The Decision

Submitted into Contest #88 in response to: Write a fairy tale about an outsider trying to fit in.... view prompt


Fantasy Fiction Inspirational

The “fake-text-sneaky-pic.” Disgusting. Dangling my legs over the subway-car bench, pinning my eyes to a blob of old gum on the floor, I pretend not to even notice. But I notice. I always do.

I mean, the kid’s just being lazy in his execution: exaggerating his finger motions, tucking his lip to the corner of his mouth, intensely widening his eyes. You might as well tell me to say, “cheese.”

The shaming comes in different forms, almost like the varying deliveries of a versatile, hard-throwing Major League pitcher.  A classic, four-seam fastball (the most common) is the cupped-hand, over-mouth giggle. A secondary pitch (we’ll call it a two-seamer), involves more than one player; someone whispers to someone else, where I can easily make out the mouthing that unmistakably says, “midget”, “dwarf”, or worse. A curveball, in this case the “fake-text-sneaky-pic”, happens pretty often, but this time it’s the last straw. And it’s actually a relief.

This is 59th Street. Transfers are available to the 4, 5, N, W, and R trains. A free transfer is also available to the F and Q trains by walking to the 63rd Street station and using your Metro-Card.

Finally, my stop. I jump down and hurry out of the train, excited to go home. Because I have finally-after months of intense research, observations, and calculations-made my decision.

I hike up the stairs and exit the station, giddy with confidence. I even sing Beatles songs (the happy ones) on my way back home.

Once I reach my apartment, the singing has softened to a more easy-going whistle, not even thinking about the words, but letting my heart conduct the melody. By the time I open the door, I finish mimicking the tune to “All You Need is Love” and toss the keys in the drawer. Not wasting any time, I take my jacket off and run into my room. Using my momentum, I perform an impressive cannonball into my open closet, teleporting me home.


Soft clouds break my fall and welcome me back to Listratum, a far-away world inhabited by Dwarves, with more advanced technology than Earth as well as different laws of physics. Always feels good to be home, but today, it feels even better.  

           I grab a nice chunk of a cloud and program into the gaseous solid the coordinates of the main kingdom, now whistling Simon and Garfunkle as I watch the beautiful scenery. Thousands of years of planning, scientific development, and natural discoveries have allowed Listradum to build amazing cities and landscapes, beautiful views that humans cannot even dream. Rainbows, Clouds, Fresh Medows, Hot springs, and other mother nature gifts are placed tastefully among tall, beautifully designed buildings and alluring homes. The combination of such surroundings is not overwhelming, but rather relaxing-as if every element has been carefully and purposefully pieced together to bring to life such a magnificent, four-dimensional puzzle.

I arrive at the castle. Atop a large mountain in a tropical rainforest, gold-glistening towers welcome me as I step off my cloud. I nod to the guards with a smile, and they open the gate for me. I find my way to the third floor, and check in with my friend Patsy, who happens to be King Rubio’s secretary.

“Danny! Always great to see you!” Patsy chimes with a smile. “I’ll let him know you’re waiting.”

“Thanks Pat. No rush. No rush at all.”


           Springing from his throne, King Rubio embraces me no more than a second after I enter the room. The king is the same height as me, four feet six inches, with thick black hair running from the top of his head to the bottom of his dangling beard.  “My boy. Good to see you! Good to see you. How are you these days?”

And so, after some light chitchat and catching up, I break the seal of business talk.

“So…your Highness….”

“Yes, Danny? What do you got for me?”

“Well, as you know, it’s been four months, since I started this assignment…”

“Yes. Of course. We’ve all been keeping track here on Listratum.”

I take a deep breath and look down at my shoes. Suddenly, I am not as confident as when I walked in. I mean, this is a huge decision…

Six months ago, Listradum had discovered a very inferior planet on its radar: Earth. Just like any other planet we encounter, this one presents options. Usually, we aim to introduce ourselves, establish a peaceful relationship with the planet’s inhabitants, and integrate societies. Sometimes, if we see fit, we use our mind beams and brain spells to control the society for our (and their) benefit. Other times, if we deem the occupants uncouth and beyond repair, we raze the entire terrain and use the world for its resources as well as set up a new base. As a dear friend to the king, as well as an accomplished psychologist, scientist, and diplomat, at 202 years old I was chosen to live on Earth, test-driving humankind. We chose New York City as the sample environment, given its mixture of different cultures and dense population. The fate of this strange world in my hands, whenever I am ready, I just have to say the word. Well, I’m ready.

“King Rubio, I have made my decision.”

The king circles around his grand, marble desk and squats down onto his throne, gesturing me to join him in the seat across the table. “Please.” Once we are situated, Rubio clasps his hands together, and leans over the table. “What’s your decision?”

Right out with it. “We should move to destroy Earth once and for all.”

           The king slowly nods his head in solemn respect with a tinge of disappointment. “Are you sure?”

           “Yes, sir. Having lived there…trying to adapt, trying to fit in, I realized…there is no reality in which we can live in harmony together. They are disgusting creatures. Illogical beings. They value things that don’t make any sense. People are averse to me based solely on my appearance. There’s a whole group of people there that are like us, minus the supernatural powers. They are even named after us-you should see how bad these guys get it. They can be doctors, lawyers, scientists, loving, generous-people-it doesn’t matter-they never get their due respect. I hadn’t given the “normal-sized” people even a glimpse into our unique abilities, like spellcasting, and they still look at me like I have three heads. Not in a good way either. Not with compassion or acceptance. With either uncomfortable pity or smug superiority, like it’s implied they’re better than I am. This kind of behavior…this judgment. It’s everywhere there. I mean, you should hear how these guys talk about each other behind their backs.”

           The king rises from his chair and chains his fingers behind his back, pacing back and forth. Looking at the ground: “And you’re sure this cannot be rectified by mind control?”

           I reply, wistfully, “Unfortunately not. I’m afraid their brain functioning is too toxic for us to even try to control them. Their cerebral vibrations combine to create a poisonous aura, and such pollutions may infect us should we decide to interfere. I’ve only been living there four months and I can already feel myself getting to be more irritated and impatient. It’s not worth the risk.”

           Rubio lets out a sigh. “You know, I’m really disappointed to hear that. We were really hoping to mingle and help Earth out. With our advanced technology and deep understanding of the innerworkings of the universe, we could do a lot to improve their society. I mean, they are so entertaining. I watched the entire series of ‘Game of Thrones’ in a week. I just discovered Kanye West…and I’m in the middle of the ‘Seinfeld’ series-have you ever seen that stuff?

“Of course” I answer matter-of-factly.

“It’s hilarious!”

Since our people have such an affinity for the arts and showmanship, I knew this would be tough news to share. “I know” I reply softly, ”…But don’t you see? What makes humans so funny also makes them so awful. They can’t see past their own irony. Take the show “Seinfeld”, for example. George Costanza makes us laugh because of the horrible things he does-like pretend to be handicapped for special privileges. The thing is, people actually behave like that down on Earth. That is why it is delectable TV to them. It’s relatable. To us, we can separate sarcasm from reality, but for them, sarcasm is reality. They almost treat life like one big joke. Whether it’s funny or not. And us Dwarves, just because we are a certain height, are often the butt of the joke.”

The king finds his seat and rests back on the throne. “I see. Very valid points. I would like you to sleep on this, as I know this is your first World-Fate decision.”

“Fair enough.”


The next day, the king and I reconvene in his office. He says he understands, but requests I just stay one more week on Earth. He persuades me by adding that he is asking “as a friend” and has one additional request before he sends me off: “Try to enjoy yourself this time.”


One week has passed. Although I certainly enjoyed myself, seeing Broadway shows, enjoying 5-star meals, going to sports games, my decision remains. Admiring the bright lights of Time Square one last time, I make my way to the N train so that I can go home and give my blessing to destroy.

After passing through the turnstile, I happen to see an Earth-Dwarf. I do hold sympathy for the Earth-Dwarves, knowing that I’m ending the lives of unfortunate victims of society. But they too have been poisoned. Not only do they resort to judging other people, but they are too self-critical. Because they are told throughout their lives that they are “freaks” and that they “got no reason to live”, the Earth-Dwarves end up believing such nonsense. Brainwashed into self-loathing. It truly is a tragedy.

I now start to become sentimental about this plan. I am going to miss Earth. As I’m waiting for the train, I notice the Earth-Dwarf about five feet to my left. He is not like other ones. He carries with him a sort of swagger, wearing leather black overalls and a backwards Yankee hat. Somehow, this combination, with the finishing touch of black and red Jordan sneakers, really work for him. Intrigued, I decide to sit next to him, hoping to have the courage to strike up a conversation.

As we take off from the station, I brainstorm questions to ask, comments to say, just to gauge the guy’s reaction, feel his vibe. I was thinking of talking about the Yankees, but before any air could escape my lungs a crude voice projects from across the car’s aisle.

Heyyyy you guys are soo cute! You funny-looking freaks!”

Of course, in poetic fashion, my trip to Earth, finished with an exclamation mark. If there were a shadow of a doubt before as to the certainty of my decision, now it’s gone. The man continues, a liquor permeating from his breath.

“Hey, Thing One and Thing Two, why don’t you sit on Santa’s Lap, you cuties. Ahahaha.”

I turn towards the other Earth Dwarf. He is lounging in his seat, hands behind his head, with a cool, subtle smile. I scratch my head. Is he deaf? I thought to myself.

Just then, a couple walks from the end of the car up to us, in between me and the heckling asshole. One is a tall, Japanese man in a tailored suit. The other is an African American woman with a colorful dress bearing dancing geometric shapes. Both of them, by human standards, are physically gorgeous.

The Japanese man turns to the drunk, resting one arm around his partner’s shoulder and using the other to raise an accusing finger. “What is the matter with you? These gentlemen are minding their own business, and certainly didn’t pay a fare to get harassed by some drunk idiot.”

“Shut up”, growls the drunk idiot.

The woman peers from her partner’s arm: “You better get out off this train car and rethink your life before I rethink it for you.” The woman squints her eyes in scorn with a look that aims to disintegrate the man right there on the spot. Of course, I could actually do that if I wanted to.

           Somehow, the scare tactics work. The man gets up from his seat, mutters some things under his breath, and exits the car at the next stop. The couple turns towards us.

           “Are you guys okay?”

           In a state of shock and confusion, all I can manage is a silent nod. Cool, calm, and collected, the Earth-Dwarf purses his lips and gives a thumbs up.

           “I hate to see that stuff happen” the Japanese man continues. “You get bums like that all the time on the subway.” A few more words of encouragement, and then the couple exits at the next stop. The Earth-Dwarf and I didn’t say one word to them, except a sincere “thank you” as they left the car. That was strange. Not the drunk fool-he was just today’s curveball. But that couple, with the physical appearances of “beautiful” Earth creatures, standing up for us, the “uglies.” I turn to the Earth-Dwarf. “How did you stay so calm throughout all that?”

           “Hey man” he replies. Not deaf. “Worrying wasn’t gonna do a thing for us. Plus, you get used to that stuff. I mean, you know.”

           I nod. Not as much as you, I thought to myself, a mere tourist to this man’s disaster of a home. “What’s your name?”

           “Rob. You?”


           For the next couple of minutes, I talk with Rob and have the most enlightening conversation since I first teleported to Earth. He talks about how he has faced bullying and ridicule his whole life, yet his situation has made him happier than he can be. My smile displays admiration while my furrowed brow expresses confusion.

           “It’s like this, man” Rob explains, while putting a friendly hand on my shoulder. “If I were born ‘normal’, that would be boring. I would have no obstacles to face. There would be less meaning. Have I dreamt that I was a six foot two Adonis before? Hell yeah. But my situation-our situation, it gives us the opportunity to be warriors. All the hate I get, all the discrimination, it feels like God’s way of testing me. It fuels me. It’s way easier to be a good person when you’re a ‘normal.’ I feel blessed to have this struggle, man, because although it’s hard, it feels much more rewarding when I put kindness and generosity out into the world. Life is great. Existence is great. Am I just gonna sit and moan because this temporary vessel made of clay is smaller and less proportionate than the average person? Come on, man.”

           Still at a loss for words, but charmed and moved by this man’s passion, I meet his gaze and smile.

           “It’s like this, man. Yogi Berra once said, ‘If life were perfect, it wouldn’t be.’ You dig?”

           Yes, I have read about ‘Yogis’ here. They are spiritually wise meditators in India, a place on Earth thousands of miles away that until now I had no intention of visiting. I now start to feel different. The couple standing up for us, this amazing Earth-Dwarf with his warrior-like spirit, and this quote from some Yogi named “Berra” all start to stir up new feelings for me. My internal moment is interrupted, however:

This is 59th Street. Transfers are available to the 4, 5, N, W, and R trains. A free transfer is also available to the F and Q trains by walking to the 63rd Street station and using your Metro-Card.

I jump from my seat, and, without any warning, wrap myself around Rob with a heart-felt warm embrace. He reciprocates and chuckles: “That’s cool, man.”


As I’m walking to my apartment, I cannot get over the last twenty minutes. I really thought I saw all I needed to see. Learned everything I needed to learn. But now, I don’t know. The couple’s intervention in that situation was laudable, but Rob’s incredible strength and perspective really make me reconsider things. “Blessed to have this struggle.” What an oxymoronic, yet beautiful statement. It is in this moment that I realize Earth has a certain kind of beauty foreign to Listradum’s entire history. It is like a lovely, luscious rose, whose poisonous, sharp thorns somehow only augment the flower’s allure.

           One short conversation. That’s all it took. I was so sure about my decision, before, but now, I’m not really sure of anything. And then I start to think about the Yogis of India, and how there might be other Robs out there, other fierce couples willing to stand up for the little guy. And then I realize. I didn’t give this thing a fair shake. An extension. That’s what I need. Indefinitely. I will use such time to travel and explore other parts of this world, with more of an open mind and curiosity.

Rob the Warrior, unbeknownst to him, by simply imparting his casual wisdom, might have just saved his planet.

Or maybe not.

April 07, 2021 16:17

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