The fatigued Vice Principal and the serene Cyclops laid at the peak of a grassy hill together. (It’s a long story, don’t ask.)
“What do you think about…” the Cyclops said in wonder, the dulcet tones of his voice blending with the cool night air. “…when you see a shooting star?”
“I don’t know,” the Vice Principal, still distracted from the long day at work, took a moment to reply. “I’ve never seen one before.” Her pantsuit squeezed against her upper arms, begging her to uncross her arms and let them fall to her side.
“Never?” the Cyclops asked, his single eyebrow rising up in shock.
“No, never been out in a place like this before,” the Vice Principal sighed, gazing out at the beautiful plains that stretched into eternity before them. The blanket of darkness that she was used to was gone, replaced with the glorious shine of the stars watching over them.
“Ah, I often find myself in circumstances where shooting stars are common,” the Cyclops mused, smiling at the thought of his latest battle. “Why, just yesterday as I did battle with an army of lizard soldiers, I gazed up at a shooting star as I grabbed onto the head of a very ambitious knight…”
“What did you wish for?” the Vice Principal asked blankly, gently easing herself up off the grass.
“Oh, that I would rip his head off and that he may die quickly,” the Cyclops smirked. “Of course, I needn’t the will of the stars to do so.”
The Vice Principal smiled, throwing her head onto his stomach. His skin was so taut that it felt like lying upon leather.
“That army you um—slain?” the Vice Principal asked, turning her head to get a better look at him.
“I will accept slain. I am partial to conquered though.”
“Huh. Okay. They uh—they were bad guys. right?”
The Cyclops looked at her seriously, patting her back with his giant hand. “They were bad….ish.”
The Vice Principal rolled away from his massive hand and crawled onto his chest. “Should I not ask?”
“Never question the moral ambiguity of the things we do, Diane. It will only spell peril for our friendship. I for one would love to engage in a discourse about the detention you gave to Billy Fredrickson for running in the halls but it would be an uncomfortable moment between us to be sure.”
The Vice Principal, laughing under her breath, sat up on his chest, looking out at the starry sky.
“I think I’d wish—for my own school.”
“Ah yes, I understand that, love,” the Cyclops mused. “You wish to—erm—kill—the Principal then?”
“No!” the Vice Principal playfully slapped the Cyclops’ chest. “Just—if maybe the district saw my work and decided to put me in charge of my own school. I think I’m ready.”
“Diane,” the Cyclops said seriously, cupping his hand around her cheek, palm pressed against her face, fingers towering over her. “I suggest you make your move now and tell the General—“
“—that guy—of your intentions and allow him to make a move. Don’t place your fate in the stars.”
“Yeah,” the Vice Principal said dreamily. “That’d be nice but our office doesn’t really like that. They like people to stay put you know.”
“Well from where I’m from, Goblin World—“
“Is that actually the land that you’re from?”
“—ah, yes, it is the embarrassing secret of the goblins that they chose such a sorry name, but yes, we always want the best man in charge,” the Cyclops explained, gesturing at the sky as he did so. “It’s life or death you know.”
“It’s different here on Earth,” the Vice Principal sighed, pushing herself back onto the grass. “People aren’t like that here. They—want you to work under their system. It’s all very safe.”
“Hm…perhaps the Cyclopses I do business with are more forward with these needs, although to be honest, based on what you told me last week, I have put some thought into becoming an HR Director Cyclops.”
The Vice Principal burst into laughter at this thought, tears falling from her eyes, perhaps more than were warranted by the silly notion.
That same day, the Principal had confronted her about a disciplinary action the Vice Principal had initiated. She felt that one of the boys in their school was being abused at home and wanted to take action to protect him, but the Principal was barring her from doing so, saying that it would break the rules and could cost her the job if the father found out.
“I do like the idea of giving benefits to the Cyclopses that put in at least forty hours in a week,” the Cyclops explained. “Ah, but you already know this.”
The Vice Principal looked up at the sky. No shooting stars yet. She closed her eyes and she let the blades of grass slide between her fingers. “Maybe I would do better in Goblin World, huh? But hey—the grass is always greener.”
“Hm—I appreciate the sentiment,” the Cyclops smiled. “But what do you mean by the grass being greener? In Goblin World, it is gray and dead, decimated by Kartoom the Wyvern Overlord.”
“Don’t worry about it,” the Vice Principal responded softly. “It’s just a human expression.”
And there it was: her first shooting star. It reminded her of a colorful marker gliding across paper. There was a softness to its light that reminded her of dancing.
“I’m going to talk to that boy tomorrow, um, the one i was telling you about,” the Vice Principal said dryly. “I’m going to help him get out of this.”
“Perhaps I should introduce my health care bill to the footmen tomorrow then?” the Cyclops offered.
The Vice Principal giggled, massaging his eye as she passed by him. He yelped and rolled over to his side, whimpering. “I think you’ll need to introduce wages first.”
“Ah yes, wages,” the Cyclops said flatly as he heaved himself up to his feet, accidentally tearing apart the earth below him. Tossing a lost tree root to the side, he continued, “Oh the pain of visiting an advanced world that has become civilized over the course of many millennia when you come from a land that is not so.”
He nodded at her. “Time. Ya know?”
“Yeah,” the Vice Principal sighed, remembering a girl who planted a kiss on the nearest stranger at the bar after receiving the job offer of her lifetime. She remembered dancing through the streets, ready to change the world. And she would.
Wrapping his finger around her hand, he looked down to her. “Did you make a wish?”
“Huh—oh, I forgot, actually,” she said with a faint blush.
“That’s okay. I made one for you. I wished that you could help that boy.”
They looked at each other for a long time, then suddenly the Cyclops whooped “Uh oh!”
Clapping his hand to his mouth, the Vice Principal raised an eyebrow at him. “What’s up?
Rosy cheeks hidden by the wide girth of his palm, he replied, “If you say the wish out loud, it gives the stars a difficult time concealing their magic. Perhaps, I shall have to venture here tomorrow night to make the wish for a second time.”
“Uh huh,” the Vice Principal chuckled as her hand slipped out of his.
“Oh come on,” the Cyclops whined. “You know what I’m getting at.”
The Vice Principal looked back at him and crossed her arms, smirking. He rolled his single eye in return.
“Do you wanna—um—“ the Cyclops sighed, rocking his body back and forth as if he was on a surfboard. “—hangout?”
“Yes,” the Vice Principal said playfully. “I would love to.”
“Awesome!” the Cyclops pumped his arms into the air. “The goblins over at Fort Wattablong had to cancel the battle and stuff, so—you know how it is.”
“God, those guys are flaky!” She had heard too often about these goblins who were always “busy” once it came time for the Cyclops & Crew to take them on in an official gentlemen’s battle of blood and tears.
“I know!” the Cyclops shouted to the Heavens, and once again he paused in his footsteps, wrapping his hand around the back of his head awkwardly.
“What is it?” the Vice Principal threw her hands onto her hips, feigning exasperation.
“Can you spot me five bucks?” the Cyclops asked nervously. “The Gatekeeper has been getting a little antsy about letting me through the portal for free so many times.”