No report went home about Paul and Drew. Who would believe, after all, Jerry’s story—a weak boy somehow conjuring something as bright as sunlight out of thin air? No doubt, Paul reasoned, an explanation about a rare disease would be concocted and the matter quietly shelved. In either case, it was the last he saw of Jerry at the school. Evan and Tom were too afraid to go near him.
So was Drew. They tried for a few days after the incident to meet on the playground with their balls, but for some reason, they had much less to talk about anymore. Paul noticed Drew winced every time he said hello. The meager small talk dwindled to silence. Then, a week after the fight, they stopped playing together. Paul would bounce the basketball alone from that point forward, while brushing aside the occasional tears. It was sad, but he understood why.
For a week, Paul swore that he would never again summon what he began to call The Brightness. But the isolation had begun to make him more sullen, more lethargic, which meant that after he had come home from school there would be more snappy exchanges between him and his mother when he didn’t like the dinner she microwaved, and if she asked how school was his only reply was “Why do you care?” Which meant more time in the dark closet, where only his fear, the coats, and, eventually, the brightness were his companions. He curled and wove the strings around his fingers into nets, and they would stretch as he pulled them apart like pasta. He would toss the nets into the air and they would hover in the air, glowing and brightening the closet. His eyes would follow the energy pulsing and racing through the threads. Watching the traffic of light calmed him, as if it were like a kind of meditation. It dried his tears and soon, he began to no longer mind so much if he was sent to the closet.
One day, a month after the fight with Jerry, Paul found himself in the closet again. Having thoroughly explored The Brightness as much as he could, he decided to take a look at the boxes that were stacked in the corners of the closet. He chose the bottommost box in the leftmost stack and, after some effort in pulling off the top boxes, he opened it. It was full of old, dusty books, mostly reference books like dictionaries from the 1950s and other uninteresting volumes—until he got to the last book. It seemed even older than the others, and had a gilded leather cover with no title. The gilt depicted a woven pattern that looked almost exactly like the net he had just woven a few moments before.
He opened the book. Its title page read:
Being a Record of the Marvellous Discoveries and Patternes of Lyghte Threads of Pow’r, and the Historie and Arte of Summoning Them Thereof, as Told to
Theodore Aldus Weaver