Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

Matt Roberts

Five-year-old Phillip Anderson sat in the passenger seat of his mother’s minivan playing with action figures while she ran into the store to pick up a few things for dinner. She had locked the car and left it running with the air going to keep him comfortable. He played quietly with his figures, completely content.

Phillip’s action figures were in the throes of battle. One would body slam the other, while the other would suplex him back. His mother said he watched too much pro wrestling. His dad said the opposite.

In the middle of battle, Phillip stopped playing and looked up. An elderly woman had walked out of the market pushing her cart. Her goods were bagged up neatly, while in the child’s seat was a perfectly plump watermelon.

Phillip felt pressure in his head, not one that hurt, but one that took his attention from everything around him and placed it directly on the watermelon. He stared at it, his breathing slowed, yet his heart beat faster. His eyes watered for a moment, all sound left his ears. Then BOOM, the watermelon exploded all over the elderly woman, who stumbled backwards, nearly fell, and shrieked.

As quickly as it came on, it was gone, and Phillip giggled at the mess all over the woman, then went back to the action figures in his lap as if nothing had happened.

The melon-soaked granny stood there, shocked, staring at the spot where the melon had been. Now, pink goo and seeds hung off the thin metal bars of the cart, dripping juice on the ground.

She straightened herself and pushed her cart back in the store.

A few moments later, Mrs. Anderson came out of the market and unloaded her bags into the minivan.

“Phillip, you doing okay?”

“Yeah.”

She laughed. “You should have seen this lady come into the store just a minute ago. She was shaking and said her watermelon blew up.”

Phillip looked up and giggled. “Really?”

“Yeah, it was pretty funny I guess. There were watermelon guts dripping off the cart.”

He laughed. “Ew.”

Phillip had been having these episodes since he was four. The first thing to happen was when one of his favorite action figures turned up in pieces, and he had no idea why. His parents got him a new one, but not before lecturing him on responsibility. He was confused, because he had no idea how it happened. Every incident was the same since, except the more it happened, the more control he had.

One day shortly after the watermelon incident, Phillip sat on the couch watching cartoons when he looked at the ten-gallon aquarium along the far wall of the living room. He couldn’t hear his cartoons anymore, his vision tunneled. All he could see was the aquarium, then, just one fish - a gold gourami. He didn’t care about the plastic plants swaying in the water, or the other fish swimming by. The gold gourami was the target.

The pressure in his head grew, and the gourami flailed around the aquarium. It flopped around and darted back and forth. The other fish swam out of its way. The gourami’s eyes grew and exploded into little clouds of blood that vanished in the water. The fish floated on its side, motionless.

The pressure in his head was gone and he looked back at the TV while the rest of the fish in the aquarium moved in and began eating the recently deceased. Before long, nothing would remain.

While Phillip watched his cartoons, he would occasionally look at the aquarium and watch the fish eat the dead gourami, and he would smile.

A few days later, Phillip was lying on his bed coloring when he looked up from his book and out of the window. He saw some squirrels scurrying around the back yard.

Phillip giggled at how they jumped, their bushy tails following them around. The smile on his face faded, and he began to concentrate.

The pressure in his head grew, the noise from outside ceased. The perfect sunny day seemingly turned to night. He picked a squirrel and focused his vision directly on it. Phillip felt his eyes water, and he knew it was about time…

The squirrel flopped around on the ground, out of control, and had Phillip not been completely focused, he would have giggled at it. Of course, the squirrel wasn’t playing. It was trying not to die.

Try as it might, the squirrel lost the battle. This one made a mess. It didn’t go out like the fish did, or his action figure. It went out more like the watermelon.

Blood and fur everywhere, all over the yard. Phillip watched it as everything came back into focus.

“Ew,” he said, looking at the mess he created. Then he laughed.

A week later his mother entered the living room while he was coloring on the floor.

“Hey you, wanna go to the park?”

Phillip smiled, dropped his crayon and put his shoes on.

A short while later they were at his favorite park. His mother sat on a bench with two other women and talked.

Phillip wasn’t much for socializing. His mom brought him to the park to get him to be more active with other kids, but so far it hadn’t really worked.

He walked around the crowded park while the other kids played, and he surveyed everything.

Phillip sat down on an empty swing and slowly rocked back and forth. He wasn’t much in the mood for swinging, or even playing. He wanted to make another mess.

Phillip looked around the park at all the kids, and then some of the parents hanging out with each other around the edge of the park. A few yards away a man tossed a ball and his dog ran off to get it.

Phillip looked back at the play set in front of him with all of the kids running and climbing on it, and then to the sand pit to the left.
There she was. He didn’t know her and wasn’t sure if he had ever seen her before. It actually didn’t matter to him. She caught his attention and he could feel the pressure in his head beginning to build.

She was a cute girl, wearing a pretty blue dress, had long blonde hair pulled up into pigtails, and she was scooping sand into a bucket with a little plastic shovel.

The pressure in Phillip’s head grew and the sound of the playground started to slip away.

From ten yards away, the girl stopped playing, then looked right at Phillip. The hand holding the shovel dropped to her side and she stood.

For a moment, Phillip tried to take the pressure in his head and transfer it to her like he had so many times before, but she didn’t flinch. She didn’t behave like the other things had, confusing Phillip.

He wanted to make a mess and she was stopping him. He strained, trying to get her to react, but she just stared back.

The pressure continued to grow, and this time it started to hurt. Phillip didn’t know how to stop what he was doing, because he never had to before. But he tried. And he failed.

His eyes watered more than they ever had and his head pulsated with pain. He brought his hands up to his temples trying to push the pressure back in. His eyes swelled up and halfway popped out of their sockets. Blood ran from each nostril on his nose, and he fell over off of the swing, dead.

The little girl sat back down in the sand and continued to work on her castle. As it turned out, she could do exactly what Phillip could, only she was just a little bit better.



Matt Roberts is a writer of things.
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