September 25, 2012


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

F Trope: Elemental magic

(Editorial comment: REALLY? Really? OMG, really.)

Seth Wildman jumped into his mom’s minivan and said, “Why can’t I ever be on a team that wins?”

“To win, you have to sacrifice something.”

“Why do you always say that?”

“Mostly because it’s true and you don’t seem to understand what a sacrifice is.” She shrugged, “Until you’re willing to sacrifice you’re going to play on a so-so soccer team.”

The rest of the soccer team piled in a second later. Seth shot Mom a long look, irritated, hurt and really, really tired of her saying the same thing every time they lost a game. Besides, what did she mean by “sacrifice something”? That didn’t make any sense. What could he give up that would make his soccer playing better? There were a couple things he could think of that he could give up, but he didn’t see any way that that would make him a better player.

The ride home was alternately crazy wild with seven boys and two girls poking each other, giggling and make dumb noises; and deathly silent, making Mom turn on the radio just to cover the bodily function noises of ten newly-adolescent teens. The entire time he didn’t join in and as the van got quieter and quieter, his former-best-friend-now-almost-worst-enemy stopped by his window, leaned in and said, “What’s wrong? Someone cut out your tongue?”

“Shut up.”

She stuck her own tongue out and turned away. Seth watched her run up the front lawn of her house. They’d been good friends since they were in daycare. Ever since…well, ever SINCE, he’d had totally weird feelings for her. And almost equally weird feelings for his OTHER former-best-friend-now-almost-worst-enemy. His former best friends were currently going steady with each other – leaving him mostly by himself during soccer games, practices and in school. He’d even caught them with their hands…he shoved THAT thought away from his head and looked out the front window of the van.

There were some days he’d be willing to sacrifice both of THEM to be on a great soccer team. He turned to look back at her. He practically – well he didn’t want to think about what he wanted to do – as he watched them lip-lock and…He turned away. He had some internet searching to do. Maybe there WAS something he’d be willing to sacrifice to be on a better soccer team.


It took a couple days for him to figure out that the most common elemental of the four – earth, air, fire and water – he would be able to summon was water. He lived in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Getting a water elemental to take out the Lip-Locked-Duo should be no problem. Now all he had to do was learn how to summon one.

That took another two days. He did the magic circle on the floor in the hallway near the drinking fountain with masking tape, claiming it was project for his art class.

He couldn’t find a real chalice like he was supposed to have, but he figured the Minnesota Vikings mug he got last Christmas was good enough. No one could ever bring a spear to school and return to the district – they’d be expelled. He figured the best he could do was a pencil. The elemental would need a weapon to take down the LLD.

He got detention from Mr. Stanton on purpose and stayed after school to set up the summoning. He’d copied the incantation from the internet ‘cause the printer was busted, and besides, he didn’t want to explain to Mom why he was printing off Wici – or whatever – incantations. But when one of the girls on the table behind his in science knocked over the beaker of yeasty water, half of it spilled on his pants and soaked into the incantation, so he could barely read them. Most of them. There were a couple words he couldn’t read at all.

He got the circle ready, filled the Vikings mug with water from the drinking fountain, laid the pencil across the top and then set the whole thing in the center of the circle. He read the incantation as carefully as he could – he had to guess at a couple of letters – and when he was done he looked up.

At first there was nothing. Then the water fountain started to hum and shake on the wall…

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