“Break it,” Smithy said. His arms were crossed across his chest. Never a good sign. Art looked up at him with wide eyes. “Break it, I said.”
Art stared down at the circular disk of ceramic in his hands. Though only a few inches wide, it looked huge in the child’s hands. Dark blue streaks of metal swirled in complex symbols across its surface. At six years old, Art had no true idea what they actually meant. He just knew it was important. It felt important. And now his uncle was telling him to break it.
“Why?” Art asked. He froze in place and shook while he said it. Uncle Smithy didn’t like being questioned. But something about this made it feel important to ask.
“Because it’s dangerous,” Smithy replied, glowering. “And because I said so. Now break it. Snap it in half. Right this instant.”
“I don’t think I should…” Art said. “It feels important. Like it doesn’t want to be broken.”
“Ignore that,” Smithy said. “Ignore anything you’re feeling right now. Stop thinking. Just do it.” There was a tinge of desperation to his voice, an alien thing for him. Art wasn’t sure what to think about that. His uncle was always so certain, so sure. Even if he was bossy and used bad language sometimes, he never sounded like he was in doubt.
“But –” Art began. He cut off as Smithy turned his Imperious Glare on him. There was no stopping that. Art couldn’t even think to. He took the talisman and pulled with all his might on both sides. With a resounding, metallic chord it cracked in two. A bright flash soon followed. Art felt nauseated and sick. He dropped the pieces to the ground.
Suddenly, Uncle Smithy’s arms were wrapped around him and Art was pulled tight against the man’s chest. He couldn’t be sure, but it sounded almost like Smithy was… sobbing? That couldn’t be right.
“Never go searching in that field again,” Smithy said, his voice cracking. “Do you hear me? Never again!”