks at her father and smiles. “I love you Daddy”, and gives him a hug.
“And I love you too, my beautiful Princess.”
“Are you smart, Daddy?”
“Smarter than the average dinosaur. Why do you ask?”
“There is a new kid that lives in the big farm the Wilsons sold that is being home schooled by his parents. I didn't think anyone could get away without having to go to school, but our teacher said parents can teach their children if they can prove they are smart enough.”
“But I have a job to do during the day. I would have to quit my job. If I did that you would have to give up something to save us a lot of money. What would you be willing to give up?”
“Um”, and Alma puts her finger on her chin and looks up. “I know. Broccoli, cauliflower, and peas.”
“You would have to give up your friends too.”
“Because you wouldn't see them except on week ends and they might have plans to play with their other school friends.”
“They are the only kids around here. I wouldn't have any friends.”
“What if I knew a teacher who was way smarter than me and who had a lot of smart students who you could be friends with. Would you be willing to go to a different school to have a teacher like that?”
“But what would you say if I told you her students were way smarter than you and you would have to start in the first grade again?”
“I get all ‘A's in school. I'm the smartest one in the fifth grade. They wouldn't be smarter than me.”
“I will try to find this teacher for you. She taught me after I quit school. She is the smartest person I ever met and she teaches school in the next county. I just don't know where yet.”
“Is her name Miss Alde Long?”
“Yes. Do you know her?”
“No. I just heard she taught the parents who are home schooling the new kid on the old Wilson farm.”
“You only have one chance to learn, Princess, but there are a billion people who you can have for friends. I will see if Miss Alde will let you into her school.”