This time she said, "Tell me,"
"What's bothering you? I can tell there's something wrong; is it school? Someone teasing you?"
"Nah! I can look after myself," he jammed his fork into the biggest chip on his plate and held it up. "Any problems and they're history!" he said and shoved the offending article into his mouth. "See?"
"Don't speak with your mouth full, dear, it's not polite. Besides which you'll spray your chips all over me and that'll be a waste!"
He joggled his head about as he chewed quickly, swallowed noisily and then said,
"Well, it's the coursework for Spellcraft."
"What do you have to do?" Mum asked.
He explained about the assignment and she nodded.
"What about a 'tie-up laces' spell?" she suggested, noticing her son's cuffed and grazed leather shoes and the trailing strings which served to keep them on his feet.
He pulled a face. "Too babyish and it's been done before."
"Oh. You want to do something different then?"
"Yeah! I really want to show 'em!" he said and drained his glass of water.
"What about a 'keep clean coat'?"
"Mum!" he wailed. Why did Mums always come up with such lame ideas?
"Can I watch...?"
"No! Homework first,"
He stumped off and threw his bag down on the dining room table where it landed with a squelch. He lifted it up gingerly and watched a puddle develop.
"Mum!" he yelled. "My bag's wet!"
"Then dry it dear Craigie, dear Craigie - dry it!" sang back Mum.
"With a towel, dear Craigie..."
"But I haven't got a towel,"
"Oh, for goodness sake, go and find one!"
A lightbulb almost lit over his head. A spell! He could invent a spell to dry it! He pulled out his wand catching the on switch as he did so and made a few practice passes. No good. He shrugged and pulled out a dripping textbook which he opened at the chapter for Spells.
"Bother!" he said as the paper ripped.
His mother screamed.
Standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room was a blue-skinned Andorian, exactly as Craig had drawn him in his exercise book, except that he was living and breathing and looking excessively confused.
"Craig! What have you done?" Mum whispered.
Her son stood, mouth open, eyes glazed.
"Craig!" Mum raised her voice and the alien turned to look at her.
"H...h...hello!" she said, "I'm Craig's mum, I'm very pleased to meet you!"
Trembling, she shook his hand. "And...and...what is your name?" Her smile brittle and scared.
"Thelev," he replied and looked at her hand holding his. He grinned back, vigorously pumping the hands up and down as he did so.
"Hello Craig's Mum!" he said cheerfully. "What am I doing here?"
"I don't really know, perhaps Craig can tell us," she said nudging her son in the ribs.
"Ow!" he yelped rubbing the spot. "I dunno! I'll ring Dad, he'll know what to do."
Craig's Dad came home to find the Andorian sitting comfortably in the living room watching the Crystal with Craig. After a brief chat, Dad rang the police and explained what had happened. An Inspector was despatched and after he had inspected Thelev, he then contacted his superiors and they sent a top level Magicist who appeared on the doorstep in a puff of smoke, accompanied by several observers who whisked Thelev away. Craig and his parents were interviewed and had to sign statements which contained a secrecy oath which would turn them into frogs should they contravene its conditions.
A few weeks later, Craig saw on the Crystal that the top Magicists had found a way to breathe life for a short time into a simple drawing. It was an important breakthrough in Magic, all the more so because the spell was of tremendous difficulty and complexity. It was so important that the Magicist-in-charge had been nominated for the Nobull Spell Prize and he was very confident that he would receive it.
Craig lost interest after that but his attention was quickly caught when he received a letter with his exam results. He'd scraped through with Dunces on everything, except Spellcraft. He had, said the letter, gained the highest mark ever given - an Ace with three shooting stars! A letter written by the Magicist-in-charge had advised the board that his input into the animation spell had been invaluable and so it was felt appropriate that he receive this totally unprecedented award.
Craig's Dad was so pleased that he bought a new Crystal, a tabby one so that they could all watch the Dragon Racing in colour...