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art by Seth Alan Bareiss

The New Kid Is No Angel

In early 2012 James Valvisís 190-page poetry collection, How to Say Goodbye, was published by Aortic Books. His poetry and short fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in hundreds of journals, including Anderbo, Arts & Letters, Baltimore Review, Barrow Street, Hanging Loose, LA Review, Nimrod, Plasma Frequency, River Styx, and Strange Horizons. His poetry has been featured in Verse Daily and twice on the Best American Poetry website. His short fiction has been a Notable Story for storySouthís Million Writers Award. He lives near Seattle and recently started shopping a YA novel.
This was what I got for being nice to the new kid and inviting him to hang out. Reading through my comics collection in my bedroom, we'd been arguing all morning.
"You're so stupid," he said for maybe the millionth time. "If you could be invisible, why would you choose to be a shapeshifter instead? You could just go wherever you wanted in secret."
"Because," I said, trying to maintain my composure, "maybe you want to be seen. Like there's the girl you think is pretty but she only likes really tall guys. How is it going to help to be invisible? Isn't that your problem already? That you're invisible to girls?"
"Well, it's not like the girls are crawling all over you, either."
"I meant the universal you," I said. "Oh, jeez, what time is it?"
"Yeah, it's getting late. I gotta go."
I saw him to the door. We walked outside together. I could tell he was still mad at me. I had won most of the arguments hands down. We probably wouldn't be spending any more Saturday mornings together.
"I still think superfast speed beats stretch-ability," he said.
I shrugged. "Maybe. But not for a girl."
"You think about girls too much," he said, and then he unfolded his enormous wings and took off into the sky, his beating pennons lifting his heavy body higher, falling a bit, then lifting him still higher, until a wind gust caught him and he glided in the direction of his house.
Seems slow and sweaty, I thought, and teleported back to my bedroom.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012


This is my second story in DSF, so thanks to Jonathan and Michele for having me back. In early 2012 I challenged myself to write 30 stories in 30 days. Believe it or not, I pulled it off. This story was the second shortest. It can be read almost as a joke, but a serious point is being made as well. Just donít ask me what it is. I'd rather not deprive the reader of the pleasure of figuring that out.

- James Valvis

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