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Damon met Arick at recess every day for the first month of school. Andy would sometimes join them, but other times he would go off with some of the other boys and play football. Damon couldn’t understand why. The boys had all agreed that they wouldn’t use their powers to play football, but, to Damon, that sounded like no fun.
Instead, Damon and Arick met on the lower playground, which was conspicuously free from eighth graders, and went through their paces. Damon strained to make the darkspace darker, but, for awhile, nothing happened.
“Maybe it was a fluke,” Arick suggested.
Damon didn’t believe that, so he continued to strain, and to even practice when no one else was looking—in the cloakroom or in the basement at home. He couldn’t tell if his darkspace was getting darker—his night vision worked just the same—but somehow he could feel the darkness changing, growing stronger.
And then it happened again.
“It’s like making a cake,” Damon said, amazed. “I keep piling layer upon layer, like it was chocolate frosting!”
Arick had to strain to see through each layer. Eventually he could do it, but it took him longer every time.
“If my radar vision continues to grow,” he boasted, “maybe I can join the Army as a spy!”
Damon didn’t want to join the Army. He wanted to join the Power Club or start a special club himself. If he and Arick kept this up for another year, he figured, they'd be old enough to start their own.
But they didn’t keep it up. “Recess is for fun," Arick said, as the weather started to change and the first leaves started to fall, "not for working harder.” And that was that. Damon wondered if the Power Club would practice with him, even if he wasn’t a member, but they said no.
“We don’t have time for amateurs,” Vee said.
Damon burned at those words. He didn’t want to be an amateur. He had grown up across the alley from Kyle and Vee, and Danner lived just across the street. It bothered him to see them running by his house—Kyle teleporting at will, Vee racing up and down the block, Danner growing so high he could step over cars—while he could do nothing. He couldn’t even show them how much his power had grown since the try out.
“Damon, you’re worrying too much about this stuff,” his mother said after he had spent one day too many ragging on about increasing his power. “I don’t want you to forget what it’s like to be a normal kid.”
“But I’m not normal,” he said with pride.
Her face stiffened, as if she were holding something back. “There’s nothing wrong with being normal.” She looked out the window, where the leaves on the tree which stood silent guard in the back yard were starting to change color. “It’ll be getting cold soon. Why don’t you go outside and ride your bike?”
Damon didn’t want to, but he didn’t want to tell her why. Dad had spent a lot of money to buy Damon a ten-speed to replace the bike that had been stolen. It was a sleek, two-toned blue bicycle with racing stripes and handlebars that bent forward like a ram’s horns—the kind of bike Kyle was riding a year or two ago. But Kyle had just helped his father rebuild an old Mustang and was anticipating driving it when he got his license next year, and Danner was talking about getting a motorcycle for his next birthday. Compared to a Mustang and a motorcycle, a ten-speed seemed childish.
Dutifully, he went outside anyway. Maybe he’d go across the alley and see if Kyle wanted to play catch or do something that didn’t involve powers. He trotted down the back steps into the alley and saw that Kyle was, indeed, in his own back yard, holding a ragged baseball above the head of his ash-colored Beardie pup, Fergie. The little dog yipped and jumped on Kyle’s legs.
“Here, Ferg! Here, Ferg!” Kyle shouted, then he arched back—“Goooo get it!” —and tossed the ball.
The pup bolted after the ball, but there was a fft!—and the ball vanished in midair, to reappear a second later back in Kyle’s hand. Frantic and confused, Fergie darted back and forth. Kyle burst into laughter.
Damon changed his mind about asking Kyle if he wanted to play catch. Instead, he went to the garage, climbed on his ten-speed, and rode past Kyle’s yard without bothering to say hello.