Relief from Incongruity


Alli was standing in the tree, on one of the thicker branches, looking down at the white-green leaves littering the ground. Nealy was standing above her, on a higher branch. The dappled sunlight cut through the canopy and fell on them both.

Nealy kept one hand resting on the trunk, while she held out a spoon, that she had brought with her. “Watch this,” the high schooler said.

The silver utensil bent, the silent depression turning inside out and the business end, undulating and twisting around, like the instrument had been made of leaping mercury and not stainless steel.

A spark of familiarity flashed through Alli’s eyes. “I can do that,” she thought. What she didn’t realize was that she had said that aloud. “Then do it,” Nealy challenged her. She dropped the spoon, and Alli deftly caught it, before it fell to the forest floor below.

Alli held the spoon, since returned to its former shape. The surface felt lukewarm and dull to her tiny fist. Alli huffed. The mindless metal was suddenly alive in her hands; the scoop wrapped itself all the way around, curling 360 degrees. Alli felt a slight ache in her forehead and a bitter, coppery taste in the back of her mouth. A faint, high-pitched whine receded in her ears.

“See,” Alli looked up, at the other girl, standing there in jeans and a jean jacket, “I can do it!”

“Heh,” Nealy said with a wolfish half-grin, “I knew you could do it.” She laughed and glanced at the sun and the passing clouds.

Alli laughed too and dropped the spoon. It hit the murky carpet of dirt and bounced back up, at her beck and call, like a rubber ball – morphing in the air, like a bubble of silly putty. Alli gasped and chuckled. “I haven’t done that in years,” she said to Nealy.

actual mewtwo



Alli was in the attic of her house. She came up there to study, to read the articles in the green leather-bound encyclopedias, with gold letters on their binding. She was a freshman in high school. Her dream was to go to Cambridge and stroll across the fiery, green lawns, which only graduates could walk across.

The sky groaned under the weight of the rain, morose and the color of graphite. The attic had a wide semi-circle window that gave her a panoramic view of the town, its squat little apartments lining streets, that went downhill. The attic had no carpeting. The wooden boards were soft from years of damp weather. Other than the light from the window, the attic was quite dim, almost foreboding, but Alli was used to that. What she wasn’t used to, was the red-haired girl now curled up in her perch.

“Hey,” Alli said, “What are you doing up here?” She tried to hide that she was startled. Hardly anyone ever came up here. Alli’s voice seemed to have awoken the girl. She jumped and then struggled to get up. “How did you get in here?” Alli asked again. How had she gotten in? Perhaps, she was homeless or a petty thief. The back of Alli’s neck tensed; she was ready to run back down the stairs if the intruder lunged at her.

The girl looked frightened too. She was dressed in ancient jeans and a jacket frayed at the shoulders. “Hey, don’t rat me out,” she whispered, “It was just so cold out there last night. I was going to catch pneumonia out there.”  Her voice was more delicate than Alli thought it would be, soft and immaterial, like satin curtains, trimmed with lace.

Alli lowered her shoulders a little and came in, off the landing. “Alright, come down with me later and no one will suspect anything.” The girl nodded and sat back down, her face a little calmer. She couldn’t have been more than a year older than Alli. The girl went over to Alli’s pile of books. “Are these your books?” the girl ventured, with a light smile.

“Yes, they were my cousins’ and now they’re mine,” Alli plopped down cross-legged and picked up the ‘R’ volume.

The girl nodded. She turned back to the window, glazed with rainwater.

Curious, Alli looked up from the book and asked, “What’s your name?”

“Nealy,” the girl said. Alli later found out her real name was Elizabeth, but she didn’t ask then.

“I’m Alli,” she said. “Hey, if you want something to eat, I have some odds and ends that I can throw together.” Alli didn’t feel too bad about offering, since they both looked about the same age.

Alli took Nealy downstairs and made her a sandwich. The linoleum was a shade of pea green, the table old, its wooden legs pockmarked. Nealy tried not to wolf down the rye and salami.

“Where are you headed?” Alli asked.

“My aunt’s place in Rochester,” Nealy replied

Alli wanted to fix Nealy some lemonade, but she didn’t have any lemons, so she just gave Nealy a soda. Nealy turned the can around, on the faded tablecloth, with her long, thin fingers, before opening it.