Johnny was always getting kicked around and usually ended up being chased home by Saul, the school bully. Today was no different. Johnny ran all the way home with Saul hot on his heels. Slamming the door, Johnny was safe one more time. His mom usually left a snack for him on the counter. She had no idea that Johnny was being bullied because he never talked about it - didn't want to show any sign of weakness. After all he was 12 now, nearly a man in his opinion. He should act like one, and was embarrassed about letting Saul chase him home every day.
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Opening his book, he prepared for an afternoon of scientific delight. He settled in and took a bite of his apple, while taking notes on a new project he wanted to try. As he was reading, he began hearing strange sound. It sounded like a kitten, but they didn't have a kitten. "That's strange" he thought. "I'm just imagining things." But he kept hearing it, so he decided to follow the sound. He went down the stairs and out the door. The sound kept getting louder and louder, as he approached the garage. There, behind the garbage can, he found a small, orange tabby kitten. Wow, he thought, "I heard this kitten all the way inside, upstairs in my room." Johnny takes the kitten into the house and offers her some milk and some tuna left over from his Mom's lunch. "I hope you like this", he said as he pondered what just happened.
The next day after school, Johnny is on the lookout for Saul, hoping against hope to avoid him this time. But no, there he is by the fence. There is only one gate out of the playground, and Saul is guarding it. "Hey, Saul, how about let's make peace? You know, I stay out of your way, and you don't chase me home?" said Johnny hopefully. Saul replied with a nasty grin, "Nah, ain't gonna happen. You see, I don't like punks, and you're a punk" as he strode toward Johnny. "You gonna run now, or do I have to teach you a lesson?" Johnny decided that today wasn't the day to test his budding bravery, so he turned to run, as usual. As he did, he found himself gaining speed, going faster and faster, and the trees he passed became a blur. What? "I thought I was getting braver, but I guess not, I'm running faster than ever" He raised a cloud of dust behind him on the gravel road, and left Saul choking and confused. As Johnny reached his house, instead of bouncing up the stairs one by one, he leaped to the top in one bound. "Gee, what's the matter with me? I can't run that fast or jump to the top of the stairs." As he reached for the door knob, instead of opening it, he appeared on the other side. "Whoa, this is too strange." Could it be...?
"MOM" he called loudly, "MOM, where did you get those apples yesterday?" "What apples", she asked? "The ones on the counter. I had one when I got home from school." His mom responded with a startled look, "There were no apples on the counter yesterday. They were out at the store, so I got some yogurts instead. They were in the fridge."
Now Johnny began to consider what had happened to him. Where had those apples come from? How did they get there, and where were they now? Could they possibly be from the magic tree, if indeed, it really did exist? So many unanswered questions, but the thing that kept running through his head was..."I guess maybe now Saul won't be kicking me around anymore."
Written for Magpie Tales #30.