I can't sleep.
My hands itch so bad. It's like fire ants gnawing away at the flesh under my hands, and I soon as I've scratched my hands blistering raw, their eggs hatch and a new round of torment begins.
An idea forms in my head, a desperate one, but an idea nonetheless. I'll just sneak downstairs, raid the pantry for lotion or medication for my hands, dunk them in ice until they're nice and numb, and down as many pills as I can to fall asleep. I might wake up feeling terrible, but anything is better than this.
As I make my way downstairs, oblivious to the late night shadows that scare you at every turn, I slide my hand down the banister. But something isn't right. The banister is too cold. Much too cold. My hand flares up again, concentrated most on the skin in contact with the wood. I pull it away, shocked at the strange prickly feeling that stays, not unlike the feeling you get when a limb falls asleep.
That's strange, I think to myself. I'm starting to doubt whether ice is a good idea. Perhaps my raw hand is much too sensitive to take it.
I find the right tube of ointment, smear it over my hands, and wrap them up with a bandage. At first, I'm feeling slightly better, but then the ointment starts to drip. It soaks through the bandage until all I have is a warm, limp piece of cloth around my hand. That's not right.
Something is off about all of this, but it's nearly midnight, and I need to sleep. I swallow a few pills and start back towards the stairs. After a second or so, I realize the pills won't do me any good. I barely make it to the bathroom in time to avoid getting sick all over the floor.
One of my dads must've heard me and gotten up, because after a moment, I hear a knock on the door.
"You okay in there?"
"Yeah," I moan, "Go back to sleep, you need to get up for work tomorrow."
"Okay, but if you need me, don't be afraid to wake me up."
I try to stand, but my knees buckle and my head feels like it's full of sand. Everything is getting too cold, I'm freezing. Shivering and heaving, I drag myself to the wall and lean against it. At least I won't have to go to school tomorrow.
I find the thermometer under the sink and measure my forehead. It's 123°F. That absolutely cannot be right. I'd be dead. Out of curiosity, or pure stupidity, I glide it along the surface of my palm. The numbers read 165°F.
I shut my eyes, trying to block out the pain. The thermometer can't be right. It must be broken. I force my wobbly legs to stand and search for the spare in the hallway. Shaking, I press that one to my forehead. 130°F. No, this can't be happening. I swipe it across my palm, causing pain that brings spots into my vision. 174°F.
My hands flare up again, but it's different. This time, they catch on fire.
Terrified, I stick them under water, forcing the flames to wash away. I must be hallucinating. Yes, that explains it. I have a fever and I'm hallucinating. If only that were true.
My fear, my false comfort, they all seem to make it worse. My hands start sparking, actual sparks, and here's the thing. It doesn't hurt. It feels... perfect.
The pain seems to rise from my palms, and the more I relax and let the fire flow from my palms, the more it leeches out. Amazingly, my hands are unscathed. Not a burn anywhere. I watch a small flame rise from my hands and concentrate, making it twist in a way no fire would. In a euphoria, I gleefully spin it around and watch it grow.
I can control fire.
With my fear gone, I become a little reckless. I push it from my hands and let a small tendril glide up and down my arms. Without meaning to, it brushes against a towel, a little too close. I'm more worried about ruining the towel, so I let my fingers relax and pull back the flame. Except I can't.
The flame, immune to my magic, doubles in size and reaches a wall. Frantically, I tug its invisible strings towards me, but they disappear from my grip. The fire reaches the ceiling and I dive towards the sink, splashing what water I can at it.
It's too late, the water barely does a thing, and soon, I'll be trapped in a burning bathroom. I pass by a flame, unharmed as it reaches for my shoulder, successfully singeing the fabric of my pajama shirt.
In a panic, I run from my house, and in horror, watch the flames grow. I have only one thing crossing my mind, and it's that I started a wildfire. I can bring fire into this world, but once it leaves my hands, I cannot put it out.
It's raining heavily, but not hard enough to quench the fire ravaging my house. The icy rain is quenching the pain and heat radiating from my hands, and as long as I'm out here, everyone else is safe from me.
Eyes wide with terror, I hear my dads' voices shouting for me. I want to call out, to assure them I'm okay, but I can't speak. Something much greater than my fear is holding me back. I know they won't leave unless they find me. And they won't.
Crossed between fleeing and rushing back in, I fall to my knees sobbing. Their voices fade out and sirens replace them. A scarf, blackened with ash, but otherwise unscathed lays on the grass a few feet in front of me. I don't know why I do, but I snatch it up and run. I need to make this better. I need help. I can't be the villain anymore.