People think I'm crazy because I see lights. I've seen them all my life. Strange, multicoloured patches of light swirling through the air. The patches are different sizes, some as small as a coin, others as big as a cereal box. All sorts of shapes - octagons, triangles, decagons. Some have thirty or forty sides. I don't know the name for a forty-sided shape. Quadradecagon?
No circles. All of the patches have at least two straight edges. There are a few with curves or semi-circular bulges, but not many.
Every colour imaginable. Some shine brightly, others glow dully. Occasionally a few of the lights pulse, but normally they just hang there, glowing.
When I was younger I didn't know the lights were strange. I thought everybody saw them. I described them to Mum and Dad, but they thought I was playing a game, seeking attention. It was only when I started school and spoke about the lights in class that it became an issue. My teacher, Miss Tyacke, saw that I wasn't making up stories, that I really believed in the lights.
Miss Tyacke called Mum in. Suggested they take me to somebody better qualified to understand what the lights signified. But Mum's never had much time for psychiatrists. She thinks the brain can take care of itself. She asked me to stop mentioning the lights at school, but otherwise she wasn't concerned.
So I stopped talking about the lights, but the damage had already been done. Word spread among the children - Kernel Fleck is weird. He's not like us. Stay away from him.
I never made many friends after that.
My name's Cornelius, but I couldn't say that when I was younger. The closest I could get was Kernel. Mum and Dad thought that was cute and started using it instead of my real name. It stuck and now that's what everybody calls me.
I think some parents shouldn't be allowed to name their kids. There should be a committee to forbid names which will cause problems later. I mean, even without the lights, what chance did I have of fitting in with any normal crowd with a name like Kernel - or Cornelius - Fleck!
We live in a city. Mum's a university lecturer. Dad's an artist who also does some freelance teaching. (He actually spends more time teaching than drawing, but whenever anyone asks, he says he's an artist.) We live on the third floor of an old warehouse which has been converted into apartments. Huge rooms with very high ceilings. I sometimes feel like a Munchkin, or Jack in the giant's castle.
Dad's very good with his hands. He makes brilliant model aeroplanes and hangs them from the wooden beams of my bedroom ceiling. When they start to clutter the place up, or if we just get the urge one lazy Sunday afternoon, the pair of us make bombs out of apples, conkers - whatever we can find that's hard and round - and launch them at the planes. We fire away until we run out of ammo or all the planes are destroyed. Then Dad sets to work on new models and we do it all over again. At the moment the ceiling's about a third full.
I like it here. Our apartment is great; we're close to lots of shops, a cool adventure playground, museums, cinemas galore. School's OK too. I don't make friends, but I like my teachers and the building - we have a first-rate lab, a projection room, a massive library. And I never get beaten up - I roar automatically when I'm fighting, which isn't good news for bullies who don't want to attract attention!
But I'm not enjoying life. I'm lonely. I've always been a loner, but it didn't bother me when I was younger. I liked being by myself. I read lots of books and comics, watched dozens of TV shows, invented imaginary friends to play with. I was happy.
That changed recently. I don't know why, but I don't like being alone now. I feel sad when I see groups of friends having a good time. I want to be one of them. I want friends who'll tell me jokes and laugh at mine, who I can discuss television shows and music with, who'll pick me to be on their team. I try...
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