Ancient History - Part 1

[London Brownstone - 2010]

A young boy with light caramel skin and dark brown hair looks out the window across the gardens. Kids kick a soccer ball back and forth, kicking goals and blocking them. Jack knows he would make every goal and nothing would get by him.

“They're not very good.”

"They are not you.” Jack’s grandfather sat across the room in a deep blue wing-chair reading a newspaper. “You have to remember Jack, they do not have your gifts.”

“I know, but I’m bored.” The boy turned away from the window to look at his grandfather. The old man’s skin was much paler, not the brown of Jack’s, and his hair had gone white with age. His eyes were green, unlike the boy’s brown eyes. It sometimes struck him as strange.

“Come over and work on your multiplication tables. I’ll take you to the junior high and you can play with the boys there.”

“They're mean to me just because they’re older.” He pouted as he arms crossed his arms over his chest.

The old man let the newspaper fold into his lap. He looked at his grandson, “One day you will understand. I know it's hard now, but it’ll make sense when you are older.”

“I’m old enough now. I’m five years old and I can’t do anything because I’m better than everyone else.”

Jonathan Thomas smiled at the oddity of the statement. But the boy was right. “Remember Jack, heroes have humility; villains have hubris.”

Jack lowered his face and eyes down to the side. His grandfather's favorite stories were those about the heroes from sixty years ago, from between the World Wars and during the second. Every night, his bedtime stories were about Per Degaton, Solomon Grundy, or Psycho-Pirate or some other villain and how they were defeated by the JSA or All-Star Squadron. Jack enjoyed the adventures. His grandfather told the stories like he was there. But it also made him feel alone and inadequate because he couldn't share the stories with anyone else, just Gernsy. He was alone because there was no one else like him. Sometimes, he felt the part of the villain instead of the hero. Kids his age were going into kindergarten. Jack was years ahead of them, smarter, more athletic, twice the size of his would-be classmates. Older boys hated him because he made them look bad. He could do everything they could do despite being half their age.

“Why don’t you work on your multiplication. I’ll bring you a milkshake. What flavor would you like?”

“Toffee.”

“What is seventeen times nineteen?”

“That’s too easy.”

“You’re stalling.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Then, what is seventeen times nineteen?”

“Three-hundred twenty-three.”

“Okay, toffee it is. And later we'll go to the middle school. At least you can get some excercize.”

“Hmpf.” Jack got off the settee and walked over to the table where his homework lie. He pushed aside the tome of British History and the London Times to reveal a pre-algebra textbook. Flipping the pages to the multiplication section, he listened to his Grandfather talking to the butler in the other room.

“I don’t know Gernsy. Maybe I should let him go to school with the others his age.”

“You would know best, sir.”

“I wish I did. I’m making it up as I go.”

“All parents do, sir. You can only do your best.”

“Gernsy, come with us later. I’m too old to keep up with Jack.”

“I will, sir. I always enjoy a little exercise. Here is Master Jack’s milkshake.”

“Thank you, Gernsy.”

Jonathan Thomas brought the milkshake in on a silver tray. A sandwich lay beside it on a small plate, probably cheese and cucumber with a light ranch spread. Jonathan set the tray on the table beside Jack’s studies.

“Jack, why don’t you put that away for now. We can’t let you waste away inside. Gernsy's coming with us. He'll give you a better challenge than I can. Maybe you can get in a game with the older boys. Would you like that?”

Jack nodded. He loved his grandfather, but he was in his seventies. And although in great shape for his age, he always said, “Know your limits.”

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