For me, blue has never been a peaceful color. It’s the color of water.
And a blaring neon reminder of the things I can, but shouldn’t do.
Resisting was even harder than usual this morning.
I ogled the beads of condensation rolling down the window. My hands
itched to reach out to them. I stretched my fingers and rubbed my
palms across my jeans. I wouldn’t give in.
A fat droplet caught my eye. It oozed down the glass, shedding a thin,
wet trail. It gorged on the smaller beads and ballooned.
Any minute now, it would burst.
I gripped the window frame. A sweat broke across my back. I ached with
There was a place in my chest, just below the ribcage that hummed
whenever I was near water. Now it swelled to a throb.
I licked my lips. Another bead and the droplet was too heavy. It
pealed away from the glass. A shudder raked my spine. It spattered. I
felt the jolt deep in my gut.
I sighed; a sound so low it was almost a moan.
My shoulders tensed. Forcing a smile, I spun and looked at Mom.
She didn’t see, did she? What would she have seen? I didn’t even do
anything. And even if I had, she wouldn’t notice. She wouldn’t know
what to look for.
I swallowed the lump that’d lodged itself in my throat. “Why would I
“First day of your Junior year? Seems like a pretty good reason to me.”
Oh, that. I shrugged. “Maybe a little.”
“You better get going or you’ll miss the bus.”
The back of my neck prickled. It was normal to feel jumpy when you
almost get caught doing something you know shouldn’t. But this was
I looked outside. I tried but couldn’t shake the feeling. The feeling
I was being watched. “Do I have to go?”
She crossed her arms and gave me that look. I call it the
I sighed. “I’m going, I’m going.”
I stepped outside and shivered. Even though it was late August, I felt
a dull chill creeping through the early morning air.
I followed the tire tracks, kicking at the dewy clumps of wildflowers
and weeds sprouting up in the middle of the dirt road. Droplets
bungeed off the petals and splattered across my shoes.
I sighed and stared down at the little beads of water. I already gave
into it once this morning. I can’t risk it again.
You hear stories about people with superpowers. And by stories, I mean
the ones in comic-books and fairytales. Real people don’t have
superpowers. Except for me. But I imagine that what happens when
someone discovers the hero’s secret in those stories isn’t so far from
what would actually happen. Getting locked away in some secret
government bunker and becoming a lab rat would be bad, yeah. But
having everyone I love – that is, Mom and Dad – run away if they saw
me for the freak I really am – that’s what I’m afraid of.
So I won’t give in.
I glared at the beads of water stuck to the top of my sneakers. Makes
it pretty hard to resist when my own shoes are conspiring against me.
One of these days, I really am going to snap.
I reached the end of the drive and leaned on the row of rusting
mailboxes. The air was getting stickier, heavier as the thick dew
evaporated. It weighed on me, and I felt my resolve to ignore it
slipping even further.
I sniffed the air. The wet brought out the scent of the long grass,
decaying fireflies, and pungent, late summer leaves. I even caught of
whiff of pine from the tree farm down the road.
And there was something else, something that didn’t belong. Roses,
heavy and perfumey accosted my nostrils. My eyes watered, preparing
for a sneeze. The scent grew stronger.
I searched the ground for the bush. We never planted roses. Dad hated
them. But there was no mistaking that smell.
Spotting something in the road, I clawed the wet from my eyes, not
trusting my sight through the sneeze-tears. But I didn’t mistake it.
Three thorn-covered rosebush tendrils slithered up the path toward me.
Roses bloomed, withered, and blackened in rapid succession as the
vines grew and stretched.
I kneaded my knuckles into my eyes. It has to be a dream. It can’t be
real. Roses don’t grow like that.
But when I removed my knuckles and the dark spots stopped popping
across my vision, the roses were still there. And still crawling.
I tried to step back, but the underbrush had wrapped itself around my
ankles. I teetered on my heels. A rose lashed out a tendril and caught
I struggled as it chewed on my arm, its sharp thorns tearing at my
skin. Hot blood trickled down my wrist.
I had no choice. I had to use water. It was my only weapon.
I closed my eyes and let the yearning take over. My chest felt tight,
but it had nothing to do with my racing heart. The hum grew to a roar
as it burst from the little corner where I kept it hidden. The
sensation rushed through me until I could feel the blood slurping
through my veins and the invisible beads of water hiding in the air.
Taking a deep breath, I gathered the hidden droplets from the air and
froze them into a dagger. I sliced through the rose-stem, wincing as I
ripped the thorny vine from my flesh.
A gust of wind slammed into me and knocked me flat across the ground.
The air rushed out of my lungs. A bitter, metallic taste filled my mouth.
Some part of me was dimly aware that I should’ve been freaking out. I
should’ve been screaming, or at least paralyzed with fear. I was being
attacked by roses and wind and they were winning. But all I could
think was that I had to keep fighting and give that wind and those
roses the fight of their lives.
More vines crept toward me and wrapped around my hands and throat. I
gasped and thrashed against them. My hands bled from battling the
thorns. It was useless. They were too fast. I couldn’t catch my
That’s when I saw the mask.
Or, the man wearing the mask. He stepped into a patch of light shining
on the road and made a small motion with his hand. The vine tightened
its grip around my neck. It wasn’t the roses or the wind. It was him.
He was doing this.
I tugged at the vine around my throat, but I couldn’t get a good
handle on it. And the more I struggled, the tighter it wound.
He held out his hand and a flame appeared in his palm. Cocking his
head, he launched it at me.
With what little strength I could muster, I conjured a wall of water
and froze it into a shield. I shut my eyes, bracing for the blow. The
flame rammed into me, shattering the shield. A shard of ice sliced me
across the cheek.
When I opened my eyes again, the man in the mask was sprawled
face-first across the middle of the drive. Behind him stood a
dark-haired kid, his clenched fists smoking. He fixed his fierce eyes
on me and shot a fist of fire out of his palm.