“Watch it, freak,” Arssaya Whitney said with a cold sneer. Nick glared at her from where he’d fallen off his skateboard. Luckily, he’d landed in the newly mowed green grass.
“I’m sorry, Frostbite.” He dove for the cans which had spilled out of his bag from his fall and shoved them back into his bag.
Misty snatched his brown paper bag. “Our Blessed Mother Food Center,” she read aloud.
“Wow, Arssaya, you weren’t lying,” She eyed Nick calculatingly. The boy glared at Arssaya.
“You’re unbelievable,” he said angrily. “How could you?”
“What? I simply informed them of your economic situation,” she stated.
Arssaya Whitney was wearing a long turtleneck and long pants, she was standing in the shade of the nearest tree and her mouth was turned down as she faced the sun and Nick bet if her eyes weren’t covered by thick black sunglasses, everyone would be able to see her irritation. The sun was her natural enemy, and the less time she spent in it the better.
“You had no right, we’re not friends anymore,” Nick said. Arssaya looked uncomfortable at that statement. Nick then snatched the bag back from Misty. “Nope, not interested in your contempt.” He picked up his sketchbook and tucked it under his other arm.
“Well, Arssaya is not interested in being your friend, she has better friends now,” Misty said casually.
Arssaya nodded in agreement. “I don’t need you,” she said it so simply as if she didn’t care.
“Yeah, at least I wouldn’t make out with your boyfriend; unlike some people,” said Nick, looking pointedly at Misty. Misty’s face turned pale, a considerable feat considering how tan she was. Nick laughed, Arssaya glared at Misty, her sapphire colored eyes flashed,
“You what?” Arssaya shouted in shock.
Lanika’s eyes widened,“You’re cheating!” she exclaimed.
“He said he wanted to kiss a real girl!” said Misty.
Nick snorted, “Please, my cousin’s Barbie Dreamhouse is more real than you.”
Arssaya glared at him, “Shut up!”
“Josh said kissing you were like kissing an icicle,” said Misty. “He doesn’t want you, and he wants me.”
“He’s been tackled one too many times, it’s obviously messed up his almost nonexistent brain cells,” said Nick.
Arssaya almost cracked a smile. “Shut up, dork,” she said.
“Josh also said that you’re pretty to look at but impossible to love,” Misty said spitefully.
Arssaya glared at her, “Be quiet, you tramp!”
“That’s what Josh said,” Misty said in a sing-song voice. Arssaya lunged at Misty her hands covered Misty’s skin. Ice mysteriously came out of Arssaya’s fingertips and spread all over her body freezing her solid. Arssaya then jumped away from her frozen friend in horror.
Lanika looked at Arssaya with surprise. “Oh my, gosh you’re one of us!” the dark-haired girl realized. Nick stood stunned.
“What do you… what’s going on!” said Arssaya.
“So what can you do?” Nick asked turning to Lanika.
“They’re kind of hard to explain. You know that kid, Bobby Fisher, from my science class and how I went out with him for a bet?” Lanika said as Arssaya nodded remembering the event.
“Well, I lied. I went out with him because he wished for it.” said Lanika. “Whenever someone says the words, ‘I wish’ there’s... I have this weird compulsion to obey and things happen. Another example is when you wished we didn’t have to go to school and I made it snow.”
“You made it snow,” Arssaya and Nick said in unison.
“Didn’t you think it was a little weird that it snowed in May?” asked Lanika.
“I passed it off as global warming,” Arssaya said sheepishly.
“For the last time, global warming is a hoax!” Nick grumbled in annoyance. Their petty argument was interrupted by a tourist in a golf cap who had stopped to admire Arssaya’s work.
“Oh. that’s such a cool sculpture,” the man exclaimed. “It looks great.” Arssaya and Lanika smiled tensely, Nick tried not to laugh. The man pulled out a camera. “I’ve got to get a picture,”
“No!” Both Arssaya and Lanika screamed. The man looked at them strangely, then shoved the camera at Nick. “You take the picture!” The man stood by the frozen Misty and struck an over the top pose, Nick snapped the picture. The man took his camera back and jogged off. Lanika sighed with relief.
“Well, I think it’s an improvement,” Nick said, tapping the frozen Misty.
Arssaya’s voice became dangerously low. “Improvement?”
“So, Nick, what can you do?” asked Lanika quickly.
“What about Misty?” Arssaya said.
“Put her in an art show,” Nick suggested. Arssaya and Lanika glared at him. “Okay, fine. But don’t tell anyone, I could get in huge trouble.” Nick reached into his pocket and pulled out a cowl sweater then he threw it around Misty’s frozen shoulders swiftly. “A spell was cast with baneful will, a wicked web was wrongly sprung, I take away the harm and ill, I now undo what has been done!” Then the sweater began to glow a white color and Arssaya and Lanika watched in shock as the ice around Misty melted away.
Arssaya cried, ran forward and hugged her. “You’re okay!”
Misty looked confused. “OMG, it’s freezing out here! Did anyone bring a jacket?”
Lanika laughed nervously. Nick used the distraction to grab his sketchbook and paper bag, jam on his helmet and take off as fast as he could before they even noticed he was gone. It wasn’t until he had skated all the way home that he had realized he had left his sweater around Misty’s shoulders. “ Che cavolo!” he swore as he swung the door to his trailer open. Sighing, he put away this week’s supply of sustenance in the cabinet and headed to his room. Maybe blowing up evil warlords on his computer would make him forget todays confusing events?
Hours went by and before long it was Monday, Nick woke up, looking at the clock swore. He threw on a t-shirt with the goofy cartoon of a dragon being bopped on the head by a giant while a baffled knight watched from the spot where he was tied up and a pair of incredibly faded jeans.
He shoved his spell book in the bag knocking off the jacket he’d been working on sewing for months off the bed in the process. Nick then rushed from the room and in two steps he made it to the kitchen. He tried to sneak around his mother who was at the stove when she turned. “Nickolas!” She pointed to the chair.
“No time, Mama,” he argued.
She plopped a whole casserole of garden pie onto the table. “You are far too skinny to be missing meals,” she lectured.
“You know most people just do bacon and eggs?” Nick reminded her.
“Most people do not know the value of a hearty breakfast, now be a good son and eat.” Sighing Nick took a small piece and wolfed it down.
“There, happy?” he asked. “Bye, Mama!” He kissed her on the cheek.
“Remember, don’t curse anyone!” she yelled after him, getting weird looks from Mr. Henderson next door. As Nick started walking briskly he heard his mother say. “What are you waiting for? Go back inside!” Nick grinned shaking his head. About one hour later his grin faded as he arrived at Mary Martin High School. Sighing he pushed through the double doors. As he walked down the crowded halls he saw a huge poster with a familiar handsome man with light chestnut colored skin. He was dressed in a black suit and tie with the words President Makulu Sahib: the only choice for America where everyone could see it right next to the ads for the LGBT alliance meeting. Nearby it was an pamphlet for a Pro-choice is a lie which had been completely defaced and half covered by a take back the night flyer someone carelessly had shoved over it. Nick continued his way to class when one of the teachers pulled him over.
“Woah there!” It was Mr. Thompson—a man with dirty blond hair who could pass for a college frat boy rather than a middle aged man—pulled him aside.
“Hi, Mr. Thompson, what’s wrong?” the boy asked.
“You’re defying school dress code,” the man stated. Nick felt confused. His pants weren’t sagging and his shirt although slightly too big for his incredibly skinny frame was the appropriate length. The man pointed to his neck, Nick looking down to see his cross, the gift from his grandmother.
“I don’t see the problem.”
“Separation of Church and State, kid.”
Nick frowned. “I know at least four kids at this school who wear the Hijab,”
“It’s school policy,” Mr. Thompson said in his ‘I’m not the bad guy here’ voice. “Look you can take it off, put it your book bag and we’ll forget about the whole thing. Or I can write you up.” the teacher added.
Nick paused, yes, he was indignant about this, what did the principal think he was going to do, start a cult? But at the same time his mom already had a lot on her plate making this an incident would only increase her load since Mama did not know the meaning of the word slow down. Not to mention, she’d get the whole family involved and poor Mr. Johnson would be the victim of a curse courtesy of a group of pissed off witches; or strega, as they preferred to be called.
Although the rest of his family was not Christian they still respected his mother’s change of belief even if they didn’t agree with it.
“Besides it’s just a symbol takeing it off doesn’t mean anything,” he told himself. He slid the cross free from his neck and unzipped his backpack. Mr. Johnson saw the spell book and looked surprised.
“What, are spell books against school policy as well?” he asked dryly.
“No, this is a safe environment where all faiths are welcome,” Mr. Johnson said brightly. “Keep your nose clean,” he warned before walking off.
Nick shook his head and zipped up his pack and suddenly he froze as realized someone was watching. He turned and saw Lanika who caught his gaze. Oh yeah, that was right now the two people he hated knew his deepest secret and didn’t that just stink. Then to his surprise instead of turning away, she came toward him. She was dressed in a light purple sweater the bottom of a white shirt poked out from under it she had a dark purple head scarf known as a hijab wrapped around her head and wore layered pants. She was slightly tall for her age and processed a somber air which contrasted with her usual bubbliness. “We need to talk,” the girl said.
“The bell’s about to ring,” Nick commented.
“Wish it wouldn’t.” She practically ordered Nick what to do.
“Fine, I wish the bell wouldn’t ring for at least five more minutes.” There was a flash of light from Lanika’s hands after she clapped and everyone around them was frozen in place.
“Wow, that is some serious reality warping power you have,” he stated.
She ignored him and asked. “Up until this weekend I thought, I was the only one with magic. You’ve known Arssaya since you were kids, has she ever shown any signs?”
“No Arssaya has always been non-magic,” Nick stated.
“I thought so, most kids start to develop their powers at three or four,” Lanika mused.
“Mine wasn’t discovered until much later,” Nick pointed out.
“Well given your limited type of magic that’s not surprising.” The boy gaped at her. “I’m not a dolt, you weave spells,” Lanika pointed out. “I smell the magic constantly clinging to your clothes.”
“What do you want?” Nick asked suspiciously.
“We need to help Arssaya,” the girl said.
Nick snorted. “Why would I help the girl who told me I was pathetic and she hated me?”
Lanika smiled. “You forgot the part where she pushed you into a mud puddle.”
Nick glared at her and said, “You’ve confirmed my point,”
“You want to keep your cozy existence a secret, right?” Lanika asked rhetorically.
“I wouldn’t call it cozy,” he refuted.
“You’re privileged as a cisgender male who can pass for white,” she responded.
“You’re the daughter of middle-class Prosecutors,” Nick responded rolling his eyes.
“A Djinn daughter, the point is we’re able to fly under the radar because no one believes in magic anymore. Arssaya has no control so if anyone sees her, they might start reevaluating their beliefs.” Lanika said.
“Why not go to your parents?” Nick asked.
“They couldn’t help; mom is normal and dad gave up his powers,” she argued. “All Djinn do when we marry mortals. The council holds a ceremony then the Djinn touches an orb which absolves them of their powers.”
“That sounds super shady,” Nick mused.
“It’s for the safety of all; we cannot live among mortals with how often the words “I wish” are uttered,” Lanika explained.
“Yeah, well, you know what? Arssaya is your problem.” Nick made his stance.
“Maybe I didn’t make myself clear,” Lanika’s voice lowered.
“No, but why should I help either of you, all you’ve done is give me and my friends crap,” Nick stated. Then he paused. “Not that I care, but where is Arssaya, anyway?”
Lanika sighed, “The official story is she’s sick but I called her last night and she was higher than a balloon. Josh broke up with her for Misty over the phone, and well, you can guess the rest.”
Nick felt the grim feeling of depression overcome him. “Honestly why is everyone I know using drugs?” he lamented. “I’ve known these people since elementary school.” He thought to himself. We used to be happy, we used to not care, where did it all go wrong? He was tempted for a moment to check up on Arssaya to see if she was okay. Maybe a look wouldn”... “No he was not falling into that trap again. Then time started up. “Well look at that your time is up.” Nick picked up his backpack just as the bell rang.
“You’d leave her to be dissected on a table,” Lanika hissed at his back. “You’re going to regret this, Silver” she promised.
“Yeah, well. I can take whatever you dish out. I’ve been doing it for years.” He said his final word and then he turned his back on her and headed to his homeroom class.