I sucked air in through my teeth as Clem lanced one of the boils on my leg, gasping in pain. She ignored my wince however and kept a firm hand on my calf so I wouldn’t interrupt her work. Behind her, pacing her own bedroom, Diana was mumbling incoherently to herself, occasionally looking over her older sister’s shoulder to check her progress.
“That bitch!” She would occasionally exclaim and return to her pacing.
Once Clem was about halfway through, she looked up to me. “You’re sure you didn’t hear her incantation?”
I shook my head, dejected. “No, the others were laughing too loudly around me when she did it.”
“I’m going to….to...argh!” Diana wailed in frustration and went to stand in front of the window where the wind was now howling.
Clem and I locked eyes and gave a grim smile. Diana couldn’t do anything yet, her own test was still two months away on her 12th birthday, and it would take her a lot longer to learn anything useful to avenge me. No, Diana was still just as useless as me when it came to fending off the occasional bully on the commune. Except now I was a target for the girls.
Clem clucked through her teeth. “Don’t worry Deedee, I’ll take care of them in avenging our cuz.” Her eyes flicked up to me. “Though I wish you would have come to me before for the other times. Why am I only hearing about this now?”
I shrugged my shoulders, counting how many more there were to go. Sarah might have done it sloppily, but she got me good with the spell for boils on my ankle, they had nearly covered half of it.
“After she failed me and they didn’t fight for having it overruled, I kind of thought it was natural, you know? Every place needs a scapegoat and all I can do is the occasional flicker of...something.”
Clem grunted, knowing who I was referring to and concentrating more on her task than my words. Next to Diana, Emily came into the room with a wet towel and a bowl of water.
“Is she gone?” I asked of the oldest sister, inquiring about my mother.
“Yep, about twenty minutes ago.” She gave me a conciliatory smile. “Don’t worry, they didn’t notice, they were talking too much about an upcoming vacation and attending the future Alpha’s maturation ceremony across the river.”
I nodded, good ole mom. Oblivious to the little things that matter, why would her daughter even be limping? “It doesn’t matter. They would have gotten away with it anyhow. It’s not like I can even go to any of the meetings anymore.”
Emily kneeled down next to me on the floor. “Kel, this will not happen again. I swear it. Little Kelly Jones will no longer be known as the guinea pig here, otherwise, they’ll have to deal with all the Wardwells.”
Diana stepped forward, hovering over me.
“And we do not play nice.”
We all paused for a moment and looked up to Diana and her furious expression on a beautiful elfin face. A few more seconds and all three sisters and I broke into laughter. From the window, the wind pushed a tree branch into the window and we all glanced over, my youngest cousin moved over to it to inspect the sudden change in weather while Clem was on her last boil on my leg, and Emily wiped it away.
“What...what is that?” Diana asked, turning back to look at Emily. From inside the house, the front door slammed and we heard the family car start-up and take off down the driveway. Emily and Clem frowned and moved over to the window to see. After a moment, Emily turned back to me with wide eyes. Not understanding the look, I stood up, only feeling a fraction of the pain on my ankle now and hobbled over to the window with the others.
In the sky beyond the large patch of forest the house backed onto was a bright orange glow and I frowned as well.
“That looks like a fire, right?” My eyes suddenly widened. That was a fire, a really big fire. And we were looking in the direction of my house.
Forgetting the pain in my leg, I rushed for the door and out of the house, foregoing shoes and a jacket. Diving into the forest on the track that led through it and connected the sister’s houses, I heard my cousins race behind me. It was usually a twenty minute walk between houses, and a ten minute run.
The path beneath my feet was full of twigs and other things that usually littered the forest floor and once or twice I tripped over a root protruding up, it was too dark. Every time I crashed to the ground, I cursed and ignored the pain shooting through my body and would continue my race. The glow from the fire was growing brighter with each stride, illuminating the forest.
Oh god, my house was totally in flames. Clementine was yelling my name from not far behind, telling me to slow down. But she clearly didn’t understand, my parents were home tonight. They were probably in that house.
The tree line ended and I broke through, stopping short at the sight in horror. I had never seen anything so terrifying. It wasn’t just on fire, it was ablaze. Nothing would ever stop that mass of flames save a downpour. Clem crashed into me from behind, holding my shoulders and I looked around the house, seeing the others standing about a hundred feet away.
The circle of elemental witches were here, chanting and I looked to the sky above. The clouds had only just formed, which explained the sudden wind, but it would take them at least another five minutes to get any rain out of that. I looked on with helplessness. Dad’s bike and mom’s car were both around the side of the house. They were both in there.
I made a movement towards the house and felt Clem’s arms tighten around me, holding me. Emily and Diana’s arms joined hers and together we all sank to the grass below, watching in horror as my life literally went up in flames.