Everything She Touches
Jaycee and Aiko sat in complete silence as they passed the time in an empty classroom. There was no need for Aiko to say a word to express how she was feeling. The way she had been acting was more than enough to show how bad a wound her heart had recently suffered.
“Why won’t you talk to me about this?” asked Jaycee.
“Because I don’t want to talk about it,” answered Aiko.
“But you have to,” said Jaycee. “If you don’t talk about this, then it’s going to eat you up inside. You’ll make yourself sick if you don’t let your feelings out. Believe me, you’ll feel a lot better if you just talk about this.”
“I just want to get over this and move on with my life,” said Aiko. She then buried her face in her arms upon her desk.
Jaycee decided it would be best not to ask Aiko to talk about her problem again.
Vice Principal Takagi was sitting quietly within the smothering darkness enveloping her office. Though her window was closed, a sudden breeze swept through the room, disturbing the vice principal’s hair and ruffling papers on her desk.
“When I heard you had called for me, I came as soon as possible,” said a woman from somewhere inside the room. “You don’t know how grateful I am for this opportunity. Ever since you came to power, I wanted badly to assist you.”
“I must admit,” said Vice Principal Takagi, “nobody makes the same entrance that you do. That must be the reason why I like you so much.”
“I already have your order, my queen,” said the woman, who went by Mai. “All you have to do is give me the word and I swear those insignificant pests won’t stand a chance. I guarantee they haven’t come across anything like me before.”
“I do like those with confidence,” said the vice principal. “But before you go, I want to take a look at you.” Vice Principal Takagi then extended her arm. It wasn’t long before a raven-haired beauty appeared from out of nowhere grasping her queen’s hand.
Class had begun and Aiko was busying herself by sketching in her notebook. She had no interest in listening to what her teacher was saying. In her current state, anything even remotely academic would certainly float into one ear and out the other.
“Aiko,” whispered a soft voice in her ear. “Aiko.”
Turning to see to whom the voice belonged, Aiko discovered no one. All she found was a class full of students taking notes. Passing off what she had heard as just her imagination, Aiko returned to her scribbling.
Written on Aiko’s paper was the word “Hi” and a winking smiling face.
Aiko dropped her pencil and immediately froze. “What is this?” she mumbled under her breath. A cold breeze then swept across the back of Aiko’s neck. But this breeze felt more like a gentle blow of breath.
Someone’s hand then came to a rest on Aiko’s shoulder. She immediately stood up and spun around, knocking over her chair in the process. Aiko found there was no one behind her but a room full of gawking students.
When it was time for their PE class, Jaycee and Aiko skipped taking part in physical activities and instead spent the period behind the PE building discussing recent events.
“Jaycee,” said Aiko. “Do you believe in ghosts?”
“I’m not sure,” said Jaycee. “Why do you ask?”
“No reason, I guess,” replied Aiko.
Jaycee placed her hand on Aiko’s forehead, then on her own. “You’re not running a fever,” she said. “That’s good. But maybe we should run a few more tests.”
“What are you doing?” asked Aiko.
“I once saw this in a movie,” said Jaycee. “In times of great stress, people can make themselves see things. I don’t want to see that happen to you.”
“Maybe you’re right,” said Aiko. “Maybe there is something wrong with me. Maybe there always has been.”
Vice Principal Takagi unexpectedly arrived on the scene. To get the girls’ attention, she cleared her throat. When Jaycee and Aiko turned their attention to her, they found the vice principal’s arms were folded and a less than pleased look was upon her face. “May I ask what you girls are doing out of class?” she asked.
“Aiko hasn’t been feeling well,” said Jaycee.
“Is that so?” asked Vice Principal Takagi. “And skipping class is going to make her feel better? I seem to recall this school having a nurse.”
“This was my idea,” said Aiko.
“Oh, I don’t doubt that for one second,” said the vice principal. “But Miss Annadale chose to join you, which means you’re both going to have to be punished. But seeing as I’m such a fair person, I’m going to let you off with some light cleaning after school.”
“Yes, Ms. Vice Principal,” the girls said in unison.
“Now get to class,” ordered the vice principal. The girls began their retreat but stopped when Vice Principal Takagi continued speaking. “I am very disappointed with you,” she said, back now turned to the girls, “Miss Annadale.”
Sage was walking down the hall when he came upon Vice Principal Takagi.
“Ah, just the person I was looking for,” said the vice principal. “Could you do me a favor after school? Could you help clean the chemistry lab?”
“I don’t know,” said Sage. “I’m expected home right after school.”
“But it wouldn’t take you long,” said the vice principal, pressing her body against Sage’s. The young man immediately went numb. “You would be doing me more than just a little favor, Sage. Those mean teachers are always complaining about how dirty their classrooms are, and they complain to me. If this keeps up, I’m going to get in trouble. You don’t want me to get in trouble, do you?” Vice Principal Takagi then pressed closer.
“No,” said Sage, who was having trouble breathing.
“Wonderful,” said the vice principal, separating from her student. “This is going to look very good for you. You know how the saying goes, Sage.” She then put her mouth so close to Sage’s ear that her breath tickled his skin and sent a shiver through his body. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” She then departed.
“There’s something not right about that woman,” thought Sage.
After the school day came to an end, Jaycee and Aiko began toiling away in the chemistry lab. Jaycee was rinsing out vials and beakers, while Aiko swept the floor. The ferocity with which Aiko swept showed how angry she was.
“I can’t believe we’re stuck cleaning this stupid room,” said Aiko. “There’s so many other things we could be doing. I hate when people tell me what to do.”
“If you want, you can leave,” said Jaycee. “I can clean up on my own.”
“No,” said Aiko. “It’s my fault we’re cleaning in the first place. If anyone should be cleaning alone, it should be me.”
“Don’t worry,” said Jaycee. “I clean part time, so we’ll be done before you know it.”
“Yeah,” said Aiko. She then resumed sweeping, but her broom was unwilling to move. It almost felt as if it was being held in place by someone. “Damn,” she exclaimed. “What’s wrong with this stupid thing?”
“What’s wrong?” asked Jaycee.
“There’s something wrong with this broom,” said Aiko. Just then, a breeze swept across her face, sending a chill down Aiko’s spine.
“You did know that I would be back, didn’t you?” whispered the same mysterious voice that had frightened Aiko so badly earlier in the day.
As she dried beakers, Jaycee was unaware that a hand as white as the wall it was emerging from was nearing the back of her neck.
Aiko was ripped from her frightened state when the sound of shattering glass filled the room. She turned to find Jaycee had dropped a beaker on the floor. The accident was caused by a hand that looked to be made of the wall clutching the back of Jaycee’s neck.
“Jaycee,” exclaimed Aiko, who immediately rushed to help her friend. A hand made of the floor emerged and took Aiko’s feet out from under her. The impact Aiko made with the floor left her temporarily unable to move.
The hand clutching Jaycee flung her forward, sending the nearly breathless girl crashing to the floor beside Aiko. A woman made of the wall then emerged from it. “It’s so good to be out of that wall,” said Mai, arching her back. “You don’t know how tight my body gets when I have to cram myself into such places.”
In their current states, neither girl heard what had just been said.
Mai approached the battered girls and stood over them. “I bet you haven’t faced anyone like me before, have you?” she asked, poking at both girls with her foot.
Aiko shakily got to her feet. “How many of you are we going to have to deal with?” she asked. With incredible quickness, Aiko delivered a powerful strike to her foe’s face. The only one to take damage from the attack was Aiko, who let out a pained squeal and held her battered hand after making contact.
“It’s like hitting a wall, isn’t it?” asked Mai, who then began laughing. “Now, let’s see how it feels when the wall hits you back.” And with that, Mai struck Aiko across the face with such ferocity that the girl was knocked unconscious and sent crashing to the floor.
“Aiko,” exclaimed Jaycee, who had only enough strength to get to her hands and knees. With Mai’s unwanted assistance, Jaycee was back on her feet.
“I’ll deal with that one later,” said Mai, taking Jaycee by the throat and lifting her off the floor. “You’re the one I really want.” Mai then proceeded to squeeze Jaycee’s throat harder. “You have no idea how good this feels.”
The door opened and in entered Sage. “What is this?” he asked. The first thing Sage saw was Jaycee having the life choked out of her by a strange looking woman and the next was Aiko lying motionless on the floor.
“I was beginning to wonder when you would get here,” said Mai, dropping Jaycee.
Sage immediately summoned his sword and readied himself for the impending battle. The door then slammed shut behind him, leaving no chance for escape. Sage charged and slashed Mai across the chest but only a scratch was made.
The attack prompted Mai to begin laughing. “Go ahead,” she exclaimed, “take another swing. Let’s see if you have more luck the second time.”
Before Mai could close her mouth, Sage thrust his sword into it. He was betting that Mai’s interior was far more vulnerable than her exterior.
Mai grabbed Sage’s blade and removed it from her mouth. “Nice try,” she said. “But my body has no flaws. You see, I’m made entirely out of whatever I choose to be made of. And right now I don’t much feel like being made out of your sword.” Mai then kicked Sage in the stomach, sending him crashing into the wall.
“Let me show you what I mean,” said Mai, making her way to the blackboard. She placed her hand on it, then sunk into the wall. She emerged from the wall a short time later. The upper portion of Mai’s body was made of the blackboard, while the lower half was made of the wall to which it was fastened. “Now do you see what I mean?” asked Mai. “My body’s perfect. There’s nothing any of you can do to stop me. So just sit back and let me take your lives. I would hate to show you what I’m capable of doing when I’m angry.”
Jaycee got back to her feet. When she discovered Mai approaching, she began backing away, though there was nowhere to escape.
“Your weapon,” said Sage, slumped against the wall. “Summon your weapon.”
“Summon?” asked Jaycee through quivering lips.
“You know how to do it,” said Sage. “You just have to believe that you can. Now do it, or you won’t stand a chance against her.”
After closing her eyes, Jaycee extended her trembling arm and made a fist.
Mai began laughing. “What do you think you’re doing, offering me your hand in friendship?” she asked. “My dear, I have no other interest at this moment but to take your head back to my queen. So get ready to die.”
Jaycee blocked out what was being said and focused on the summoning. A white light then appeared in her grasp and from it emerged her staff.
“What’s that supposed to be, some kind of toy?” asked Mai. “I hope it is, because you have no chance of hurting me with that.”
Jaycee slammed her staff across Mai’s face. Mia’s head whipped to the side but that was the full extent of the damage done to her.
“Are you really that stupid?” asked Mai, running her finger across the point where she had been struck. “Did you not hear the speech I just gave or watch my demonstration? My body is solid. No weapon can do me any harm.”
Jaycee noticed a beaker still filled with clear liquid sitting on a nearby table. Having no other choice, she grabbed it and hurled the contents into Mai’s face. Mai immediately grabbed her face and let out a horrific scream. It was soon thereafter when smoke began to seep between her fingers, joined by a grotesque sizzling sound. “You little bitch!” screamed Mai. “You threw acid on me! You little bitch!”
Jaycee was then forced to watch as Mai became the same deadly liquid that had just been thrown on her.
Mai regained her composure and began laughing again. She then placed her hand on a nearby table, melting the portion she touched. The sizzling sound the degradation of material created sent a chill down Jaycee’s spine.
“Did you honestly think that was going to work?” asked Mai. “You could run my body through the fires of hell and it still wouldn’t stop me. I would just assimilate with it!” She then made her way closer to her prey. “Oh, how I’m going to savor the moment when your body begins to melt in my hands.”
Aiko was back on her feet. “Hey!” she shouted.
“You still want more?” asked Mai. “Well, you’re just going to have to wait your turn. Because your friend gets to die first.”
Aiko picked up a beaker from a nearby table and hurled it at Mai. With no problem, Mai swatted the beaker away, shattering it in the process. It wasn’t long after when Mai’s body began to take on a crystal clear appearance. “Damn, why did I do that?” asked Mai.
“No more acid for you,” said Aiko.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” said Mai, looking herself over. She then ran her fingers up and down her arm. “I never would have thought to make my body out of glass. But I must say, I look even more beautiful than before.”
“Not so fast,” said Aiko.
“What are you babbling about now?” asked Mai.
“You’re not made of glass,” said Aiko. “You’re made of broken glass.”
What had been small cracks began growing into large cracks in Mai’s body. “What the hell have you done?” asked Mai. “My beautiful body.”
Aiko wasted no time in kicking Mai in the chest, shattering her foe into thousands of tiny shards of broken glass.
When Sage made it back to his feet, his eyes were immediately drawn to Aiko’s, whose gaze was already fixated upon him.
Whatever was about to happen between Sage and Aiko would have to wait, as a faucet in the back of the class began spurting out water at an alarming rate. The water that spilled onto the floor immediately began taking on a human form.
“I’m through playing these games with you,” said Mai, now made completely of water. “When they find you three, your lungs are going to be filled with so much water it’s going to take them days to pump you dry.”
“Damn,” growled Aiko. “There’s no stopping her!” She then turned her attention to Jaycee. “I’ll hold her off. You find a way to escape.”
“But . . .” said Jaycee.
“Do it,” said Aiko. “Don’t worry about me.”
“She’s willing to sacrifice herself to protect Jaycee,” thought Sage. It was soon thereafter when Sage noticed an electrical outlet nearby.
“Go ahead and throw your life away,” said Mai. “I’m just going to kill your friend after I’m through with you. So why don’t you just save us all the trouble and die together? That’s what true friends should do, isn’t it?”
“Over here,” exclaimed Sage, who was standing in front of the outlet.
“Wait your turn,” said Mai.
“Deal with me first,” exclaimed Sage. “The girls don’t pose any real threat to you. I’m the one you should be worried about.”
“Is he serious?” thought Aiko.
“Well, it couldn’t hurt to save the best for last,” said Mai. She then began gliding across the floor toward Sage. “If you wanted to die so badly, then you could have just killed yourself a long time ago. But who am I to judge?”
Sage held his sword before his body, looking ready to engage in combat.
“I don’t know what you plan to do with that little sword of yours,” said Mai. “You are aware that you can’t cut through water, aren’t you?”
“Just make your move,” said Sage.
“You asked for it,” exclaimed Mai, lunging at her target. Sage moved out of the way, forcing Mai to slam into the wall. Most of her body hit the wall but part of it found its way into the electrical outlet. Streaks of electricity immediately began coursing through Mai’s liquid body, causing screams of agony to burst from her.
“It’s over,” said Sage.
When Mai’s body hit the floor, she lost her human form and became a harmless puddle. Shortly thereafter, the puddle evaporated into a puff of black smoke.
“Sage did it,” whispered Jaycee.
With the battle won, Sage made his way to the girls. He stopped before Aiko, whose head was lowered. “Aiko,” he said.
“Don’t say another word,” said Aiko. “You’re going to listen to what I have to say. The things that you said to me can never be erased. No matter how long we have in this life, we will always have that between us. I will never forget the way you treated me.”
“But I did it to protect you,” said Sage. “A part of me believed that nothing like this would happen again if we stayed away from each other. Looking back, I see it was wrong for me to believe that. Nothing could have prevented this.”
“I would have done anything just to be with you,” said Aiko. “I thought you would have done the same for me.”
“If I could change what I said to you, I would,” said Sage. “But you can’t change the past, no matter how hard you try. The best you can do is try to make a new start.”
“You’re right,” said Aiko. She then raised her head, showing that tears were running down her cheeks. “We should start over.” She then slapped Sage across the face, but with far less force than when she had done so in their previous encounter. “I just had to get that out of my system.” Aiko then slapped Sage across the face again.
“Do you feel better now?” asked a clearly irked Sage, rubbing his cheek.
Aiko embraced Sage. “Don’t ever hurt me like that again,” she said. “I don’t know what I’ll do the next time someone hurts me.”
The sound of rapidly moving footsteps interrupted the moment. The door then flew open and in entered Vice Principal Takagi. “I knew I could count on you to get the job done,” she said, slouched over and attempting to catch her breath. “I knew you wouldn’t fail me.” She then let out a laugh. “I should have told you to do this a long time ago.”
“Uh, thanks,” said Aiko
Jaycee and Sage promptly hid their weapons behind their backs.
The truth behind what had really happened was presented to Vice Principal Takagi when she raised her head. There was no victorious Mai. All that was left was three students and a room in utter disrepair.
“What have you done?” asked the vice principal. “Look at this room! I told you to clean it, and you did the exact opposite!” Vice Principal Takagi then made her way further into the classroom to get an even better look at the carnage. “You’ve totally destroyed it! Explain to me how you managed to do this!”
“Cleaning is hard,” said Aiko.
“Oh, if you thought I knew how to punish before, then you haven’t seen anything,” said the vice principal. “Far more drastic measures must be taken.”
“Um, since we’re done, can we go home now?” asked Aiko.
“Get out!” shouted the vice principal. “I’m in no mood to deal with you three right now, so consider yourselves lucky that I’m letting you leave.”
Jaycee, Sage and Aiko departed, treading ever so carefully around their vice principal, who looked more than ready to strike down her students.
The following day at school, Jaycee and Aiko were in their English class. Aiko, however, was paying her teacher no attention, as her gaze was focused intently on Sage, who happened to now be seated in the desk beside her.
“I still don’t understand why they would make you transfer classes in the middle of the year,” whispered Jaycee. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
“The only answer I got was that it was in the best interest of the administrative policy to put me in here,” whispered Sage.
“Why question it?” whispered Aiko. “Can’t you see something good has happened? Let’s just be happy that something finally went our way.”
When the teacher had finished writing on the board, he faced the class. “Miss Annadale,” he said. “Would you please read the next passage?”
“Yes, sir,” said Jaycee before rising from her seat. She was about to start reading when the door suddenly opened.
Vice Principal Takagi was now standing in the doorway. “I’m sorry to interrupt you,” she said, “but I have a new transfer student to introduce to you.” She then moved to the side, presenting James to the class.
Memories began running so wildly through Jaycee’s mind that she became lightheaded. Her strength then gave way, prompting her legs to tremble and causing her to drop her book. “James,” she whispered, gazing at the one that destiny had chosen for her.
Memories of James then came flooding back to Sage and Aiko. They turned to one another, knowing exactly what the other was thinking. They both wondered where they stood with James, who had left the group under a most grim circumstance.
“What was I thinking?” said Vice Principal Takagi, looking over a piece of paper in her hand. “James isn’t in this class. Silly me.”
With Jaycee being the only student standing, it was easy for James to spot her amongst all the others. And it was then when their eyes met again for the very first time.