High-school freshman Nerissa Blane has problems. They're not exactly the same as your average teenage girl's either. Nerissa is adopted and on a quest to find her birth mother. But this story isn't quite so cookie-cutter. Why is she finding her biological mother? Oh, because the voice inside her head is telling her to. Not to mention the fact that Nerissa makes water fountains explode. On accident, of course. Is she just plain mad, or is something bigger really going on?


5. "Bonding"

      And so "twin time" commences. After our weird webcam chat, I met up with her. It was at Starbucks, the next day, after Nerissa got out of school. I might have gotten there a little early. Okay, fine, an hour early. That was a BIG mistake.

     I was a little less than block away from Starbucks when I smelled it. Smoke. I step off my board, looking around, wondering if I messed up this time. I can't see it though. Am I doing this? Then another wave of the smell hit me, and I felt sick. My legs trembled beneath me. I fell onto the grass next to the sidewalk, clutching it until my knuckles were white, willing my headache to go away. I'm gonna puke. What is this? What is going on?! I felt the familiar tingle in my fingers and I try to let go before, but it happened. The grass is ablaze where my hands were and it's quickly spreading. No! This. This is my fault. What's going on! I never lose control like this. I try to get it to stop, but I can't. Why?! It's usually harder to put out my own fire than it is to light it, but never like this. It's not working.

     Then, a little Hispanic boy, probably about ten, comes out of his house and grabs a hose. He sprays the fire, but he's screaming something. I don't know what he's saying. "¡Fuego! Usted está encarnado Tohil! Diosa del fuego!"

   "W-what?" was all I could manage. He kept yelling, but I didn't understand. The fire was out, but I still felt terrible, so I ran. I just... ran. I left my skateboard and everything. I needed to get out of there. I don't think I would have been able to to open the door by myself. Lucky for me, an old man was already at the door and let me go before before him. I staggered toward a leather love seat and sat, rolled up in a ball, trying to get whatever I was feeling to go away. Then, all of a sudden, it did. 

     The door opened. "Are you okay?" I looked up. She finally got here.

    "Uh... yeah."

    "Here, I'll buy you a drink and you can tell me about it." 

    "No," I said, a little too harshly. Who does she think she is, though? I don't need anyone to buy me anything, and I don't need a therapist. 

    She held her hands up in surrender, "Fine! No drink." And there we sat. staring at each other. Then, I broke. I told her what had happened. After I finished she told me about the forest fire in the hills a mile or two away from here and how she feels when it's raining. It was kind of a relief. "Wanna go get your board?'


    "Your skateboard. Do you wanna go see if it's still there? Maybe the little boy has it." I hesitate. "Oh, c'mon, Blaze! Don't be scared. I'm sure you'll be fine now. You're okay right now, aren't you?"

    "I am not scared," I answer, standing up.

     It doesn't take long for us to get there. A few minutes later, Nerissa points out a big patch of charred grass a few houses up. "There?" she asks.

    "Yup." We head up the driveway and I knock on the door.

    "Yes?" A plump, middle-aged African-American woman opened the door. She shouts something to someone in another room. What? This was his house, right? Whoever this woman was, she definitely wasn't his mother. Or at least biologically: I seem to be forgetting who I am again. Then she turns my way and she jumps. "Meredith?" she whispers. She shakes her head, "I'm sorry, young lady. How can I help you?"

    "Um, your son.. he, uh... I left my skateboard here and I was wondering if he saw it?"

    "Oh, you mean little Angelo? Oh!" she exclaims. "You! You're the one he told me about! Come! Come inside!"

    I look over at Nerissa and raise my eyebrow. The woman sticks her head out of the door and sees Nerissa standing on the other side of the screen and jumps. "Oh!" she cried. "You're together! Come. Come inside!" I look at Nerissa, hoping maybe she could do some magic twin mind-reading thing, because I'm telling her that the woman obviously knows something. She nods. We follow, cautiously. She leads us into a shabby living room; it looks like a grandmother's home. Then I see the little boy, Angelo I should say.

     He starts jumping up and down shouting, "Ella! ¡Es ella! El que te hablé!" He sees Nerissa tailing behind me and stops jumping. Obviously confused, he says, "Hay dos?"  What is he doing here?

    "Angelo lives next door. I watch him while his parents are out," she explains. To him, she says, "Tranquilo, Angelo," with a perfect accent and everything. He shuts up. Back to us. "Please, sit down. What are your names?"

     "Who are you?" I ask pointedly. We're only sitting in her house. I think we should know her name first. 

    "Oh, forgive me. My name is Gina."

     Nerissa speaks for the first time, "I'm Nerissa and this is..."

     "Blaze," I finish for her. Gina doesn't even think twice about my name. Bummer. I love seeing the "This one's surely a delinquent" look on old peoples' faces.

     Back to business. "Now, tell me what you know."

     I raise my eyebrow again. "What do you think we know?"

     "Come now, Blaze." She responds, with a knowing look in her eyes. What does she know? "Tell me what you've discovered." In response, I purse my lips, cross my arms, and sink back into the ratty, old sofa. Mum's the word. Gina looks at me with a face that says "Is that a challenge?" Then she does something funny. She sticks her hand out in front of her like she's holding some invisible cup. Holy shit! A small potted plant that was sitting on the windowsill behind us (I didn't even notice it was there) came zooming between mine and Riss' head and landed in Gina's hand. Nerissa's jaw dropped and that Angelo kid is just sitting on the ground, watching like it's the most normal thing ever.

      "What the fuck, lady!" I explode."Are you trying to kill us?!"

     "So you do know about your gifts."

     "Know about them? We have to deal with them every goddamn day! My "gift" felt like it was killing me from the inside out today! I nearly started a forest fire in your front lawn! Yeah, we know about them!" I rage on.

     "Quite the volatile one, you are." She looks like she trying to size me up when she says, "You're definitely fire."

     "No! Clearly, I'm water! Was the name Blaze not enough for you? And you think I'm volatile? You ain't seen nothin' yet! What do you know about us, anyway?! Are you like us?! How did you know there was two of us?! And who is Meredith?"

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