I tripped into him.
My face was centimetres from the floor and I had to remind myself to breath.
I demanded of myself, trying to clear my mind of any recent thoughts about him. I had to be sure I wasn’t just doing my thing and imagining he had appeared out of the blue to save me from face planting into the hard gravel of the school hallway.
The apparition beside me shimmered for a few moments and then disappeared, dropping me rather unceremoniously onto the pavement – causing the skin on the palm of my hand to scrape. I huffed through my nose and rocked back to my feet, grabbing my books and laptop from the ground and swept my weirdly coloured blonde-brunette hair behind my back.
My hair was a weird colour because of all the times my older sister had died it bleach blonde – like seriously ‘why-are-you-so-blonde’ type of bleach blonde. And after finally having enough and forcing her to die it brown, my hair had reached a permanent state of indecision. It didn’t know what colour it wanted to be.
I really must be the most inconspicuous superhero ever. I came from a strictly middle-class family (had been that way for generations). Most superheros had wealth (or brains to get them wealth) and I was just Ella – the girl who could make her thoughts come true.
Sighing deeply I bristled off to class, hoping no one had seen me fall into his arms, only to have him drop me and disappear. Like it’s not bad enough that they already suspect I’m different, my powers have to continually flaunt themselves in-front of my very normal classmates.
The first time they had happened this year, one of the girls – her name was Haley - had whined about not knowing the answers to the math test – which obviously got me thinking about having some paper with all the answers on it. Bingo presto – during the maths test I found an inconspicuous piece of paper in the back of my notebook with the answers listed.
The teacher saw it; confiscated it and paraded it around the whole class – now most of them thought I was a cheat, or I was holding out on them.
After that, no-one was really interested in befriending me – and I wasn’t sure I blamed them for that.
We live in a world were soul-mates were matched via their DNA right after school finished in their last year. It was instantaneous, but sometimes it was terribly heartbreaking. The DNA test also tested for other things (not that many people knew that) like disease and people who carried certain types of metagenes – like the one were the parents give their children superpowers.
My mother refused to go into how they missed her (or my father, but we don’t talk about him. Ever) all I was ever told is that they got lucky, somehow the scans missed them both, but still paired them together, and even found out that her father was going to die. I didn’t know of what – yet another piece of information someone refused to give to me. All I knew is that my other talent was passed down to me by my father – who died of some practically ancient disease.
But all that didn’t really matter. I was still at least a year from finding out my soul-mate (a question I knew the answer to) and being found out as one of those kids. The ones that were found out – every year at least a dozen kids exited the scanning room with gaunt, faraway looks in their eyes, herding into a black van and taken away.
The school said they were being taken to a school for ‘special’ kids – really, could they not think of a better excuse – but most of us knew better. They were carted off to juvenile prison or something to never been seen again.
A fairly ominous ending to a very brief life. Honestly, I wasn’t willing to find out where these kids went, or what happened to them, it gave me nightmares even trying to imagine.
But none of that mattered; I tried to force my heart to calm down and my breathing to align correctly. I slid into my seat with barely a moment to spare, my teacher Miss Heatherton gave me a cold look, and I ducked my head, discreetly opening my notebook.
“What is life?” She asked, in a controlled, commanding voice.
This was the same question she had asked the class almost nine months ago. Back then none of them had idea what life meant to them, but over the past few weeks I had come to some kind of conclusion; life is death.
No-one in the class seemed to be willing to glean any of their personal insights. I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath to calm my nervous and moved my hand into the air. It hovered their uncertainly for a few moments, before Miss Heatherton called on me with an uncertain tone. I opened my eyes, forcing my mind blank.
My whole ‘thoughts coming to life’ ‘gift’ (my mother’s words not mine) generally took a lot of concentration, but in stressful situations my barriers crashed and my thoughts got the better of me. It probably didn’t help that he sat behind me. I could practically feel the almost harsh gaze of his amber eyes.
“Life is death” I answered, my voice strong and unwavering, as if daring anyone to object to my opinion.
Miss Heatherton pursed her lips, taping her whiteboard marker against her black pencil skirt. She seemed stuck in thought before she finally made a motion with her hand, as if urging me to continue.
“All our lives are spent waiting for the moment we die – every moment we have is just a moment closer to death. So we try to do what we can; some people try to avoid it with creams and chemicals, but it never works. Some people try to accept it, believing that if they do enough good their afterlife won’t be so bad. But the fact is, none of us knows – just like our ancestors didn’t understand about soul-mate bonding. So in essence, life is death – because one cannot exist without the other.”
I’m pretty sure that was the most I had ever said in a class since I was part of the popular crowd – even that seemed so long ago now. The class went silent; I could practically hear every breath they took, as though they were weighing up my words, prying into them until all my secrets were laid bare.
A laugh struck out from behind me, soft at first but it vibrated through my bones until the beat of my heart thumped in time with it.
“Nice one Ells.”
I turned and glared in his direction, my blue eyes meeting his amber ones, and for half a second the sound of the other students laughing drowned out and it was only me glaring at him. My cheeks heated and I turned away, crossing my arms and slumping in my chair.
Sometimes I hated Karter Sanchez to the point I wanted to smack him.
The class continued on with no more interruptions – except in the last ten minutes of the class a whirlwind of a girl came rushing in, her cheeks pink and hair ruffled, as though she had literally walked through a storm trying to get to class. She looked slightly dizzy and very shy, handing Miss Heatherton a pink slip of paper.
We all knew what that meant – new student.
I sighed as Miss Heatherton started giving the girl the ‘new student chiding’ the same one we all got at the start of the year. Heatherton expected a lot from us, some of her students buckled under the pressure – but like diamonds, few rose to the challenge and came out better than when they had arrived.
At least that’s what she told us.
I’m not entirely sure which of the two I was; some days I felt like the diamond, some days I felt like the dirt, crumbling away under the pressure. The poor girl had to take the last seat in the room – the one next to me. After the maths test, it became almost a bad omen to sit next to me during any class – rumours spread that weird things happened around Ella Green; things no-one could really understand.
Of course it didn’t help that I went to a boarding school. I had no room-mate (at least until today) but everyone knew my light stayed on well after lights out, but often I never even stayed in my room, instead taking to the roof to practice my other talent.
I honestly didn’t think of my powers as ‘gifts’ or ‘talents’ – they were more often a curse. Once when I was young, I had drawn a unicorn, only for the magical beast to rear out of the page and almost trample me to death. Since I had turned ten they had been a lot easier to control, but that didn’t mean things didn’t happen.
The girl sat next to me, offering a brave smile, though I could see she was practically terrified underneath. I did the only thing I could and completely ignored her.
I might have to suffer under the torture of the populars, but that didn’t mean the new girl had to too.
She seemed pleasant enough – with pure black hair and very bright brown eyes. I instantly felt like she was going to be my friend, and I hated myself for thinking that. Friends were a bad idea – as far as I knew, anyone who got close to me would be interrogated on suspicion of adding a witch, or whatever their new word for it was these days.
I focused on my classes for the rest of the day, avoiding people during lunch – except for the new girl who seemed to follow me around like a lost puppy no matter what I did. Despite the fact I didn’t talk to her, she told me all about herself; her name was Hazel she had a brother and a sister (though she was closer to her a brother) she had a dog who was several years old but still acted like a newborn pup and this was her third school since starting high school.
No more random appearances of Karter – which I took as a sign of my mental barriers returning to their usual efficiency. I dug around in my empty bag before pulling out a shining red apple. I never actually brought food from home – it was simpler just to create it with my mind during school – it took a few minutes of concentration, but since I had been doing this almost every day, the apple came easy, just like Karter did during my moments of stress.
I sat on the rooftop of my school, the night breeze whistled past my ear as if trying to tickle me or scare me away, but this roof was like my haven. I brought out my drawing pad, easily sketching lines and curves until I had created golden wings like the ones Icarus used to fly into the sky and see before he burned up and drowned. Once the final line was in place the wings fluttered hopelessly, lifting from the page and soaring into the sky, aiming for the moon, just like Icarus had aimed for the sun.
I shook of the feeling of melancholy and went back to drawing, trying hard not to think about what I was drawing. In a way my two powers were connected – what I thought I created, what I drew, or wrote or made worked and came to life.
It didn’t take long for me to start drawing Karter – I didn’t just draw his face, because the last time I did that I had a floating face to deal with – no, I drew all of him, so that in half an hour’s work I had a real, breathing, practically living boy sitting next to me, his arm wrapped around my shoulders and pulled me close.
We spent most of the night sitting on the roof, cuddling. Even if he was a figment of my imagination, it was probably the best night of my life, and I had the feeling it was going to be the best for a long time to come.
I havent been here (reading or writing) for a little while so I decided to come back in style!
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