November 28, 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.

Sorry it was late -- conferences last night and a CRAZY busy schedule...

F Trope: White magic

Mahamat Abeche and Liha Beledweyne looked at each other across the table in the Gersthofen Commons of Göggingen College.

“The thing about Americans?” Liha said. She watched a gaggle of students mutter on by.

“Which thing about Americans?” asked Mahamat. Liha looked at him in disgust. For having so many bad things to say about the US, he certainly had no qualms about the food. He was stuffing a sheaf of “French” fries into his mouth then washing it down with a Coke.

“The thing about Americans is that they’re so…materialistic. They think that what they see is what they get.” He rolled her eyes and shook her head. Even she picked up Americanisms without even realizing it. Her father had warned her that America would badly muffle her perception of the spirit world. She’d figured she could handle it. She now figured that it was a good thing that the college was so close to a Somolian neighborhood – while her spiritual sense was nowhere near as sharp as it had been at home, at least she still had one.
Mahamat looked up at her over his plate of fried. Once he’d chewed and swallowed, she said, “You East Africans are so proud of your supposed closeness with the spirit world. What about us? Chad grew from a population emigrated there in the seventh millennium B.C.!”

She snorted. “We were there from the ninth millennium B.C. onward. We were practically there are the dawn of Human civilization.”

“So you supposedly know all about everything spiritual because your forebears were around a couple thousand years before mine were?”

“No, I’m more spiritual because I’m more spiritual. You’re a brainless blob with so little spiritual sense that I’ve been dead trees with more spiritual energy than you have.”

“Hey!” Mahamat exclaimed. The tip of a fry fell from his mouth.

“So, if you’re more spiritual than a log, you’re gonna have to prove it.”

He grunted then said, “I didn’t want to have to bring out the big guns, but now you’ve impugned my masculinity. I have to...”

“Do you even know what the word means?”

“What? ‘impugn’ means ‘honesty of (a statement or motive); challenge; call into question.’ See?” He smirked.

“That’s not the word I meant.”

Scowling, he said, “I know white magic and I can prove it.”


Mahamat lifted his chin. “In white magic – as it was passed on to me by my mother – we follow specific ethical codes and adopt social convention. But I know a spell to protect an item.” He leaned over and grabbed his backpack, opened it and pulled his laptop out, opened it and powered it up. Sitting back in his chair, he muttered then looked up at her. “I’ve protected my laptop with a spell.” He stood up. “I gotta go to the bathroom,” he said loudly and walked away.

Liha said, “What are you doing? If you leave your...” He flipped her off and kept going.

She stared after him incredulously, flipped him back, spun around and walked away. She walked past the Göggingen Gallery then came back around, unobtrusively watching the open laptop. It sat just fine for several moments. Four people walked past going in different directions, but no one made a move for the computer.

Then a peculiarly shabby male student, long hair obscuring his face, his sweatshirt slightly rattier than usual walked toward the table. He reached for the laptop…

(female Somalian name)
(male Tchadian name)

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