Sylvester was a weird kid (fiction)

Sylvester wasn’t weird like other kids in Joey’s class, the ones who were really quiet or the ones who lit fires in the back of the school. Sylvester was weird in a way that Joey had never seen before. He wore black shirts and black pants all the time, never jeans and t-shirts like the other kids, and he could make his voice sound like it was coming from the front of the room when he was sitting in the back. He had a pet bird that he carried on his shoulder to the 7-11, he ate spiders and beetles for fun, and no one had ever been inside his house.

All the kids in the school called him “freak” and no one would sit next to him at the lunch table because he always said he had things like bat wings and mouse tails between his Wonder bread. But Joey liked Sylvester because if you could talk him into playing soccer at recess he always could kick the ball harder than any other kid (no one ever could block his kicks). And Sylvester could definitely tell a good story.

Sylvester was always making up stories, like the time he brought a plain old gray rock for show-and-tell and said it had supernatural powers or last year when he told the teacher that his mother was a witch. So when Sylvester told Joey that he had a glass eye, Joey just laughed. Joey knew real people didn’t have glass eyes, just like real people didn’t have vampire teeth and dogs couldn’t talk. That stuff was just in the movies. Sylvester was just a weird kid.

Sylvester made up this particular story one day on the playground when Joey caught him “giving the evil eye,” as the older kids called it, to one of the little kids on the playground. Sylvester had this really funny way of looking at you. That was part of the reason the other kids made fun of him. If you were standing beside him and he looked over at you, one eye looked at you but the other one looked straight ahead. It made you feel really creepy when he did it and it made the younger kids run away crying.

“Why do you have to scare the kindergarten kids like that?” Joey asked when he saw the little girl crying behind the monkey bars.

“I have a glass eye,” Sylvester said, “I can’t help it. I can’t make it move like my other eye.”
Joey just snickered. “You don’t have to try to fool me.”

“Do you want to see it? I can take it out and you can even hold it?” Sylvester said.
Just as Sylvester said this, Liza, one of the girls in their class, walked by. The boys in Joey’s fourth-grade class didn’t really like the girls much, but you couldn’t really count Liza as one of the girls exactly. She never wore dresses and she didn’t mind getting dirty like the other girls. And everyone said she had “gazelle legs” because she could run faster than anyone in the class. All the boys, including Joey, thought Liza was ok. Joey had even seen Sylvester talking to her once or twice, probably showing her his magic rock or something.

Liza stopped in her tracks. “Yeah, do it, do it!” she said and Sylvester grinned, sliding his eyelid back and digging his thumb and forefinger until they practically disappeared into his eye socket.
Joey felt his stomach do a somersault.

He turned to Liza whose eyes were still glued to Sylvester. “He’s just making up stories again,” Joey said.

Liza just shrugged and walked away.

Sylvester looked after her. Then squinting his eyes up tightly, he glared at Joey. It wasn’t exactly his usual “evil eye,” but it was close enough.

“You’ll see” was all he said and walked away. The hairs prickled on the back of Joey’s neck.
At the end of the day as Joey was chaining his bicycle up outside the school, Sylvester came up to him.

“I’ve got my eye on you,” Sylvester whispered to Joey, winking over and over. Boy, was that Sylvester a weird kid.

When Joey slid his books in the rack under his desk the next morning, he heard something hit the floor. Looking down, he saw a greenish marble rolling across the floor toward the back of the classroom. He sure hadn’t put it there. The teacher didn’t let you have toys in class; she had a whole drawer full of stuff she had taken from kids.

The marble rolled all the way to the coatroom and stopped. Just as Joey was about to go grab it, the teacher walked in so he sat back down. When the bell rang for lunch, he walked to the back of the classroom and looked for the marble. It was gone. He was a little disappointed because it didn’t look like any other marble he had ever seen before and would’ve looked cool in his marble jar.

Sylvester wasn’t in school that day or the day after when Joey noticed the marble tucked snugly behind the teacher’s chair leg. It was big and green and glinting in the sunlight. When he tried to pass a note to Liza about it, the marble rolled out from beneath the teacher’s chair and slammed so loudly against the wall that it made Joey jump. No one else in the room seemed to notice.

By the end of the day, just like the day before, the marble had vanished.

Joey caught up with Liza as they left school.

“Have you seen Sylvester lately?” he asked her since she was really the only other kid he had even seen talk to Sylvester.

She scratched her head. “I don’t think so, not even in his backyard,” Liza said. “He’s usually out there blowing up something or looking through his telescope.”

Joey didn’t know they lived on the same street.

“Yeah, he’s sort of a weird kid,” said Joey.

Just then, something hard hit him right between the shoulder blades. He spun around to see if some kid had lobbed a rock at him, but there was no one in sight. Whatever had hit him seemed to instead be dribbling around – as if gathering steam — inside his backpack. Then with even more force than before, it pelted him right where his dad had told him his kidneys were. “Oweeeeee,” he squealed in pain.

“What’s the matter with you?” Liza stared at him funny.

He yanked the backpack off before the crazy jumping bean inside could cream him again. “Ummm, I’m ok, see you…” he managed to get out before taking off at a fast clip to find a safe place, away from the other kids, to let his attacker loose from his backpack.

When he reached the bike rack, he dropped the backpack to the ground. He unzipped it slowly, his heart hammering so hard in his ears that he couldn’t hear anything else. He slowly peered inside. There, at the bottom beside a chewing gum wrapper and a dirty penny, lay the marble. The sun hit its glassy surface and it seemed to wink up at him.

Joey waited a few moments to see if the marble would begin to fly around again but it seemed to have worn itself out and was now completely still. He picked it up and held it in the palm of his hand to get a closer look. It was definitely bigger than any marble he had ever seen and it was mostly green but it had a small black center and a few pinkish streaks through it. Joey stared at it for a really long time. He rolled it around in his palm a few times, but each time, the green part rolled back up to face him like it was weighted or something. It was hard for Joey to tear his eyes away from the marble.

On the ride home, he didn’t put the marble back in his backpack but held it tightly in his fist. Joey knew, without looking, that the green part was facing up the whole way.

Joey thought he had left the marble on his dresser when he went to dinner that night but somehow when he took his plate to the kitchen, the marble was sitting by the doorway as if it were waiting for him. For the rest of the night, he kept it tucked between his thumb and forefinger as he did his homework, as he watched TV, even as he took a bath. When he was in the tub, he heard the phone ring in the hallway. He heard his mother say, “I’ll tell him…ok. Goodbye.”

She opened the bathroom door an inch. “That was your friend Sylvester, honey,” she said through the crack in the door. “He said he’ll be back in school tomorrow. And he also said something odd. He said ‘tell Joey I don’t like water in my eyes.’” His mother laughed. “That Sylvester is a strange child.”
The next day, Joey couldn’t decide whether to take the marble to school. If he did, it was bound to cause trouble. If he didn’t, he was afraid it wouldn’t be there when he got home. But all morning as he got dressed, the marble kept catching his eye from its place on the dresser. Finally he just grabbed it and tossed it in his backpack. During the whole ride to school, as he pumped the pedals, the marble thudded heavily against his back, almost as if keeping beat with some tune Joey couldn’t hear.

At school, Joey looked around for Sylvester but his seat was still empty when the teacher called roll. He guessed eating “disease-carrying rodents,” as his mother called them, had finally caught up with him.

Joey came back to his desk early after lunch. Sometimes when his dog was locked up in his cage all day, a few minutes of running around outside would calm right down. Maybe marbles were like dogs and they just didn’t like to be cooped up. But when he unzipped his backpack and looked inside, the marble was nowhere to be found. Only the chewing gum and the penny were at the bottom of the bag. He turned the backpack upside down and shook it, but it was no use. The marble was gone. He felt his stomach drop to his knees, kind of like when he left his brand-new baseball glove in the rain all night.

“Where could it be? Where could it be?” he wondered, his mind spinning so fast that he didn’t even notice someone standing behind him. When he turned around, he practically crashed right into Sylvester.

“Looking for this?” Sylvester asked, and in his hand was the marble, all green and twinkling in the sunlight. Sylvester was winking at Joey again.

When Joey went to scoop the marble out of his open hand, Sylvester raised his hand to that winking eye and Joey heard a kind of popping sound. When Sylvester dropped his hand again, it was empty and instead of winking, Sylvester was now just staring at Joey. Joey blinked at the bright-green eye looking back at him.

Yep, that Sylvester definitely was a weird kid.