“I think you should reconsider that scholarship,” my Dad said as he sat at the kitchen table paying bills. He was resting his forehead on his left palm like he always did when he balanced his checkbook.
I was zig zagging through the apartment with a hand-held version of the EMP broadcasting device. With one hand I adjusted the power level while with the other I kept the focusing dish aimed up at a miniature autogyro helicopter I had constructed from balsa wood pieces salvaged from a model airplane and the motor from an RC car. It flew pretty well, but whenever the autogyro got too high, it would lose its energy and begin to float down where it would come closer to my broadcaster. Then it would get its motor energized by the electromagnetic field I was broadcasting and would go zipping back up to the ceiling. Up and down, up and down in our tiny apartment. The challenge was that it would veer off in all sorts of directions, so I had to move constantly in order to keep the broadcaster directly beneath it. It was kind of like that old game with the rubber ball on the string that you’re supposed to get in the cup, except here the rubber ball flies away on its own.
“I know it’s short notice,” my Dad went on. “But I think it would be a really good experience for you to go to that college.”
“Seriously?” I asked, hopping to my right to stay beneath the autogyro. “I’m only sixteen. I’d never fit in at college. Plus, it doesn’t seem fair that the only reason I got the scholarship is because my cousin was all smoochy-smoochy with the Dean of Students there.”
“That’s not why you got this scholarship,” he said. “Soap, you have a gift—”
I couldn’t hear what he said next because the autogyro veered off and I had to lunge to keep up with it, which made me knock over a floor lamp. The lamp fell with a cymbal-crash, and it made both of my Dad’s autographed basketballs fall off their shelf and bounce to the other side of the room.
“Soap,” I think my Dad tried to yell at me, but it came out more like a sigh of defeat. “Sorry, Dad!” I said. “I just have to calibrate the amplifier and then I’ll be done.”
“I just feel like you might be happier there,” he said. “This city is just too small for you.”
“Dad,” I scolded. “New York is as big as cities can get.”
“That’s not what I mean. This place is too confining. Too… closed-in. You need open air and empty fields where you can run around and play Frisbee and launch your rockets without raining fire back down on densely populated areas.”
I smacked my shoulder into a wall trying to keep up with the autogyro. Aside from knocking the wind out of me, it took away any argument I might have made about not needing more space.