Dammit, this ice isn’t icy enough. I bought two of the biggest bags that the mart has, but the moment you shove your hands in them, even after the less demanding conjures from this module, they just evaporate. Cooldown’s gonna take at least 15 minutes, and I can’t exactly type up coursework while your hands are still hot enough to melt plastic. So I can’t use my phone, either.
It’s when I take breathers like this I let myself dwell too much on the many lectures dad gave me before I graduated high school.
‘You’re thinking about today, not the future. There’s just no money in the elementals anymore.’
‘What, you wanna end up doing landscaping for the government like your mom’s dad? Worked him to death, that did. Literally.’
‘Go on, then. As your father, I have the responsibility to support the decisions you take, but it don’t mean I have to be proud of them.’
These demoralising little soundbites loop with greater frequency as exam time looms closer. I beat myself up into submission via my dad until I knuckle down and do something. It’s the only way I can revise when blowing shit up loses its lustre. More than anything, though, I just never want to admit that, God forbid, maybe he kinda sorta has a point in a way?
I used to think it was a generational thing. Like, you get a job, have kids, get old and suddenly you forget how cool it is that whoah! Some people can make fire out of fucking nothing! But then college application time came around and even my closest and dumbest friends have been having these great life-affirming changes of heart about what discipline they’re going to take, no matter how unsuited to them it is. Take Toby last week:
‘Well, y’know, I’m probably gonna go into projection for my major.’
‘What the hell are you talking about, Toby? You’ve been straight fulgurkinetic since fourth grade.’
‘Projection’s all just mental imagery, how hard can it be, you just gotta study.’
‘Yeah, that’s just why we both do elementals. We suck at studying. Elementals are at least 80% practice and practicals.’
‘But what am I gonna do in ten years, huh? There’s too many electric users and too few jobs. Screw government hire, too. They’d only make me power backup or stick me in the military.’
‘This from the guy who fucks around with the power grid at parties so girls will talk to him. Get outta here.’
It’s not a totally unrealistic idea. The teachers in our elementary used to think that Toby had a knack for telekinesis, which draws on mental rather than spiritual energy (the latter being less tangible than the former; go figure). The only reason he went down the elemental path with me is because fire and electricity are literally the two coolest things ever when you’re young. We used to go around getting into fights with kids from other schools. The fact that fire can conduct electricity at high enough voltages and compound one another’s destructive force in great, arcing snakes of doom made us badasses… for a few years, anyway. We literally conjured flaming serpents that ‘breathed’ lightning – such are the priorities and aesthetics of 14-year-old boys – but I stand by them. It was cool.
I’d say that Toby himself has changed, and bitch about that instead, but the truth is he hasn’t; he just thinks the same way too many people now think about choosing their discipline. Like going to college is nothing more than a trampoline to greater employment. I may not be a great student, but for eight hours every day, the government loans me bed and board to learn how to make and control fire out of thin air better and hotter than I could the day before. If that isn’t life, then I really don’t know what is, or care for a future where it isn’t. Still, those smug-ass mental-users don’t spend, like, a quarter of their lives in cold baths, and they make more money later on. Bastards.