Outcomes Offered

■ Future-orientation

■ Self-determination

Steve loved watching cartoons, especially those about adventures in outer space. While watching them he wasn't thinking about other things, like his pet dog, King, who had been run over by an automobile just in front of their house. King had been his best friend. Steve could talk to him about anything. He would sit there with his head on Steve's lap, looking understandingly into Steve's eyes when his parents were having yet another fight. Not long after King died, his best human friend, Danny, moved out of state when Danny's father got a new job.

Steve often thought life wasn't fair. He lay in bed at night, tears in his eyes, thinking how hor rible his life was, and wondering if it would ever get better. Then, the worst thing of all happened. In some ways it might be good, he thought. At least the fighting will stop. But then he wouldn't have a family anymore. When his parents separated, he thought it was the worst thing that could happen to a kid . . . and he felt really rotten.

One night after re-watching some cartoons he'd videotaped, Steve fell asleep and dreamed about a spaceship landing beside his bed. It was big, round, and bright with lights. Slowly, the spaceship's gangway lowered and, against the lights, Steve saw an emerging figure in a space suit with a glass-topped helmet. His suit bore the name "Captain Empowerment."

Captain Empowerment took off his helmet and, before Steve could stop himself, he asked the captain, "Take me away on your spaceship. I can't stand all these horrible things anymore."

In a calm, deep voice, Captain Empowerment answered, "Sometimes rotten things happen to the best people, even to kids. I can't change what is happening or take you away from it, but there might be something I can do to help. Come aboard."

Steve followed Captain Empowerment through the weird insides of the craft until they reached a cylindrical compartment. Captain Empowerment said, "This is a time capsule. Hop inside, turn the time dial to two weeks ahead and see what happens."

Steve entered and Captain Empowerment closed the door behind him. In front Steve saw a dial that commenced with today's date and went ahead for the rest ofhis life. As Captain Empowerment had suggested, he turned the dial on two weeks and a mechanical voice said, "Welcome. I am RALFI, the computer ofyour future. Do you want to see two weeks ahead as it could be or as you would prefer it to be?"

Steve was a little surprised by the question. He hadn't expected to have a choice. As if reading his mind, RALFI said, "To some degree, we have a choice about the future and how it will be."

"Let me see how it could be first," asked Steve. Immediately he found himself sitting on a chair in his bedroom, his elbows on his thighs, his hands clasped in front of him, his head leaning forward, tears rolling down his cheeks, thinking about all the terrible things that had been happening to him. A few seconds was enough. "Help get me out of here," he begged RALFI. "Take me into the future of how I would rather it be."

Instantly, Steve was playing football with friends in the neighborhood park. They were laughing, joking, and having fun. After the game when he got home and sat in his room he started to feel sad again, thinking about King, Danny, and his parents. Then he heard RALFI's computer-like voice in the distant background say, "It is okay to feel sad. Some sad things have happened to you—and it is okay to feel good at times, too. I can show you what could happen," said RALFI, "but I can't make it happen for you. For you to be where you want to be in two weeks' time, can you tell me what you need to do to make the change?"

Steve thought. Some things he'd like to change but knew he couldn't. He couldn't bring back King, get Danny's parents to move back, or make his parents be happy. Almost thinking out aloud, he found himself answering RALFI, "There are some things I can't change but maybe I can start to get out with my friends again, play, laugh, and have some good times. Maybe I can remember more of the fun I used to have with King rather than think about how sad it is without him. Maybe I can write or e-mail Danny and perhaps look for a new best friend among the other kids at school. I can't do anything about what Mom and Dad have decided so it may be best to enjoy the time I spend with each of them, separately. Hopefully, they might be happier now." As he voiced his thoughts, Steve thought he noticed a little smile on RALFI's computer dial.

RALFI, however, kept to the business at hand. "Do you want to see the way it could be or the way you want it to be in twelve months?" he asked.

"Let's miss the could be and go to how I want it to be in twelve months," Steve instructed RALFI. He was taller and wearing long pants to school instead of shorts. He was getting a certificate at school but couldn't quite read what it was for—schoolwork, sports, community service, maybe. Mom and Dad were both there to see it. They were happier in their separate lives and proud of their son. He still looked at the photograph of King in his bedroom from time to time, and remembered the fun they'd had together. And what was this? A new puppy called Scruffy was licking his hand. He and Danny were sending fewer e-mails but he had several other really good friends at school.

As the scene faded, Steve thought RALFI's dial was smiling again. He didn't need to explore any more and stepped out ofthe capsule to find Captain Empowerment waiting for him. Captain Empowerment handed him a space suit and a glass bubble helmet that Steve put on. He then looked in a mirror and saw the name on the suit: Steve the Supreme. "Steve the Supreme?" he asked Captain Empowerment.

"Yes" said the captain, "I decided to name you Steve the Supreme Creator of His Own Future Destiny, but that was too long to fit on your suit. Even though sometimes some terrible things may still happen to you in life, you know there are things you can do to make the future the way you want it to be, so henceforth you will be known as Steve the Supreme."

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