Chapter Four~ Electric
Despite my lack of sleep last night, my energy levels are through the roof. I’m up early, and my mom is shocked when she discovers I’m halfway done with breakfast. I take a little extra time getting ready. I wear my favorite jeans, and a newer shirt. I even throw on a little eyeliner and lip gloss. This is about as girly as I get. I shove my feet into my chucks and grab my backpack to meet Mason in the backyard.
Brie meets us at her corner and the three of us are off. I’m mentally preparing myself for school. I know that everyone will be buzzing about Friday’s show as well as the explosion. But with Brie and Mason by my side, I think I can handle it. I just hope to keep my temper and accusations in check around Kiera and Shelby.
Turns out, I never even saw them. I’m sure they were there, but all day I had either Brie or Mason beside me, and a throng of people I usually consider mere acquaintances swarming us. I can tell the difference between those who just want the latest thing to gossip about, and the ones who are sincerely concerned. The amount of the latter surprises me, but it makes me feel good to know more people care than I thought.
In Biology, Mr. Murphy has been just about bursting with excitement over the successful use of the nanobots from BioNano. We all had to promise to follow the story closely, as it is now becoming a graded project. I love Mr. Murphy, but those microscopic robots still give me the heebie-jeebies.
On our way home, Brie declares that we will not have practice today. I only argue a little, mostly because Mason flashes his puppy dog eyes at me, and maybe a little because I’m scared to strap a guitar on again. Not that I’m going to let that stop me. My guitar is a fried memory: the last I saw it, a melted blotch of plastic and metal. Brie has a spare she’s giving me, but I don’t think that putting it off one more day should matter. We split at Brie’s road; she winks at me behind Mason’s back and I wonder for a moment if he planned this.
Mason looks nervously at me. “I was thinking that maybe, you might want to come to my house for a change? Maybe meet my parents?”
I grin. “I’d love to.”
I’ve been inside Mason’s house many times before over the years. Our neighborhood has always been close knit, something you don’t see too much of anymore. Right away I notice the changes that they’ve made. The old wallpaper is gone, and the muted earth tones in the room make it relaxed.
“My parents won’t be home for a couple hours. Do you want to watch a movie or something?” Mason asks.
“Maybe in a little bit?” I reply. “I want to get this calculus homework done and over with.”
He shrugs. “Okay.” He leads me to the kitchen and sets his bag on the table, “Anything to eat or drink?”
“Sure, whatever you have works for me.”
I enjoy watching him move around the kitchen, being all domestic. It’s cute. He sets two sodas and a bag of chips on the table as I set out my homework. He joins me, and we quickly get through it. I’m putting my books away when I hear the front door open, and a voice calls out. “Mason, you home?”
“In the kitchen, Mom!” He calls back, and then looks at me. “You ready?”
I swallow hard. Apparently it doesn’t matter if I’m ready because Mason’s mom is here. As she enters the room, I quickly see the resemblance between them. My manners kick in and I force a smile on my face, “Hello, Mrs. Griffin, it’s nice to meet you.” I stand and extend my hand.
She has the same smile as Mason. “Hello, you must be Kat. How nice to finally meet you!” She shakes my hand gently, but I don’t miss the look she shoots Mason as she speaks.
“Sorry Mom,” Mason says, sounding contrite.
“Well,” she says, “it’s not like you’ve ever brought a girl home before, so I guess I should be grateful I get to meet Kat here.” She winks at me.
I’m still stuck on the fact that Mason has never brought a girl home before. Obviously he has mentioned me, or his mom wouldn’t have known my name.
I’m still thinking this over when Mason grabs my hand. “C’mon. I’ll show you my room.”
I give his mom a small smile and allow myself to be dragged behind him. We go upstairs, and Mason pulls me through the first door on the right. The walls are a deep blue, and remind me of his eyes. A large window dominates one wall, a full size bed across from it. It’s not much bigger than my room, but his TV is larger and a couple of game consoles lay next to it on the floor. My attention is drawn to the art over the bed on the wall. The pictures are beautiful. As I pass the desk, I notice more art work. “I didn’t know you draw.” I say quietly, more to myself than to Mason.
“I don’t like to brag.” He smirks. He doesn’t stop me when I move to open one of the drawing pads. The first page is a landscape of the ocean. I flip the page and see a picture of my face. In awe, I turn. Page after page is me! It’s like a series of photographs: me laughing, me pouting, me sleeping—only much prettier versions, “I like to draw what I know.” He says quietly.
I smile at him. If it was anyone else, it would be kind of creepy. But because it’s Mason, I find it endearing. “I think it’s sweet.” I tell him, and he relaxes a little.
Mason’s mom yells up the stairs that his father is home. Mason rolls his eyes and grabs my hand. “Ready for round two?” He asks, before leading me back down.
Mason’s dad is every bit as warm and funny as his mom. They insist I stay for dinner, and when they realize I live next door, they extend the invitation to my mom, also. This is how the five of us find ourselves sitting in the Griffin’s dining room. But I have no complaints. Our parents are getting along great. Mason and I manage a small kiss goodbye before my mom and I go home. I kind of wish we had some more time alone this afternoon and I can tell by looking at him he feels the same.
No sooner do I get settled into bed, my phone goes off. I feel around in the dark, until my hand clasps over it. It takes a second for my eyes to adjust to the light from the screen. It’s a text from Mason. He wants me to meet him out back in ten minutes. I peek my head into the hallway. My mom’s light is off, but her TV is on, and I hear lines from Cat on A Hot Tin Roof. She’s not getting up again tonight. I’ve never snuck out before, but then I’ve also never had a reason to.
Feeling excited and kind of naughty, I text back “okay” and get dressed again. I pull on jeans and a hooded sweatshirt and stuff a pillow under my blanket. I punch it a few times to make it look more realistic. Satisfied, I creep quietly out of my bedroom, into the hallway, and down the stairs. I slip my key off of the hook and cringe at the small squeak the back door makes when I open it. Once it’s closed and locked, I allow myself a small sigh of relief. This sneaking out thing sure is exhilarating.
Mason is waiting for me beneath the tree that separates our yards. He greets me with a kiss. When we’re done he presses his forehead against mine. “Hi, again.”
“Hi, again.” I can’t help the smile on my lips. “This is exciting.” I whisper.
He repositions us so his arms are still wrapped around me, but I’m now far enough away for him to see my whole face. He gazes down at me, quizzically. “Have you never done this before?”
I’m glad it’s dark out—it covers my blush. “Um, no.”
He looks taken aback momentarily. “Now I feel like a bad influence.”
“Well, don’t.” I hold his gaze. “I’ve never really had a good reason to before.” I’m surprised his smile doesn’t light up the whole backyard. “Are you up for a field trip of sorts?” I ask.
“Lead the way.” He releases all of me except my hand, as I quietly lead him through the backyards.
I take him to our childhood stomping ground. The small park has long since been forgotten by everyone, except those of us who used to play here every day. Two of the four swings still hang next to each other, so I drag him over to them and sit down on one. He sits next to me.
The tingling under my skin hasn’t gone away since the…incident. Rather, I’ve gotten used to it. I haven’t even allowed myself to think of my possible mental breakdown the night I got home from the hospital. I’ve steered clear of electrical outlets, no easy feat in this day and age. I would be more than happy to continue on as though nothing is wrong. As I release Mason’s hand so he can sit on the adjacent swing, I grab both chains of my own swing to steady myself. In the darkness, the glow between the metal and my hands is hard to miss. I drop them quickly, but not quick enough and I glance next to me to find Mason gaping at me.
I half grimace, half smile. “Were your hands just glowing, Kat?” He sputters.
“Yeah,” I bite my lip and look away. I hope this doesn’t change anything between us. “After…when I got home from the hospital, I thought I was crazy. But I guess if you can see it too, then I’m not, right?” I look back at him, hopeful.
He’s not freaking out or running away, which I take as a good sign. My body relaxes when he smiles. “It’s kind of cool actually. You really thought you were going crazy?”
I tell him the story of the weird shimmer and the oddness of the electrical outlet. His eyebrows shoot way up, but to his credit he doesn’t laugh. When I’m done he looks kind of excited. “Have you tried anything else?” He asks.
I shrug. “Not yet. I wasn’t even sure that it was real. I’ve kind of just been trying to ignore it.”
He turns his swing towards me. “Try something now, anything.” He encourages.
I roll my eyes, but stand up making sure Mason is a few feet behind me. I don’t know if I can do anything, but if I can I certainly don’t want hurt him. I hold my hands apart in front of me, palms facing the other, and again I can see the light forming. I focus and push out all of that nervous energy I’ve had bottled up for days, visualizing it between them. I’m rewarded (and frankly quite shocked) to see the light grow into a sphere of electric energy.
“Can you throw it?” Mason asks behind me, startling me and causing the sphere to shrink momentarily before ballooning back to its previous size. I take a deep breath before throwing the sphere in front of me.
The old teeter-totter had seen better days. So when my sphere of energy hit it and instantly obliterated it, I was only a little surprised. The aftershock from the electrical explosion (almost like when you see an atomic bomb explosion in a movie) did surprise me. Mason grabs me quickly from behind, pulling me away. “Kat, are you alright?”
I do a quick check. “I think so. That was…interesting.”
“That was freaking awesome.” Mason exclaims. “Can you do it again?”
A dog is barking nearby. “Maybe we better not.” I say quietly. “That was kind of loud.”
Mason looks at me. “Okay,” He nods and grabs my hand again. “Let’s get out of here.”
Now that the adrenaline is waning and the reality of what I just did has sunk in, I’m kind of freaking out. “Has this ever happened to anyone before?” I ask.
Mason shakes his head. “Not that I’ve ever heard of.”
“Me either.” I lead us back through the yards without even thinking about it from years of practice. “Do I go back to the hospital?” My stomach turns just thinking about it.
Mason stops short and whips me towards him. “No!” He says much too loudly.
“Shhh!” I remind him.
“Sorry,” he runs his free hand through his hair. “But you’ve seen the movies—they’ll lock you up and turn you into some freaky science experiment.”
I consider this. Mason really looks worried. I definitely don’t want to become a science experiment. I shudder, my mind drifting to those freaky nanobots. “Yeah,” I agree. “I won’t tell anyone else, except for Brie.”
“Agreed,” he pulls me to him. “You still feel the same.” Nuzzling his nose against mine, he kisses me sweetly. “Mmmm, and you still taste the same.” My knees almost give out. “But I’m a little worried about you. Maybe we should get you home, so you can go to sleep.”
This time it’s me that answers a little too loudly. “No!” I catch myself. “I’ve been having a hard time getting to sleep, since…” My voice trails off.
Gazing at the sky and lying in a secluded corner of my backyard, Mason and I stay up until we can no longer deny the impending sunrise. Grudgingly we part (which is just silly because in a couple hours we’ll be going to school together.)
After having some time to think it over, I’m still completely freaked out by my shocking new talent. I feel better that Mason knows, and more than anything, confirming that I’m not losing my mind. Of course, the alternative is not any more comforting than insanity, but I still prefer it.
I text Brie as soon as I think she’s up. I need to spill the beans to her, too, or she’ll be really pissed at me for holding out on her. Not telling Brie doesn’t even occur to me. Brie would never tell any of my secrets. While glowing and throwing zappy spheres is not my typical type of secret, I know it will still be safe.
When Mason and I meet up with her she is about to explode with curiosity. Best friend or not, I know it’s something that she has to see first-hand to believe. She demands we forfeit first period and let her into the loop. I have no qualms missing gym. Mason just shrugs, so we go back to her house. Her mom has already left for the day.
“Okay,” Brie huffs. “Now, spill.”
As I tell the story again, we walk into Brie’s kitchen for the first demonstration. Standing next to the outlet by her back door, and warning them to stand back, I raise my hand towards the outlet and approach it. Almost a foot away from it, I feel the tingling sensation jump from my palm, and then the current is visible.
Both Brie and Mason are doing their best goldfish impressions. I lower my hand. The energy disappears from sight and I feel what my body has absorbed. I turn to them both. “We should probably go outside for part two.” Not waiting for a response, I go out the back door, sitting on the steps of the porch until I hear the door open behind me.
“There’s more?” Brie asks, quietly.
I nod. Mason sits next to me, throwing an arm over my shoulder. I can’t help but feel a little self-conscious. “I’m a total freak, right?”
Mason says no at the same time Brie says yes. They both stop talking, and maybe I’m slightly hysterical, but I find it so funny that I begin laughing, hard. Within a few seconds they are laughing with me.
When we recover, both of them seem to be regarding me normally again. Brie looks at me, smirking. “So, c’mon already, I still want to see.”
I glance at Mason. We still don’t know how volatile the sphere can be. “Maybe we should go back to that playground?”
In agreement, we leave our bags and weave through the backyards again to the old park. Brie stops in front of the old, now obliterated teeter-totter. “What the heck happened to this thing?” She asks and as I blush, her eyes widen. “Get out.”
Instructing her and Mason to stand in the trees behind me, I look for my next target. I see the old slide, complete with holes. It looks dangerous, so I guess it’s almost a public service to demolish it…at least that’s what I tell myself as I hold my palms out in front of me again, facing each other.
Once more I push the energy out. I throw the glowing sphere in my hands at the slide, but this time I’m prepared for the aftershock. I place a steadying hand on the ground and duck down to one knee. The effect is the same as last time.
“Holy crap!” Brie exclaims. But her eyes are dancing. “Kat, that’s amazing!”
I smile. “It is kind of cool, isn’t it?”
“I told you.” Mason says. “I wonder: can you make it less intense, like change the power of it so it’s not quite so potent?”
I shrug but give it a try. I try sending a small sphere at a small leftover piece of the slide. It coats the metal in an eerie glow before it dissipates. I play around for a few more minutes, but then a quick glance at my phone tells me that we should be on our way.