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Sam the Invisible

by Jordan789 

Posted: 18 June 2005
Word Count: 2386
Summary: This is just the beginning to a short story. I'm writing it primarily for my 7 year old cousin, and this is my first shot at children's fiction.

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Even after all of the guests arrived, after pin-the-tail on the donkey, after a water-balloon fight, after ripping open all of the birthday gifts, and after eating three brick-sized slices of chocolate cake, Sam still felt anxious that the best part of his birthday would never come. The entire family, all of which lived not more than fifteen minutes away, sat crowded around the dining room table, with every other person having to lean forward and keep their elbows tight against their ribs so everyone had a spot. The adults slowly finished their cake, and the children asked for seconds, or thirds, in Sam’s case. But the cake didn’t make him happy.
Earlier that week, Sam’s Mom told him about a special guest, planning to come to the party: “Your uncle is in town, from traveling. He’s a magician and travels the country putting on magic shows. He used to be a lawyer, but then one day he up and quit, deciding to trade in his suits for magic.” Ever since then, Sam mostly forgot about all of the presents he asked for, and all of the games they would play; all he could think about was the magician. He wondered if he had a flying rug, or any special pills that let you breath underwater, or see stuff super-far away. He imagined the magician to be seven feet tall from some angles, and as tall as Sam, 4’, in others. His would wear a suit, with a top-hat, and all of it would change colors like the image in a kaleidoscope.
“What’s wrong, birthday boy?” His father asked, spinning his empty paper plate on the plastic table cover.
“Nothing. I’m just wondering where the magician is,” Sam replied, slouched over with his elbows stretching up to rest on the table.
“Don’t worry, my brother just likes to make an entrance,” Sam’s Mom reassured him. Suddenly, everyone heard the sound of a car horn blaring outside, not a normal horn either, but one that would be used to start a horse race. Sam perked up from his seat, almost knocking his chair over as he tried to push out from between grandma and Sam’s father’s elbows. Outside, a purple limousine pulled up to the curb, parking right behind grandma’s brown Buick. Two flags rose on each side of the hood, with red and gold designs on them, but Sam was too far away to make out the description. They looked like two dragons, but they also resembled the Chinese symbols Mrs. Feldspar taught, a few weeks earlier in class. Ten minutes felt like they passed and Sam kept watching, waiting to see the limo’s door open to finally catch a glimpse of his uncle. And those flags kept slightly flapping in the wind, helping the limousine look like some sort of ruby, shining on the necklace of some grocery store clerk.
“Nothing changes,” his grandma said, looking out over Sam “Always about putting on a show--that one is.” She jerkily waved an old, crooked finger. “Remember, it’s all tricks and illusions, Sam. Magic isn’t real.” She slowly walked back over to the table and sat down to her coffee.
“Don’t spoil the fun, Mom. There’s nothing wrong with putting on a show,” Sam’s mother scolded grandma.
Sam didn’t know what to believe, so he kept watching the car.
Just then, a knock sounded from the basement door. Sam jumped and spun around.
“Go see who it is, Sam,” said his mother.
Before Sam even could reach out and grab the handle, the door slowly opened with a moan, and every person in the room stopped talking and waited for something.
Sam peeked around the corner. The dark basement stairway sat there, normal as usual, just going on its business of churning sounds from the water heater and smelling funny, from something his mother called “mildew”
Suddenly a white dove flew from the shadowed stairway, making no sound as it flew, as if it had been a shadow or the beam of a flashlight. The bird flew a circle around the kitchen then flapped right through the open window, like someone told it how to make an escape. Sam gasped then looked back into the basement, still grey. He knew this was it. The show was about to start. Then, he heard the flapping. A wall of white doves flew out from the basement, with thousands of yellow beaks poking forward and all of the wings slapping against each other like applauding hands. Sam stood directly in their path. He shut his eyes, as the impact came closer, and the flapping wings blew a cool breeze through his hair and against his cheeks.. Just as the doves should have crashed into Sam, he felt light touches on his face and arms, like nothing more than light tickles like an ant crawling over a barefoot.
And then there was a thunderous laugh, slow and separated by the quiet laugh of the guests behind. It was the happiest laugh Sam had ever heard.
“Relax, my good boy.”
Sam slowly opened his eyes and realized the doves must have changed into thousands of multi-colored confetti, which now flittered all around the room, covering the kitchen counter, sink, and Sam.
“Ah, the great Sam!” A man in a purple suit with a thick black moustache and a great big smile leaned forward, extending his hand to Sam. No top-hat, but Sam was too excited to even notice. “I am your Uncle Jimmy, but most people call me Jim the Illusion, as you’ve already started to see why—oh, don’t worry about the doves, they’re completely able and quite used to going to pieces quite often. They’ll patch themselves up in an instant.” The man let out another laugh, slightly less loud than earlier. Sam returned the laugh, so amused at the man and the slight curl in his lip and wink of his brown eyes.
With that slow wink, the confetti all whirled into a great cloud, as if fans blew at it from every direction, and somehow managed to not touch Sam with a bit of air (or whatever moved them about) and began circling around in the center of the floor; faster, and faster, and faster, and then it all rushed to the center of the room and an explosion of white light flashed like a camera. Sam blinked and when he opened his eyes, where the whirlwind of confetti had been, now stood, clucking about, a single, white dove.
Sam clapped his hands and grabbed the sides of his face, unable to believe what he had just seen. Even grandma sat on the edge of her chair, with her face stretched so tight in a smile that most of her wrinkles smoothed over.

After a magic show, where Sam’s Uncle made an assortment of items disappear, from doves to Aunt Linda, the magician told Sam he had something to show him. Sam followed the man up stairs, with the long purple over-coat bouncing back and forth back behind him like a dog’s tail. They walked into Sam’s room, and his Uncle reached into one of the pockets lining the inside of his coat.
“What I am about to show you contains the secrets to all of my magic.” He sat down in one of Sam’s tiny chairs and looked like some sort of magical giant. “Take a seat,” he pulled a chair across from him and Sam sat down. He reached inside one of his pockets and Sam saw a slight red glow coming from it. Sam’s eyes went wide with surprise and suspicion at that. After fingering the small something for a few seconds, he removed his hand from his pocket and left whatever glowed, inside. “Did your mother ever tell you I was in the war?” He looked down at Sam with one knee crossed over the other, and his chin resting in his hand as if conducting some important business.
“She said you were a lawyer,” Sam replied. He wanted nothing more than his Uncle to get on with whatever it was he had to show him.
“Well, this was before that. Anyway, back in the war, my battalion, where I was just a low ranking scout, we became separated from the main combat drop. We spent the days hacking our way through bushes and vines and not a day passed where a man didn’t fall victim to a mysterious dart. We’d hear the noise, a soft whoosh of air in the distance, and a man would make this gargling noise, grab his throat, and drop down, dead.” He crossed his arms then uncrossed them in a sweeping motion, like an umpire calling a runner safe. “We’d search the area for any sign of an enemy, but never found a single man, animal, or ghost.” He gave Sam a quick wink. “Weeks passed. Only me and Colonel James Earl remained alive, and we decided we couldn’t just sit around and wait to be shot. ‘If you want us, come and gut us!’ We screamed out.” And his uncle screamed at that, and some sick rage took over his face twisting his smile into a face ready for war.
Sam jumped out of his chair and backed himself against the windowsill.
His Uncle laughed to himself. “We’d lost our minds.” He smiled to the ground, looking down, as if he was recounting the event or just waiting for someone to tell him to finish the story.
“Then what happened?” Sam said, still leaning up against the wall.
“Well, after running around and tearing through the woods for who knows how long, Jimmy, or Jack-Rabbit, as we used to call him, and I, we just passed out right in a big pile of mud. He went face down and I didn’t have the strength to turn him over. We woke up, sometime later, held captive by some natives; dark folk that wore white paint all over their bodies and decorated their little village with human skeletons. You know what a cannibal is, Sam? Well, never mind. The people, after keeping me caged for a few days, let me loose around the village, and I slowly learned their language and customs. Did you see those flags on my great-big limo, out there? The natives printed those gryphons all over everything they could carve it into—trees, totem poles, their own skin--half lion, half eagle, or something. One day, the magic man, or “Soo-de-hilo”, as they called him, took me into his tent, a dark place with animal furs lining the walls and floors, and he pulled this out of a small cabinet.” He reached back into the same pocket as earlier and pulled out a small vial filled with a red drink that looked like some sort of flashlight was buried in it, because a strange glow came out making the uncle’s hands red. “And the rest is history.”
He pulled a small cork from the vile and Sam noticed the smell of farts and scrounged up his face. “Nevermind the smell,” his uncle told him, “Once you drink this, you’ll be more powerful than any boy your age.” After that, he handed the drink to Sam who finished the drink off in one swig, and waited for something to happen. Waving his hands in front of his face, he half expected them to disappear and half thought his Uncle was playing a not-so-funny joke on him. “No, no. Nothing will happen until you do the special trick. Watch me.”
Sam watched as his uncle blinked his eyes very fast and then his bald head and hairy arms sticking out from his shiny purple shirt vanished, as if someone rubbed them out with a pencil eraser.
“Wow,” Sam replied, taking a small step back from his headless uncle. He felt the warm windowsill behind him and wondered if his Uncle’s arms and face could still be touched, or if he was now like a ghost.
“Now, you try,” said his invisible uncle.
“Okay.” Sam began blinking his eyes, and watched the world disappear and reappear in front of him.
“Just seven times, Sam, otherwise you’re likely to have a seizure.”
“Okay.” Before trying, he slowly reached out a hand to touch where his uncle’s arm should have been. Before reaching it, his uncle softly poked Sam’s hand.
“Don’t worry, everything is the same except like this I get better discounts from salesman.” He waved his armless sleeves around in the air and his clothes did a funny monkey dance which Sam would have normally laughed at had he not already started to blink his eyes.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,” Sam counted with each blink. After the last, he snapped his hands in-front of his face, with palms open, or so he thought, as without visual proof, it’s hard to be sure, and saw nothing except the clothing of his uncle and the blue walls of his bedroom.
Sam just started laughing.
“Pretty cool, huh?” His uncle said, and then popped back into focus.
“You can say that again,” Sam replied, still waving around his imaginary hands. He pulled on his t-shirt and looked down the hole, expecting the magic to only work on his arms and face, but instead, he saw all the way down to the soles of his shoes. His clothing still fit snuggly around his body, and its shape could be seen only against the fabric.
Sam’s uncle grasped the boy’s shoulders and leaned forward, looking closely into his invisible face. “You just need to remember to be careful because you could get in a lot of trouble if people found out you were running around invisible,” his uncle said.
“I know,” said Sam, then he slowly stuck his tongue out, still unsure whether his uncle could see him or not. His uncle did not respond.
“This is the best birthday ever. Thanks!” Sam hugged the magician and noticed the purple man smelt a bit like the drink.
“Just blink again, seven times, if you want to reappear. And remember, don’t tell anyone,” his Uncle said, rubbed the boys head, and then walked out of the room.
He blinked, and just like his uncle said, his arms appeared as if they never even vanished.

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Comments by other Members

Joel at 03:34 on 23 June 2005  Report this post
Hi Jordon,

Needless to say I’m not a seven year old so my opinion is possibly irrelevant, nonetheless, I thought this was well written and colourful. The character of Jim was well developed and entertaining. I also liked grandma and her barbed comments. Sam to me seemed likeable enough and probably someone a child could relate too.

In some places though, it seemed a bit heavy going, mainly due to what I thought was seemingly unnecessary information. For example do we need to be told the whole family lived not more than 15 minutes away or that Jim used to be a lawyer.

I think this would benefit from an edit, particularly as it’s for a child. I would try to get rid of everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. I think it would make it sharper and easier to read and more exciting.

I was also had some problems with this metaphor. “And those flags kept slightly flapping in the wind, helping the limousine look like some sort of ruby, shining on the necklace of some grocery store clerk. “I just couldn’t see how a limousine could look like a ruby.

Obviously this is just my opinion, but hope it helps.

Good luck with it.



Account Closed at 08:57 on 23 June 2005  Report this post
I thought this had a lot of charm, but agree with Joel that it needs to be sleaker and tighter in some areas. The two main characters of the uncle and the boy are great and I hope they have lots of adventures together!




Dreamer at 15:01 on 26 June 2005  Report this post
Hi Jordan,

Very nice story. I love the idea, it just needs a little work.

Here are some examples:

‘they’re completely able and quite used to going to pieces quite often’ too many quite’s.

You need to edit this for things like this ‘Anyway, back in the war, my battalion, where I was just a low ranking scout, we became separated’ the battalion became separated not ‘we’.

Here ‘reached back into the same pocket as earlier’ I think you could just say he reached back into his pocket.

One thing left me a little puzzled. How did he get the drink from the witch doctor? Did he have red hair which they regarded as a sign of a God and so befriend him? Did he overpower the witch Doctor and then make his escape after drinking the potion? I think you could expand on this part a little. Maybe even play up the dark land he was in during the war, add to the feel of the place to make it more frightening. I agree with Joel about the extraneous stuff like 15 minutes.

Overall very nice story though. This is the sort of magician I would like at my birthday parties… even now. Does he have a business card?


Jordan789 at 03:23 on 28 June 2005  Report this post
thank you all for the comments. the piece is a rough draft and, i agree with all of you, could and will benefit from a few revisions.

the mention of the uncle as a lawyer will come into play when, the next morning, on the way to school, Sam asks his Mom if her brother (the magician) ever fought in a war, and she tells him that he hasn't. so, basically, the magician created a fantastical story for Sam just to add a bit more magic to his existance. I didn't want to fill in all of the holes in his story, as I didn't want him to seem flawless.

thanks again for taking the time to read through my story.

Jordan789 at 03:27 on 28 June 2005  Report this post
just briefly reading the start of the story, i've realized that i need to change the way in which Sam learns of his uncle's former profession, as it seems forced and unnatural. I'll probably just setup a small questionairre session between Sam and his mother, where he asks about her brother, and Sam can also ask if he has a flying rug and all of the other questions he fantasies.

thanks again!

I'm gonna go correct some of the areas you all pointed out and hopefully finish up the second half.

choille at 10:28 on 01 July 2005  Report this post
This has some lovely bits in it. I love some of your descriptions -
'brick-sized slices of chocolate cake,'
'or see stuff super-far away,'
& the dark basement stair bit is terrific.
I think as the others above that with a bit of slashing this will be a really super read.
Good luck

Katerina at 10:00 on 24 July 2008  Report this post

This does need some working on, as it is very repetetive in places,

for example -

Just as the doves should have crashed into Sam, he felt light touches on his face and arms, like nothing more than light tickles like an ant crawling over a barefoot
. Two 'light's' and two 'like's'.

There are others, but you'll find them with another read through.

There is a lot of unnecessary info in here, which you could condense down. Try to reveal things with action and dialogue, which keeps the pace moving along, and cut out anything which isn't necessary to the story. Children have a much shorter attention span than we do, so you need to keep the writing tight and straight to the point. Kids aren't interested in lots of description, they like to know what's going to happen next!

I do like the idea of this, with some work, you could have a good story.

Kat x

Jordan789 at 05:35 on 27 July 2008  Report this post

I do appreciate you reading this, Kat, however I must say that I didn't upload it. I mean, I did, but it seems that it was over 3 years ago. I had been a member of one of the short fiction groups and had put this story up, but upon rejoining the short story forum, I'm shocked that it automatically revived this story from the ashes. I beg everyone else to not read this. =)

Thanks though for taking the time to read it, and you're spot on about your suggestions.

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