The Gift of a Curse

Mother lay on her bed, in the agony of childbirth. My birth in fact. Father stood nearby; he was a burly man with a brown-broad beard that covered the lower portion of his face. His mouth and chin were lost in the sea of hair. He was very concerned for my mother, like a good husband should be. He would do anything in his power to help her, even if it meant giving up his own life. You couldn’t ask for a more devoted husband or father, at least I could not. They loved each other, more so than the stars have power to shine deep into the vacuum of space.

Mother and Father were in Jameson’s University when they met. They were both studying to become space engineers, to work at the Space Docks, and help give their time and effort to the War Front. 

And what of little me? I’m the baby that my mother is holding in her arms right now. I can see my father’s proud face beaming down on me, as if the sun decided to finally show its brilliant light after a cloudy day.

Ack! I haven’t properly introduced myself, yet. My friends know me as Clay, but my real name is Cody Calaway. I got the name Cody after my great-great-grandfather from Earth; and the name Calaway after our Planet, Calaway IV on which I reside and was born on. Do not worry about Earth, it is still very much there, Calaway is just one of the many colonies that were colonized around the time of humanities’ great departure from our home world. I don’t know where I was given the nickname of Clay… maybe because when I was six-years-old, my family and I, were on a voyage to the Gas Nebula Falaco on the SS. Barracuda, when I picked the lock on my Mother’s travel chest and broke open her bag of clay and soil. Though, experimental clay needed for a nebula was never meant for little boys to play with. She must have caught me rolling around in the clay and having a fun time. Whatever its origin, the nickname stuck.

It was a happy time in my little village on Calaway IV but that would be short-lived. . . See, when I turned three-years-old; I was cursed with a sore curse. At the top of the Tallest Mountain, in the Biggest Mountain Range, lived a mean old Hermit. This man was mean towards everyone. Whenever a new baby turned three, he would come down and give it a “gift”. If it was a girl then he blessed her; but if it was a boy, then he cursed him. I do not know why he hated boys so much. Perhaps, boys teased him as a child, or maybe he had boys of his own and they were very bad.

And it was my unfortunate luck that on that day, he was particularly upset. The Hermit gave me a curse so sore, that it hurt my growing up. I shall never know why he was so mad on the day he gave me the curse; he died shortly thereafter.

#

Cody awoke to the dawn of a beautiful day, and to a sun whose golden rays decided to project their dance on his eyelids. His eyes squinted together, as his nose wrinkled up towards them.

“Blasted sun!” Cody said, as his eyes could no longer fight the sun’s dance. “I was trying to sleep!”

“Cody, you need to get up! It’s already seven in the morning, and the chickens’ eggs still need to be gathered,” said his mother when she saw him stir.

“But it’s too early,” complained Cody as he attempted to bury his head into his pillow.

“Come on, breakfast is waiting.”

“Okay.”

Cody slid out from beneath the warm covers of his bed. He was only in his plaid sleepwear boxers that he wore to bed. He walked over to his green pants and a tan shirt that were lying folded on the stool in the corner of his room.

Dumb chickens. Why can’t they gather their own eggs? Cody thought, annoyed.

Cody was a typical nine-year-old; he complained about the smallest task that his parents gave him, especially if it made him get out of bed before he was fully awake. He was of good size, and with brown hair and olive-colored skin, but Cody was kind of skinny for his age. No fat or chubbiness at all. Very athletic, he likes to play any game that involves running, strategy, war, wrestling, or sports. He wasn’t one for being very lazy at all.

After breakfast, he went to gather the eggs from the chickens. Along the way, he met up with Ethan, his lifetime friend. They met, it would seem, at birth. But not really, they really met two weeks later, when their parents showed their pride-and-joys to each other.

“Hi Clay!” Ethan said as he came running up, then down, the grassy hill that separated Cody and Ethan.

“Hi Ethan!” said Cody, “What’s up?”

“Nothing much, just out and about. You?”

“Gonna go get those eggs.”

“Cool, lemme help?”

“Sure, we can take ’em together!”

The two boys ran the rest of the way to the chicken coup and then proceeded to gather the eggs from the less-then-giving hens. As they were leaving the chicken coup and headed for home, a mean old orange cat decided to pounce on Cody’s back from the roof of the chicken coup and dig its claws into his shirt and the tender flesh of his back.

“Ouch! That hurts!” sobbed Cody. “You stupid cat!” Cody reached around and pulled the cat off his back, then flung the yowling animal down on the ground. The cat landed with a thud and a very defiant hiss.

“Why don’t you just go away?!” Cody shouted.

Then, strangely enough, the cat did just that. It started walking away. The cat and the two boys were very surprised by this turn of events. The cat, even more so. It looked at its walking feet and hissed at them, as if that would make its’ legs stop moving. Seeing it useless, it turned its head back to the boys and hissed again at them as if to say, “I’ll be back!”

“What a stupid cat! It listens to my commands,” Cody said with a laugh.

“Ha-ha! Dumb cat” Ethan replied.

Cody was silent in thought. “Maybe my curse is controlling animals,” he said finally. “But that’s not really a curse…”

“Remember how the old man gave blessings, instead of curses, to girls? Maybe you’re a girl!” Ethan teased. “Ow! Why’d you punch me?!”

 #

Later that evening at dinner, Cody recounted his tale of the cat to his family. They just shook their heads in disbelief.

“But it’s true! The cat did go away when I told it to!” Cody stubbornly stated.

“Son, animals just don’t understand humans. You may think they do, but they really don’t. I’m sorry,” his father stated. “Perhaps it just had to leave, to do something else. Or maybe you’re knocking it to the ground shook it up enough that it didn’t want to be there anymore.”

“I guess I can see that happening,” Cody said sullenly, withdrawing from the argument. “May I be excused for bed?”

“Yes, you may be, but first take your dishes to the sink,” answered his mother.

Cody took his dishes, and then went into his room to get ready for bed. First, he went to the bathroom adjoined to his room, stripped off all his clothes, and put them on a conveyer belt to the washer. He stepped into the middle of the all-around shower and hit the activation button, which started the big shower. When activated two arms came up around the body, and as they circled water shot out of them, moving up and down. While a group installed on the ceiling circled their jets and shot at his head, and ones on the floor shot up to blast away dirt and grime from his underside. To say the least, Cody was clean in a matter of minutes.

“Ah, I love that shower!” Cody sighed in a pleased tone after the water jets shut-off.

Once his olive-tanned, dripping body was out of the shower, he went to the clothes bin that held his recently washed, dried, folded, and mended clothes. It was a very versatile washer, top of the line. He dressed into his boxers only, looked in the mirror; slicked his short brown hair upwards into spikes, and then put the rest of the clothes away into his closet. After that, he lay down into his bed, and covered himself with his warm covers, and was asleep in a matter of seconds.

 #

The next day, he and Ethan were playing in an oak tree. They were playing tag, and Ethan was it.

“Ooh, so close,” Cody said as he nimbly jumped to another branch. “Ethan? Oh, Ethan? Where are you?” Ethan had disappeared while Cody was laughing.

“Tag you’re it!” Ethan said from a higher branch as he touched Cody’s head.

“You ninja!” laughed Cody as he jumped to the next higher branch, but always one below Ethan.

“Chichi, chichi” something laughed, “chichi, chichi”

“Ethan! The squirrels are mocking us!” Cody exclaimed.

And so, they were, Cody saw one squirrel tag the other squirrel, then it jumped to the next branch. And the higher one making the funny sound of “chichi, chichi” to the lower one as it tried to unsuccessfully tag its friend.

“He-he, those are funny squirrels!” laughed Ethan.

“By the way, Ethan, you’re it!” Cody secretly tagged Ethan when he came down to look at the squirrels.

“Ack! That’s not fair!”

“Well, no use arguing. Hey Ethan, you know what would be bad? If one of those squirrels fell and hit a lower branch.”

“Yea it would.”

Almost as soon as Ethan said those words, they saw one of the squirrels lose its grip and fall right past their faces, only to hit a lower branch spread eagle and catch itself before it fell any farther.

“Poor squirrel!” Cody said aloud, but internally he thought to himself, ‘Something is definitely happening here. That’s the second time I said something, and it happened exactly.’

“Clay, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, but perhaps we should go home.”

“Good idea”

 #

Two months later, the family was driving to the next village to visit their cousins on Cody’s mother’s side.  His cousin Wanda had fallen ill to a fatal form of the Dijet, related to the flu only found on earth, but can only be given by an Everfang’s bite.

Once Cody and his family got to the house, Cody’s parents talked with his Uncle and Aunt about Wanda. What he got from the conversation was that Wanda had digressed even more and was on the very verge of knocking on death’s door. Then Cody’s family was led back to where Wanda was lying. She looked ghostly pale, and her arms were as thin as toothpicks. It was a miracle that she had stayed alive all this time. She wasn’t much older than Cody; only about two years separated them. But that didn’t stop them from playing together whenever there were big family gatherings. They would always seek each other out. When Cody was seven and she was nine, they had gone to the stream to catch frogs and tadpoles. They caught many that day, and were each rewarded with five dollars, to buy whatever they wanted at the nearest supply store. Needless to say, they each bought root beer floats.

So now, to see his dearest cousin on her deathbed was overwhelming. He began to cry uncontrollably and ran to the bed, falling to his knees at his cousin’s side. He took her hand in his and bathed it in tears, and he asked her why she had to get sick? Why did she have to be bitten? Why not him?

“I want you to be better so bad, cousin!”

“I know, please don’t cry…” but it was too much for her to bear, and she started to cry, and beckoned for Cody to move closer so she could hug him.

“You will get better cousin, you will!” he said into her ear, more to reassure himself, than anything else.

But just as he said it, the color came back to Wanda’s face and strength returned to her arms, and she began to hug him tighter and tighter; both of them not realizing what was taking place until Cody was starting to gasp for air.

“Air… Air…” Cody said hoping she would let go.

“Oh, my goodness!” Wanda said surprised, as she released her grip.

When Cody got back up, he saw that Wanda was healed! How did this happen?! Did what I say have anything to do with it? He shrugged it out of his mind, so he could join in with the hugging and the happy times that were happening now that Wanda wasn’t going to die after all!

 #

A few months later, the sun had already come up, and it was nine in the morning, well passed the time that Cody’s mother thought that he should be up by.

“Wake up, Cody it’s morning,” said Cody’s Mom as she gently shook him from his slumber.

“Already?”

“Yes dear, it’s already nine in the morning,” said Cody’s Mom.

“Okay. . . I’ll get up. . .” Cody had meant it, but he was just too tired from that late night last night and fell back to sleep for another ten minutes.

“Youch!” yelled Cody, as he was shocked and jumped halfway out of his bed. It seems his mother programmed his bed for the “Shock alarm”. Very funny, he thought to himself.

Cody then went to his bathroom, where he stripped out of his boxers, got into the shower, and started it up. He could see the mark where the shock prod had touched him: on the inside of his right thigh, right below his boxer line. Any higher on his leg and the pain would’ve been much, much worse.

After he finished getting ready, and had combed his short brown hair into spikes, he went to breakfast.

“So, I heard and see that you didn’t get up in time,” his mother remarked, with a bit of humor in her voice, as she watched him walk into the kitchen slightly bowlegged.

“Next time, you won’t sleep in when your mother wants you up,” said his dad.

“Yeah, she did, but it was only ten minutes,” Cody protested to his Mother.

“You didn’t get up, though,” coolly stated Cody’s Father.

There was no arguing with that logic, Cody just had to swallow the humiliation of the shock and get over it.

 #

Later that day, as Cody and Ethan were hopping from stone to stone in the fast-moving river, Cody told Ethan what his mom had done to his alarm.

“Ha-ha, Clay, you got shocked, at least it’s good that she didn’t go worse.”

“How would you like it if I shocked you?”

“With what?”

“How about a cattle prod?” Cody said with an evil boyish grin.

Ethan could only stare back at him with his mouth making a small “o” of disbelief. Then he jumped to another rock in the river.

“Careful, you don’t want to slip on those rocks and end up in the water!”

But no sooner had Cody advised this, then had Ethan slipped on a rock and went face-first into the water. Lucky enough they were both excellent swimmers, so Ethan was in no big trouble, but it began to dawn on Cody that the nature of his curse was that perhaps anything he wished or commanded to come true, would. But his subconscious mind didn’t think this knowledge was of enough importance as to task the conscious part of the brain too greatly, after all, it was concerned for Ethan and not for knowledge at this time. His mind deeming that the knowledge could wait, shunted it off to the back of its space, to be retrieved when things were less hectic.

In the second it took for this to happen; the subconscious had already given the go-ahead for Cody to tend to Ethan’s Needs.

“Stupid rock! It had it out for me” Ethan said angrily to the rock, which he had slipped on.

“Sure, it did.”

“I’m serious.”

“Okay.”

This was when Cody finally put it all together and made the startling discovery, the cat walking away, the squirrel falling, Wanda getting healed so quickly, Ethan falling into the river… it was his curse! He couldn’t be more wrong about it! It wasn’t about controlling animals at all! It was about what he did! He could control when it acted, and when it didn’t! See, he had finally realized the nature of his curse, it was that no matter what he wished for or commanded to happen, even if he didn’t really mean it, it would still happen.

Now, with this knowledge, he would be able to do good in his life, and he would be able to help those around him. So, it wasn’t a curse after all. Yes, it was a curse in nature, but also a blessing, together as one. A curse until he could master it, a blessing after he knew what triggered it.

#

I never did end up breaking the blessing or curse, but once I understood it, it was easier to control. It blessed the rest of my life, because I had to think before I said anything, an item that most people aren’t burdened with. So, if the old man was still alive, I think I would thank him in the end. I would do this because he did educate me, and he is a very fine teacher.

 

The End

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