“Margaret?” Mom called from the front door.
I flinched instinctively. Mom only ever called me Margaret when it was something serious. Or more specifically, when I was in trouble.
I descended the stairs with my heart pounding in my ears. I must’ve looked like a deer caught in the headlights because when Mom took one look at me she whispered, “Oh, my baby.”
She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me until I couldn’t breathe, “I didn’t think that this would happen.”
“What am I?” I mumbled into her shoulder.
“Margaret, come sit down. It’ll be easier that way,” she steered me into the lounge and gently but firmly pushed on my shoulders until I was sinking into the soft couch.
I looked into her brown eyes, the eyes that had no trace of orange whatsoever, and spoke, “How am I a Flector?”
She breathed out harshly before deciding on the best way to answer this question, “Your grandparents were rebels back in the day.”
I stared at her, unsure, while she laughed nervously.
“Your grandmother was a Flector, and your grandfather was not. But they were in love. It’s forbidden to share our world with them, but your grandmother was crazy about him. She trusted him. And lucky for her, he trusted her too.
“My parents didn’t care that they were two different species. It sounds strange when you put it like that. When they had me, I turned out as human. No elements, no abilities,” she looked at me to gauge my reaction. I remained still.
“When I met your father, I thought here was a nice human man that wouldn’t complicate my life. We got married, had you and the boys, and settled down.”
My mind should have been focusing on the story, but it was reeling with information on biology. The Flector gene is hereditary. If it turned out that being human was the dominant gene, then there was no way I could have been a Flector. Unless…
“Dad is part Flector too, isn’t he?”
Mom nodded grimly, “I didn’t know until we had you. He had had the same idea as me – settle down with a human girl and pretend everything was “normal.” It was just our luck that we ended up with each other. But when we had you, we decided to make things work. I mean, we loved you to the moon and back. I still do. We weren’t going to let you grow up without us, not knowing about yourself.”
“But you still kept it from me. Why?”
“We were going to tell you when you were ten years old. But on the night we were going to tell you, your father got cold feet. He said he didn’t want this sort of life. For him it was all good pretending that things were normal, but once you turned seventeen, he wasn’t a part of the human world anymore. He wanted out.”
My mind flashed back.
You tell her then. You wanted this, not me!
I didn’t want any of this, but she is our daughter and she needs to know the truth.
What if she’s not one of them though? What good would it do if she ends up just like us?
She’s not one of us and you know it. She needs to know, Rob.
There was the slam of the door and I was brought out of my vision.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” My hands started shaking again.
“Your dad left and never came back. From then on, things were frantic. Eventually we fell back into a routine and things were…human again.”
“How do you forget to tell your daughter that one day she may shoot fire from her hands?”
“I never forgot. I agonized night after night, year after year, about how to tell you.”
“So why didn’t you? You had it planned when I was ten!” My eyes wandered over her face, trying to search for the truth.
“I was scared telling you alone. I knew of the Flector community, but I was raised a human. I didn’t know as much about the Flector world as I did about the human one. And it didn’t help that your grandparents died when I was eighteen. I had no one to ask questions. All of my friends didn’t know that Flectors even existed.
“I was going to tell you over the weekend. But then I met your friends, and I could just tell that they knew. I knew they would take care of you.”
“So you left the hard part up to them?” my voice started rising with anger.
“I had to hear about Flectors from people I barely know!” I stood up and was shouting, “I didn’t even get to hear about this from my own mother!”
“Maggie, I –”
“I don’t want to hear anymore from you!” as I said this fire shot from my hands.
Mom sat there shocked and I bolted for the door. I almost stumbled down the steps in my haste and I ran to the end of the road. I wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing. I was just running. I cut a right and kept running.
I don’t know how long I ran for. All I knew was that it felt like a long time, but the adrenaline coursing through my veins refused to let me slow down.
As I came up to a road to cross, a car swung in and cut me off. I came to a halt and Tomas rolled down his window.
All he had to do was take one look at me before saying, “Get in.”
With the adrenaline receding and my breathing labored, my legs started wobbling. I climbed into the passenger seat and curled up.
“Rough day?” Tomas asked as he pulled away from the curb, although the usual joking in his voice wasn’t there.
“Oh God, where do I start?” My voice came out faint, “Aren’t you supposed to be in school?”
“Aren’t you?” Tomas retorted lightly, “Luke told me what happened. I decided to ditch and come for you.”
I scoffed, “Which part did he tell you? That I’m a Flector or that he kissed me?”
“He what?” Tomas slammed on the brake and I lurched forward, “Sorry. God, I fucking told him that was a bad idea.”
“You knew too?” I moaned.
“We all did,” Tomas started driving again and we made our way to an abandoned parking lot. He cut the ignition.
I started banging my head on the headrest, trying to wake up from this awful dream.
“Hey, don’t do that,” Tomas placed his hand behind my head to stop me and said, “You’ll give yourself a concussion.”
“I’ve panicked, fainted and been set on fire today. I’m pretty sure my body will forgive me for getting a concussion.”
Tomas undid my seatbelt and reached across to pop a lever. My seat – and I – fell flat on our backs.
“Just sleep for a little bit. We’ll tackle things one at a time when you wake up.”
It was like my mind finally caught up with my body. I realized I was yawning so I didn’t argue, but instead curled up and drifted off to sleep.
When I woke up the world was tinged orange and gold. The sun danced just above the tree line in the distance and I squinted as beams pierced my eyes.
“Oh hey, you’re awake,” Tomas looked up from his phone, “How are you feeling?”
“I feel like this is the weirdest birthday ever. But strangely I feel better now.”
“Oh yeah, I have something for you,” Tomas reached into the back and brought out a small box, “Happy birthday.”
I looked at him strangely, “You didn’t have to do that.”
“But I did. Now take it.”
I took the box and tentatively opened it. Inside was a delicate bracelet with five little charms on it – a lightning bolt, a drop of water, a fire insignia, a cloud and a flower.
“I wasn’t sure what girls like you like exactly, so I guessed. I know technically a cloud is water, but it’s hard to find something for air.”
“It’s amazing,” I replied as I slipped it on.
“Everyone else has something for you too. We were going to have a party at Elliot’s tomorrow, but I thought giving you this now might take your mind off things for a bit.”
“You guys really didn’t have to do that.”
“We want to, which is why it is still on. It’s half a birthday party and half a “welcome to the Flector world!” party,” Tomas smiled.
“So I really am a Flector now,” I finally admitted it to myself as I pulled the seat up and leant against it.
“Yeah. Don’t worry, you’ll adjust. We were going to start by introducing you slowly, like introduce you to our families. You’ll see pretty quickly that we’re exactly the same as humans, except we can control elements.”
“I’m sorry that I didn’t believe you guys. Before today, the idea just seemed so absurd. Now…not so much.”
Tomas nodded, “Understandable. So do you want to tackle each thing one at a time? Are you up to talking about everything?”
“I guess,” I replied nervously.
“Okay, so first off the list. How do you feel now that you know you’re a Flector?”
“Now? After I’ve had time to calm down? Better. I wouldn’t particularly say that I know myself any better, but it’s nice to know that I’m surrounded by people who can give me answers. I wouldn’t want to go through it all alone.”
“Is there anything about Flectors that you’d like to know about?”
I shook my head, “Not at the moment.”
“Okay, so what’s next on the list? Luke?”
I shook my head vigorously, “I’d rather wait for that one. Let’s go with my mom.”
“Okay, what about her?” Tomas looked quizzically at me.
“She’s a Flector born human. My grandparents – one was a Flector, the other a human. And it turned out it was the same with my dad. So while my brothers aren’t Flectors, I pulled the recessive genes and well, the rest is history really.”
“Wow. Well, mystery solved then, detective,” Tomas gave me a small smile.
“But I just don’t understand why she didn’t tell me!” I burst out, “She had this whole thing planned and they were going to tell me when I was younger but Dad walked out and Mom chickened out and I have never felt more abandoned by my own family before.”
Tomas sat there in silence just taking it all in. After what seemed like an eternity he opened his mouth, “I think what’s passed has passed. Your mom made a mistake – a huge one – but you weren’t alone. You knew what was going to happen. You had us.”
I looked down and touched the bracelet , “Yeah, I did.”
“Do your brothers know about you?”
“I haven’t seen them since this morning. I don’t think I’ll be telling them for a while either. I mean, they’re only twelve. They have the largest mouths in the world.”
“Fair point,” Tomas nodded and pushed on, “And Luke?”
I sighed and whacked my head against the door frame. I might as well get it over and done with.
“I don’t know what happened there.”
“So far I’ve gathered that Luke kissed you when you changed, and you went off at him,” Tomas looked at me, “Right?”
“Pretty much,” I confirmed, “I just don’t understand it though.”
“Why he likes me. He barely knows me,” I looked out to the tree lines where the sun had just disappeared.
Tomas laughed lightly, “I told him not to do anything – for distraction or not. The rest of us knew that you had no idea. You seem more practical about these things.”
“And Luke isn’t?” I was truly stunned. He definitely seemed like the type who didn’t particularly care about the girls he dated. I didn’t mean it in a harsh way. He just had the whole “I don’t care” attitude about him.
“Luke appears tough on the outside, but he’s a total marshmallow on the inside. He just has difficulty communicating his feelings,” we were silent for a while before Tomas spoke again, “So how do you feel about him?”
“Nothing. He’s a friend – if that. I mean, I consider him a friend but we barely talk,” I fiddled with the bracelet, “I also have too much going on at the moment to deal with a relationship as well. I just hate how I let him down, though. It wasn’t fair.”
“No, it wasn’t fair what he did to you,” Tomas’ voice hardened, “And I’ll be telling him that. In the mean time, let’s get you home. Your mom could be worried.”