Imagination

— Amy Sara Lim

Mom’s always known that I’ve been special ever since I watched too much Star Wars when I was two, and poof!, Chewbaca appeared in our living room. Thank god it hadn’t been Darth Vader.

Now that I’m older, Mom tries to limit my TV time. Dad hates that. Ever since Mom disconnected the TV when I turned 5, I know he’s been watching his VHS video tapes in our basement on the Pye Red Box television set. His power isn’t affected by what he watches on TV. Don’t get me started on how we manage to keep the house from flooding when he showers, though.

Chewbaca was the first time my mom realized I was special, but I didn’t realize I was different until I was kicked out of Catholic school.

I was in the second grade. My hair was buzz-cut back then because we didn’t know any better, and you could literally see the hair vibrating on my head whenever I got a grand idea.

My religion teacher was walking around the room, rosary in her hands, and turns to us to ask, “What do you think Jesus looks like? Think about the scriptures and stories we’ve read. There is no right answer to this, class, just use your imaginations.”

That was the downfall. Use your imaginations. I thought and I thought, the gears in my brain whirring, my ideas bubbling to the surface like a waterfall of neurotic stars. The other kids around me were shouting things like Jesus has got a beard, he’s black, he’s white, he’s a she. I didn’t think of anything like that, though. That’s when a Steven Tyler look-alike materialized next to me, dressed in shining, white robes.

They kicked me out after that. Probably because me and my Steven Tyler started singing The Lord’s Prayer to the tune of “Dream On,” and also because they thought I was dangerous. What my mom called a gift, the principal called a hazard; even though Steven evaporated after I stopped thinking about him. My imagination was too strong. It was leaking into reality.

Dad was so upset when I came home that day. He said that I was a failure of a son—why couldn’t I have the power to control water like the rest of the family? Then Mom reminded him that she was normal and didn’t have any powers, and missed going to the bathroom without fear that the toilet water would turn into Hurricane Bill. Then they both flipped out and got into a big fight after that. I sat in my room, my little fists balled up, until a plate of Cheese-it’s appeared at my feet. Cheese-it’s always made me feel better when I was in second grade. But my stomach was still empty after I ate them because they disappeared after going down my esophagus. I was sad and Cheese-it-less.

My Dad gave me a cap to wear after that. It was a black, itchy beanie made of magical Alpaca yarn that was woven for me by his great-Aunt Edith.

I was forced to wear the beanie in order to keep my imagination from coming out of my head. The kids at school never stopped making fun of me, and I tugged and tugged at the beanie but didn’t dare take it off. They pointed and laughed and said I had cancer. I dealt with it. I still do. The beanie is the only thing that can keep me normal. Just like that, my imagination was crushed, smothered, sucked in. It was over.

I went through middle school completely normal, without so much as the materialization of a fruit fly. It was a dark time for me, though. I had never thought of myself as dangerous, but I couldn’t help thinking about what I heard my Mom and Dad fight about at night. What if he has a nightmare? What if he imagines a destructive fire? A gun-man? He could do so much damage, they would say.

So I kept the beanie on. I was afraid that if I took it off, every fear in my mind would come true. Mom and Dad would keep fighting about me and then divorce. I would actually get cancer like all the kids thought.

Things never looked up for me again until high school. My beanie fell off while I was playing soccer in PE, and of course, I had been thinking about that magazine I had found discarded in the boy’s locker room. The Playboy magazine. All at once, the soccer field filled with bikini-clad girls with fluffy tails and bunny-ear headbands. It was the finest game of soccer that the coaches ever saw. My team was lead to victory by the brunette in the corset, who viciously seduced Johnny the goalie into letting her score a goal. After the game, the Playboy bunnies disappeared, but what didn’t disappear were the smiles of all the guys on my team. I was a celebrity.

My mom was furious that I had even gotten my hands on a Playboy magazine in the first place, and even angrier when she found out I had been expelled because I had won a soccer game using the Playboy bunnies. My Dad had a big laugh, though. That’s my son, he would say.

My secret is out now with some of the guys from my old high school. Even though I’m homeschooled now, me and a couple boys meet by the Pick-and-Save on Main Street. I take my beanie off for a little while to play very vivid games of Dungeons and Dragons with them. I make the orcs, the mind-flayers, and the Slaads all come to life. And the occasional Playboy bunny for kicks. I’m not normal, and I still get called “cancer-boy” by some kids in town for my beanie, but at least I have friends now.

Don’t ask me what happened when my friends asked me to conjure up the Demogorgon. That’s a story for another day.

 


 

When she isn’t stuck in LA traffic, Amy Sara Lim enjoys writing fiction and exploring life through art. Amy attended Pasadena City College as an English/Theater Performance student at the age of eleven and has been writing ever since. A Chapman University English major/Secondary Education minor presently, Amy hopes to instill a passion for storytelling in the next generation. Apart from being a student and a self-published author, she works as a choreographer for a children’s musical theater workshop and participates in theater, dance, music, painting, and World of Warcraft (level 106 frost mage).