A/N: I have finally gotten my ass into gear and made an English translation of my old short story Nils – en annorlunda pojk. Wee! X3 I wrote this story in 2001, when I was 16, and it is completely based on a weird dream I had. All the events/scenes in the plot are taken from the dream and described the way they appeared to me, as are many of the lines in the dialogs. So, if anything seems strange or unrealistic to you, it is because it was once a dream. :P

I will be translating the second short story, Nils – en annorlunda pojk 2, as soon as I am able to, and sometime in the future I may also translate and publish Det betyder en värld för sig (tr. It means a world of its own), the YA novel sequel that ultimately came out of these two shorts.

Thank you for reading, and have a nice day! =)

Pipe


Nils – a boy like no other

My powers were not given to me, I was born with them. But it took me a while to become aware of them. As a matter of fact, that is where my story begins.

But maybe I should introduce myself first. My name is Vanyah, and I was born in July of the year 1982. My parents had met only two years prior to my entering this world, and some said I was not expected. That I arrived like a bolt of lightning from a clear sky, as the Swedish saying goes. And I believe them, for that is actually how it happened.

My story begins the year I turned five. It was winter; the cold December had just laid itself to rest over our little town in central Sweden and I was sent down into the basement to bring up some potatoes for dinner. Down in the basement it was dark and chilly and oddly dank. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, but I could not see the potatoes in the darkness and was much too short to reach the light switch. Right when I was about to give up and ask for help, the lamp suddenly flicked into life and the basement was brightened by a warm, welcome light. I had not even been close to the switch, but since I was only five years old I dismissed it as magic, something miraculous that had taken place in my fantasy.

I filled the pot that my mother had provided me with potatoes and returned to the kitchen. Mere steps from the doorway, I stopped dead. Father had just gotten one of his outbursts of rage again, and I wanted to stay out of sight until it had blown over.

"I cannot for the life of me grasp how I could agree to having those brats!" he yelled at Mother. "They're just in the way! What purpose do those insects really serve? What good do they do us? All they do is scream and whine, and when they're not screaming or whining they're making up mischiefs and biting you in the legs! Why in God's name did we get kids? Huh? Can you answer me that, Kristin?"

"To brighten our home," Mother calmly replied.

She was a deeply religious woman and held her Bible tighter to her chest than she did Father. I did not blame her, though – with him being the way he was, you did not want to let him get too close. He was a cruel man that was filled to the brim with rage.

A rage that he took out on us.

"Brighten our home, is it?" he roared. "Not likely! More like infesting it!"

On that note, he left the kitchen, and two red seconds later the front door slammed shut out in the foyer. Cautiously, I went up to Mother in the kitchen and handed her the potatoes.

"Thank you," she said, smiled, and tousled my hair. "You are my angel, you know that?"

I nodded slowly. Yes, I knew alright, and I would keep that knowledge in my memory for the rest of my life.

Two months later, Father had one of his outbursts, one of the really bad ones when he threw things around, shouted curse words and hit us. This time it was because Mother was expecting another baby. He did not want any more kids, he hated kids, and therefore he saw Mother's pregnancy as a mockery. She was defying him and had to be punished for it. And since he was already at it, he might as well punish me, too.

That was most often his line of thinking, and he told us as much as often as he proclaimed that he hated kids. And he hated me specifically. Therefore I had to take quite a few beatings during my earlier years, and I was brought to the hospital as a result on multiple occasions.

This time was no different.

I spent a week in the hospital that time, and when I got back home, Father hated me even more than usual. The anger that was growing inside of me was so great that I went straight up to him where he sat in the living room, reading his newspaper, and spat him in the face.

"What the—"

He flew out of his chair and was just about to slap me when I said, "I hate you, Dad! I wish you could disappear from the Earth, but if that's not possible then at least to China!"

Strangely enough, that stayed his hand and made him sink back down into his armchair. I turned on my heel and stormed out of the room, up to my own, locking the door behind me.

The next day, Father was gone. At first I was unable to grasp the significance of his disappearance, but later on the insight would take me aback.

After all the years of abuse, all the blows, all the name-calling, all the threats, and all the hours of worrying and being scared of him he was suddenly gone. The effect of it was an odd loss, as if I was longing for the next strike—a strike that would never come. The house was quiet and Mother was in an eerie state of mind that I will never forget. She was gloomy, but at the same time relieved and happy. Sometimes she would be silent for long stretches of time—sometimes she would laugh out loud.

I was just like her.

It went on for several days. All through, we were expecting Father to come back, never really daring to hope that he was actually gone. But he never did. Finally I mustered the courage to ask Mother about it. "Mom, where is Dad?" I wondered, my voice very low, very wary.

Mother smiled at me. For the first time, her smile was completely happy with no trace of the fear or the worries about the future that she had been suppressing. "I don't know, sweetie," she said, "he's just gone. He probably left us for good."

And that was when we dared to hope.

The years went by. I started school and made friends, got other things to think about. During the winter of 1988, Mother gave birth to my little brother, John Magnus Alvarsson, and got a new light in her life. He grew up fast. When I entered first grade* in 1989, he was already running around the house! When I started second grade, he was speaking almost as well as I and was close to one meter** tall. "This one will be a basketball player!" Mother used to say, grinning at the little boy. I nodded politely in agreement even though I knew that he would in fact become something completely different.

At a mere two years old, the boy was already starting to show signs of Father's inhuman rage and I knew that he had inherited Father's bad genes. He was not going to be any basketball player; he was going to be a wife beater.

But I did not say anything to Mother. She was so glad to have her boy that I just could not. Not when it was the first time in as long as I had known her that she was happy.

When I was eleven, he came back. All of a sudden he was just standing there, as abruptly as he had disappeared six years earlier. "Lord, it's good to be home again," he proclaimed and stomped into the house with wet shoes. "I have no idea how, but suddenly I was in China with a bunch of slanted-eyed idiots who didn't understand a word I was saying, and it took me a darned long time to get back home!"

I flinched and was close to falling over. Suddenly I felt dizzy and nauseous. I had to lock myself in my room to get some space. I needed to think.

China.

The night before Father vanished, I had wished for him to be taken to that very place—unless it would be possible for him to disappear from the face of the Earth—and the very next day he had. Was it just a coincidence—or had I actually magically sent him to China? Simply by saying it? By wishing it?

It was crazy, I knew that, but I could not deny that it had actually happened. I had magically wished my father away. And I could do it again.

I decided to give myself a little test and went downstairs to the others. They were sitting in the living room, talking. When I showed up, they lifted their gazes and looked at me as if they were expecting me to say something. I locked eyes with Father, and said, "Dad, you're going to be outside Coop*** in an hour."

He glared at me in puzzlement. "No, I'm not," he said. "Why would I go to Coop?"

I did not reply, just went over to the wicker chair in the corner and took a seat. Waited.

Exactly one hour later, Father vanished. Literally. Ten minutes later, he stormed right back into the room from the foyer. He was staring at me angrily. "How did you do that?" he yelled. "What did you do?"

I could not answer. I was way too shocked by my own power to be able to speak.

Father slowly advanced on me. "What are you?" he demanded and sounded oddly afraid of me. "Where did you come from? Mars? How could you transport me to Coop? And China—how did you manage to send me to China?"

He began to hit me, one strike for each word, and each one harder than the previous. He did not stop until thirty minutes later, at which point I was practically unconscious and covered with bruises. Scratches and bite marks oozed blood. Dizzy, I managed to get up the stairs before I crumpled to the floor.

I woke up in a warm and comfortable, but unfamiliar bed several hours later, maybe even days later. I had lost all sense of time. My entire body hurt, and when I lifted the quilt I saw that it had gotten all the colors of the rainbow beaten into it in the shape of weird hills and valleys.

Next to me, Mother was sitting together with a strange woman. "This is Annika," she told me, "a friend of mine. She will take care of you, make sure you grow up in peace, far away from your father. He doesn't know you're here and will never know, either. You can feel safe here."

I believed her. And for five years, I lived with Annika and her husband Uffe, who were both very kind to me. During those five years, I tested my powers and learned to control them. I quickly realized that there was nothing I could not do. With willpower alone, I could move things without touching them, change the way I looked, transform objects into something completely different, make myself so light that I soared up from the ground, flying, and much more. I was invincible.

But unfortunately not invulnerable. That was a lesson I learnt on a day in February, 1998, when I was almost sixteen. The day that Father found me. I was no longer safe with Annika and Uffe.

Father and John entered my bedroom through the window in the middle of the night; I woke from the thump of feet hitting the floor. Before I had time to come around and could fully grasp what was happening, they were over me. They struck me and pulled my hair and bit me and called me wench and alien.

With my new power, I made them take flight from the floor and shoved them into the wall on the opposite side of the room. It dazed them, but they were soon back on their feet. I created an invisible shield around myself and managed to keep them at bay long enough to escape through the open window. Wearing nothing but a T-shirt and panties, I rushed through the forest that I knew so well. I had taken walks through it many times and was therefore able to run between the trees without risk of getting felled, but my pursuers were forced to move with care. Eventually, I came out on the other side.

I hurried over to one of the houses where I knew I could get help. I desperately knocked on the door.

An elderly lady opened. "Oh, dear!" she exclaimed when she saw the marks on my legs. "What happened to you?"

"Please, help me," I begged, "I'm being chased by people who want to hurt me, please help me!"

She let me in and gave me a blanket to warm myself up with. Then she made a few calls before ultimately joining me in the living room. "There are people that want to help you," she said, "and they're coming to pick you up at once. I didn't tell them anything about you, only that a child needs to be hidden from her abusive parents. Because that is what you are running from, isn't it?"

I nodded numbly.

"Well, then. They'll be coming to the intersection a hundred meters**** from here in ten minutes," the old lady continued. "You go there and you'll soon be safe."

Ten minutes later I was waiting at the intersection, and just as promised, someone came to pick me up. But to make sure that no one saw me leave or recognized me, I had changed my appearance as a safety measure. Now I was a five-year-old boy with curly, brown hair and radiant green yes. (Before, I had had long, blond hair and ice blue eyes to not get recognized by my father; he was used to my naturally red hair and gray eyes.) My small frame was sporting red pants and a blue T-shirt.

The car stopped in front of me. "Are you the one in need of help?" the driver asked kindly after having opened the passenger side door for me.

I nodded and got in. The door shut behind me without me even having to touch it and we were off toward my new, safe home.

Carl and Emma Fredriksson were the names of the couple that was going to hide me. They were both kind and assured me that no one would be able to hurt me anymore. But I soon got tired of being treated as a child, so I said, "I'm actually not a little boy."

They looked baffled.

"No?" Carl said. "Then, what are you?"

I focused on my true self and changed back. You can believe that they were surprised when they witnessed a five-year-old boy suddenly turn into a sixteen-year-old girl dressed in nothing but her underwear, her legs covered with bruises.

"My name is Vanyah," I said. "Please don't be scared of me, I'm not dangerous. Just a little … special. I have powers that no one else has, and I can do anything I want. For you to believe me, I will give you a demonstration. Look at that flower pot."

They looked at the flowers expectantly and started back when they were suddenly lifted up into the air. The pot hovered in the air a while, did a few loops—quickly so that the flowers would not fall out—and landed on the table again, whole.

They looked at me, puzzled and impressed.

And ever since then, my life has not been the same.

I soon got a home with the Fredrikssons. They became my parents, despite the fact that my biological parents had not died or anything. It just happened—and it felt completely natural, for all three of us. They quickly got used to my abilities and did not even register them after a few months. I only used my powers when no outsiders were around to see, though. It was safest that way.

I dyed my hair brown and changed the way I dressed so that no one from my old life would recognize me. I started going to a different school and made new friends for the third time in my life, but this time was the last. Olivia became my closest friend. She was like a copy of myself—but without mystical powers. She was the first person I told about everything, and she made me a sacred promise not to pass anything on.

For two years we were in the same class in high school, in the natural and physical sciences program. By the end of our last year, our friendship was tried for the first time. It was on a day when we went back to my house after school. Emma met us in the foyer, and she did not look happy. "They found you, Vanyah," she said with sadness in her voice. "Or, maybe not found you exactly, but … They've spoken to Amelia, the old woman who helped you that night, and she has given your … parents … our address. They'll be coming over for dinner tomorrow. They say that they just want to see you, make sure you're okay. They actually sounded quite harmless on the phone …"

"In that case you must have talked to my mother," I said, "Father would never give the impression of being harmless. He isn't capable of that."

"Oh, but I spoke to both of them," Emma said. "They sounded like such nice people … but I know that your father very well may be a good actor. I know how people like him act—and think. I'm not gonna let them take you. Neither is Carl. You have become our daughter, Vanyah, and we will fight for you."

I smiled at her with appreciation but assured her that they would not have to fight. I would fix everything by transforming myself into the little boy that I had taken shape as so many times. I even had a little bicycle standing in the yard and our apartment was full of toys for the off chance that I would be discovered. Now I would finally get to try out my plan—and put an end to all the worries once and for all.

The true test lay in having Olivia join us for the dinner, as a support and as a witness. She would play the part of my cousin and thereby confirm that I really was a five-year-old boy. But there was still a little problem left …

"Oh my God, you don't have a name!" Emma suddenly exclaimed.

There were mere minutes left until they would arrive. I thought feverishly. Maybe we could tell them my name was Viktor? Or William? No, that might point to my own name. But then I remembered a playmate I had had as a little girl, one of my first ever friends. A small, shy boy with glasses and thick, brown hair. He had been so nice to me, and I had been drawn to him since he was the first male person that had not treated me badly.

"Nils," I said with my new little-boy voice, "my name is Nils."

And when my "old" parents arrived, my disguise was already proving a success. They were taken aback to see that the Fredrikssons had a five-year-old boy and not an eighteen-year-old girl. It may seem strange that I did not allow Nils to grow, I give you that, but they could not possibly know that this boy had been five years old for two years.

The dinner went well. Nils and his cousin Olivia engaged in amusing conversations that made Emma and Carl laugh, but my parents remained stiff and focused on their food. They could not hide their disappointment in finding out that their Vanyah was not there at the table with them. Father seemed angry, too, but that was hardly a surprise. They left even before Emma had brought out the dessert. As soon as they had gone, we allowed ourselves to laugh.

After that little get-together, Carl and Emma officially became my parents. I had always hated Father, so it was no problem for me to give him up. But one might think that I should still love Mother, and I did, but she had disappointed me so deeply. Not only because she had claimed that I was safe with her friend Annika when the fact was that Father could have easily found me there, even fast than he actually did. She had also disappointed me by taking him back when he returned from China. And she stayed with him even after I disappeared. If she had had the courage to divorce him, I would not have had the slightest problem with remaining in her life. But the mere thought of her showing up to bring me back home while he was still there made me sick.

So I forced myself to forget the past and to start over for real with the Fredrikssons. I felt better the more time that passed. I went outside the house more often than I had dared before, for now I was no longer afraid of Father suddenly storming the neighborhood to take me back. I did not want to be his punching bag anymore. I felt completely safe and could take hour long walks without looking over my shoulder even once.

One day when I was out walking, a young man suddenly appeared in front of me. I had not seen him coming; it was as if he had appeared out of thin air. But maybe it was just my imagination getting the best of me. I mean, I had been daydreaming …

"Hello," he said, as if he had been waiting for me to come walking. "Nice weather for a walk, don't you think?"

The sun was shining and birds were chirruping. I would be nineteen in but a few days.

"Yeah," I replied, "isn't it? It feels so nice to just walk around here, enjoying everything. I've never done that before."

"I know," he said to my surprise. "You are the one I've been waiting for, aren't you?"

I furrowed my brow in suspicion. "Waiting for? What do you mean?"

He impatiently shifted his weight. "You are the one with the Power, right?" he asked and surprised me even more.

"The … the power?" I stammered insecurely.

"Yeah," he said and smiled. "The Power to do anything you wish, to break all the laws of nature without receiving any punishment, to know more about others than others."

His eyes fixated on me.

"It really is you, Vanyah, isn't it?"

I frowned. He seemed familiar somehow. The dark-brown hair that curled around his round face, the brilliant green eyes. No, it could not be … But it was. Somewhat changed after all these years, but still so much the same.

"Nils!" I cried, and threw myself around his neck. "Oh my God, you can't imagine how glad I am to see you! You have no idea what's happened to me, everything that's happened since you moved away, how much I've had to endure … Or how much I've missed you."

"It's all right," he said, "I know everything. I've been in contact with you all these years. Even though you haven't been aware of it yourself, you've been telling me about what's been going on, and that is also how I finally found you. I've been waiting for you. For years you have been calling out to me, begging me to come to you, and now I am here. Don't worry; I won't leave you this time. That's a promise."

Suddenly I became aware that we were no longer standing on the sidewalk, but hovering above it. I knew it was not me doing it and became incredibly nonplussed when I understood that he had to be Nils. And then I remembered something from my childhood. Nils and me playing in the sandbox. All of a sudden, a spade had lifted itself off the ground and started digging in the sand of its own so that our sandcastle could get finished faster.

He had been aware of his power longer than me, but he had only ever shown it once—to me.

In that moment I understood how it all fit together. This was meant to be. I had been meant to become strong, to learn to endure, to wait—and to survive. I had accomplished that thanks to Father, thanks to fighting and finally getting a life in safety and peace. Nils, on the other hand, had been meant to learn that distance is no obstacle; he had been helping me in spite of being thousands of miles away. And he was meant to return.

We were destined to be together, belonged together. Fate had brought us together, first when we were little and now when we finally had a chance to a life together. The Power was the special bond that had held us together through all those years—and that still did. It was something that only we possessed and which would always be our mutual secret.

Since Nils came back and I understood our mutual destiny, the world has seemed different. It has become more beautiful, more striking.

Now I am seeing it through his eyes.

And I love it.


* In Sweden, children start first grade in August of the year they turn 7.

** One meter is approximately 3'3".

*** Coop is the name of a big grocery store chain in Scandinavia.

**** 100 meters is approximately 108,7 yards.