Harold was sitting idly at the breakfast table. A bare piece of toast lay on the plate before him. It represented everything today would be; bland, flat, coarse.
Today was Harold's first day back to school after the brief respite of summer. Today would be a day of awkward shyness. A day of pecking orders being established between students and faculty, as well as among students and students. Harold stared at his glass of orange juice, this crucial part of today’s balanced breakfast was nearly at its bottom. This visual only served to remind Harold where he fell in his school’s hierarchical rolls.
“Harry, eat something, your going to starve.”
Harold blew a long strand of hair from his face in a huff. He didn’t need to look at his rotund frame to know that statement would be a long time coming, before it came true. “I’m not hungry Mom.”
Mom sighed, making a brief trek to the fridge. When she returned to the table a plastic container of margarine and a glass jar of grape jelly suddenly appeared. “Eat,” Mom commanded.
Harold smiled as Mom turned her back, busying herself with the mundane tasks of an adult. Whispering to himself alone, Harold recited, “Just the ingredient I need for my potion, at my thoughts you’ll heed my every notion…”
Harold’s eyes focused on the jelly jar, and before him a thin tendril of purple began to climb up the inside of the jar. Worm-like it pushed itself up and over the jar’s lip, past those ridges where the cap screws on, and down the outside of the glass.
Harold watched this spectacle unfold, but quickly glanced at his mother. As he did so the thin cylindrical mass of grape jelly became motionless. When Harold was satisfied Mom was still preoccupied with her grown up distractions, the jelly-worm formed a thin concave mouth and a tiny arm, complete with a three-fingered hand. With it, the glob of jelly smiled and tipped an imaginary hat to Harold. Harold returned both the smile and the gesture in kind.
Harold then winked and the grape worm wiggled and swayed, grew and twisted into a baseball player. Though roughly the size of a G.I. Joe, the grape ballplayer was a brute of a man, with a chest like a barrel and a large broad bat. The ballplayer stood, chest heaving as if he were living and breathing there on Harold’s kitchen table.
Harold reached over him, with what by comparison was the hand of a giant. He dunked two fingers inside the jelly jar, retrieving a generous glob of the purple substance. The ballplayer watched as Harold sat the hand that contained the jelly on the surface of the table. Looking at the tiny jelly ballplayer he held his free hand over the jelly-smeared fingers on his opposite hand. He made a balling, rolling motion and the jelly, now molded like clay, did the same. Harold repeated this process a few times over. A few seconds passed and there sat three miniscule, gelatinous baseballs.
The ballplayer nodded knowingly. He readied his bat, shimmied and lined up his hips, tapping the head of the bat against the tabletop, and against his grape-jelly formed cleats.
With a flick of his fore finger and his thumb, Harold “threw” the first diminutive purple ball towards the matching ballplayer without ever touching it. The ballplayer swung, arching his head upwards to see past the brim of his little hat, and watched intently as the jelly baseball flew across the open air of the table, arched high, and then landed with a splat-pat on top of Harold’s toast. In succession, the following two jelly-balls found their mark as well.
“Thanks,” again, Harold found himself smiling at the little guy.
“Harold,” Mom began to turn around, “have you finished eating yet? That bus is probably barrelin’ around the corner right now.”
Mom turned quickly, but paused just long enough to check the clock. Harold had to act. With a grimace, and a short wave Harold said goodbye to the ballplayer. Instantly, the caricature of an athletic baseball player sunk into an unrecognizable patty shape. And then disappeared, seeming to fall right through, rather than off, the table itself.
The succinct but groaning horn of the bus driver signaled it was time for Harold to leave.
Harold wolfed down the now jelly covered toast. “Love ya Mom,” he hugged her at the waist and trotted out the door. With his backpack slung around him Harold went through the front door. He felt like he was an adventurer preparing for a long expedition.
Back in the kitchen, Mom removes Harold’s plate from the table and sits it in the sink. When she returns to retrieve the jelly jar and the butter she sees something beneath the table. She kneels to get a closer look.
Mom’s eyes narrow and she finds herself staring at a blob of grape jelly. Although its perimeter indicates the foodstuff was dropped from quite a height, she thinks she can make out a rough shape in spite of its messiness.
“Hmm, kinda looks like a little guy with a bat, maybe a baseball player...”