Read Up Online

Authors: Jim LaMarche


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“Hey, Mouse, have fun making cookies with Mommy today!” Michael yelled over the screeching gulls. “Dad and I will take care of the fishing.”

“Cut it out, Michael,” said Dad. “You'll get your turn, Mouse,” he called back to Daniel. “When you're bigger.” Then the
Toni Marie
turned toward the sea.

“I'm big enough now,” Daniel grumbled from the pier steps. Other boys his age were already working on their dads' boats, helping with the nets, unloading the catch. He kicked a stone down the steps.

“Come on, Danny,” said his mother. “Help me get started on the chowder.”

“I'm tired of being little,” said Daniel. “Someday I'll be stronger than Michael, and he won't tease me anymore.”

“Probably,” said his mom. “In the meantime, come help me peel these potatoes.”

There was chowder for lunch, with handfuls of little oyster crackers. Daniel dropped some into his bowl. Mouse! They'd been calling him that since he was born. He hadn't used to mind it, even liked it once, but now he hated it. He poked at some crackers on the table. “Someday I'll be so strong,” he mumbled. “I'll show Michael. . . .”

And then it happened. Something so strange, Daniel wasn't sure he could believe his eyes. One little cracker trembled for a second, then lifted up off the table. Not much. Not even an inch. Then, just as suddenly, it dropped right back down.

Daniel blinked. Had that really happened?
? Had
done it?

At the sink, Mom hadn't noticed a thing.

All afternoon and all the next day and all the
day, Daniel tried to make something—
—move. He tried the oyster crackers again. Nothing. He tried buttons. He tried pins. He tried tiny feathers from a sofa pillow. For three days he'd been trying, but he hadn't been able to make it happen again. Nothing budged. Maybe he'd just imagined that the oyster cracker had lifted. Maybe it had never happened.

That night in the tub he felt worn out. Had the cracker lifted or hadn't it? Was he going crazy or what? Daniel picked up his old toy boat. He held it in the palm of his hand, closed his eyes, and imagined it was rising . . . rising . . . rising . . .

Suddenly Daniel couldn't feel the boat in his hand. His eyes snapped open. The boat was floating in the air! Not by much. Hardly an inch. But it
was floating!

Michael banged on the door. “Hurry up, Mouse!” he yelled.

The little boat fell back down.

After that, whenever he was alone, Daniel practiced. He started by lifting little things—buttons and small seashells and pencil stubs. Then he tried forks and spoons, a hairbrush, and an old tin can behind the house. Every day, like a weightlifter, he got a little bit stronger. But though he could lift heavier things, he could never lift them high. Nor could he move them left or right. Never back and forth, just up, and that, not much.

One morning Daniel folded a paper airplane and gently thought it up. “Go! Fly!” he pleaded. But it didn't move. It just hung there, suspended in the air, until he stopped concentrating and it fell back down.

One afternoon Dad and Michael were unloading the catch off the boat. “I can help Dad,” said Daniel, knowing he could. “I'm getting stronger,” he added, knowing he was.

“You'll just spill the fish and make a mess of it,” said Michael. “Go on home, Squeaky Mouse.”

Dad shook his head. “Thanks, Mouse,” he said. “But we're almost done here. Why don't you go clean your room? Make your mom happy.”

Mouse, Mouse, Mouse. It was bad enough when
called him Mouse. Did
still have to do it, too?

Well, at least sweeping under his desk was easy now—he just lifted it up an inch or two. And he never spilled even a drop of fish water when he dusted.

“Nice job,” said Mom. “You even got the dust bunnies from under your bed.”

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