January 14, 2010


Daniel Keyes’ FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON: the story has stayed with me for decades, a symbol for both the overwhelming possibilities of the human intellect and the overwhelming impossibilities faced by a profoundly challenged human intellect. I’ve started and stopped this novel a half a dozen times in eleven years. I think I’m ready to tackle it and to do two things: bring the original idea into the present millennium; and look at a FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON type of story from the viewpoint of someone who loves the one changing.To read RECONSTRUCTION from beginning to here, click on the label to the right and scroll to the bottom.

Two weeks passed since Mai Li had screamed for CJ.

Two fast weeks.

Two weeks that changed everything.

The rest of his life started on the fifteenth day, right after school. In the kitchen. Mom was at work and he was alone with his sister.

His former sister, as he’d started thinking of her.

“Don’t be stupid, Christopher,” said Mai Li, balled fists on her hips. Tapping her foot, she leaned back, swinging long, lustrous black hair. It had grown as fast as her intellect had. Spending one of the two weeks in front of the computer, she’d stood up one day, told them to take her outside and she hadn’t stopped moving at light speed since.

“What…” CJ paused, glaring and trying to blink back the tears. He turned away.

She said, “Oh, don’t be infantile! I don’t mean literally stupid. I mean don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.”

He shrugged, “But I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She tapped her foot and looked up at the old ceiling fixture then said slowly, “I said, ‘I need to leave this dump. Where does Mom keep her credit cards?’ Which part don’t you understand?”

Crossing his arms over his chest, he said, “What do you mean by ‘this dump’?”

She swung an arm, sweeping the entire split-entry, two story house. “This place. It’s a dump!”

CJ glared at her then said, “‘This dump’ is the house you spent your entire life in.”

She snorted, “My first life. I’ve got a new life, now. I’m meaning to live it. So where does Mom keep her credit cards.” She looked down at her clothes. “I need to look the part of a genius fashion model if I’m going to be one.”

CJ busted out laughing. Mai Li swung at him angrily. He ducked and skipped backwards and she stumbled, collapsing to the floor. While her intellect had developed, her muscle tone and growth was substantially behind normal for a 29-year-old-woman. She started weeping.

Instantly contrite, CJ knelt beside her and reached to pick him up.

She punched him in the face and drew her fingernails down his upper arm, digging them in and drawing blood.

Stunned, CJ fell backwards as she scrambled unsteadily to her feet. “That’ll teach you to underestimate me, brat!” She went to the knife drawer and jerked it open, spilling its contents on to the floor. She reached down and grabbed the biggest knife she could and stepped forward, pointing it at CJ. “Now, tell me where Mom keeps her credit cards or I’ll dissect you her and now and leave your organs laying on the floor for Mom to find when she comes home from work!” She jabbed forward to emphasize her point.

Blood dripped from his nose to his white T-shirt. Blood ran down his upper arm from the scratches. He stared up at Mai Li and his eyes started to water. He couldn’t keep the quaver from his voice as he whispered, “Give me my sister back…”

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