This story was originally posted on October 26, 2016. I think every parent is just trying to figure things out as they go along. A scary outbreak of tripping wouldn’t make things any easier.
Are those seven-league boots?
No, but they can travel half a meter if I take big steps.
Isaac followed Timmons to a little house by the woods. On the outside it looked much too small to be a house. It was really more the size of a broom closet. But, when Timmons opened the door, it was bigger on the inside.
The little house was still cozy, but there was enough room for a kitchen and a big round wooden table, and a fireplace and a couch, and several rooms besides. Isaac was impressed. “You could have a whole city of houses like this and fit them all on the beach.”
Timmons laughed. “You could if you could find people who want to live here. Most people don’t like going for a walk and forgetting who they are. It’s unsettling, I’m told.”
“You don’t think it’s a little weird?”
“Hmmmm.” Timmons poured two glasses of milk and started spreading nut butter and honey on slices of bread. “It’s what I’m used to,” he said at last. “If you’re used to something, it’s not weird.”
Isaac sipped at the milk. It had an odd flavor and was thin and watery. “What kind of milk is this?” he asked.
“Coconut milk,” Timmons said.
“It tastes weird,” Isaac said.
“I suppose it might be strange for you if it’s not what you’re used to,” Timmons said. He smiled and drank his cup of milk.
“I guess normal isn’t the same for everyone.” It was strange to think about. He sipped the coconut milk. It wasn’t terrible. “Have you always lived here?”
“I don’t remember.”
Isaac sat up straight. “Is it because of the jungle? Am I going to forget where I came from if I stay here?”
“I don’t know,” Timmons said. “I’m not sure how much I don’t remember because I can’t remember what I’ve forgotten. I can’t even remember when I’ve forgotten something.”
Isaac took a bite of the sandwich. It tasted familiar, but not exactly like the ones his mom made. “Maybe you could write things down. Then when you read your notes, you’ll remember and you won’t forget any more.”
“I suppose. But then it would remind me that I’ve forgotten things and I’d be sad. It’s nice not knowing if I’ve forgotten anything. Then I don’t really have any reason to miss the memories I’ve lost.” Timmons took another bite of his sandwich and smiled.
“But aren’t there important things you don’t want to forget. Like your name or where you live or things like that?”
Timmons laughed. “So far so good. I’ve not forgotten them yet. I don’t think I need to worry. And if I forget them later, maybe I didn’t need them after all.”
“Why do you even live here? It seems dangerous.” Isaac ate the last bite of his sandwich without really tasting it.
“Hmmm.” Timmons began clearing the table. “I’m needed here. I help people who get lost and confused in the jungle. I like to help. I like my house.”
Isaac looked around at the cheerful house. It was nice. But it was so quiet. “Aren’t you lonely?”
“I can visit people when I need company. Sometimes, if you don’t get along, having people live close isn’t so nice. You’ll see.”
That sounded ominous. “What do you mean?”
“It’s time to go. If you want to walk across to the next island, you have to go now,” Timmons said sadly.
Isaac stood up and followed Timmons to the door. “Will you be at my party when I find it?”
“Sure, if I remember it,” Timmons said with a smile as he opened the door. Somehow, Isaac didn’t find that completely reassuring.
Awesome Guy came home from saving the world, happy to see that his wife, Dynamic Girl had already picked up their son Stan from daycare. Dynamic Girl didn’t look as happy. “Is everything okay, dear?” he asked.
She smiled a fake smile. “Stan honey, why don’t you go draw something for Mommy, alright?” she said, and sent Stan out of the room. Once he was gone, she dropped the smile. “I’m worried about Stan.”
“Did something happen?” Awesome Guy asked.
“He’s not showing any superpowers. I think he might be normal,” she said.
“There’s nothing wrong with normal.”
Dynamic Girl flopped into a chair with less grace than usual. “I know,” she said. “But that’s not all. He’s so clumsy. He keeps tripping over his feet lately. I had his vision checked and his eyes are fine.”
Awesome Guy sat on the arm of her chair and put an arm around her shoulders. “Did you take him to the doctor?”
“Yes. He’s, well, normal.” Dynamic Girl frowned.
Awesome guy patted her back and stood up again. “I’m sure it’s fine. A growth spurt, maybe?”
Just then, there was a loud thump in the next room. Dynamic Girl sighed. “There, he just tripped again.” She raised her voice. “Stan dear, are you alright? Come in and let me check on you.”
Stan came running in with his drawing and handed it to his mother with a grin. “I’m okay,” he said, and ran back out, darting around the coffee table with ease.
Dynamic Girl held up the drawing. “Look, he’s written ‘me’ at the bottom. It’s another self-portrait. Do you think he’s becoming a narcissist?” She gasped. “Maybe he’s really a supervillain?”
Awesome Guy laughed. “No son of mine is going to be a supervillain. I think you worry too much. Now let’s see what’s–“ He tripped.
“Honey?” His wife asked with a shaky voice.
He chuckled nervously. “I wasn’t expecting that.” He sat up and saw his son peeking around the door. “Come here, son. Did the noise scare you? I just somehow tripped over my own two feet. But look, I’m okay.”
Stan shuffled into the room and held out another picture. Awesome Guy smiled. “Oh, is this me? That’s great.” He stood and handed the picture to Dynamic Girl. “Look, honey, Stan just drew a picture of me.” She smiled and everything was right in the world. For a while.
A week later and Awesome Guy came home from saving the world, happy to see that his wife, Dynamic Girl had already picked up their son Stan from daycare. Unfortunately, once again, Dynamic Girl didn’t look as happy. “Is everything okay, dear?” he asked. He hoped that this wasn’t going to become a new routine.
She smiled and sent Stan from the room again. She frowned. “Stan seems to be alright, but now the kids and teachers in the daycare keep tripping. Do you think it’s something contagious? Perhaps it’s a symptom of some kind of weaponized virus?”
Awesome Guy sighed and sat in the nearest chair. “Honey, if it is, it doesn’t seem to last long. And there aren’t any other symptoms, right?”
She nodded and her shoulders slumped a little. “That’s right. Maybe I do worry too much.” She walked towards her usual chair and tripped.
“Honey, are you okay?” Awesome Guy asked. He hurried over and helped her up.
“Yes,” she said and brushed herself off, looking a little embarrassed. She glanced away and then smiled. Stan was peeking around the door. “Oh, Stan, is that you? Did you finish your picture?” She held out a hand and Stan shuffled over and handed her the picture. “Is this me? Thank you, sweetie!” She gave him a big hug.
“Ouch! Mom, that hurts!” Stan scowled. Awesome Guy laughed and everything was right in the world. For a while.
A week later and Awesome Guy was on the superhero council organized to try to discover the source of the mysterious wave of tripping incidents. Celebrities from around the world were tripping, and there was no known connection or trigger for the incidents. There was a lot of arguing and posturing on the council, but nothing was resolved.
Awesome Guy went home, having not saved the world. The house was empty, so he left again and picked up Stan from daycare. One of the teachers handed Awesome Guy a stack of drawings. He flipped through them. “These are all people from the tripping case.” He looked at his son and felt proud. “Have you been keeping up with my work, son?” His son might not be a superhero, but maybe he would be a reporter instead. He couldn’t wait to tell Dynamic Girl! And everything was right in the world again. For a while.