Nobody paid much attention to Caleb and that’s how he liked it best. In school he found ways to fade into the background and all the little nooks and crannies of the building. It allowed him to avoid interactions with anyone unless it was absolutely necessary. He was an odd boy to be sure but not entirely without redeeming qualities.
Caleb discovered if he looked like everyone else and did nothing to attract attention to himself he could become virtually invisible. He didn’t engage people in conversation beyond the most superficial commentary and offered no opinions that were not asked of him. He did his homework assignments religiously being scrupulously careful never to get more than middle of the road grades. This had the advantage of avoiding the notoriety of being outstanding either for better or worse.
It was lunch period and to the casual observer Caleb appeared to stare blankly at his peas and carrots. He liked feeling invisible. Appearing to be unremarkable was a skill worth mastering.
The truth was that Caleb McGregor was anything but the average 12 year old boy. School didn’t challenge his mind and it was quite the chore to make up wrong answers to homework and quizzes when the correct answers were so obvious to him. The idle chatter of his peers made it painfully obvious that they were not his peers at all. As for the teachers, he found them well meaning and adequate in a shallow sort of way. Caleb much preferred diving deep into Nature’s mysteries and unwrapping them one by one like gifts on Christmas morning. This was the reason he would disappear into the woods for hours on end. It felt like time ceased to exist there. That was his ‘school’ where he was delighted to study, learn and think thoughts well beyond his tender years.
His classmates rumored that Caleb was homeless because after school he made a beeline for the forest sanctuary beyond the railroad tracks at the edge of town. In fact, Caleb was not homeless but as far as he was concerned Nature was his true home and his mother’s house was just a place to lay his head at night.
The young lad had learned many things from the forest community. He learned that life is a single unit with each creature, each element and each natural force functioning as part of a cohesive, intelligent whole. He discovered that words were entirely unnecessary as Nature in her great wisdom had devised numerous alternate ways of communication that have been working magnificently long before the first human spoke the first word. Caleb also learned that the greatest forces tend to be unseen. Hence his penchant for ‘disappearing’ into the scenery.
The boy learned that if you are one with Nature you move with her power, think with her wisdom and become capable of what some people call ‘conjuration.’ Humans were greatly blessed with many talents but few ever did more than scratch the surface of their potential. It made him sad.
Caleb shifted his attention away from this silent reverie and, instead, focused his mind on a snake that had been slowly but surely slithering its way closer and closer to where he was sitting in the grass. Caleb doesn’t like snakes. He let his mind widen out. As his awareness grew ever larger it encompassed not only his own body as it usually did but it also took in the snake. It grew still larger to encapsulate the trees nearby finally reaching into the sky high above the leafy green canopy. He had created a large sphere of unseen yet very powerful energy.
Deep within himself he called forth an emotional/mental mix of desire for the snake to be gone and gladness as if his will had already been accomplished. Two minutes passed. Two minutes became 5, although Caleb was unaware of time passing at all. There was an abrupt swoosh of feathers, a blur not 10 feet ahead and then the quickly retreating sound of a hawk’s wings beating triumphantly, a freshly acquired meal clutched in its sharp talons.
It was the first time Caleb had smiled all day. As the sun began to kiss the horizon the boy knew the time had come to make the short trek back to his modest lair… and mother. Caleb the Conjurer collected his school books and set out for home.