The best day of my life was when I met the kid with the lightning. The school I went to wasn’t that big but considering my circumstances, I didn’t know everybody. So even though he only caught my attention that day, because no one ever saw him again, I’d probably seen him around before and never looked twice.
He cured me of what was wrong with me you see; people called it a CNS, which stands for central nervous system disease. I don’t remember what doctors called the disease exactly because when they diagnosed me I was pretty young. When you are a child and diagnosed with a disease like the one I was born with, you haven’t grown up to appreciate life yet, so you sort of don’t really care until later in life when it hits you: you are going to die much sooner than the rest of the kids at school.
The “later on” that I speak of is when I’d grown into my late teens and realized I was destined to die young. I so badly wanted to run around, fight and wrestle with other boys, to hang out with girls, drive around in a car, play in sports and live a long and healthy life where I could be somebody and do something; I just wanted to be normal. But as I came up wanting, an aggressive bout of depression, which would have lasted until my death (they had said it would be sometime in my early twenties), took a hold of me. But then he came, that kid with the lightning. I’ll never be able to tell a soul how it actually worked, how he cured me, but I’ll always be able to tell the story and I’ll never get tired of telling it either.
I was a junior in high school at the time. I used to become so depressed that I usually took my lunch in the hallway by the lockers so I could eat alone. Halfway through my meal I heard something crash in the cafeteria but it only interested me for a slight second. Then a girl screamed so I decided to wheel my chair around the corner and check it out.
I wheeled over the tiled cafeteria floor and into the lunchroom. A group of people had surrounded three other kids. One I knew to be Jess Thomlinson; I knew him because he was an asshole that picked on kids, even me, the kid in the wheelchair.
Jess stood with a few of his cohorts and they surrounded the kid with the lightning. The girl who I heard scream went running around another corner, probably looking for a teacher because Jess was obviously picking on the kid with the lightning. I figured I would stay and watch the imminent fight. The kid was new, and Jess was on him like a hawk. He liked picking on kids, but new kids were particularly easy and Jess was in true form.
The kid with the lightning had blue eyes that no one would usually look twice at, but when one of the older boys grabbed his sack lunch and started tossing it over the kid’s head to Jess, I thought I saw fleeting glimpses of something more in those eyes.
The room was silent except for the jeering and laughing of the bullies. The kid with the lightning started getting angry; he started shaking, or something, he was just vibrant, and the other two that were teasing him couldn’t stop laughing and taunting.
They did stop though as soon as the electricity started crackling. Everyone stopped, and some gasped. The two kids picking on him backed away into the crowd.
By this time two teachers ran around the corner with the tattletale girl that had left earlier, but they too stopped when they saw the lightning surround and permeate the kid’s body. Everyone stood transfixed. Jess was the only one left by the kid with the lightning and he tried to back away as well but the kid with the lightning reached out and snatched him up by his shirt. He threw Jess against a soda machine and held him there for a moment glaring at him with those electric blue eyes. The lighting began to grow around him and Jess cried out in agony. The lightning was coursing through both their bodies.
One of the teachers tried to intervene. She ran through the crowd but when she came within a few feet of the kid with the lightning, a bolt that came from him threw her back. I saw that her blouse had been singed and looked back to the fight.
No one could move; no one did a thing. We all stared helplessly as the kid with the lightning continued to electrocute Jess. I could smell his clothes and hair burning; it reminded me of the time I’d singed my eyebrows pretty bad while attempting to start a fire. Jess cried out for a few more minutes but after some time he stopped and his body only convulsed as the kid with the lightning let the electricity pour through him. When the kid with the lightning let him go, Jess was dead before he hit the ground.
Now I couldn’t tell you why, but after this happened, the kid with the lightning fell to his knees. He sobbed over Jess’s body, over the murder he had committed. His emotions had changed in a heartbeat. The rest of the student body and faculty and staff (they had all gathered by then) didn’t dare do anything. Everything and everyone stayed silent as though we were all at Jess’s funeral.
The kid with the lightning then picked up Jess’s body, turned to all of us with a tear-streaked face, like salty ocean water coming out of those blue eyes. The crowd parted as he walked through out of the lunchroom. His eyes flashed with electricity, real electricity, but he looked at no one, just straight ahead.
He walked slowly through the halls by the lockers. No one was worried about me at the moment, and I couldn’t blame them, so I did my best to keep up with the crowd as they followed him out the front doors. The whole of the school, I’m guessing every last person, went with the kid out onto the sidewalk.
The kid with the lightning stopped at the front of the school. I wheeled my chair around the side of everyone so I could see what he was doing.
Then it began to rain. On a clear perfect day, it began to rain. At first I thought it was just coincidence but then the lightning began to come. It wasn’t normal lightning that’s far away and you have to wait for the sound waves to catch up to hear the thunder; it was close as could be and the booming was almost unbearable. I clapped my hands to my ears and refused to back away. Everyone watched the kid with the lightning hold Jess up into the air as the lightning storm continued.
It went on for several minutes; I thought I would go deaf. I watched as the kid with the lightning let the bolts come down into his body. Finally the thunder stopped as the lightning bolts began to flow through him. We all let our hands fall and the lightning coursed through the kid again and Jess, the one that had been teasing him, the one that he had killed, began to convulse. Finally I heard him suck in a huge, slow, wheezy breath. The kid with the lightning set Jess down and he got up and scrambled away. Jess, that asshole, was alive again. I couldn’t believe it.
After this feeling of disbelief, another feeling crept across my mind. It tingled through my body like when you see an excellent end to a movie, or when your favorite songs’ chorus comes on. I was happy! The kid with the lightning had brought some kid I hated back to life and it thrilled me to the bone! Why did I care if Jess was okay? I could not figure it out.
Something lingering in the back of my mind made me remember that I had become so stoic, such a cynic, so depressed, that I knew I couldn’t feel like this anymore; I just couldn’t be happy. That’s when I noticed that the lightning wasn’t just going from the kid to Jess, but from him into everyone else at the school. I looked down at my hands and saw flickering lightning going through me, but it didn’t hurt at all; it was the opposite I suppose: it was curing me.
I stood up from my wheelchair for the first time in years. I looked around for everyone to see but no one noticed; everyone smiled and then started running around, jumping, laughing. Others that I knew had problems (I knew them because all the kids with disabilities took classes together) were doing so as well and for some reason I ran and did a cartwheel. I didn’t quite make it through it though and just when I thought I was going to hit the pavement the lightning lifted me back up again. The whole of the school began flying in a mix of lightning and some sort of electric blue energy coming from the eyes of the kid with the lightning.
I felt this web of energy surround and permeate everyone and everything that the kid with the lightning caught in it. I heard symphony music. I heard laughter. I heard angels singing. I felt euphoric, centered, balanced. I smelled clean, pure, fresh rain. I touched electric blue bolts of lightning, lightning hotter than the sun at their core and they didn’t burn me. He was curing us of everything wrong. Everything.
Slowly we were settled back down and the lightning began to dissipate. The euphoric state went away, but the after effect remained and I did not sit back down in my wheelchair; whatever happened had cured me.
The kid with the lightning then let all the energy flow back to him, a few more bolts came down on him in rapid succession and then CRACK he was gone, lost in the rain.
I never sat in a wheelchair again. I started working after that at a construction job and bought my first car, which was quite the upgrade from my mom’s handicap accessible van. I got in a few fights with boys at parties that I started attending and I ended up lettering my senior year on the boys’ basketball team. Not long after that I met the girl of my dreams. We settled down a few years later and had three children, all of them disease free.
Nobody believed anyone that saw that day what happened. We bring it up at high school reunions sometimes, but it’s like we’re all talking about a dream.
I’m 59 years old now and the doctors are still baffled at how I’m alive and in perfect health. Even though they never believe me, I always tell ‘em this story; like I said, I never get tired of telling it.