Saturday, January 18, 2014


Jason liked school. 

At least, he liked the idea of school.  That there were other kids to play with had its ups and downs.  He didn't fit in with all of them, but that was OK.  He had a few friends and that was more than enough.  They were all older than he was but that wasn't something they had figured out.  He was big for his age and more than smart enough to do the classwork.  That helped him blend, which was a blessing.  He would've been an obvious misfit in elementary school and probably wouldn't have found much more acceptance in a university no matter how advanced his brain was.  Socialization was what he lacked.  That took time with others and they definitely had the advantage there.  Success required experience and adaptability more than thought.  The others had been schoolmates for years, going through interactions they had come to know as normal.  In more ways than one, he was the new kid.

He enjoyed learning, though.  As much time as he could manage was typically devoted to reading, writing, drawing or tinkering.  There always seemed to be some insistence on making sure he slept and ate, dealt with chores or simply went outside to play, but that just pushed him to make the most of the time he had left.  Still, that left him few new encounters in academic classwork.  Anything the teacher provided to read, for example, he had long ago memorized.  When he asked for additional books, he was actually discouraged from trying to get ahead.  So much for the idea of a learning environment.  It had been a nice theory, though.

The teacher said it would be an interesting exercise.  He was a little skeptical, but Miss Oliver had a personality like a sunny day and a pretty smile so he liked her more than enough to keep an open mind.  Besides, it was the best way to learn.

"Though a few of you may have experience with another language," Miss Oliver said as he tried not to get distracted with a mental count of languages he had learned, "or remember learning to read and write English, most of you don't.  So to refresh your minds on the awkwardness of trying something new, I want you to copy the paragraph on the board using your non-dominant hand."

"Non what?" Michael asked.  He excelled at not being one of the brightest in the class.

"If you're left-handed, use your right," the teacher explained.  "Most of you are right-handed, so you'll use your left."

That gave him pause.  He was ambidextrous.

"Whichever hand you usually write with," the teacher went on as she walked slowly around the room, "use the other one for this."

Well, she had him there.  Even though he was ambidextrous, he didn't use his left hand much for writing.  English was made to be written right-handed.  He had watched lefties write, always doing that awkward thing where they held their hand at a weird angle so they didn't drag the hand across the paper and smear everything.

For him, though, signing his name gave him the solution.  Back when he had first tried it, he just relaxed and wrote his name, Jason Odysseus Book.  It was such an easy part of writing that most people got to where they didn't have to think about it.  Really, he just wanted to see how the penmanship was to see how much work it needed.  What he found, instead, though, was that using his left hand, just letting it go as automatically as one would with the right, meant that it wrote from right to left.  It made sense: opposite half of the brain, it wrote in the opposite direction.  Left or right, he realized, they both move out from the center.  That might be--

"Oh my goodness!" Miss Oliver gasped.  She'd gotten behind him while he wasn't paying attention.  She was patrolling the room, inspecting the clumsy output of everyone's efforts.  "Jason, you're a mirror-writer," she labeled him, her slender index finger trailing across his paper as she scanned his reverse script.

"What?" he responded.  "That's a thing?" he asked, but realized she was already walking off.  Fine, Jason decided.  I'll research it on my own.  And I'll have to make note of the date.  It's not a superpower, but middle school actually threw me a surprise.

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