Little Cottonwood Cyn
Dec 19, 2005
“It’s there on the left,” said Matt to his family. They were all squished into his Mustang, Dad in the front passenger seat, Dave and Mom behind and Cassie pinned between them. There really was not enough room in the back, but Matt’s dad was only 5′10”, so they moved the front seat as far forward as they could. Conditions were very cramped.
As he drove, Matt signaled dutifully; he was driving with his parents after all. And parents tend to think a child is always a child, especially when they are teens.
He pushed the button on his dash and the hanger-style door to the garage opened up. Matt drove into his preferred parking stall and stopped the engine.
“I had no idea this was up here!” said Mr. Hamblin.
“Yeah, it’s pretty out of the way.” He saw Andersen who was motioning over to him. “Could you all come with me?” Matt asked his family. “That’s one of my teachers. But, I think you remember him!”
“Mr. and Mrs. Hamblin!” he called, “so good to see you again.” He shook hands and then said quietly, in French: “Matt, I am going to alter your family’s perception a bit. Don’t panic. It will make things smoother and we’ll have a lot less to have to gloss over.”
“I was wondering how you were going to do that, to keep all the Mana stuff hidden and all.”
“If I could have your attention,” he said to the family. He threw down a spike and lifted his right arm up in the shape of a snake about to strike, his hand forming the shape of the head. Then, he pantomimed the snake striking. And he pointed two fingers at each of the family members, one after another. Matt noticed four white-black-and-tan snakes exit the mana in Andersen’s spike, crawl around his body and launch toward his family. They hit them on the forehead and then sunk into their heads.
“You will not notice anything strange about this evening,” Andersen said in Mananok. “It will seem to you to be merely a graduation ceremony. You will assume that everything is in English, that your memories of this evening will be in English, and that those from overseas are here for a visit. If they assume you are in their country, just ignore the incongruity and chat as if they and you have always been here. Do not ask any questions about how long it took to come here and don’t ask about their language.”
He then brought his right hand over to the hand holding the spike and tapped his right hand with his index finger then pointed at the Hamblins. “Temporary Mananok pattern on this group of four: Mah! Nah! Nok!”
The Hamblins had been standing stock still, their eyes rolled back in their heads and their mouths slightly ajar. “Shall we go then?” Matt asked. They seemed to snap back to themselves.
“Sure, Matt!” said Mrs. Hamblin. “It’s so wonderful to see everything that our Little Boy has been doing for the last seven months!”
“I am sure you will be pleased,” Andersen assured them.
Luc’s parking stall began filling with a cloud and his BMW appeared to have driven in. Matt waved, then ushered his family toward the massive wooden door to the complex. He heard Andersen begin his spiel with the de Belleview family.
They entered and looked around at the tiles and plastered walls. “You would be surprised to know that this was a tunnel in a mountain!” said his dad taking in the sight. “It looks a bit Edwardian.”
“It must be the time frame,” said Matt. “They kept the Nauvoo Legion here for a while, so it’s pretty old.” Their footsteps clacked and echoed in the hall and soon they made it to the cafeteria. Matt opened and ushered them in. The room was very large, far larger than just for six squad members to eat in, they could have accomplished that in their dorm room.
It was set up as a presentation room. Seven round tables were arranged in a large semi-circle facing one end. The serving area was along one wall. Matt had wondered why the room was so much bigger than needed.
“Dad, Mom,” said the son, “this is Mr. Dick Smith. He runs this program. And Mr. Silvester Brumley, a teacher. Mr. Smith and Mr. Brumley, this is my Mom and Dad: Nicholas and Melissa Hamblin, from Orem.”
“It is nice to meet you. Your son is one of our favorites.” Brumley shook hands and patted Matt on the back. “You could probably pick a seat,” He looked. “Well, there are only two tables to choose from.”
“Let’s take that one, ” said Cassie. It saved the rest from debating which one to choose. Matt led them around and introduced them to the Nickersons, the Allreds, the Turnbulls, and the Silvas. Just as they were sitting, Luc brought his family in and everyone had to meet them.
“If I could have your attention please,” the room quieted down somewhat. “My name is Dickhart Smith. I am the director of the Little Cottonwood Canyon High School. And I would like to welcome you, this evening...”
Matt was beginning to tune out the noise coming from Smith’s mouth. He had a daydream of an old Charlie Brown cartoon where one of the characters went to talk to the teacher and all we hear is “Woh, woh, woh.”
He leaned back in his chair and kicked his long legs in front of him and closed his eyes. He was nearly asleep when his sister shook his arm. “Matty!” she called. “They’re talking about you.”
He startled awake, trembling, his heart racing. He inhaled sharply and looked, red-eyed, up to Smith who was looking back at him. So were Andersen and Brumley --and everyone else in the room, too.
“What?” he mouthed.
Smith merely raised his right hand and gestured, the same gesture you would use to get a dog to come. Matt stood up and grasped the edge of the table until his balance returned. Then he ambled to the front of the cafeteria. Smith put his arm around Matt’s shoulders.
“Welcome back, Matt!′ he smiled. “You look like you came a long way to be with us. Where were you? Tahiti?”
“No, the Land of the Dead, I think!”
Everyone laughed good-humoredly. “In case you, too, were asleep, this is Matthew James Hamblin, our Class President this year. We’d like to welcome his family.” he gestured their direction. “And we’d like to give special thanks to Cassie Hamblin for giving such a wonderful cue to her older brother.”
There was more laughter --and even some applause.
“This is so boring.” thought Matt as the presentation wore on. Even though they were talking about him and his accomplishments, they were discussing such dry academic things. There was nothing really interesting that he did as a Destroying Angel, just what he did to fulfill the State High School requirements. He looked at his parents. They, on the other hand, were enthralled. Mom was holding onto every word of Smith’s. And when Andersen talked, you’d have thought she was watching her favorite movie star gushing about her Little Boy. But when Brumley began to wax strong about Matt’s scholastic prowess, well, she looked like she’d just taken Ecstasy.
They gave him a diploma, (finally!) so he sat down.
Dave punched his arm and said “I can’t believe you graduated from High School before me!′
“And I am starting my Apprenticeship after Christmas,” said Matt. “So, I’ll be employed before you, too.” That got him punch in the other arm.