Antithetical

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Chapter 12 - Isolde

I bite down on my fist. Why am I so weak? I just collapsed again. And I swore to myself that I would not tell Isaac anything – to be consciously associated with an Antithetical is not a good thing, especially here in Brackleby. If anyone found out, he’d face shunning and some time in RepAnt, where he’d have to confess that I’m evil and he hates me, or face life there, or in Confinement, forever.

I guess it was lucky that Mum chose that moment to come into my bedroom – I was about to spill.

I roll over the in the bed, groaning. I want to tell him . . . but I don’t, at the same time. I’m scared of what I’m capable of. I’m trying to avoid him, but it’s a hard task. Isaac is my best friend – he always has been, he always will be. Hopefully.

I’ve spent hours agonising over what I should do. I need to make my decision.

*

The next day, Isaac is not in school. I try not to let this bother me, and concentrate on my Maths exam, which I finish with ease. Basic stuff, really.

I’m sitting in the canteen, eating lunch and trying to act like I’m not capable of wiping out the entire school, when it happens. Water starts dripping from above me. I feel the droplets falling on my head, my shoulders. They’re soft in reality, but feel like hard little pebbles, tormenting me.

My heart thuds and my stomach lurches as I silently plead for it to stop. This is not good. Not good at all. It’s me; I can tell. I don’t dare look up above me – I don’t think anyone’s noticed, and I definitely don’t want to draw attention to myself. I excuse myself from the table where my friends are cheerfully chatting away, and quickly rush outside, still feeling liquid dripping on my head. Breathing in deeply, I try to work out the answers to the questions battering me. Did I create a cloud above me or something? Wouldn’t someone have noticed? Am I going to be caught and locked up?

My head whips around. Has anyone here seen? I sincerely hope not. Would I have to make a run for it? Escape somehow? Or should I just think of a convincing excuse? Anyway, I need to get to somewhere where dripping water would be less noticeable.

I hurry across the green, where the kids from the younger years play, giggling and squealing. That was me, a few years ago. That was me, a few weeks ago. Longing for a simpler life takes hold of me, and it aches terribly.

I reach the small woodland my school owns, and weave my ways in and out of the trees. They’re nowhere near as magnificent as the ones near my forest, but provide good shelter. Condensation and rain constantly drips off the flora, so this is the best place to stay until this rides out.

The damp, fallen leaves crunch quietly underneath, the sound softened by the moist soil. I deeply breathe in the earthy scent of vegetation. Mum said that the incidents occur most often when my emotions are high. Taking big breaths should calm me, and cause the water to stop.

It doesn’t though, which causes me to grow increasingly panicked – exactly what I do not want to do. I stop in the middle of the small woodland, and interweave my fingers. No. Panic is bad. Very bad.

My hair is completely sodden, and water is dripping down me, heavier than before. I try to dampen down the consternation, but it’s not working. I start to shake, and tears prick my eyes. No. No. Come on, Isolde. Come on.

I continue with my square breathing.

Stop! I order inside my brain. Stop!

My powers won’t listen.

Stop! I command again. I manage to ward of the hysterics, but the desperation still sticks.

“I can do this,” I murmur to myself repeatedly. A much worse thing could have happened. It’s not like I hurt anyone. Just a bit of rain . . . I keep on reassuring myself, and it helps. I relax, and the water pattering on my head reduces, and finally comes to a stop. I breathe in relief.

It’s all OK. Nobody noticed.

I silently thank the universe.

*

Isaac is absent again the day afterwards. I make plans to head to his house after school, and continue with the Finals exams, which I am almost finished with. Just Biology One after lunch, and Biology Two tomorrow.

Maybe I should have stayed at home, after the event yesterday, but if I figured that if I stay holed up in my bedroom forever, I wouldn’t be able to practise my self-control. I told myself that I must take the risk; it would probably pay off in the future.

However, when water starts spraying out of the pipes in the canteen, I rethink that.

Everyone is evacuated out of the hall, and I concentrate on holding it together. My friends just laugh and flick water at each other, carefree. It seems so childish that they’re screeching over getting wet, but if I didn’t know that I am an Antithetical, I’d almost definitely be joining in myself.

Water is aimed at me. I should grin and splash water back, keep up the act.

I’m not good at doing what I should.

I sigh and rub at my eyes, reminding myself that no-one got hurt.

Yet, a voice in my head says.

I interlink my fingers and give my friend, May, a dishonest answer to her question: “I’ve just got a bad headache.”

She looks concerned – her dark brows drawn in, her full lips pulled into a frown. “Why don’t you get a pill?”

Headache pills erase the pain in a guaranteed ten minutes. I won’t have an excuse for being dispirited if I take one.

I shrug. “Staff are busy cleaning up the mess. Don’t want to bother them,” I fib.

May pats my shoulder, and I manage a weak smile.

She leaves my side, and begins to talk to Kate, about our upcoming biology test, I think.

I squeeze my eyes shut, and will for no more accidents to occur this week. Or ever again.

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