There is an old expression I’ve heard from time to time that says ‘my, how time flies when you’re having fun’. I was reminded of the passage of time though, when I overheard my mother asking Colin, “Have you spoken to your father? I’m sure he would love to hear about your progress.”
“Father doesn’t know where I am and I can’t tell him,” replied Colin. “You see the lieutenant governor was going to have me arrested for that last fight. There aren’t any jails on space stations or asteroids; it was a death sentence for someone like me. Liam said he thought he could help me. What could I lose by trying? I never would have imagined doing what I’m doing now, and I really want to thank you people for lending me something to wear. Anyway, if I call father; he’ll have to turn me in.”
That was really something; the only people in our ‘family’ who weren’t wanted by the authorities were Pip and Georgy. Course if anyone discovered that they were with us, they could be added to the list easily enough.
I had been putting off telling Colin what I had been doing to him. I just didn’t know how to do it. I liked him a lot and I didn’t want to scare him away, but he was starting to think it was some miracle and I couldn’t let him believe that.
Finally, the day came when Colin asked me what it was that I had done and I couldn’t put it off any longer. He weighed twice as much now than he had when I first met him. He knew that the gravity plating was normal for this ship and I think he suspected that it had never been lightened for him as I said it had. Perhaps they would have if he were a first class passenger. Maybe, if they thought he really was my mom’s son and if they knew who she really was, but no. He thought it had to be something I was putting in his food. By coincidence, I was always handing him his food.
We were just finishing our daily sparring match one day when he said, “It feels so wonderful to be taxing my muscles and know that it’s not just to breathe or walk across the room. What did you do to me? You said you thought you could help me and I’m much stronger than I ever thought I would be, I can see it in the mirror, so what did you do, slip something into my food?”
“No, Colin, its nothing in your food. If there was something that could be added to your food, don’t you think at least one of those doctors your father took you to would know about it?” The three of us went to the bathroom and I locked the door. “Colin, I’ve told you a little about myself. You remember me talking about the planet where my parents had been stationed and how I had remained there after they left.”
“Yeah, I remember. It sounded like a cool place. I’d like to visit it someday.”
“I was forced to stay because I had to learn how to control my magic.” I made an apple and handed it to him. He’d never seen an apple before, but that wasn’t why he stood there, gape mouthed.
Georgy watched in fascination too. He knew about my magic, but had had little opportunity to watch me do any. “Eat it,” I said to Colin. “It’s my favorite. This is some of what I learned to do.” I made a tiny waterspout in the center of my hand then I held the water and made it spin between my two hands like a tiny planet. After I tossed that into the shower, I tried to explain. “I can manipulate or make whatever I need. I do that by drawing on the elements around me. Do you understand what I’m telling you?”
I made a steel marble and tossed it into the air a few times before tossing it to Georgy. He was looking from Colin, to me, and back again. He too was trying to figure out how I had helped Colin. He knew that I had done it; he just didn’t know how.
Colin pulled his eyes away from me and looked at the apple still in his hand and at the shower where I had tossed the ball of water. He shook his head in disbelief.
“Do you remember telling me that I couldn’t help you unless I could make you a whole new body?” I let the thought hang for a moment.
“Are you telling me that you gave me a new set of bones?”
“Well no, not really, but I did build up what you already had.” I didn’t think he would appreciate me telling him how careful I was being or how much I feared that I might get it all wrong. Right now, he was at about ninety-eight percent of what the library reference said was normal for his height, and he still weighed less than either Georgy or me. I figured I could help a little more if he needed it when we got to Earth. He’d never been on a full sized planet, and despite everything I’ve done for him, it would still take some getting used to.
It took him a long time to say anything, but when he did, I wasn’t really expecting the question he asked. I guess I should have though; it was a logical jump.
“So what did you use to do that? Who got weaker so I could get stronger?”
“No one and no thing got weaker so you could get stronger. I pulled your bone and muscle mass from the frozen meat in the freezer.” I could have pulled the matter from anywhere, but it was a logical choice to me; I didn’t expect his reaction though. It took him a few moments to understand what I had just told him. He turned and, dropping the apple, he grabbed the edge of the sink behind him and threw up.
I don’t remember anyone ever throwing up in front of me. I didn’t know what to do. Should I do anything? Should I say anything? I reached forward and laid a hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged me off with a growl. “Get away from me.”
I drew back. I had done it. I drove him away. Well, I didn’t regret what I had done for him. I hope he does all right on Earth.
I left the bathroom and returned to my seat. I opened my computer but found nothing in there to interest me so I went to the viewing port. There was nothing there to see either, but the vastness seemed soothing somehow.
My mother saw my distress and came over to me. “What is it dear? Why are you so upset?”
“I just told Colin how I’ve been helping him get stronger. He’s in the bathroom being sick. He hates me now.”
“Nonsense. I’ve watched Colin. He’s like a wild animal that has been in a cage far too long. I won’t pretend to understand what you did, but you’ve opened the door to that cage and he’s free for the first time in his life. He’ll come around. Just give him some time to think about it.”
What choice did I have? It would be interesting trying to avoid him for the next month, but I guess I could try.