There are a few sounds that scare me more than an ‘Uhm.’ I turn and look at Jay.
He holds up his cell phone. Smoke is billowing out of it. “I think something went wrong, Charlie?”
“Does it involve you putting alarms in my stomach so I’d never forget supper?”
Jay shakes his head, all of eleven and quite serious. “Not even the potatoes!”
I pause. “Potatoes?”
“Uh-huh. I promised to help someone make their grow really buy but found a Pokemon only I think it’s too many on my phone cuz it’s over 800 now and getting weirdy.”
Jay hands me his phone. He is eleven. He is also from far Outside the universe and can do things even magicians can barely understand. I text the wandering magician with, ‘Phone. Now.’
I set Jay’s phone on the ground, dial the wandering magician and he he somehow uses my phone and his as a bridge, stepping out of the air beside us. “I was on the other side of town, making wards to help hold some homes together.” He eyes Jay’s phone. “Ah.”
“Honcho?” Jay looks worried.
“Not your fault.” The wandering magician sighs, snaps his fingers and – the air ripples. Twitches. Punctures. For a moment there is something I can’t make sense of at all, and then everything is normal.
“My phone?!” Jay’s eyes widen, but he doesn’t move at all. “That was my phone you banished, Honcho!”
“I know. But you can learn a lot of new games –.” he begins, because Jay priorities aren’t human ones.
“You didn’t even ask and it might be scared and confusled and and and –.”
“Jay.” He turns to me. “Your phone was full of Outsiders you captured on it. Including that one, ah, sink that wasn’t a sink. Pokemon Go doesn’t have that many Pokemon in it. You were trying to play that game, but being jaysome you did other things instead and bound a lot of Outsiders until even whatever you made couldn’t take that strain, kiddo.”
“But – but –.”
“But you thought you were playing Pokemon, and we didn’t want to ruin it for you.”
“Oh!” And Jay is an inhuman blur and then hugging both of us in thanks. Because as far as he is concerned, we were doing ‘a helping’ and his trust in us is almost unshakable.
I hug back, and wait until he’s fine before saying: “Pototoes!?”
“Oh, I’m helping some of them get really big and move around so they’re not bored and I saw War of the Worlds and potatoes would be great in Tripods you know!” He beams.
I stare at him. The magician has been a magician for a very long time. He just blinks, once. “Did the other person ask for this?” he asks before I can even find my voice.
“Not yet,” Jay admits, “but lots of people don’t ask for jaysome!”
“Yes. I know. It might be best if you want until they do ask: sometimes people only want normal potatoes, you know.”
“Oh! Okay,” he says, and then asks about lunch happily.
I don’t point out that he didn’t get supper last night because he decided to do a binding that put an alarm inside me to remind me when supper should be – both suppers, since just one wouldn’t be jaysome. Some things you just have to let go of. I tell him we can have it early, and get him a new phone, and all is made right in the world.
Until the next ‘Uhm’ comes along, or more worryingly an ‘Oops.’