Small and Weak
Ever since I was born, six weeks premature, I've been this small, scrawny kid who was always a head shorter than everyone else in class. Completely lacking in any useful level of physical strength too. Can't lift, throw or even kick to save my life. Present day, I'm still about 5' 02", and a total featherweight who gets mistaken for high school freshmen far too often.
For as long as I can remember, I've had this weird... thing going on with my left foot. It's hard to describe, but it's like my brain just forgets to really control it? I mean, I can move it fine and know it's there when I'm focusing on it, but when I'm not, below my knee it just kind of swings limply as I walk, like it's asleep. It's lead to me frequently tripping and earning a reputation for being clumsy.
Attire & Things
Well, considering what attention gets me, you won't be surprised to know my fashion sense is pretty well generic and uninteresting. Jeans, cargo shorts, sweat shirts, jean jackets, plain t's... Nothing fancy or eye catching. Piercings, no-go and tattoos, I've only thought about but no serious plans there. Apart from that, I'm blue-eyed and keep my dark blonde hair short and neatly combed (when various people aren't messing it up anyway...), and thats about the extent of it.
Unsurprisingly, I'm not a fan of violence, whether being subjected to it or initiating it myself. Well sure, technically I couldn't hurt most other people, I also wouldn't. I couldn't ignore someone in need, even if I knew full well they'd never help me if our roles were reversed. My first instinct has always been to find the peaceful solution first. While I'm not a true pacifist by any means, and I understand peace isn't always possible, I consider fighting to be something that should strictly be a last resort.
Caring & Attentive
Though I might have my own problems, and am not someone who's entirely reserved about ranting things out to others, I also do my best to be attentive and listen to others as well when they have trouble. I do pay attention to people, and I'm usually pretty good at picking up on when something is wrong or when someone is feeling down. I'm often compelled to say something, and try my best to be of help in such a situation, even if I might not even know the person. I'm a pretty good listener, or so I've been told.
I've had a very wild imagination, ever since I was little and it's persisted to the present day. It took me places I could never go, made me into people I'd never be, but it was an escape from the misery of reality during my youth and it kept me afloat when times were difficult. This would spark an interest in both drawing and writing, which would have both Mom and my brother encouraging me to pursue it further.
Pursue it I did. After much meticulous planning I started writing a webcomic based on the land of vikings and dragons that were the frequent subject of my dreams. It's not something I can quit my day over, but it's been getting pretty big. Over the years I've compiled three books worth of material and sold a good amount of physical copies. I have a patreon that's doing well, and I've also started getting into merchandise sales. Mostly graphic T's and mugs with my artwork on them. It's kinda cool. It's a lot of work, but probably the most rewarding thing going on in my life right now..
I'm pretty sure stubbornness runs in the family, and I'm no exception. I mean, I kinda always knew I was never going to be the big tough son my father expected me to be, but stubbornness at least kept me trying my hardest. I'm not easily distracted once I have my mind set on something, nor is it a simple thing to get me to change my mind once it's made up.
When you spend much of your life being pushed around, and facing insurmountable expectations that you can't manage to overcome, you eventually find a way to live with it. My way just happened to be by having a dry sense of humor. I can get pretty sarcastic when I'm frustrated and ranting, and I tend fire off a few dry remarks when dealing with buillies. I have developed an attitude of almost bored 'yup okay this is happening' level of bitter acceptance whenever I find myself a target and can't manage to get out of it.
Hoo-boy. Family. Well to start things off, there's my Dad. He's a big, muscular, titan of a man and widely considered to be the toughest cop in the NYPD. When he was looking to have kids, he was most certainly expecting to have a son as equally big and tough as him to follow in his footsteps - but he got me instead. He tried everything he could within ethical boundaries to toughen me up. For a long time I just wanted to make him proud of me, so I had been willing for a time to play along, but after a long time I've had no other choice but to accept that I'll never be good enough for him.
Mom was there, was always caring and understanding. She did her best to get my Dad to ease up on me, but for a long time he was convinced he could shape me into the son he always wanted and he refused to listen to anyone who disagreed. I didn't really have the closest relationship with Mom when I was little. I think it was just that I was so fixated trying to impress Dad, that she kind of just fell into the background of my life. It wouldn't be until my teenage years that we became close as family.
Though I'm biologically an only child, I did gain a brother through adoption. Theodor had fallen into my family's care after some sort of incident Dad had been a part of dealing with. I never really asked what happened, nobody ever told me. I never really thought about it back then, to me he was without question, part of the family.
Our relationship was touch and go at first, but after some patience, understanding, and a pack of bullies being sent running with a bloody nose and split lip among them, an unbreakable bond would form between us. From there we were inseparable, always there for one another even though others often kept their distance. Theo would often get in trouble for getting into fights trying to protect me, but he never let me down.
My social life through out my time in school was pretty much doing my best to blend into the walls and hope none of the other kids ever noticed me. Why? Because it turns out being the scrawny, defenseless son of the toughest man in the NYPD makes you very unpopular with a lot bullies.
Getting shoved against lockers, head dunked down toilets and lunch money stolen was a regular occurrence. While my brother would (violently) deter bullies from bothering me, there were always times when Theo wasn't available to bail me out. Necessity unfortunately didn't do anything to encourage any amount of strength out of my scrawny self, so it was all I could do just to avoid falling under anyone's radar.
Making friends was pretty well useless. Though occasionally there would be some new kid in school, or someone who just didn't know any better that would be friendly with me, and we'd have a good time for a while. Inevitably, they'd fall victim to the same bullies that target me and they'd quickly learn their lesson and keep their distance.
I got along okay with most of my teachers, at least well enough that I wasn't considered trouble (though I'd sometimes catch them wondering out loud why my brother couldn't be more passive like me). With bullying being forever the awkward issue for teachers to deal with however, most generally would brush me off the second I tried to bring it up.
The tech teacher in my middle school was an exception, mostly due to him being one of my Dad's closest friends. He was friendly and upbeat, always willing to listen to my problems, even if the advice he gave in return wasn't usually particularly helpful. He'd always give me a little extra attention in class, and would sometimes request keeping me after school to help him with projects and even teach me some things that were too advanced for the general class.
Compared to the perilous environment of school life, my relationship with co-workers on the job is considerably less hostile and actually pretty relaxing. Nobody's yelling at you for things you didn't even do, not pushing you around, or looking down on you. You only have to do your job, and people are happy with you. That is probably more amazing to me than it should be.
Though it hasn't been a completely pettiness-free deal, admittedly. Somehow by sheer chance, I ended up working under a girl that happened to be on the hockey team my Dad had me on back when I was a kid. She was this real competitive type, knew exactly what she was doing on the ice, probably could have stood better to lead the team than the coach himself even at such a young age. Given my less than ample skills and growing inability to even focus on playing as time had gone on back then, she pretty much couldn't stand me.
Funnily enough, now that I am actually good at what I am doing, with how easily I can handle even the more irritable of our reptilian charges, she still seems to hates me. Our hockey days may be long past, but apparently her competitive streak hasn't faded and now she seems mad at me because I don't have the same difficulties she has with the same animals. I mean, sure she's more qualified and took a few years in college, and I sympathize with it being frustrating when someone else is apparently better than you without even putting in the effort. The weird part is, at this point I've pretty well made peace with people generally not liking me, but I still some how feel like I need her to like me. It could well be a crush, but it feels different even from that and I just can't explain it.
Between the time I was six, until about twelve years old, my Dad had me enrolled in the local kid's hockey league. By all means I shouldn't have even been considered, but when someone like my father wants his kid on the ice, well, people generally aren't too willing to say no to him. This was still the point I was still trying to impress my Dad, so I tried my hardest to play and do well in it, I really did.
Unfortunately, I wasn't good at it. The other kids moved a lot faster, were far more competitive and also a bit sore about me being on the team in the first place, since I obviously should never have made the cut. It certainly didn't help that I could barely keep myself from tripping constantly given my leg problems.
While at first it wasn't really terrible, you don't see anyone getting away with roughhousing among six year olds and such. The older we got though, the more often officials turned a blind eye, and naturally this meant that I was getting hit, checked, and tripped frequently, sometimes even by my own teammates. My desire to keep going with this would quickly plummet until I finally just quit.
When I quit hockey, well, it was pretty well an accumulation of my overall frustrations with Dad's impossibly high expectations of me. Dad, didn't really take it well when I quit and all that frustration ended up coming out at once. I've... only ever really exploded on someone once, and that was to put my foot down that I was never going to be who he wanted me to be. We... didn't really talk much after that.
Like so many things in my life, it's just... weird. I didn't feel angry at him, still don't to this day. Facing up to not being able to live up to my father's expectations, wasn't something I resented, but grieved. I can just imagine my Dad being proud of me, as clearly as if it was a memory and not something I just dreamed up. Not being able to make it real, felt more like a loss than something I merely denied in the first place.
Issues between my brother and Dad were also adding up, with Theo getting in trouble for getting into fights at school. I did try to convince my brother he didn't have to protect me like that, that we needed another way, though that might have been easier said than done. Theo refused to back down however, and as touching as his loyalty was, that didn't stop me from feeling guilty and kind of responsible for his troubles.
All of this would bubble up until it was our parents arguing with each other. Over me or my brother, maybe both, maybe neither, Theo and I didn't really know. We would just hole ourselves up in our room and do our best to distract ourselves from what was happening below us.
It took three months before Mom and Dad decided they needed a break, and Dad moved out. Theo took it the hardest, I felt that enough as he pulled away from me. I held myself together, I'd already mourned his absence from not being good enough for him. Despite the hard feelings though, deep down I did still feel the regret and guilt of not living up to his expectations.
I was about ten when I initially started having these dreams. They weren't like normal dreams that faded out of memory within a few hours of waking. They stuck in my mind, and they all took me to more or less the same place -- an archipelago surrounded by ocean as far as you could see.
These dreams were super vague, almost meaningless at first. There was a lot of just falling through endless sky for weeks, almost months. Then I was flying. Early on I was only aware of a dark figure carrying me on it's back as I sailed over an island village, but as the world my dreams showed me slowly folded out, I'd eventually identify it. It was a pitch black dragon.
Other dragons would appear too over the years, many of different shapes and sizes. The villagers too -- Vikings. It was all strange. I didn't really think a whole lot about these dreams at first. I was known to be imaginative and I'd simply use these dreams as a basis for the stories I came up with. When our parents were still fighting, me and Theo distracted ourselves by drawing and that's how I brought my dreams to life.
These dreams had begun as a serene and lively overlook of a peaceful little village of dragons and vikings, but it was sometime after Dad left us, that these dreams would begin to occasionally take a darker turn. Most often, it simply showed me the village of vikings fighting a brutal war against the dragons that they had lived peacefully with in earlier dreams. Other times, there were more specific events, the worst seeing the chieftain shoving his son out of the way before being killed by the boy's own dragon.
Though these nightmares were only a rare occurrence, amid mostly peaceful, exhilarating and adventure filled dreams, they'd always have me waking up in a cold sweat. Sometimes even crying from their intensity. I could never bring myself to tell Mom or even Theo any details about these nightmares. I just did my best to shake them off and focus on the nicer ones. Lately, I've been getting the feeling that these were never just dreams at all. Something felt too... right, too real, where my life somehow felt wrong. But that's... that's just crazy, isn't it?
The Lizard Whisperer
To add on to the list of things in my life that are just plain weird, I've discovered I have a very strong knack for training reptiles, if you can even call it training when they more less do what you want, give or take a few factors. It started when I was eighteen, and Mom got it in her head that I'd benefit from having a pet. I'm neither a cat nor a dog person, so I blew off that idea initially. Then Mom brought up the idea of getting a bearded dragon. She probably thought I'd love it because I write about dragons, ha. That ended up being spot on though. We found a good breeder, and I picked out a melanistic dragon and named her Fury. I dunno, I hard time coming up with a name, and that just came to mind.
At first nothing seemed odd at all. At least to me she just appeared be a very tame little lizard that I'd swear wouldn't hurt a fly, figuratively speaking. Over the first few weeks of owning her, I'd begin to notice that Fury seemed to listen to me a lot better than what should have been expected of a lizard. I go to pick her up, she runs right up my hand. Want her to get off her water dish, she moves immediately. Want her to go to any spot in her terrarium, she'd just move there without me even giving any sort of command.
I began experimenting with her, and found that I could make her do all sorts of things. I just had to think about it and she just did it, provided she was physically capable. It wasn't something I could do easily from the get go however. Early on, she'd only do what I wanted for very short period of time, enough to get one brief action out of her, and she'd stop responding for a period of time. How far away she go away from me was also a limitation.
The more I worked with her, the more she could do and the further I could make her go away from me without losing her. I'd also branch out to other reptiles, mostly by lingering around in various pet stores. Some things I'd find out, is each individual reptile required some amount of working with to be able to control effectively, though the base limits of my ability on new guys have increased with plenty of practice over the years. Controlling multiple reptiles at a time is also more difficult and I tend to hit the limits much more quickly than when controlling individuals. Larger and more aggressive reptiles also tend to require more practice than smaller ones.
Now thoughts? Well, it's crazy, but pretty cool at the same time. But also kinda crazy, so I've pretty much kept it to myself. Up until I discovered my own, super powers were just the thing of fantasy. I've never so much as heard of other people with any kind of real powers, so beyond what various movies and comics have told me about suddenly gaining super powers, I really have no idea how anyone would react, and well, laying low has been a tried and relatively true tactic for me through my life.
Getting a Job
My first job was part time working along side Mom and Theo at the Tails for Tomorrow animal shelter. I spent more time doing feeding and cleaning work there than anything, but it was an okay enough first job and a nice change of pace from the high school scene. Having more friendly and mature people to be around did help to fend off some of the bitter feelings that had built up through my childhood.
Once I discovered my ability however, I began looking for more opportunities to practice it. The shelter didn't really have too many reptiles coming in, store owners would get annoyed by my frequent 'window shopping', and frequenting the zoos constantly did kinda hurt the wallet. So, when the Queens Zoo had job openings for their new reptile house, I sent in my application and I've been working there as a reptile house assistant for almost a year now.
The Living Situation
Being very iffy on continuing education given the rough time I had in school, I've pretty much opted to continue living with my Mom, which is perfectly okay because, uh Theo's still here too! Heh. I mean sure, it seems awkward still being here right into our adulthood, but it works fine for us. We're family, we all pitch in and do our part and whatever. Life is pretty decent, even though there is always that lingering feeling hanging over it all that something's missing.