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It wasn’t until I started reading more that I considered how boring my life has been so far. That’s bound to happen when comparing your life to a Zombie War though. When trying to come back to some memory that could have been even remotely entertaining I usually encounter a kind of memory black hole. It consumes all aspects of my past, from childhood to whatever it was I ate for lunch today.

Every once in a while my slippery memory will return a gem to me though, like today.

I remember this kid in elementary school, Mike. It was my first day in fifth grade. There had been a random change in district borders that year so I was planted in a new school with no friends whatsoever. Somehow I remember the names of every teacher I’ve ever had. This is impressive because of my total lack of talent in remembering any other name, but I can rattle off every teacher. Except for 5th grade. In fact, I would probably believe that I had never gone to school that year if it wasn’t for Mike.

Summer was still raging when school started that year and recess was heaven. One half hour of bliss, free to run around like a deranged hyena. Maybe that was just me. One day, after my self safari, I was wandering around aimlessly when I came by Mike holding on to a sapling, eyes closed, face toward the sky, humming. While I stood there watching him over the next few minutes several other kids strolled by, each of them laughing and pointing.

What everyone else was seeing was that Mike wasn’t just holding the sapling for the hell of it. It was split in half. Mike was there holding the pieces together. As if to solidify this realization, another of the passing groups managed to stop laughing to ask him what he was doing.

“I’m healing her.” Mike said, in something close to a chant.

It all made sense, and I saw through everyone else’s eyes that Mike was a goner, he was nuts, “bat-shit crazy” as I would come to call it later in my life. I laughed, just like all of the others.

It wasn’t until I got home that night that I realized something. Mike thought he had special powers, or maybe wished he had and was giving it a shot. While I lay under my X-Men blanket I understood that I wasn’t so different. I wanted powers too. I had jumped off the deck trying to fly, I had tried to read people’s minds and incinerate ants with my stare. Mike just had the courage to try in public.

View inside the split rotted out trunk of a tree in Kansas City.

Had I been a braver 5th grader I would have probably tried to help him heal the tree.