I have to admit that sometimes I hate it when people call me a prodigy. As if I'm not already aware of the giant rift between everyone else and myself. It doesn't usually bother me, but every once in a long while, it hits me – the difference.
It's never been a big deal to me to figure stuff out on my own, like learning alchemy in the beginning. Al didn't get it without help, but then neither did Winry. They knew that I could grasp it, and that's just the way it was.
When I was younger, I'd always wondered why other kids looked at me strangely when I turned up to school with one of Dad's old alchemy books. Sometimes an older kid would snatch it from me, sneering, "What's this you've got, brat? Some stupid little picture book, I bet." He'd have a good laugh with his friends until he got a look at the inside. Then they'd stop smirking and give me this look. I never knew what it meant, but they'd always drop the book in my lap like they'd been burned. I never needed to say a word to get it back. So I'd brush it off and go back to reading.
Poring over those old alchemy books was always more interesting than school. Not that anyone actually likes school, but for me it was just awful, I swear. I was bored out of my freaking gourd! The teachers would try; they'd get me some advanced work – probably a few grades ahead, now that I think about it – but I didn't like being singled out. You can only be so far off the beaten track before people start resenting you.
And it's not like I can turn it off. It wasn't my choice to be this smart. It's just the way I am, the way I was born. People can either deal with that or get out of my way.
You know, I think it really hit home for the first time when I took the State Alchemy exam. All the other participants – all these adults – glared at me like I was some kind of bad joke. I heard their whispers; it was hard not to. Then when I actually passed and became a State Alchemist, their anger increased ten-fold. I mean, sure I knew in my head that I was really smart, but it was just words until that point.
It took me a little longer yet to understand that all these people weren't angry because I was doing something bad. They were angry because I was just that good.
I read something somewhere that said, "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds." I'm not sure I like that quote and what it says about everyone else. It doesn't apply to the people that really matter, like Al, but still…
Another thing I've noticed, and I'm not sure if this is related or not, but I often get so sucked into a thought or project that everything else ceases to matter. Utterly. Like when I'm trying to figure out a new alchemical theory, even when I'm not reading about it, I'm still thinking. Sometimes I trail off in the middle of a conversation, or even a sentence. Al's used to it, and he's learned to just wait for me to snag the tail of the thought and follow it to its completion. Sometimes I pick up where I left off, but sometimes I don't. It is annoying when he interrupts my thought process, and, to be honest, I doubt my replies make much sense then.
When I get so wrapped up like that, Al has to remind me to eat. Usually I wave him off, but he often comes back with a sandwich or something. The next thing I know, there's an empty plate at my elbow and no memory of having eaten anything.
Sometimes I have to wonder how he can stand it, but he's always so patient. (Don't tell him that.) I may be the ambitious one figuring out the puzzles and the plans, but he's the steadfast one, always there to tug my feet back to Earth. And I appreciate it. Occasionally.