The world wasn’t ready for Eaddias Oates. He was born out of season, out of time. The moon whispered it to him in the evening as it shone through his bedroom window. “You were born out of season, Eaddias. You were born too soon.” The morning birds chirped it to him as the first light of day danced on his sleeping head. “Too soon. Too soon. You were born too soon.”
Eaddias dreamed in the night of things he couldn’t find by day. Of fantastic flying machines built to soar like birds around the rainbow and back. Of a personal pleaser built in the shape of his favorite teddy bear to pick up his room and make his bed. Of time-shrinking travel that would take him to China in a minute or less.
Eaddias tried to make his dreams come to life. He spent weeks building fantastic flying machines from spare parts nobody wanted. He used motors from old stereos and washing machines, wheels from broken toys, and wings made of Styrofoam.
It took almost a year before Eaddias let himself know the truth–that his fantastic flying machines would never fly, never soar like birds to the rainbow and back. And when no one was looking, he sat down and cried. That night the moon comforted him. “You were just born out of season, Eaddias. You were born too soon.”
His mother shook her head as she watched him carry the motors and wheels and Styrofoam wings to the trash can and dump them in. “You were born too young, Eaddias, but be patient. Soon you’ll grow up and go to school and learn all the things you need to know to build your machines. One day you’ll do it. I promise you will.”
So Eaddias was patient and he went to school to learn all the things he needed to know. But all he learned was that “A” was for apple and “B” was for ball and if you had three cantaloupes and gave one away, two were left. After a while, Eaddias forgot to be patient and began to think of a personal pleaser that would pick up his room. He thought maybe there might be a chance he could bring it to life.
Eaddias started by drawing it in colorful detail on sheets of computer paper and pinning them to his walls. Next he made complicated models out of cardboard and masking tape. Then he saved his allowance and sold lemonade until he had enough money to buy a giant teddy bear.
Eaddias brought the bear home, took out the stuffing and carefully wired it, hooking up all the motors he put inside. He sat looking at it for three days before he turned it on. And little fingers of excitement tickled his spine as he thought about having his own personal pleaser. And big hands of trouble pushed on his temples when he thought that perhaps it might not work.
Eaddias planned to turn on his personal pleaser Saturday afternoon. That morning, he did all his chores and cleaned up his room so his personal pleaser would have a head start at keeping it clean. Then he said goodbye to his mother and closed the door because if his personal pleaser didn’t work, he might never open the door and come out again.
When he turned on the switch, the personal pleaser just sat there. It didn’t move. It didn’t work. Eaddias Oates just sat there too and stared at the giant teddy bear. And nothing moved and nothing worked in Eaddias’ room.
Finally, his stomach told him it was time to eat. But Eaddias said, “Why should I eat when there are no personal pleasers in this world?” But the next day, the morning birds comforted him with the words, “Too soon. Don’t worry, Eaddias Oates, you were just born too soon.”
When his father came in and looked at the bear and the way Eaddias had wired it inside and his father said, “Your ideas are good, Eaddias. You were just born too young.” And he bought him an electrical erector set and showed him how to build miniature bridges and miniature cranes. “Just be patient, Eaddias,” his father said. “Some day you’ll be old enough for the things you want to make.”
And so Eaddias was patient and he exercised and tried to eat all the right things so he would grow older faster than all the other children his age. But it took so long and everyone in the world seemed to be taller than he was and he grew impatient with trying to grow. So he started to think about time-shrinking travel.
Eaddias drew enormous pictures of time-shrinking travel and wrote long adventure stories about how it could improve the quality of life. He mixed colored potions and sat by the hour wondering if the secret of time-shrinking travel was locked in the molecules of any of them.
He thought about how he could possibly discover what he was absolutely sure had to exist somewhere in time. But eventually, his thoughts always led him to one dreadful conclusion. He was too young to understand the things he needed to know to uncover the secret.
One day, Eaddias knew he could stand it no longer. He had to quit thinking of time-shrinking travel before his brain completely collapsed. So he tore down his pictures and shredded his stories and poured out his potions. Then he went to the movies and learned to like baseball and gradually became the most popular boy in school.
And Eaddias Oates forgot about fantastic flying machines, a personal pleaser, and time-shrinking travel. And no one watched him anymore and murmured, “You were born too soon, Eaddias Oates.” Still, his dreams stayed, but they were buried somewhere deep inside him. And he didn’t know when he dreamed them because they were gone by the time he awoke.
One day when the years had run together like a river. slowly dividing him from his memories, Eaddias woke up and went out to play baseball and be popular. But something tugged at him all day. Something hidden. Something way back in a corner of his mind. Perhaps it was a dream he had dreamed but couldn’t remember. It bothered him and chased him all day and he didn’t know what it was, but he left being popular early and came home to sit in his room and wait.
Finally his stomach told him it was time to eat. But Eaddias said, “Why should I eat when there are no personal pleasers in this world?” And he startled himself and wondered with amusement where those words had come from. Why should there be personal pleasers in this world? he asked himself. A personal pleaser for what? To pick up my room for me and make my bed? And he laughed out loud. “That’s a thought to make the world go round,” he said.
Then he looked at a picture of the Great Wall of China in his history book, and he wondered if it would be possible to discover something like time-shrinking travel that could take him to China in a minute or less. What a wild and wonderful thought, he told himself as he put on his pajamas and chuckled at his own impossible imagination.
That night as Eaddias laid his head on the pillow, the moon whispered to him and he heard it for the first time in years. “You were born out of season, Eaddias Oates,” it said. “Remember? You’ve almost forgotten that you were born too soon. The world wasn’t ready for you when you arrived on this planet and you almost forgot what you came here to do. You had to wait so long that you almost gave up. But it’s time, Eaddias Oates, it’s time. The world is ready now and so are you.”
Eaddias fell asleep that night with the words of the whispering moon still in his ears. And he dreamed of fantastic flying machines built to soar like birds around the rainbow and back. And as the first light of day danced on his sleeping head, the morning birds chirped to him.
“It’s time, Eaddias Oates, it’s time,” they said. “The world is ready now and so are you.”
Laurie Berry Clifford (Copyright 1982)