The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire
Episode 2 - Flavia's Advice
The night after Aunt Flavia fell into the lake, Alex fell into a fitful sleep, filled with nightmares of wind and water. But deep in the night, a hand shook his arm, and he found Aunt Flavia standing over him.
"I have something to give you," she said. She sat by his bed and played with the ring on her finger, and didn't speak for a moment. Alex was still half asleep and not quite sure if he was still dreaming.
"Our lives are very ordinary until something awful happens," she said, all of a sudden. "And then we grow up and see how muted and barren this world is. It seems like there is nothing great and true and wonderful. There is nothing like the games we play. Nothing like those grand movies we watch or books we read."
She paused, and looked down at her hand. Then she pulled off the ring. It was gold, and glinted in the light. Alex couldn't see it well, but he knew what it looked like. It was fat and plain, except for some etching and two tiny rubies, like eyes of a beast biting it's own tail. You'd think it was a snake, but the etching was more like the ribs of an armadillo than scales.
Then she looked up, straight at him.
"But I tell you; great things exist!" She said this as though he doubted it. She leaned in closer and continued.
"Heroes are not always legends. You can't always see them. They are just people who don't fit in a safe world. They seem useless or invisible. Like Zorro when he's Don Diego. But that is only because they're misplaced. When they find their place and see what they must do, then the hero comes out."
"I tried to save you, but I couldn't," he said, sitting up. She shook her head and patted his arm.
"Of course not," she said. "I wasn't there to save! That wasn't a job for you. Alex, you haven't found your place yet. But you will. Someday. And it won't be through fear or doubt. It will be because you've had enough of this place, and its muted reality. It will make you want to go jump in the lake."
She pressed the ring into his hand and leaned in closer.
"I encourage you to do it, Alex. Jump in that lake. But when you do, you must wear this ring and remember all that I taught you. All of it. Even the silly things."
She kissed him and went back to her own room. He was so sleepy, he wasn't even sure it wasn't a dream. He clutched the ring, and thought maybe Aunt Flavia believed the ring had saved her life. He pictured magic ropes taking her by the wrists and dragging her from the deep. That was why she didn't want to tell the police about it.
And what had that to do with invisible misplaced heroes? Maybe the ring called up an invisible hero, deep in the lake, who grabbed her by the wrists and flung her onto the beach. That would be cool, if a little deranged.
Alex felt comforted, but he didn't feel much like a hero himself.
Years later, after his aunt died for real and Alex went off to college, he tried not to think about much of anything. Certainly not about his aunt's delusions about invisible heroes, or about how right she was at the cynical, boring, vapid world.
But the thing about college is that, if you stay there long enough -- as Alex most certainly did -- sooner or later you will be lured into thinking. And thinking will change your life....
Stay Tuned for Episode 3 - "The Misplaced Hero and The Invisible Man."
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