Liam - Twelve
A high-pitched scream erupts behind me as I run, and I laugh ahead of him.
I take a peek over my shoulder to see Jordan scared out of his mind. He glares at me as he pants, pumping his legs as fast as he can on his little chubby body. Sweat creases his dark skin.
“Dude!” he cries, his voice high pitched. “How many—times—have I told you? Don’t play with your fire. But what do you do? You play with fire, and then, you burn the whole freaking world!” His hand flies to his mouth, his eyes widening. “You made me say the “f” word! Mom’s gonna kill me.”
I laugh at his fear.
“Calm down. It’s not that big of a deal.”
I say this as I run from a forest fire I accidentally started. I wince as another tree falls on the ground, it’s screaming roots making my skin crawl.
“Not that big of a deal? NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL?” He starts taking rapid breaths. “You just killed a forest! Think of all those trees! Think of the poor deer!”
“Forget the deer and think of yourself. Come on, it’s getting closer!” I cry.
Instead of a response, all I hear is a thud behind me. I turn around to see Jordan kneeling down, holding a withered plant.
“What are you doing?” I ask, looking back and forth to the impending fire and Jordan on the ground.
He looks up at me with wet eyes.
“It’s—it’s little Tommy!” He sobs. “No!”
“The plant? Oh god Jordan; we don’t have time for this! This is pathetic!”
He wails again and I groan, sliding a hand down my face and running back to grab him. I drag him from the ground and run from the impending flames.
“Tommy, rest in peace my son.”
“Oh for the love of—”
Something explodes and he shrieks, running farther in front of me, and leaving me behind as a sacrifice. I shake my head and ask myself why I’m friends with him.
The smoke fills my nose as we keep running, until finally, we get to our house. I give a silent thank you to the Lords for my father being at the palace right now. I shudder thinking of how he’d react if he found out his “perfect” son did all this.
We burst inside, and Jordan slams the door behind him with his back. I kneel to take a breath, smiling from the way my blood rushes from the adrenaline.
Aunt Julie walks into the hall from the kitchen, her hands on her hip, holding a spoon. Her brows furrow on her dark skin.
“What now?” she asks.
In a beat, Jordan points at me.
“Mom, Liam started a fire with his freaky powers.”
I groan, rolling my eyes. He just can’t keep his mouth shut.
Julie gasps and glares at me.
“Seriously Liam? Again?″ I cringe at the way her voice strikes me. She shakes her head. “Just wait until your mother comes home. And your father’s arriving this afternoon. He’ll hear about this one, too.” I whip my head to her.
“No, please don’t. Give me anything, any punishment, but don’t tell Dad,” I all but get on my knees and beg.
He’ll be so disappointed. It doesn’t help that he’s the Royal Captain of the Guard. Imagine his reaction if he hears his son’s mischievous behavior. All his expectations will go down the drain.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t hide this. You’ve gone too far.” She turns to Jordan and narrows her eyes. “As for you, I’ll deal with you later. Dinner is burning.”
She leaves, and I turn to Jordan. He visibly gulps, backing up and out of the door as I step towards him.
I summon a rock, glaring at him. As it floats around my hand, the familiar feeling of strength fills me, making me raise my head. I clench my fists, puffing my chest out. I sense the materials that make up the rock inside my soul. I feel the stages of this extrusive igneous rock’s creation: from molten lava, deep within the Earth, to a cool hardened solid that was pushed up to the surface from deep within the ground to finally meet the sun. Heat fills me as I feel my rage and the rock’s journey from the Earth’s core to the surface, building my adrenaline.
I smirk at Jordan’s frightened expression, knowing he sees the fire in my eyes.
“I’ll give you three seconds.”
He bolts out of the house, not wasting any time. I smile, the familiar fury burning my insides.
“Three. Two. One.”
I dash out the house, summoning multiple rocks with me. They fly beside me as we zoom across the path and into the forest, forming a large boulder.
It would have made more sense to live in the main city, where the castle is, because of Dad’s job, but Mom didn’t want to leave the countryside. So we got a house just at the edge of the forest, in a small town. Dad comes when he can. Of course he’ll come today.
He shuffles in front of me, trying his best to escape. But he is no match for me.
In the split second he distracts himself to look back at me, his eyes screaming, I raise the ground an inch and trip his feet. He yelps as he falls, rolling on the ground, and I pounce, jumping on him. I let my boulder disperse as we wrestle, until I pin him to the ground.
“Help! HELP! I’m getting jumped. Help!” he gasps.
“Do you even know what that means?”
“That’s what I thought. Why did you tell on me? Do you know how much trouble I’m going to be in?”
“Because you needed to be taught a lesson. What? You thought I’d let you go since it’s your twelfth birthday? No. Someone needs to let you know that what you did was wrong. You can take away the fire just as easily as you can start it, but you can’t take away the damage. You destroyed thousands of homes, habitats. Don’t you feel bad?”
“You dummy; I can use my earth powers to grow it all back.” He huffs.
“Yeah well you still destroyed stuff, and destroying for no reason is bad. Mom says so. Now get off me. You’re heavy, dude. Seriously, lay off the muffins.”
I push him one last time and get off.
“Hey, are you going to fix what you started or not?” he yells, pointing to the fire. I groan and put my hands up, then down, putting the fire out in a single sweep. Then, I curl my fingers, palms up, and stomp the ground while pulling up, giving life to all the dead trees again. When it’s done, I walk back to the house. I don’t say a word to him on the way back.
Jordan’s words echo in my mind.
Is he right? Am I evil? No. It can’t be. All I wanted was to fulfill my desire, the craving I had in me to let it out, to let it destroy and watch as it burned everything to the ground.
I wince at the thought. Maybe that is wrong. Maybe I am a bad person. But I can’t help that. I look at my hands. My fire—it calls to me. I have to let it out. The desire is so strong that if I don’t I’ll go crazy. I run my hands through my hair, sighing. We get to the house and I silently go to my room. I hear Jordan talking to his mother as I shut the door.
“I think he’s broken; he hasn’t said a word a whole five minutes,” he says.
I flop down on my bed. The light from the window hits my eye and I roll over on my stomach, letting my sheets envelop me in their comfort. They welcome me with open arms as my eyes droop, and my tiredness consumes me.
Right as I fall asleep, I hear a melodic voice ringing in my ears.
Aah ahh ah ahhhh
* * * *
I wake up to knocking on my door. The clock ticks on the wall as I stretch. It’s been two hours. The door swings open and Dad comes in, smiling.
“Happy twelfth birthday, my son,” he says. His armour is still on, and he holds his iron helmet in his arms, his tan skin forming wrinkles on the edges of his lips as he smiles. Mom follows behind, her curly, black hair braided on the side, and her skin tan and smooth. The little black dot on her lip widens as she smiles at me. I run into Dad’s arms, the familiar scent of metal and smoke emanating from him. He laughs and hugs me back.
“When’d you get home?” I ask.
“Just now. I wanted to see my birthday boy before anything else.” He ruffles my hair.
So Julie hasn’t told him yet.
“Happy birthday my little knight,” Mom says, taking me in her embrace. She plants a kiss on my cheek with her plump lips, and I pretend to gag. She laughs and hugs me again. I let her warm touch linger, holding her a minute too long. She pulls back, furrowing her brows.
Stupid Mom instincts. I shake my head.
“You sure?” She stretches on. “You don’t seem all that excited to me.”
I look at the floor, drawing patterns on the old wood with my feet. Dad kneels down to me, lifting my chin so I look at him.
“What’s wrong?” he asks. I sigh.
“I burned a forest today,” I say. His eyes widen.
“Is that why you’re so sad?” Mom interrupts, putting a hand on his shoulder. He shuts his mouth, but his eyes don’t look so amused.
“I didn’t mean to,” I say, my voice quiet. “I just . . .”
“You what?” she says. “You know you can tell me anything, honey. We just want to help you.”
“The cravings. They’re getting worse.”
They pass a look to each other.
“Cravings?” Mom asks. I nod.
“The ones I told you about. The ones with the fire.”
She bites her lips, her face taught in worry. I play with my thumbs.
“Am I . . . Am I a monster Mom?”
She shakes her head and pulls me in.
“No, no of course not. You’re the sweetest boy I know.”
“Then why do I have these powers? Why do I act evil?”
Dad stands up and walks out of the room. I watch him leave, following his every step. Mom glares at his back before turning back to me.
“You are not evil, and you are not a monster.” She takes my hand. “Look at me. Nothing can make you evil unless you let it.”
“Not even if it’s my nature?”
She purses her lips, her golden eyes glistening. Golden eyes like my own. She pulls me in for a hug, but doesn't reply. I don’t hug her back.