Miss Kelly lets him watch Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and Scrabble and makes up fun games to play. She lets him make forts out of the couch cushions and one time he even gets to eat his snack and take his nap in there. When he tells Dean about it, Dean shows him how to make a better fort with blankets, too.
But now Miss Kelly is looking at him and something is different. Sammy isn't sure what, though.
"Let's play superheroes," she says, her mouth twisted into a smile.
Sammy jumps up. A new game! "Okay, I'm Super Sammy!"
"All right, Super Sammy." Miss Kelly picks up his stuffed elephant. "What's his name?"
Sammy smiles. "That's Greenie."
Miss Kelly is putting Greenie on the high shelf, but pauses. "It's not green."
Sammy rolls his eyes. Grownups. "Greenie is his name, not his color," he explains.
"Of course. My mistake." She turns and points to Greenie. "Can you get Greenie down?"
Sammy frowns, because to get Greenie, he'd have to climb up the bookcase and Daddy always tells him over and over NO CLIMBING SAMUEL. Sammy isn't really sure why Daddy messes up his name when he's serious (Daddy never calls Dean "Deanuel," no matter what Dean does), but he knows it means NO CLIMBING and he knows the rule is also the rule at Miss Kelly's.
"You do it like this, Super Sammy," Miss Kelly says, and Greenie flies into her hand like she's pulling a string.
Sammy claps. "How? How can you do that? I want to do it! It's magic!"
She puts Greenie back. "That's part of the game, you figuring it out. You're smart, you can do it."
So Sammy tries forever and it must be hours later before Miss Kelly brings Greenie down. "We'll play again later," she says and then her whole body seems to slump a bit and when she lifts her head, she doesn't look different anymore. "Do you want your snack now?" she says.
When Daddy drops Sammy off the next day, Sammy hopes they'll play again. He practiced at home, but still couldn't move Greenie, but Miss Kelly will show him, Sammy knows it. "Can we play Superheroes?" he asks.
"Sure, Sammy," Miss Kelly says. "I'm going to be Wonder Woman, who are you?"
Sammy frowns. "Super Sammy, and I'm going to save Greenie from the high shelf."
Miss Kelly laughs. "Wow, you really thought this through!" She puts Greenie up on the shelf. "Who put him up there?"
"No, I mean in our play pretend. Who's the bad guy?"
Sammy frowns again. It's like Miss Kelly doesn't even remember yesterday! But maybe this is how the game goes, so he'll play along until she shows him the magic again. But Miss Kelly keeps not understanding and Sammy guesses that he has to wait for Miss Kelly to say something and stops asking.
Daddy doesn't have to work for a few days, so Sammy gets to stay home and that's always great. But Daddy has to go to work again, so they go to Miss Kelly's again and after Daddy leaves, she looks different again, and it's in her eyes and Sammy sees her eyes are yellow now. "Is it Superheroes time?" he asks.
"Very good, Super Sammy," Miss Kelly says.
"I've been trying at home, but I can't do it," Sammy admits.
"Well, that's why you play with me. So I can show you." Miss Kelly puts Greenie up on the shelf.
But Sammy still isn't good and can't do it.
Then Miss Kelly gets out a lighter and starts to burn Greenie and Sammy screams, "NO!" and Greenie was safe in his arms.
Miss Kelly's mouth twists into that strange smile again. "So you really are a superhero, aren't you Sammy?"
Sammy is staring at the burn on Greenie. "No, because I didn't save him."
"Sure, you did, Super Sammy. That's just a little thing--it could have been really bad and you stopped it."
Sammy looks up. "Well, you're not s'posed to play with matches and only you can prevent forest fires," he explains.
Miss Kelly nods. "Well, can't argue with that. Do you want to try again?"
Sammy nods, but he still can't move Greenie unless Miss Kelly is going to hurt him. That makes Miss Kelly a little sad and disappointed and Sammy wishes he was a better superhero.
He keeps practicing at home, but he can't play with matches or knives or anything and when he throws Greenie out the window, he knows Greenie will just bounce and not be hurt, so it's hard to pull him back in. And then he gets in trouble for throwing his toys out the window. So he can only play with Miss Kelly.
"Let's try another superpower," Miss Kelly says and puts Greenie under a box. Then she puts a heavy book over the box. "Can you get him out?"
But Sammy can't. It's just too heavy and he can't move it, no matter what. Even when Miss Kelly says that Greenie's running out of air and Sammy hadn't thought of that and it's true, but he can't save Greenie, not at all.
"It's okay, Sammy," Miss Kelly says. "We'll find your best superpower."
Sammy has a dream that night where Miss Kelly washes Greenie for him, but she makes a mistake and puts bleach in the machine and Greenie loses all his fuzz. Sammy still loves Greenie, even without fuzz, but it's really sad.
When he goes to Miss Kelly's house, she's wearing the same clothes as in his dream and then she says she needs to do laundry, so Sammy follows her.
"I can wash Greenie for you," she offers.
Sammy blinks, because that's just how his dream went.
"Okay," he says, and hands Greenie to her, but he's watching closely.
Miss Kelly picks up the bleach instead of the laundry detergent!
"No, Miss Kelly!" Sammy says.
"That's bleach, don't ruin Greenie!"
Miss Kelly blinks and stares. "I'm so sorry! Thanks, Sammy."
They go back upstairs and Miss Kelly gives him an apple. "I had a dream," Sammy tells her between bites. "And Greenie was bald."
Miss Kelly's eyes flash yellow again and that means it's time to play superheroes. But Greenie is getting washed, so Sammy isn't sure what they're going to do.
Miss Kelly sits down next to him and asks about his dream. "When did you dream this?"
Sammy squirms a little because she's looking at him very serious and he can't sit still, even though he's pretty sure he didn't do anything wrong. "Last night."
"Do you have other dreams like that sometimes?"
Sammy shrugs. "Sometimes. One time, I knew Uncle Bobby got hurt."
Sammy doesn't think he should say, because this is his secret, and only Greenie knows it.
"You can trust me, Sammy."
Sammy does, but he has to whisper. "I had a dream about a nice lady getting hurt in a fire and then I saw her picture in the paper and Daddy said it was her o-bit-chu-air-ee and that means she's dead."
Miss Kelly is very close to him now. "You've had other dreams like that, haven't you?"
Sammy nods. "It's scary, but Dean says it's just nightmares and be quiet Sammy."
Miss Kelly laughs, but her eyes aren't laughing. "You did good, Sammy."
"I think I like your superpower best of all."
Sammy wants to ask more questions but the washing machine beeps and Miss Kelly's eyes aren't yellow anymore and Sammy checks that Greenie didn't lose his fuzz before they put him in the dryer and then it's time to color and they don't talk about it anymore.
And when Daddy picks up Sammy after work, he says they have to move, so Sammy doesn't see Miss Kelly anymore, and the other babysitters don't play superheroes with him.