I feel the crack in my nose, my eyes water and then finally the burst of pain. I let out a sharp yelp as I grab my face pain and promptly shoots through my whole face again. Mary Anne cackles as I back up into the wall of the school. I was on my way out from creative writting club when Mary Anne and her stupid softball buddies decided to gang up on me.
My stuff sprawls across the ground, my nose is surely broken and I’m not sure when Elsies did to my foot but it hurts like hell.
“Oh, is the little bug tired!” Mary Anne laughs in a pathetic baby voice.
“Get a fucking job or hobby bitch!” I spit right next to her shoes promptly, making her recoil in disgust.
“Go back to the early 3000’s!” I flash a toothy grin and she wrinkles her nose.
“If you tell anyone I’ll fuckign kill you!” She snaps before turning around.
“Don’t worry pookie bear I won’t!” I cackles as she throws a glare back at me, I flip her off for good measure and she just rolls her eyes.
I gather up my stuff trying not to focus on the pounding pain. My father can probably fix my nose when I get home but for now I just try not to draw attention. I pack all my stuff back up, at least the ones that didn't fall into puddles or get completely ripped up under the soles of Mary Anne and Elise’s shiny shoes. It’s miserable forcing back the tears that want to continue pouring, but tears mean they won, they can’t win.
My walk home is miserably painful, every time my foot hits the pavement it’s like there's a poisoned spike going through my foot and all I can smell is the dried blood below my nose. My lip must be busted too because when I go to chew my lip I can feel an open wound and I can taste a bit more blood. Dad won’t be able to fix that, in fact I don’t know if he’ll have the energy to fix my nose, but knowing him he’ll still do it.
I arrive at the apartment and immediately lay down on the couch to get the pressure off my foot. I consider falling asleep, instead I root around my bag aimlessly going by feel until I pull out my sketchbook and a bright pink highlighter that had just been floating around my bag apparently. My hand shakes a bit as I drag it across the page, scrawling out a lazy drawing of bright neon. Eventually I give up and I just lay down listening to a review of a game I’ll never play.
My dad arrives home carrying take-out bags with a bright smile on his face, until he sees me laying on the couch. He drops the stuff on the table and rushes over immediately fussing.
“What happened?” He asks as he gestures for me to lay back down.
“Fight with some of the softball girls,” I mutter and he puts two fingers to my nose making me wince. “Got in a bit of a spat,”
“I can tell! Broken nose and a break in your foot! These girls have to be punished Cy,” My father says before beginning to work on my ankle. “I’m going to report this to the school, do you know the girls names?”
“Mary Anne and Elise,” I sigh knowing nothing is going to come of the report.
“Oh baby girl I’m so sorry this keeps happening,” I sit up and wrap my arms around my dad burying my face in his shoulder.
“It’s okay dad, not your fault,” I mumble, resting my chin on his shoulder.
“Oh but it’s still so unfair,” He kisses my forehead and smiles. “I’m going to go send that email and get changed, you clean up and eat I got you sushi,”
My dad is probably one of the best people on the face of this earth, not only is he a nurse at work but he’s also a nurse when he gets home, healing my broken noses and chipped bones. He’s been my sole parent practically since I was born and he somehow manages to put up with my constant bloody noses and bruised limbs. Some people assume it must be hard not having a mom around, but my dad makes up for everything.
I go to the bathroom and wash the blood from my face and lips. My lip is busted up and when I pull down my shirt a little to check the damage to my collar there's a gigantic bruise forming. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t covered in bruises and nicks, probably back before kids could punch properly. I’m also not nearly as beat up as I used to be, but I also learned how to punch and I had to work a little harder, well a little is an understatement but oh well.
During dinner my dad keeps asking if I’m okay, but I insist over and over that I’m fine though my lip and chest hurt like hell. I think my father worries so much because I’m his only daughter, only child really. I also think it’s because we really only have each other, sure I have family but most of them live all the way in Arabori and my aunt lives up in the north which is a two day train ride. I always feel bad about making my father worry so much, but there's really not much I can do about it.
I’d say it started when I was little, but I actually know the day that it really started, the day the teacher revealed I was ungifted. My father had suspicions I was ungifted for a while seeing I was six and still had no signs of any gift, so after lots of tests, needles, questions and doctors sporting thickly layered sympathetic voices, I was diagnosed as ungifted at the age of seven. After that the tag followed me everywhere, the teacher looked as if she was going to pass out when she read it and the kids in class very quickly found out. It started as teasing and name calling, but escalated to tripping and shoving pretty quickly. Thankfully but also unfortunately we had to move out of The States across back to Vilkaryn after my fathers marriage pass was obviously unable to be renewed.
I did everything I could to hide the fact I was ungifted, I learned magic tricks, taught myself random bits of information to pretend to have an intelligence enhancing gift and every other trick in the book. Despite my attempts though, people found out. After that I was an easy target and the teachers only pretended to care about the giftless student who they think won’t be anything more than a miserable office worker if she’s lucky. So I bit my tongue and did what I could to lessen the impact of the violent abuse, I learned how to make my punches work and how to get insults and back talk to land. I’m probably not as good a person as I could be, but just sitting by wasn’t an option unless I wanted to get pummeled. So I don’t hit first but I won’t be afraid to hit last.
After dinner I retreat to my room after I take a shower. I throw myself into my chair in front of my drawing tablet. It had taken me nearly two years worth of saving up commission money and a YouTuber discount code to get Siren and Pearl, my lovely drawing tablet and shit laptop. I’m emotionally attached to my babies, sometimes Pearl will randomly shut down and not work for a while and sometimes Siren just doesn’t turn on, but I love them. I turn on Siren and come face to face with a commission I need to get done by tomorrow. I thank the lords tomorrow is Saturday. This is a pretty detailed piece so at least I’m going to get paid good money for it which means I can probably get those new shoes I was looking at.
I don’t remember when I started drawing. All I know is that I’ve been doing it longer than I can remember. My earliest memory was when me and my dad were at the craft store. He was getting yarn for the scarf he was going to crochet for me, and I found a kids fashion book. I remember begging him for that stupid book and a pack of colored pencils, he eventually gave in and bought it for me. For years after I insisted I wanted to be a fashion designer, drawing dresses and glittery suits, cutting up old shirts and having fashion shows with some of my dolls. My father has a bunch of photographs of me in safety pinned skirts made of old shirts and me squealing over runway shows on TV. He even took me to a big craft show outside the city where I got to meet a woman who made dresses for a living. That was one of the best days of my young life.
Unfortunately fashion design isn’t really my thing anymore, especially once I learned about the rigid expectations of the fashion world. After that I thought I would become a nurse like my dad, but that went about as well as expected. Honestly most jobs are out of the question for me, the medical field is taken up by mind readers, healers and empaths, the business and law world are taken up by people with super intelligence, human lie directors and a bunch of other people who I could never catch up with no matter how hard I study. Almost every field is taken by people with different gift sets, so when you have no gifts your jobs are limited to things like secretaries, restaurant workers and school teachers if you’re lucky.
The world is built around people having gifts beyond what humans used to be able to do, so when you don’t have one it makes life a living nightmare. Sometimes I have hope for the future, but most days I can’t help but stir in the fact I’m at an extreme disadvantage. I don’t just want to sit by and become the random secretary everyone expects me to become, I want to be more I want to be known, not for being a hero or anything but for being a scientist. I want to go to school to become a microbiologist and help with finding cures for diseases incurable by normal healing abilities which there are still plenty of. Yet there's still that part of me that insists it’s not going to happen, someone with super intelligence or ultra vision will be in front of you no matter how hard you work. But if I’m one thing, it’s stubborn and this is something I really want.
It’s nearly midnight when I finish the drawing, it’s beautiful, magical girls with electrically neon colors, puffy skirts and stupid long pigtails. I rise from my chair and stretch from head to toe before heading to the kitchen to get a glass of milk. As I’m pouring a glass I see a flash at the corner of my vision. I jump backwards, nearly dropping the jug.
“The fuck?” I whisper as I put the milk away and take a shaky sip from my glass.
I glance around and that’s when I feel a heat at the back of my neck. I whip around ready to kick some guy in the gut or punch someone in the face, but instead I just let out a scream. The woman in front of me glows so brightly that my eyes practically burn, yet I can’t look away. She’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen. Dark ringlets of hair fall to her waist, her pale skin seems to be burned with different markings that look like something out of a fantasy tale, her thin phoenix eyes glow a deep shade of violet. But then more things become noticeable, the light behind her forms into three sets of wings as white as doves, one set of eyes turn into two, two other pairs of arms fold out, her nails turn into sharp dagger like claws and hair looks as if it’s made of smoke.
“Do not be afraid my child,” She holds out her left set of hand.
Despite her suggestion I let out a scream and chuck my glass as her which just freezes in mid air promptly making me scream more. My heart races and I try to pinch myself awake assuming I must have just fallen asleep at my desk, but no my skin stings from the pinch. I try to run to get my father but the second I reach the hallway it’s like there's an invisible force field keeping me from moving.
“What the hell is going on! Am I going crazy or am I being robbed!” I scream as the woman moves closer.
“Cypress Monsoon please calm yourself,” The woman says this and suddenly every muscle in my body relaxes, my mind is still racing but it begins to slow. “You are not being robbed nor are you crazy, quite the contrary. I am Aleire, head goddess, I am here to bestow upon you a gift,”
“Am I high or something?” I whisper as the woman kneels in front of my eyes, the only light source aside for the small hallway night light. “This can’t be real, I…,”
The second I meet her eyes a wave washes over me, this sensation telling me this woman, this goddess, is more than just the form I’m looking at. She takes my face in her hands and suddenly I can see everything, every mother and child playing, every struggling student and every tired hero. But then I realize I don’t see just the current world, I see every person who’s ever lived and been buried. The scene of seeing it all brings tears to my eyes and for a moment I don’t know if I can handle it wondering if I’ll be able to come back to my body once it disappears. But when I do, I find myself looking into the goddesses eyes.
“Do you understand?” She asks with a soft smile.
“What was that?” I whisper leaning forward desperate to know what I just witnessed.
“That is what I can give to you,” She gestures for me to relax and I eas into a criss cross on the floor staring at her waiting for her to speak again. “Cypress I am going to throw a lot of information at you and I don’t expect you to understand all of it but I just need you to listen, can you do that for me?” She asks, folding her hands in her lap.
“Of course, I ain’t no baby!” I grin desperate to hear her talk again.
“Every two hundred years the veil between the realm of the spirits and the land of mortals becomes thin, this causes the possibility for creatures to escape all over the globe, but if me and the others gods focus are energy we can keep the veil thick everywhere but one space where the veil will be especially thin-,” She pauses taking my hands in hers which are so warm they nearly burn my skin “-that’s where you come in, us gods must pick a warrior to fight for us taking on the evils beyond the veil and you are my choice,”
It felt as if I had been punched in the gut. Gods, monsters, a veil? Before now I had been skeptical of the prospect of a god, now I’m being told there is one and more! I want to say it’s all bullshit, but then who is this woman, I know she’s not human she can’t be. I’ve met mind benders and people who can make you believe things that aren’t true btu no human can feel like this, no human makes the air feel as if it’s being filled with all the breaths history has to offer, humans eyes don’t make lights seem pitch black and humans don’t feel as if they could end you and your whole families exitance with less than the blink of their eyes.
“Why?” is all I’m able to manage.
“You remind me of myself, and your aura is extremely strong, two things I look for in my warrior,” She explains as I gulp. “This is hard to process, I’m aware but I really need an answer,”
“What kind of things will I be doing?” I ask not wanting to dive head first into a situation I know nothing about.
“You will be fighting any creatures that come out of the veil, normal powers will not do so I will bless you with powers from within myself,” She explains making a small glowing ball of light. “Your mentor will explain far more at your first meeting with her, and you can give up your powers at any time you like, but once you do it’s unlikely you will be able to get them back,”
“Why me? Why a teenager?” I ask, raising my eyebrows.
“Adults are far too busy, plus it takes quite a lot of energy which typically teenagers have more of, children have even more but putting young children into battle is unethical,” She says with a small chuckle. “So what do you say, will you accept this gift?” A glowing silver orb appears at the tip of her pointer finger.
“You will hold the power of creation, it is different for every warrior and your form will differ from the other warriors in your group whom you will meet if you accept,”
She throws the globe up and suddenly a locket falls from the sky, and she holds it out to me. My dreams of power and helping others could finally be achieved. Not to mention how many people are asked by a goddess to be a warrior for the mortal realm.
“What do you say?”
I reach out and take the locket from her hands. “Will it hurt?”
“Just for a moment after you lock it into place,”
I hesitate as I put the locket to my neck, this is it. Perhaps other people would weigh the pro’s and con’s more, but all I could see right now was the possibility to save people and keep the world safe. I clip the necklace close and suddenly a wave of pain shoots through my body, it feels as if every inch of my body had been chopped apart, set on fire and stitched back together. I scream and grab my chest which feels as if it’s exploded, and the back of my neck seers like a small drip of lava was being poured in one spot. No pain I’ve ever felt has ever felt like this, this is beyond human pain this shouldn’t exist a body should not be able to feel this. I wither on the floor for nearly five minutes before it disappears like it was never there.
“You did wonderful my dear, congratulations,” The goddess kisses my forehead.
“I…feel strange,” it feels as if my body is lighter, like a chunk of me was taken off.
“You’ll get used to it quickly I promise,” She rises and offers me a hand. “Now head to bed, tomorrow you will find a note with an address, go to it and there you will find your mentor. She is aware you are coming and she’ll be prepared. Thank you young Cypress for serving your realm,”The goddess bows and I do the same, but when I come up she’s gone only a half black half white feather left behind.
For a moment I don’t believe what just happened, I touch the necklace checking to be sure it’s there, it is. The locket portion itself is lovely, a gold oval embedded with vines and in the center the imprint of a marigold. I open it up to find a photograph of my father and me at the carnival last summer and a small rune on the other side. I’m sure I could be far more suspicious about either side of the locket, but I’m far too tired and confused to care. The second I lay down in my bed I’m out like a light.
The next morning I wake up expecting the necklace to be gone, but it isn't. I wake up and find it laying against my chest. It probably wasn’t a good idea to sleep with a necklace on but something was telling me that taking it off wasn’t really an option. I get up rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and trying not to hit snooze again.
When I stand in front of my mirror undoing my hair staring at the glittering golden note I’ve yet to unfold. I feel a bumpy texture at the back of my neck. I grab my phone and turn away from the mirror pushing my mass of hair away from my neck. On the back of my neck there's a winding symbol that seems burnt into the back of my neck. Vines in the shape of a circle intertwine with a marigold stamped in the center. It looks almost like a tattoo, but when I remember the burning sensation on the back of my neck I know it’s not.
“What is dad going to think!” I whisper, whipping around to stare into the mirror.
My dad told me he had no problems with me getting a tattoo as long as I waited till I was eighteen, I don’t even want to know how upset he’ll be if he sees the stamp at the back of my neck. I pray that it isn’t permanent or at least that I can hide it. My hair does cover when it’s down, but that means dad can’t do my hair anymore.
I sigh and pick up the letter, opening up the delicate folded paper. The letters are curley and the signature at the bottom is just a detailed ‘A’. I wonder if the goddess wrote it herself, or if she just summoned it. I suppose it doesn’t matter what matters is the words.
Dear Cypress Monsoon
You have been invited to the first training ceremony of the Elder God Warriors
You will attend meetings four times weekly minimum, M,W,F and S at nine thirty PM,
with the other members of your group.
Your mentor goes by the name Lady Jacqueline.
The address you will meet at is stated below, thank you for contributing to the mortal realm!
Below the last line is an address, I recognize the street name. It’s really old downtown, the one with fancy white buildings, stone roads and that oddly magical feel. I won’t have to be there till nine, so I have time to get all my normal shit done.
My day is pretty uneventful until it’s time to go to the address. I go grocery shopping picking up the couple things we need, pick up my fathers power suppressors from the pharmacy and drop it all off at the apartment before swinging into the Avilasin market. My dad always lets me pick out a snack since I’m running around all day on foot since skateboarding with groceries and medicine isn’t the greatest idea.
The market is tiny and run by a short old woman and her son both of whom have known me since I was a little girl coming here with my dad late at night after his shifts. I stand in the snack aisle debating between Bee Puffs or Rockys. I decide I want something sweet so I reach up and grab the spring themed Rocky’s which is literally just the green tea ones with flowers on the front of the package. I pay for them and check the time. I guess they’re my dinner now since it’s already way too close to eight thirty and I had decided I wanted to talk to my new mentor one on one. I stopped by the apartment to grab my skateboard and was soon on my way downtown.
It’s a seriously beautiful place, downtown. The buildings are tall and intricate with carvings and pillars from the architecture craze of the late 2500’s after the recession of the 2400’s. The roads are bumps and a little hard to ride, but manageable especially since most people downtown have the money to either take the train or drive cars. Only a couple people are on the street and most ignore me, I get a couple odd looks from some particularly snotty looking people but nonetheless.
I had thought that this training facility would be a house or something, I hadn’t expected it to be a full on dance academy! When I arrive I check the address a million times before I enter through the gates. I stick out like a sore thumb, ballerinas in tights, tap dancers in glittery leotards and other students in regular uniforms exiting the premises. All people who practically smell like money. People throw glances at me as I walk up to the doors of the large dance academy, sid stepping out of the way of a group of giggling girls carrying duffle bags.
I walk into a large grand hall with two staircases winding up to the second level. I poke my head into one of the rooms in hopes of asking for Lady Jacqueline, only to be met with the stares of students who seem to be doing some sort of stretching circle. The man who seems to be the teacher narrows his eyes at me.
“Can I help you?” He huffs as I shove one hand in my pocket.
“I’m looking for Lady Jacqueline, I have a… an arrangement with her,” Immediately all the students begin to whisper and their looks of irritation turn to looks of awe.
“You must be her private class, yes she’s in room 12 C on floor two,” A small smile quirks at his lips as his students gasp. “Indeed, you all could be like this young lady one day if you train hard enough, now everyone finish your stretches,” I duck out feeling a little bad for lying but I’m assuming it’s for the best that people don’t know I’m some random trash rat from a place they’ve never heard of.
I walk to the school and with each step I feel more and more out of place. Everybody has the more posh accents of the north and most are talking about plans for winter break ranging from a trip to the Pink Sea to traveling all the way to Se Vhan. I’m just planning to sleep in and visit my aunt up north for Kaleet. Most are also dressed in uniforms even though it’s the weekend and surely they're only here for extracurriculars or something.
Finally after what feels like ages of walking I arrive at room 12C, the door is mostly wood with a murky window. I knock and hear an affirming shout from inside. I walk in and find even more dancers, this time ballerinas, some are stretching, others are drinking water and some are packing stuff into bags and backpacks. At the edge of the room is a thin woman who can’t be more than forty, her dark brown hair is peppered with silver but her face seems untouched by time, her posture screams grace and it reminds me to stop slouching.
“Oh you must be part of the private class!” Her accent is thick and she rolls every single r in every word.
“Yeah, I’m uh… Cypress,” I mutter maneuvering across the classroom feeling really clunky with my skateboard which I had just shoved into my backpack with the whole top sticking out.
“It’s a pleasure,” Lady Jacqueline shakes my hand, her grip hard.
“The pleasures all mine,” I laugh nervously as some of the dancers, though confused, look my way, probably wondering how I of all people would be in the ‘private class’.
“I have a couple things to finish up before we begin so why don’t you get acquainted with some of your fellow dancers while I do so,” She gives me a look that practically screams ‘we can’t talk yet so act natural’ to bad acting natural always just makes people think I’m weird.
Nonetheless I set my bag down against the mirror and lean against the bar glancing around the room. I pull my phone from my pocket playing the little invaders game on my phone while I wait, but as I’m waiting for an ad to finish there's a tap on my shoulder. I look up to see a girl staring at me. Her honey colored eyes are wide and her eyelashes are so pale that they’re practically translucent. Her face is covered in a million freckles and framed by pale pink hair which she has pulled back in a ponytail.
“Hi?” I tilt my head and she flashes a smile.
“Hi! I just wanted to tell you it’s so cool you’re in the private class, that’s my absolute dream!” Her accent is a mix of a Vilkaryn accent and something else that makes her W’s sound like V’s and her ‘that’ sound more like ‘dat’.
“Oh yeah thanks… I’m really not that good, just lucky,” I laugh as she rolls her eyes.
“You are so modest! You know I could never be like that, I would be absolutely reveling in an achievement like that,” She laughs brushing a stray curl from her face. “My name is Eelaine by the way,” she puts out her hand to shake and I take it, her hand is super soft.
“So what are y’all doing right now?” I ask as she moves her bright pink and rainbow duffle bag from one shoulder to the other.
“Oh we’re preparing for the winter show, it’s in two months and I’m terrified,” She sighs, putting a hand to her chest. “We’re doing The Tale of North Wind and Lady Death, I’m Lady Death and I couldn’t be more nervous,”
“Why so?” I ask and when her jaw drops I know I’ve said something wrong.
“It’s only the hardest dance in the entire show, in fact it’s the tenth hardest dance in modern ballet history,” She explains, making my jaw drop. “What about you, what are you performing, I know the private class is doing something special,” Her eyes beg for an answer and my thumping heart wants to give her one, instead I put on a playful smirk.
“Well it’s a surprise now isn’t it,” I wink and she lets out a cheek warming laugh.
“Quite the mystery aren’t you Cypress,” She teases, flashing a grin.
“I like to consider myself so,”
Eelaine leaves after a little while once she receives a message from her mother that the car was there to pick her up. Once all the dancers are gone Lady Jacquelin returns gesturing for me to follow her. She leads me through a doorway which I had assumed to be a closet but which is actually a staircase. I follow her up until we reach a small apartment area. It’s quaint and very rustic. A record player sits in the corner playing some song from the early 2900’s, the couch is loaded with pillows and two mismatched chairs sit on opposite sides of the couch. A small table is shoved into the corner by the box of a kitchen.
“So Cypress you’re quite early,” Lady Jaqueline offers me a cup of tea.
“Sometimes getting to know people in a group is hard for me, sensory things and such,” I explain as she gestures for me to sit.
“Well it’s nice to get to know you either way,” She takes a seat on the chair opposite to me. “Now I’m sure you have plenty of questions so why don’t you go ahead and ask since we have about a half an hour before your group mates arrive,”
After that I immediately ask a million questions, will this get me killed, will this put my dad in danger, can my dad see the burn tattoo thing, what will I be fighting and how will I be fighting. The first few questions she answers easily explain how the death rate is low, how family is rarely put into harm's way and that nobody but me, my group and Lady Jacqueline can see the mark on my neck.
“As for the last two questions you must answer that yourself, so I ask what did your god give you?” I put a hand to the locket at my neck. “Alright, interesting choice, now I want you to stand and pull on it,” I do as she says, standing up and putting my hand to my neck.
“What will happen when I do?” I ask, hands shaking as my fingers run over cool metal.
“You will transform into a warrior form, it’s different for every generation but back when I was a Warrior we wore costumes reminiscent of the popular fictional heroes of our time,” I nod, taking a deep breath and yanking.
I expect the chain to break but instead all of a sudden the necklace fades away and a large staff appears in my hands, nearly the same height as me. My body feels warm and my arms seem to move on their own and my body moves in an oddly dance-like formation. My vision is all bright and I can barely see but once my vision clears I look down to see a bright yellow puffy dress. I let out a yelp and turned to the wide mirror leaned against a wall.
My hair has gone from it’s white and pink to a gold to white ombre with my hair twisted into impossibly long braids. My skirt is puffy and stops just above my knees, it’s all pastel yellows and pale white. My boots go all the way up to my knees and are white with gold rims and swirly designs. Half my face is covered by half of a grinning theater mask which has yellow jewels as the cornorn of the eye. I look like one of those magical girls that I loved back when I was a little girl, and even now I feel like I could squeal.
“What is the…” Despite the beautiful appearance could this really be practical?
“Every inch of your costume is bullet and blade-proof, your staff is your weapon and what you’ll draw your main power from, we wont’ start power experimentation till next lesson I just wanted to see you were able to transform today,” Lady Jacqueline explained as my fingers twitched. “Your goddess is Aleire, am I right?”
“Yeah… how did you know?” I ask, tilting my head.
“You just seem like her type of warrior is all,”
I debate on whether that’s a good thing, I decide it’s not important, at least for now.
I feel as if I want to peel the skin from my body. Thomas drops me on the ground in front of the class. Professor Kelton clicks his tongue as my classmates stare at me. My cheeks flush with embarrassment as I manage to drag myself from the floor. I can hear the whispers surrounding me as Milla and Thomas glare at me.
“Valentin please see me after class,” People oh and gasp as my eyes begin to sting
By all means I should be one of the best heroes in training in my grade, possibly in school. I don’t say that to be cocky, I say that because that’s what my parents were in their time at hero schools, and when you have both of your parents powers that usually means you should be twice as good, that’s certainly what my parents think at least. But instead I’m barely scraping through algebra two because of all the lessons I missed and every hero class ends in me either withering on the floor in pain or catching some sort of cold or illness.
Today was the final straw, it’s midterms so we were ordered through a fake villain scenario in groups of three. I was paired with Milla dn Thomas, both of whom I barely interact with. We had a violent attack on a bank which is perfect for an offensive power like mine, so while they took care of the citizens I was supposed to take care of the villains. It was going relatively well at first, I was doing my best to only use my ice powers so I would be out of commission in seconds. Unfortunately though Thomas dropped one of the faux civilians and I had to be offense and catch the person since he clearly wasn’t going to. I bent my fire to burn the villain and caught the victim with a platform of ice.
I had burned the villain into submission within seconds and the arrest was easy, but my body had gone into fire shock again. My legs were cramped with pain and my skin seared with pain. I felt and wasn’t able to move. Thankfully Thomas threw me over his shoulder and carried me to the exit of the exam while cursing under his breath. Milla was already there when we arrived. So now I’m here trying to force myself to walk towards Professor Kelton who has a disappointed look on his face.
I watch as everybody else walks back into the school, giddy and high fiving, some will have to go to the medical wing but none are barely able to move. I look up at Professor Kelton who dropped the glare and had a look of sympathy splayed on his usually grumpy or stoic face.
“Valentin…,” He sighs and I lower my head.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me professor, it's like I’m… sick? I don’t know my skin is always in pain and my muscles have been cramping recently, and I just got over that nasty cold!” I burry my face in my hands and sigh.
“Did you schedule that power appointment I suggested?” He asks and I just shrug.
“My father says I’m fine, mother says she’ll look into it,” I know that my mother will never look into it, the only difference between my mother and fathers opinions is that my mother is better at lying.
“That’s good, I really think you could benefit from getting a power check, it’s possible you could just need some medication,” He claps my shoulder and I wince. “I think you’re holding yourself back at the moment, or at least your body is. I know you’re going to do great things Valentin, but only if you take care of yourself,”
“Alright professor,” I crack a smile and he gives an affirming nod.
“Head on out now, grade will be posted tomorrow,”
The cramps in my legs thankfully ease up by the time I get to the medical wing. When I arrive two students are screaming at eachother and two of the healer students are trying to keep them back but are failing miserably. I ram my foot into the ground and before anyone can say anything the fighting students are up to their shoulders in ice.
“Thanks,” Jolene puffs glaring at the guy with spiky blue hair.
“No problem, I owe you,” I shrug flopping down on the bed as the guy with red hair shouts at me. “I’ll let both you fuckers out only if you stop screaming,” I groan laying down as Jolene puts on her gauntlets and she begins rubbing her hands together.
“So what was it today?” She asks as she presses her hands to my legs.
“Mid terms, went fine enough until I had to use my fire, I’ll probably be in here soon for cough syrup or some shit,” I grumble as she works up to my arms.
“Val… I’m really worried about you, you’re in and out of the med wing more than you aren't, you’re the second most frequent patient,” She sighs as she powers her gauntlets down.
“Who’s above me?” I ask with a smirk and she laughs.
“Wilbur Neveah is at first currently,” Wilbur’s gift is absolutely fantastic, the ability to bend the earth to his will. But with every great gift comes repercussions, all the shocks that would go out to other parts of the area are instead absorbed into his body. As one could imagine that often leaves him pretty beat up, when we were younger it was way worse with him ending up in the ER a couple times, now though usually he just feels out how big of a shock he can take and most of the time only needs some pain killers.
“He’s wild,” I smile thinking of that wild mess of green hair and his almost chaotic smile.
“Mhm, he’s also sweet as candy and hot as the sun,” She laughs, making me nod along before I realize what I’m agreeing to and I stop and put my head in my hands groaning. “Oh don’t even try and tell me you don't agree, I mean have you seen him!” She cackles and one of the other healers Emerson nods along.
“Can you lot stop yapping about Neveah and let me out!” The blonde boy huffs and I roll my eyes.
“Ugh and I just got healed,” I walk over and put a hand to the ice, I let out a small burst of heat. “That’s all I’m doing, you wankers can melt the rest of the way out for all I care,”
“And this first years is why we have drains in the clinic!”
I stuff my hands in my pockets, poking my finger through the holes in one to feel the rough skin beneath. When I was younger my skin was smooth as anybody else's, but after my gift manifested and I started training, all the burning and healing caused it to grow tough and it started becoming discolored. I feel insecure wearing shorts and tank tops now with all the scars across my back, legs and arms. The only place I’ll wear short stuff is in my dorm, or in my bedroom alone.
As I’m walking into the dormitory building I hear jingling and heavy footsteps behind me. I turn around to see a wide grin and frizzy green hair. Will’s smile is bright and I can practically feel his excitement he links an arm around my shoulders.
“Guess who passed his simulation with a ninety seven!” He beams, making my heart patter.
“Hmm maybe… Tobias?” I smirk and he flicks the side of my head. “Congratulations Will, I knew that you could do it,” I smile as he stands in front of me walking backwards to face me.
“So did you get your score back or was yours today?” He asks holding the door open for me.
“Mine was today and I think we did… alright,” I sigh, picking at my hair. “My skin is still getting all burned when I use my fire and when I use my ice I keep getting sick, it’s like this shitty double edged sword,” I sigh as we enter the common area which is packed with students ranting about tests and simulations.
“Dude I really think you need to get that shit checked out,” He says his face pulled in concern.
“I… My father keeps telling me I’m fine but… honestly I’m not so sure,” I gulp as his shoulders slump. “Don’t worry about it mate, it’s… I’ll be fine,”
That’s not true and both of us know it. I’m constantly sick with a cold, a virus or some kind of infection my body let in while at its extremely low temperature, my muscles have started cramping and pinching and my skin is constantly itchy and stinging with constant healing. I'm scared of the next ailment that always comes eventually.
"Val…," He reaches out to touch my shoulder and I just shift away.
"I gotta go take a shower, I'll see you later Will," I hate seeing his face turned down in that sad puppy-like way, but I don't want him to wrestle the truth out of my hands, because by god if someone can it’s him.
I stand in the shower for an unknown amount of time, the shower just always makes me feel safe, like I won't get sick like I'm not in constant pain. Despite this it's also a place where my mind wanders to all the bad places I tried to keep it away from. What if one day you don't get better, that little voice whispers. One day your powers will burn you to ash, they repeat and choke me until I feel like I may suffocate. Despite this I hold back the tears, and force a smile when I leave my room for dinner.
Wilbur stares at me with a knowing look, so I just don't meet his eyes. I laugh with Jolene and Macoy, both of whom had their midterms yesterday. Milla shoots me a glare as she passes me. I don't get why, yeah sure I got hurt and Thomas had to carry me back, but that shouldn't get more than two points docked. Maybe she's just a stickler like that.
"So you going home for winter break next week?" Jolene asks as she grabs her third helping of food since her gift requires a bajillion calories.
"Yeah, I have to… fathers got a bunch of press shit set up," I grumble into my bowl of soup.
"One of these days you're gonna get the chance to punch him you know," Mac grunts, pushing bright orange hair from his face.
"In my dreams,"
I'm sure my parents aren't the worst in the world but I can't say they're fantastic either. My parents are both professional hero’s in their own right, my father is number three in the country and my mothers right in front of him at number two. Some people suspect they got married to have a child with a perfect mix of their powers, but if that was true then why didn't my father try to marry the number one hero Vipress Queen.
I think they love each other a little, or at least are apathetic towards each other, some people don't have that luxury. Ever since I manifested my gift suddenly they didn't want anymore kids. I have three older siblings, my sister and brother have ice powers and my eldest sister has fire, my younger brother has ice powers. All of them though have some sort of major problem with their powers, Ezzi and Kemera can't summon their fire for more than a minute and no bigger than a match due to the fact their bodies are cold and suited for an ice gift. Juani can't create more than some ice cubes because his body is hot and made for fire gifts, and everybody remembers what happened to Komi. I was meant to be the prodigy child. Both my parents' gifts and at first seemingly no repercussions like my siblings. Over time it became obvious that something was wrong, but my parents will never admit it… not as long as I'm still alive at least.
After dinner I retreat to my room, look over the script for the winter show. My part is pretty good, one of the main side cast, I get a solo song and everything. I've had the hardest time with my one piece in the ensemble, I have to sing it faster than I can talk. I go back and forth between watching videos, to reading the script and singing. By the time I start feeling dreary it’s already a quarter till twelve. I walk over to my drawers rooting around for pajamas, I really need to do laundry seeing I only have the fucked up pair of pants and the shirt that always makes me to hot.
But as I’m rooting around the drawer I hear a small sound. I whip around and immediately scream. In front of me stands a woman, she’s tall and even in the dim light I see the outline of her muscles. Her skin is like the color of bronze, her hair is golden and puffy like clouds. She’s dressed in some ancient battle attire and she holds a staff in one hand.
“Who the fuck are you?” I whisper as a cool chill sweeps the room.
“I am Ravana, goddess of battle, strength and creatures. I am here to ask you to fight for humanity,” The second she speaks the room seems to grow bright and her form begins to shift and I realize that her skin isn’t just a bronze color but that she’s made of bronze.
“I… is this a test or something? I thought simulations were over?” Surely this was a test or something, or a crazy woman was in my room.
“This is no simulation Valentin Yoon, you have been chosen as a warrior of mortal kind, I will explain further if you are willing to listen,” My gut twists in fear but it’s also telling me that it’s not her I should be afraid of, so I shuffle forward a bit.
“I’m not… going crazy right?” I ask and a smile quirks at the woman's lips.
“The line between crazy and sane is very thin but I promise you have yet to cross it,” She chuckles and I nearly laugh at the sheer absurdity of what I’m witnessing. “Are you aware of what the spirit realm is?” The goddess asks as I take a seat on my bed after she gestures for me to do so.
“Can’t say I do,” I shake my head and she nods.
“Well the spirit realm is the host of all the unworldly creatures created before mortal kind roamed the earth, it is kept behind a veil and every two hundred years the veil becomes thin, this allows creatures the ability to escape anywhere in the mortal realm, but if me and the others gods focus are energy we can keep the veil thick everywhere but one space where the veil will be especially thin, are you following?” She asks as my head spins.
“So you’re telling me some ungodly creatures are going to be coming through a veil!” I exclaim pulling on my face.
“That is correct, it’s the exact reason that we need you to defend your world-,” The goddess puts a hand on my shoulder, it tough and solid as actual metal “-normal mortal powers can not defeat these beasts, so I will grant you powers from the gods,” A glowing orb of light appears in her hand.
“Why me?” I ask leaning away from her. “I'm really not like… special or anything,”
“Quite the contrary, I believe that you are yet to unlock all of the potential you could release onto the unsuspecting world!” The goddess beams holding out a silver bracelet with a couple cute charms. “You doubt yourself but I do not, I can tell when someone is meant for or possesses great strength, so trust me when I say you were meant for this!”
My heart beats fast and swells with pride, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to hear and if she really believes that I could be some great humanity warrior then surely it would be terrible to refuse. “Okay I’ll do it!”
“Just a warning this will hurt,” I nod and take the bracelet.
When she said it would hurt I thought it would sting, indeed it feels like every inch of my body was being stabbed over and over with burning hot swords. My insides felt like they had melted and begun trying to reform and I’m in so much pain I can’t tell if I’m actually screaming or if it’s just the ringing in my ears. A spot on my chest feels like it's being scooped out by a spoon and I try to grab at it but more pain just shoots through my body. It feels like years before the pain goes away but once it does I feel… stronger.
“Good job, you have become the warrior of strength,” She slams a hand against my back, promptly knocking the wind out of me. “When danger is near, pull on that bracelet and instinct will tell you what to do after that,” She gestures to the bracelet that is tightly clamped around my wrist.
“Thank you my lady, is there anything else I need to know?” I’m sure there is seeing I have no clue what I’m doing.
“Yes, tomorrow you will receive a letter, that will give you information pertaining to your mentor where to find them among other things,” The goddess bands down and so that we’re eye to eye. “You will do fantastic, now please rest and take care,” The next thing I know I blink and she’s gone.
I debate on staying up and asking if anybody else had seen a giant glowing woman, or even going to med bay, but the weight in my chest was telling me I shouldn’t be worried. The next morning I wake up and I feel… odd, like I was stronger or bigger. I flex my muscles and nothing feels particularly different, I don’t look any different, that is until I take off my shirt. In the middle of my chest is some kind of weird rune. It’s a triangle that looks wrapped in barbed wire with a flaming sword in the middle, it looks as if it was burned into my skin. I touch it and it doesn’t feel tender or anything but it is weird. I’m really thankful for the fact it’s far enough down that no one should be able to see it as long as I have a shirt on.
As I’m getting dressed I notice a card on my dresser, I grab it and it’s a note addressed to me.
To my dear soldier Valentin Yoon
You are expected to meet your mentor as well as your teammates every day that you are able
at approximately nine thirty PM, you are to be one your best behavior.
Your mentor is Lady Jacqueline and she will report any poor actions to me.
Best of luck and wishes to you
How was a goddess already being more paternal than my actual parents, not only using my chosen name but also wishing me luck! I honestly found it comical in an odd twisted way.
I finish getting ready and head out to the common area, some people were calling parents to come pick them up, at least four people were trying to fix the coffee machine and two people looked like they were on the verge of a full out brawl. I shimmy past people and go to the communal fridge where I pull out my microwave pancakes. Jolene insists I should find something better for breakfast when it’s not being served, but honestly I’m not gonna go and worry about it when I only eat the things twice a week maximum. I heat up the plate as I wander over to Victoria’s room since she always has butter and other stuff since her gift requires her to practically be hyped up on a shit ton of sugar. She gives me some butter and some weird strawberry syrup thing she made for her cookies.
I sit in the common area eating my pancakes as people rush in and out, yell at each other, make plans and hug goodbye. I get a hug goodbye from Jolene who's got a seven hour ride home, but other than that the day is uneventful seeing I'm not leaving till tomorrow. I debate on just going to the laundromat now but I know it'll be a bust and I'm gonna have to wait forever to just use the washer, and forget about a dryer. I decide to go to the training fields to practice my ice abilities seeing I'm doomed to get sick soon enough.
Around campus people smile and wave at me acting like they know me. Don't get me wrong I don't hate those people, but it's kind of annoying when people think they know you because they know your parents or have seen you on TV. In reality I'd say about four people outside my siblings know me. Sometimes it feels like not even my classmates know me even though they see me every day, I'm always putting up that perfect child act, the brave face that doesn't feel like his power could consume him at any second.
I reach the training grounds to find the entrance completely blocked off and some of the rebuild class kids shuffling past. I walk up to the nearest teacher who's directing the new med kids away.
"What in the name of the gods happened?" I ask, glancing around at the chaos.
"Mr. Neveah was either in an extremely bad mood or an extremely good mood but he leveled half the training fields," the teacher growls and I freeze.
"Why the hell would he do that!" I demand and the teacher just shakes his head.
"He's in the med wing now, ask him once he wakes up,"
I immediately spin around and stomp off to the med wing. It's not often that Will over exerts his powers, but leveling half the training failed! I wouldn't be surprised if that broke his bones with the shock back of that level. Why would he do that sort of thing, he's never usually that reckless.
I arrive at the medical wing to find it compactly empty aside from one bed, where Wilbur lays with a healer student next to him. The second she sees me she flashes a large smile and I give her a nod as I stand next to Wilburs bedside. He peels his eyes open and deep magenta eyes stare up at me.
"Oh hey Val," he gives a crack of a smile.
"You fucking moron," I glare at him and he rolls his eyes. "Why the fuck would you do something like that?" I glare at him putting a hand on his head..
"Just practicing…,"He trails off and his fingers were already twitching, he always was a bad liar.
"Don't lie to me," I fold my arms and he sighs.
"I wanted to know how you felt," My eyes widen and he turns his gaze away. "You're always being so… you so I wanted to know what it was like to push myself so hard, it was stupid," I put a hand on his shoulder and squeeze.
"You're a fucking moron," I huff as he nods along. "And trust me you don't want to be like me," I look away from him.
"I don't want to be like you, I wanted to know how you feel," that made my chest twist in the worst way.
"Don't, I already know. My mam is going to lecture me so hard when she gets here," Will flashes one of his signature smiles that melts every heart in a ten mile radius. "Anyway, what you doing for winter break?"
I help Will with his luggage since he's still pretty beat up from the shock waves. His mother is a very sweet woman who thanked me for helping him. I wave him off before retreating back to my room.
Me and Will have known eachother forever, or at least since we were five, so nearly ten years now. We met at my father's fifteen year hero anniversary party. The party was rather boring despite being at my house. I was told to play with the other children there but they were all either far older or far younger than me. Then two guests arrived late, Wilbur and his mom. Wilburs mother isn't well known by most of the public but she's beloved by nearly every professional hero worth their shit. His mother is one of the most talented reconstructionists in all of Vilkaryn.
Much like Will his mother has a bending gift, specifically a gift she calls ‘metal warp’, she undoes damage from everything to cars, to park fences to building plumbing. But it wasn’t her that I was enamored with, but Will. I remember seeing that short scrawny kid with green hair cut short because otherwise he’d chew on it. I immediately dragged him away from his mother and showed him around the party, he was quiet and shy, rarely saying anything more than ‘cool’ or ‘neat’. It took him nearly halfway through the party before he realized I wasn’t going to pick on him or anything of the sort., after he realized we were practically inseparable. Will and his mother kept being invited over and we just got closer, we went to different schools but it didn’t matter since we both went to the same after school daycare and even if we weren’t I doubt are parents could have separated us easily.
Then when we turned twelve we both applied for Vilkaryn Elite Academy of Hero’s, and we both got accepted and began are first year together at thirteen. We both worked hard as physically possible to keep are spot in the A class, but as times has gone on my powers keep acting up more and more. I know my other grades are the only thing keeping me here. Will on the other hand is already being scouted, he’s practically beating the hero centers off with sticks, I on the other hand haven’t even gotten my fall internship offer yet.
Right now I don’t have to worry about internships, I need to worry about how I’m going to get to this address. I know I can’t walk seeing it’s nearly nine o’clock and I don’t know if taking my car would be too suspicious so I end up calling a cab. The only thing I bring with me is the note, my phone and my pain killers. The ride is pretty uneventful, the driver isn’t talkative at all so I get to enjoy the beauty of old town Vilkaryn in peace. It really is a nice place, large winding buildings and a very old rustic feel despite the people on their phones and laptops. I snap a couple pictures and send them to Mac who immediately responds with jealousy.
Turns out the address is a dance academy, the one I would have gone to had VEAH not accepted me. Just seeing people in leotards carrying duffle bags just reminds me of all the fights with my father. I started dancing when I was young, four I think, and I kept doing it up until I was thirteen. That's when I got accepted into VEAH and my parents forced me into dropping dance because it would take time away from hero training. I miss dancing, I miss the costumes and music and laughing with my classmates. I guess I have some of it now but it’s not the same.
When I enter the school is practically barren and the only person left to give me directions is a stray teacher. I’m pointed up the stairs to room 12C. I enter to find a thin graceful woman with piercing blue eyes standing there holding one of those tiny pocket books. She looks up and flashes a row of perfectly sharp white teeth similar to wolves.
“You must be Valentin,” She beams and I nod, walking forward and extending a hand.
“I am, you must be Lady Jaqcueline?” I ask, shaking her hand firmly glancing around the room.
“Indeed I am, now if you’d follow me you can come meet your fellow teammates!” I frown, I had thought I was the first one here, now I’m thinking I might be the last one.
I follow her up a small spiral staircase into a small attic apartment. I arrive into a living room filled with music and light chatter. Two girls sit on the couch both of whom are dressed head to toe in absolutely magnificent outfits, a girl with skin dark as midnight dressed in bright yellow and a pale girl dressed in pastel green. Both look up from their conversation and over at me. The yellow one’s eyes immediately widen before going back to normal, the green one just gives a polite nod.
“Is anybody else coming?” The yellow girl's voice isn’t what I expected at all, her voice is low and raspy with a thick southern Amilltian drawl, that I honestly thought was only a thing in movies, mixed with some odd notes of a Vilkaryn accent.
“Nope you three are it, so why don't we get started, Valentin could you transform for me?” Lady Jaqueline asks and I stand there shifting from foot to foot. “First identify what your god gave you, that should make it easier,”
I look down at my wrist at the bracelet, the cute little charms shining in the light pouring through the large window. I touch it and yank it as hard as I can. The charms go flying into the air and a bright light flashes. I move my arms and my legs but it doesn’t feel like me, like some odd muscle memory that’s been suddenly thrust upon me. I catch something thin inbetween my fingers and it isn't until the glow fades that I realize they’re the most lovely dark throwing knives.
“How come he gets pants?” The green girl asks as I look down to see swirly purple pants that stop just above my knees with slits in the back.
“The magic will adjust to the warriors personal preference, so if you wanted your dress could be transformed into pants, and he could have his pants become a dress if he wishes,” That’s pretty lucky, I know that they’re will be days where I’m totally feeling my femininity and I’m gonna want to wear a magical girl dress like the ones they’re wearing.
“I’m just glad I have pants under this,” Yellow sighs, smoothing out her skirt and glazing around.
“So for today I don’t have anything planned other than being sure that you all can transform, so for now I want you all to ask your questions and also tell me about yourselves, or things your find important for me to know,” Lady Jaqueline hands me a cup of tea and I give her a smile of thanks.
“Names first?” Green offers, and suddenly yellow stands up.
“I’m going to head out, I’m feeling… tired,” Her face is pale and strained as she glances around the room.
“Oh alright dear, detransform before you head out, and eat something when you do your warrior from will drain you quite a bit,” The girl nods and pushes a stray lock of hair out of her eyes.
“Yall have good night,” She smooths out her dress before walking off down the stairs, I see a quick flash of light then nothing.
“Is she okay?” I ask, not sure what to make of that.
“I believe she might have just been a bit overwhelmed, it’s quite natural,” Lady J says as I shuffle over and take a seat next to green who smells like pine cones. “Now why don't we talk about you two, do either of you have any questions?”
Honestly I don’t, well I’m sure I do but I’m absolutely terrible at asking questions when they’re meant to be asked. Usually I just remember them at the most inconvenient of times. Thankfully green, who I learn is named Naomi, has plenty of questions. Turns out she’s pretty religious so most of the god stuff doesn’t really phase her but she does have questions when it comes to secret identities. We’re allowed to tell people who we are but we’re the ones who are going to have to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be. We are not allowed to use warrior powers for normal everyday villains because that’s not considered a proper use of the godly power. We also come up with hero names, which actually takes up the majority of the time. I'm stuck between Purple Riot and Midnight because of my very clear purple theme. Naiomi has no trouble picking her’s, she apparently has some enhanced vision thing going on as her power so she thinks that Visa Ray sounds cool, and I’d have to agree.
The whole meeting reminds me far more of my old daycare than any of my hero classes. Oddly enough, I honestly feel bad Yellow missed it. The whole meeting blows by quickly and after it’s over I accept Naomi’s offer to drive me home, since she lives right around the corner from the school. On the ride back she chats about how she still has to wake up early for khorii tomorrow. We joke and chat about what we’re doing over winter break, and honestly she’s a pretty easy person to talk to seeing I just met her, by the time we get back to my school I feel like I’ve known her for ages.
Unfortunately when I get back to my room I’m painfully reminded of the laundry that I still need to do before tomorrow, so I hastily load my car with two laundry baskets and drive till I get to the 24 hour laundromat, why a laundromat needs to be 24 hours is beyond me but it’s convenient for me so I really don’t mind. I drag my clothes through the door into the building.I dump my clothes into the washing machine before taking the giant bottle of detergent from my backpack and placing it on the machine as I rub my eyes. The fluorescent lights flicker and the radio plays some early 3000’s pop song. I hum as I shut the washing machine and take my phone out of my pocket. I listen to be sure the machine starts and I trot over to one of the benches when I hear it begin to whir.
“Hey you!” A familiar deep scratchy voice meets my ears, I look up to see a girl leaning against a washing machine.
“Hello?” I tilt my head and she cackles, her laugh is thick yet oddly bubbly and bright. “Are you talking to me?
“Of course I am, you see anyone else here?” She asks, tossing her hair over her shoulder as she approaches me, giving off an odd movie-like vibe. “You’re the other magical person right?” She asks in a low whisper once she gets so close I can smell some odd flowery scent.
“How did you…?” Nerves begin to fill my brain until she taps on her necklace.
“I’m yellow, I look pretty different in my normal form,” A mischievous grin takes over her lips at my plain surprise.
When she says she looks different that’s a major understatement. Her magical form is all bright yellows and white with all the rebellious energy of a glass of water. The girl in front of me though looks like she’d give my parents a heart attack with a single glare. Her curly starch white hair is dyed electric pink at the tips, she has enough piercings and earrings to give to five people, her lipstick and eyeshadow are dark as the midnight sky and her outfit consisted of paint covered jeans a band t shirt, clunky platform boots that made her taller than she already was and a leather jacket covered in patches that seemed a tad too big for her. Everything about her screamed punk rock, and I could help but stare a little.
“So what are you doing here? Aren’t you like rich or something?” She asks, tossing a cube of gum in her mouth. “Cause I recognize you from TV and shit,”
“Oh yeah…kinda-,” I pause taking the cube of gum she offers me “-we live at my school and they do laundry for you there but I have sensitive skin so I come here. Plus it’s nice to do things yourself sometimes… you know?” I glance over at her and she nods running fingers through her hair. “What about you?”
“We have communal washer and dryers back at my apartment, but they’re always full so I just come here,” I was slightly surprised when she mentioned an apartment, I don’t know why. “Do me and my dad's laundry, gives him one less thing to worry about,” She says, flopping down next to me.
“What about your mom?” I blurt out rather inappropriately.
“I don’t know what she’s up to, could be skinny dipping in the Pink Sea for all I care,” She furrows her brow. “My mom ain’t in the picture,” She clarifies and I nod swallowing hard.
“Sorry,” I manage but she just shrugs.
“Eh it’s not any secret, I make way too many jokes about having mommy issues for it to be a secret!” she lets out a laugh far harsher and more bitter than her first. “Oh yeah the name is Cypress by the way, forgot to mention that! Leave it to me to tell my life's story before my name!” She gives another mischievous grin, or perhaps that’s just how she smiles.
“Valentin, sometimes Val, others it’s Tina, depends how I’m feeling,” I chuckle, she shakes my hand with a firm grip.
“Nice to meet ya Valentin,” She gives a curt nod.
“So uh if you don’t mind me asking… Why did you run out earlier?” The second I ask she bites her lip and shows her hands in her pockets looking away from me.
“Personal reasons, I know it’s weird for me to say that right after all the shit I’ve already said but you know,” She shrugs her wide shoulders and clicks her tongue.
“No it’s fine don’t worry about it,” I smile and she takes a deep breath.
“Oop that’s me,” Her head snaps as the dinging of finished clothing goes off. “That’s the last of my shit, I’ll see you ‘round,” She tosses me two stray quarters that seemed to come out of nowhere, the perfect amount for my dryer fee.
“How did you-?”
“I’m magical like that.”
After she leaves I stick my headphones in and zone out, watching a couple of people go in and out, thinking about the odd conversation I just had. I wait around for the washer to finish and then the dryer. I catch up on my show, squeeze a little studying in before everythings done and the laundromat is closing. I load my stuff into my car and drive around a bit before making my way back to the academy. The second I’m back and in my pajamas I practically pass out because all of today felt surreal and weird fast as well as slow.
I feel really confused, and kinda excited.