Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 123: Potential

This is the 123nd in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Potential, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 2nd April 2013

Word count: 639

The story:

“You understand your here to learn, not play,” the man said seriously.

“Yes, John,” the boy said dismissively.

“John isn’t even my name,” the man complained, “You can call me Mister Simmons.”

“Whatever you say John,” the boy said.

“Okay, let’s just talk for a bit, Michael,” Mister Simmons said taking a seat opposite the young teen, “Man to man, okay?”

“Whatever,” a Michael said, uncertain at the new approach.

“You know who your parents are, I don’t need to tell you,” the tutor said.

“But I’m sure your going to anywhere,” the teen said looking away.

“Nope, however I am going to tell you why you need to learn, why if you don’t, you’ll never have a chance.”

“Go on then,” the boy challenged good latest tutor.

“I’m not here to teach you the two times table, your mother is the smartest woman in the world, and I can see from your test results that you’re not far behind. I can’t test your physical proficiency, your father is the strongest man alive, fastest man alive, and all that good Captain World stuff, and again you’re not far behind. But there’s something vital I can teach you that’s not in your genes.”

“What’s that?” Michael leaned in, suddenly interested.

“Well it’s not terribly exciting, but it’s common sense. It’s the one thing you lack,” the teacher said, “I can teach, show you, how to look at things from the most simplistic point of view, to irrational techniques that would make Sherlock Holmes proud. And whether you want to follow in your parents footsteps and become a superhero, or you choose to put your talents, your gifts to other uses, these things will help you.”

“What about ethics?” Michael asked.

“Ask me a question, and I’ll give you an answer, but I’m not going to lecture you on right and wrong, or make you read classical books that will make your brain explode,” the teacher said.

“Okay,” Michael said.

“Okay what?”

“Okay Mr Simmons.”

“I meant, did you mean to me teaching you?” the teacher asked.

“Yes,” Michael said resignedly.

An hour later Mr Simmons left the library, Clarissa Stewart, one of the world’s smartest people took the teacher to one side.

“Now he’s said yes, you’re going to teach him the boring stuff right?” she asked concerned.

“I know his education is important to you, but no,” Mr Simmons said.

“What do you mean no?” Clarissa asked.

“Right in that room you have possibly one of the most powerful beings on the planet, and he gets bored. You know what happens when powerful people get bored? They entertain themselves. All the teachers you’ve had before bored him, and he didn’t listen, didn’t learn. Yet despite that he’s knowledgeable, because after entertaining himself with trouble and mischief he went off and learned,” Mr Simmons said.

Clarissa stood there quietly for a few moments.

“Your son is on the precipice, if you don’t let him make his own choices he’ll go over, and he’ll be what a lot of people fear a powerful angry young man. I will give him the tools he needs, and I think you’ll find if he’s empowered to make the choice he’ll learn far more than I can teach.”

“And your sure?” Clarissa asked.

“Nothing is certain, it’s a choice for him,” Mr Simmons said.

“Fighting the Nihali death cult was easier than raising a kid,” Clarissa said.

“There’s not much in life harder, but for what it’s worth you’ve raised a good kid I think,” the teacher said.

“Thank you,” Clarissa said, “Do what you think you need to. I just want him to be happy and safe.”

Mr Simmons nodded and then stepped back into the library, ready to begin pushing the world’s most powerful child to be the wisest and most powerful man.

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