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Mid-Chapter

by A. Lenae 3 months ago in fantasy · updated 3 months ago

The fantasy of magic growing as we accumulate perspectives

Meldon was still in his prologue. An arriving-teen, he felt like an antiquated version of himself. Those around him were multi-faced and magical, with nuance and depth, lifted off of the page and dancing amidst a confetti shower. Meldon was 2-dimensional, with a perpetually-broken watch, a proclivity for complaining about chafing during the summer months, and a perspective that was only his alone.

“You can do this,” he told himself, staring out over the audience at the ceremony.

He’d overheard his caregivers talking about him just last week; they had spoken in hushed tones from the kitchen, cleaning up after brunch.

“Judgmental, maybe,” Tone had said with a sigh. “That’s what I’m worried about the most. That he’ll become judgmental or hateful, even.”

“He’s more than that. I don’t see that in him,” Kinsey had responded, dishrag over their shoulder and pensive eyes that were far, far, away.

“It’s ingrained,” Tone had whispered. “I don’t want to see it either. But, it’s there. He’s not always collecting data like the others. He’s not seeing and then re-seeing.”

Scanning the crowd now, Meldon reflected on when his friends first mid-chaptered. Everything had changed in the same week. Meldon, Osher, and Gully had been in Birdie School, learning about the path of empathy and secretly laughing at the ways their caregivers were so evolved, yet still so out-of-touch. First it was Osher, who came to the Birdie morning circle one day with a celestial sheen and an ability to stand straighter than Meldon had ever seen. Osher was no longer a “she;" they had transcended, with a great responsibility that they wore like a comfortable sheath. The next day, it was Gully. Gully had presented with an understanding and a foresight that could keep them dry through a storm. Gully had been awakened by a new dawn, whereas Meldon still relied on his alarm clock.

And Meldon had thought he’d be next, but it was never his turn.

Once he’d entered Mosaic School, Meldon recognized that everyone else knew he had fallen behind, too.

A peer, Quence, had told him that he was known as “the closed boy,” that Quence wanted to help him advance beyond the binary. Meldon had snarled at Quence, banged his fist on his pew, and caused his guide to examine them from the front of the room. Meldon had elected to never speak to Quence again. That was also the year that he started reading Harry Potter. The Human Heritage Center’s guide had told him that the books were about kids who had magic in their wands. Meldon sponged up the Harry Potter books excitedly until he realized he could only relate to the muggle cousin, Dudley Dursley.

Standing on the stage today, Meldon knew he was a morsel of a boy amidst phenomenal giants. He located his caregiver, Kinsey, in the throng of ambiguously beautiful faces. Kinsey was clapping with a smile they only reserved for Meldon. “You’re such a capable human,” Kinsey used to tell Meldon each night during his schooling years. “Becoming expansive and going through your mid-chapter is the start of one kind of journey. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t already on a very important journey only you understand.”

The Mosaic elected speaker, another arriving-teen named Court, nudged Meldon with a smile. They had an expectant, loving, twinkle to their eyes. Meldon flashed encouragement back. It was time for the ceremony to begin.

--------

“In learning about our history, we have learned to embrace the evolution of our people,” Court said, with a voice that was both magnified and level. “We are proud of our exceptional caregivers, our home in Pluroculos, and the life we’ve been given here under the great magenta orb. As the first graduating Mosaic class of our community, we know the expectations are great. In leaving our homes, we take with us the skills of mid-chaptering. We then plan to offer our abilities to The Outside. War, famine, poverty, oppression, slavery – we have seen how to thrive without it.” Court signaled behind them, to the other arriving-teens standing proud. “It’s all any of us know. We, now, will tell you, our family, how we plan to give this gift to The Outside.”

Meldon shrunk down as each of his peers took turns sharing their goals with the audience. He stifled his restlessness as he listened to Hewford explain that they will carry their perspectives with them in their attempt to cease the war in Coxagarden.

“Inside of me, we have experienced the Coxagarden way of life under a militant democracy,” Hewford said. “And we have also experienced the life of a farmer in Bettway, and a former sex servant. We will listen, bridge communication, and help the Coxagarden people find peace.”

When Anglo stood to speak, Meldon readied himself to be next. His peers believed he would share about his continued path of self-discovery and reflection, about his goal to stay in Pluroculos and focus on one day mid-chaptering. Meldon knew they believed in him and celebrated his strides, that they cared, but it wasn't enough.

“-And with our collective knowledge of the best breeding practices and a way to communicate to them by humming at a specific frequency, we will aim to revitalize this species and help them thrive again.” Anglo waved to their caregiver. “Thank you.”

Meldon didn’t meet anyone’s gaze as he stepped in front of his Mosaic class. Of course, no one would be pitying him, but he’d always been the unfinished stack of ramblings in a library full of literary masterpieces.

“It’s been my fault,” Meldon said to the still auditorium. His throat felt scorched with crawling flames. He then looked to Tone, who held tight to their scarf, bewilderment coloring their face. When his eyes met Kinsey’s, they stood up, concerned, with one hand clutching Tone’s shoulder.

Day to day, Meldon knew how to amplify his voice like the others, how to temporarily modify his posture and lay under the magenta orb that shone over their village and even part of The Outside, as if he too was energized and awed by it. The truth was that his voice was hoarse, his shoulders tired, and his thoughts unaffected and wandering. Boredom, fatigue, and preoccupation lurked in his inner alley ways.

“I othered myself,” he said. “My whole life, you have all shown me love and challenged me to open my mind. Not once did you look at me with mid-chaptered eyes and judge me for being . . . behind.” Meldon took a hurried breath. “But I’ve othered myself, while watching you all find your magic. I’ve been looking inward, while you all look out to the magenta orb for the other perspectives to absorb.”

“Meldon,” he heard Gully say behind him with tenderness.

Meldon reminded himself to straighten. “That has been my doing,” he continued. “Due to this, I’ve developed a very distinct perspective. I’ve experienced isolation among the joiners, the accepters. I know what it looks like to not feel seen by the seers. I do not contain any magic, and I just keep checking my same pockets for a stupid wand.” Then, he screamed in his head to just finish before he lost his nerve. With his eyes still on Kinsey’s apprehensive expression, he said, “I proclaim intent to be absorbed.”

Gasps from behind him matched the surprised faces of his audience members. Kinsey sat down and planted their face in their hands. Tone cocked their head and seemed to challenge Meldon with an intrigued look.

“I want to continue my journey in someone else’s story.” He hoped briefly that Kinsey was not folded up in shame.

Court was now standing beside Meldon, appearing stiff and uncertain. “It can’t be undone, Meldon. You would become a part of someone’s collection. You would need to give up your individuality to become a chapter.”

“For the greater good,” Meldon agreed.

He found Quence behind him, vaguely lovely and a part of the pack. Meldon opened his arms and nodded. Quence seemed to understand immediately, swallowing hard and stepping toward him. Quence had mid-chaptered later in Birdie School, the story being that they woke up in the night giggling, effervescent and unafraid. They were ever-flowing and honest, and they carried their experiences of love and pain in the same smile.

“This wasn’t what I meant,” Quence said softly, standing closely to Meldon’s face.

Meldon could hear Kinsey crying, possibly with relief and sorrow. He had nothing more to say, to anyone. He needed to be read with a new pair of eyes, because he couldn’t see the pages from the binding anymore.

Quence took his hand, their hold ample with activity and energy. When Quence opened their mouth, Meldon saw the magenta orb, except it looked like a melon with bites and pieces taken from it. Ripe and enchanting, the melon regenerated and was eaten, and then spun and regenerated again and again. Ever-nourishing.

Meldon leaned in for his first bite.

fantasy

A. Lenae

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A. Lenae
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