I lean my head against the window and watch the ground roll by. Nothing but grass, farms, and open fields. It’s chilly outside for only being August, but I’m happy to finally be out of the damn desert. Scorching dry heat can really wear on a person’s soul after a while. Not to mention the smell of death radiating from the Salton Sea throughout the whole Salton City. I begged mom for Palm Springs, but she chose Salton City instead. Now, thanks to Maddie, we are on the move again, before the school year even starts, to the middle of nowhere North Dakota.
I absent mindedly twirl my index fingers in my lap and watch the wind pick up leaves creating a mini tornado effect. It follows for a few minutes before mom notices it. She shoots me a look, from the passenger seat, in the review mirror and her voice sounds in my head, angrily, What are you doing? Stop that right now. Are you trying to get us caught?
As I roll my eyes I send back, Sorry, mom, I didn’t realize I was doing it. It was half true, because I didn’t realize when I started.
We’ve talked about this. You have to fight to stay in control at all times. You don’t know how much damage you are capable of causing, she sent back a little calmer now that the twister was gone.
I see her glance in Maddie’s direction and then my stepdad’s to make sure they didn’t see it. Maddie sleeps soundly next to me and Mark, my stepdad, is too busy driving to notice.
My mother passed her Nendou blood to me which gave us the ability to communicate with each other using our minds. A gift my father gave me before he died was his Yoso blood which allowed me to control when it happened. A normal Nendou family bond was like a two way highway. The minds were completely open to each other at all times which meant you always knew what each other was thinking, like the bond mother has with my half-sister Maddie. The Yoso blood allowed me to close down that highway at will, meaning mom could communicate with me, but she could only read my mind when I allowed, which was never.
Maddie slumps over on my shoulder still asleep and drooling. I push her, harder than necessary, to the other side of the car. It’s her fault we have to move again. Technically, I guess it is my fault since I’m the one they want, but it’s her fault that she lost control and led them to us again. The full blood, but mixed heritage in my blood gives me more abilities, and makes me more powerful. I mastered my abilities quickly, with little effort, but I have difficulty keeping the beast within me at bay. Maddie; however, is only half Nendou. Since my mom gave her royal blood she is as powerful as a full Nendou, because she is half human she has a lot of trouble controlling it.
I have the same connection with Maddie that I have with mom, but I’m able to shut down that one too. Mom sees me push Maddie away and shoots me another look, but doesn’t say anything. I select Whoop That Trick, turn the music on my IPod up and close my eyes. I really wish I could be a normal teenager.
About an hour later the car finally stops in front of our new home in Mandan, North Dakota. I climb out and throw my backpack over my shoulder. With my headphones still in I can’t hear anything my family is saying. The smell of manure hits me the second I stepped out of the car and I almost choke. I guess that’s what you get when your family moves to a farm town.
I look at the house. It’s decent. It looks nicer than the last place and the one before that. I see a window on the second floor that opens to a small balcony like platform with a big tree beside it. With as much as Nendou hate the cold this should be one of the last places they look. I head into the house to find the balcony room and call dibs.
The moving truck pulls in as I reach the front door and Mark gives the movers instructions. I go inside and directly to the second story. It only takes a minute to find my new room. I sit my bag down in the middle of the room and look around. The closet is a decent size and the room has a bathroom attached to it. I’ve never had my own bathroom before; maybe this won’t be so bad after all. A few minutes later there is a knock on the door frame and a mover stands in the doorway.
“Which boxes go in here?” He asks.
“Anything that says Chloe on it,” I reply with a smile.
He nods and leaves the room. Maddie comes barging in seconds after he leaves, “What if I wanted this room,” She whines.
What a brat, I think, “Too late short stuff, I already claimed it,” I say out loud and gently push her towards the door, “move along now,” I say before closing the door in her face.
“Dad will hear about this!” She threatens through the door.
Big deal I think to myself.
I know the drill. We’ll spend the entire weekend unpacking and settling, but I really don’t feel like starting now. After days in a car with my family I need some space. I walk to the window and climb onto the balcony. At the edge of the platform I realize the tree is further away than I initially thought. I smile to myself and look around to make sure nobody is watching. With a subtle wave of my hand the tree branch grows and turns toward my little platform. I climb on and carefully walk to the core of the tree. I look down and can’t find any branches to climb down. I wave my hand again causing foot and hand holes to form all the way from the base to the top of the tree. When I get to the ground I dust off my hands and feel pretty proud of myself.
“Only been here 10 minutes and you’re already sneaking out?” A voice says from behind me.
I jump, shriek and spin around fast and ready to fight.
“Whoa, easy killer,” the boy says putting his hands up and stepping back. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m Michael, your neighbor,” he says holding out his hand waiting for me to close the distance.
I assess the situation and decide there is no threat so I relax a bit, “You nearly gave me a heart attack. Do you always sneak up on people like that?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he replies.
He seems to be genuine. I stand and look at him, and suddenly realize how awkward the moment has become.
“So… are you going to tell me your name?” He asks with a confused look on his face.
“I’m Chloe, but everyone calls me Clo,” I reply with a smile.
My real name is Miyako, but I can’t remember the last time I actually used it. Mom named me for the sake of tradition knowing that I would have to continually change it as we move around.
“So where are you sneaking off too? In the middle of the day? In broad daylight?” he asks still smiling.
“I don’t know, I guess I was just planning to look around a bit,” I say shrugging.
“I can take you on a driving tour if you like?” he offers, sounding hopeful.
I concentrate on his mind opening mine to his. She’s pretty, but kind of weird. I hope she says yes. It’s about time we get someone new in this stupid boring town.
I break my concentration feeling immediately guilty for intruding on an innocent mind. He is cute, in a nerdy kind of way. He was tall, almost 6 foot, and skinny, but slightly muscular at the same time. The Clark Kent glasses elevated his looks. He might be an athlete, maybe baseball or basketball. And he thinks I’m cute. I guess I’ll let the weird thought go. Get a hold of yourself Clo. You know you can’t get close to anyone, especially a human, I think. He doesn’t need to be anywhere near the constant battle of my life.
“Thanks for the offer, but I don’t ride in cars with strangers,” I say with my best innocent face.
He laughs, “I actually drive a truck, so you technically wouldn’t be breaking that rule,” He argues.
I giggle at his lame attempt of a joke, “Excellent point, but not this time.”
As if on cue mom starts yelling my name from inside the house and I hear her climbing the stairs, “Chloe Stuller you better be in that room unpacking and have a damn good reason you ignored me the first three times I called you!”
Extended hearing was another “gift” I possessed. At least that’s what mom calls it.
“It was nice meeting you,” I call over my shoulder while making my way back to the tree.
I scramble up as quickly as I can and dive through the window. Lucky for me the movers have already placed a few boxes in my room and my IPod is in my pocket. I snatch it out and put my headphones in. Then, I rip open a box and start to unpack right as mom opens the door.
“There you are. Why didn’t you answer me when I called?” She asks with concern in her voice.
She closes the door behind her and walks to the window to sit on the seal. I pull the headphones out and lay my IPod on an unopened box.
“I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t hear you,” I reply as sweetly as possible.
“Look, I know you’re upset that we had to move again so soon and you feel like it’s Maddie’s fault for losing control, but the truth is we all share in the responsibility. We’ve both been pretty busy and preoccupied lately and haven’t helped teach her to control her powers. It doesn’t come as naturally to her as it did to you,” my mom sounds completely exhausted, “I’d like for you to make an honest effort to be nicer to her. She looks up to you.”
Mom has sacrificed so much to keep me safe, I hate that it’s my fault she’s so tired and constantly on edge.
“She’s like four feet tall. She looks up to everyone,” I say rolling my eyes.
“That’s not what I meant,” she replies sounding completely defeated, “Just try okay?”
“Ok,” I say sounding as tired as her, “I’ll try.”
She smiles and walks over to kiss my forehead before walking towards the door.
I love you, I send.
I love you too, she sends back.
Mom knows Maddie and I have a rocky relationship. She does her best to stay neutral and never pick favorites. After everything mom has done for this family I owe it to her to help make life easier. That’s when I decide I will make a legitimate effort to improve my relationship with Maddie and fly under the radar at school.
I decide to unpack my room first, since it will only take a few minutes. I close all the curtains to ensure nobody can see in and let loose with my power. I close my eyes, and open my mind feeling the power within me. I use my photographic memory to picture the room. Then, I imagine all the boxes opening and everything flying to wear it belongs. When I open my eyes I watch the last few items fly and hang themselves in the closet. I let out a breath. I guess it’s time to help Maddie.
I walk softly down the hall to Maddie’s room and knock on the door.
“Who is it?” is her reply.
“Chloe,” I respond.
“What do you want?” she asks, her voice dripping with attitude.
I push the door open and walk in the room, closing it behind me, “We’re going to practice.”