DISCLAIMER: This chapter is still a work in progress. Please offer any feedback!
UPDATE (8/26/2020) – This chapter has changed quite a bit since this was published and my manuscript is being critiqued!
“Is your hair naturally blue?” Will asked.
He’d been talking since she arrived 20 minutes ago. On a typical day, she enjoyed the clinking and clanking of her tools as she worked on a vehicle, but today she hadn’t been able to relax with Will hovering over her, making comments concerning the weather and other random things.
Adamaris slid under the truck with her wrench. “It’s teal.”
“Teal.” He mumbled. “Is natural hair color teal?”
She tittered and shook her head. “I dye it.”
“Is it rude to ask why that color?”
“It was my mom’s favorite.”
He hummed and peeked under the car, his long black hair hanging to the floor. “When my grandpa said a mechanic was coming over, you’re not what I imagined.”
She emptied the oil from the HG70-P. “What did you imagine?” She knew what he had in mind, but hearing it didn’t make it any less entertaining.
“A big honking sweaty dude with a neck beard.” He chuckled. “But you’re regal.”
If she got petari for every time she’d heard statements like that since becoming a mechanic, she’d be rich. Most of the time it was funny, but sometimes it’d make her want to roll her eyes across town. When she arrived at the house, Will’s brown eyes grew twice their size. He was speechless save for a few indistinguishable sounds. It was cute.
“I mean it.” He smiled. “You’re the most gorgeous mechanic I’ve ever seen.”
She continued to work on the vehicle.
“And you mentioned your name was Adamaris?”
She slid from under the vehicle and wiped her hands with a rag from her pocket. “And you said your name’s Will.” She chortled and took the oil, pouring it into the engine. “Done.”
“You move fast. Thanks.” He gave her 50 petari and an enormous smile.
She slipped the coins into the pocket of her overalls. “Let Mr. Asefa know I’d be glad to make more house calls.”
“Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Yeah sure,” she said as she gathered her tools.
“Can I take you out tonight?” He asked. “I moved here a few days to help my parents and I could use a friend.” An enormous grin sprang across his cheeks.
She couldn’t deny Will’s attractiveness—his chiseled face, tight biceps, and she couldn’t forget his broad shoulders. Outside of his looks, he seemed friendly, and he had an inviting smile.
“You’re asking me on a date?”
The smile died, and his shoulders dropped. “Only if you’ll say yes.”
She laughed and put her hands on her hips. “I’ll show up at the pub roughly around the same time as you and we can happen to sit at the same table.”
He smirked and huffed a laugh. “My treat. We can meet around seven?”
She headed toward the shed exit and stopped. “See you then.”
She stepped outside into the harsh summer sun of Silt Glen, shielding her eyes from the bright sun. It had been two years since she moved in with her grandma, started a fresh life, and started studying to be a mechanic. She was thankful she hit the reset button.
Silt Glen wasn’t a terrible place to live. A lot of the people were nice except for the racist who hated magic and made their racism blatantly obvious. She wanted no trouble, though she wasn’t too keen on using it nowadays if she could help it.
“Hey there, Adamaris! Can you come over and look at my HG-12?” Mr. Farn asked as he stood hunched over on his porch. “It’s been making this weird knocking noise when I crank it up.”
“Sure thing. I can come by tomorrow? I’ve worked on about 6 other vehicles today.”
“I can wait.” Every wrinkle moved as he smiled. “C’mere a second.”
She walked over, her tools sloshing around in her toolbox.
“You remind me of my granddaughter, Nia. She was a hard worker and had the most beautiful shade of green hair. It wasn’t natural, but it was her favorite,” he said. “She would’ve been your age today.”
“I’m sorry to hear she passed.”
“Not your fault.” He slowly shook his head and frowned. “The doctors couldn’t help her when she got sick. They said nothing was wrong with her, but I think it’s because she was a magios.”
She drew her lips into a straight line and nibbled at her lip, a prickling sensation on her scalp. Because she was a magios.
“I don’t mean to bum you out. I just wanted to give you this for helping my wife out at the store the other week.” He took her hand and gave her 100 petari. “You’re a wonderful kid. This is my thank you.”
“Thank you, Mr. Farn. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She backed away from the house and waved as she headed home.
Adamaris wiped the fog from the mirror and pouted her lips as she posed in the mirror. She wanted this to end well since it had been some time since she’d last been on a date. She tied the towel around her body and grabbed the eyeliner from the sink counter.
A breeze caught her attention. Ophelia stuck her head inside, big gray curls atop her head and an uncomfortably wide smile on her face.
“Should I expect you home tonight?” she asked.
“Grandma, it’s dinner and nothing else.”
“I’ve had dinner before and it often ended with dessert.”
“Everyone can’t live the wild life you lived in your twenties.” she said. “We’ll eat, talk, and I’m coming straight home.”
“Maybe you can look into something more. How long has it been since—?”
“Don’t bring it up.” She breathed through her nose with eyes closed, biting back any words intertwined with agitation.
“You should get in touch with him.”
“If we are meant to talk, then the universe will make a way.”
“That’s code for you not wanting to lay down your pride. I’m sure he isn’t thinking about you as much as you think about him.”
She slammed the eyeliner on the counter. “I don’t care what he is thinking about…”
“You keep telling yourself that,” Ophelia said. “I’m just glad you’re getting out. A social life is important and you’ve been working hard. You should live out your dreams.”
“Can’t. I have medical bills to pay,” she said.
“Yeah, I know. At least have fun on your date.”
The door clicked shut, and she tied her hair into a puff and dressed her lips in red to match her sundress.
She put her bag over her shoulder and headed out the door into the warm night’s breeze. The pale white moon was enormous and surrounded by dozens of twinkling stars. She loved nights like that, sitting outside or staring out the window. It brought back the memories of a simpler time.
I should get over it.
She made her way into town, the path lit by tall lamps. One-story buildings lined both sides of the road and in the distance was the steel plant, smoke billowing out of the smokestacks that gave the air a slight metallic taste. People played games, and some magios practiced magic. A few of the older people grimaced and scowled at the young magic users, which only made her scowl at their reactions.
How can people be this intolerant?
She made it to the pub with a grin and a lightness in her chest. The bell on the door rang and as she entered the aroma of alcohol and grilled meats greeted her. The lights overhead were bright in contrast to the streetlights. Mounted on the walls were taxidermy animals and plaques with the names of employees. Dishes clattered and glasses clanked. The bartender passed out drinks to the patrons slumped over the bar. Drunk factory workers sat at each table laughing and shouting over one another.
She stood on her tiptoes and scanned the bar for Will. He sat at the back window with a scowl, his hair pulled back into a bun as he thumbed the sides of his glass.
“Will!” she called as she got closer.
He perked up and greeted her with a hug. Sweet cologne filled her nostrils. A scent that sent her back to being sixteen again. Max wore a scent like it, and it drove her crazy. Her belly fluttered.
“I’m glad you made it out,” he said.
She blushed and took a seat. “I told you I’d be here though I wasn’t positive if you still wanted this date, when I saw you you looked unhappy.”
“I’m not always aware of my face when I’m in my head.”
“Lost in thought.” she asked.
“Yeahup.” He offered a gentle smile. “So why a mechanic?”
Her hand flew to her chest as she leaned back. “We’re just going to jump straight into the hard stuff?”
He laughed and gave a shrug. “I like to dive in. What can I say?”
She pushed her shoulders back. “If you must know, my grandma is a mechanic. She’s about to retire, but she taught me everything I know. I remember being little and visiting her thinking she was so cool.”
“That’s hot.” He leaned forward and flexed his eyebrow.
She dipped her head, her cheeks hot. “Thank you. What about you? What do you do?”
He thumbed his glass again. “I worked in Oneverose as a factory worker.”
“Across seas. Interesting. Traveling was a dream of mine.”
“Dream, you say? Wanna talk about it?”
“I’d rather not,” she said, grabbing the menu.
“No worries. We can talk about deeper stuff if we go out again.” He grabbed the menu. “Ready to order now?”
“I’m starving.” She rubbed her stomach.
Will raised his hand and summoned Penny, the waitress and occasional bartender. She wore her straight brown hair up in a high ponytail. She smacked on some gum and greeted them with a grin on her and took their order for deep-fried potatoes and smoked fruit and beef kabobs. They ordered a few shots and mixed drinks. Adamaris loosened up, unsure if it were the drinks or Will’s carefree laughter.
She slurped the end of her cocktail and cupped her cheeks in her hands. “I’m so hot.” she giggled. Her hands iced over and frosted her cheeks. She leaned forward, her head tilted to the side.
Will wrinkled his nose and jerked his head back. “What is that?”
Adamaris straightened up and grabbed her drink. “Hm? What is what?”
“Your hands,” he said. His face grew red and his tone sharpened. “You’re one of them.”
“One of what?” She pursed her lips together and narrowed her eyes.
“You have ice powers!” he exclaimed with flared nostrils. “Why didn’t you tell me? I wouldn’t have asked you out if I had known.” Will knocked the drinks and empty dishes onto the floor. “I can’t believe you made a fool out of me!”
She jumped back. Most of the pub patrons mumbled to themselves.
“You’re causing a scene.” She whispered.
His face was flushed. His hands clenched and unclenched as he stretched his neck. “It’s a shame someone as pretty as you is one of those things with magic. Stay the hell away from me.”
“Things?” She glared at him. “I’m not a thing because I have magic. I’m a person. News flash Will, there’re people here have magic.”
“I’m not friends with anyone here and I’m not dating anyone who has magic! Your kind disgust me.” He spat each one of his words laced with disdain.
“My kind? Excuse me?”
“Did I stutter? You animals are useless.”
She slammed her palms on the table, nostrils flared and her fists itching to punch him in the face. “You’re out of line!”
“And you’re a freak.” He sneered and stormed out of the pub.
The muscles in her jaw quivered as she clenched. She tightened her fingers into fists. Everything smelled hot as she sought to keep calm. She scoffed and kneeled down, cursing as she picked up some broken glass. Penny swept up the broken dishes with a small hand broom. “I got it,” she said.
“Let me help.” she muttered.
“I get paid to do this. He isn’t the first person to cause a scene here and he won’t be the last.” Penny tittered.
She stared at the broken glass Penny before she put down some petari and walked out, the pressure of glaring eyes on her back.
As she was heading back home, two small children played outside with their magic. She beamed at them and their carefree demeanor.
“Hey! Take your magic somewhere else!” Will yelled.
The children cowered and started for their homes.
Adamaris clenched her fist. “No! Don’t go anywhere. Don’t listen to this man or anyone who tells you not to practice magic!”
“Magios add no value to our society!” an older woman said.
“King Ason has magic.” She yelled. “Leave these children alone or you’ll deal with me.”
“And what are you going to do?” Will scoffed.
She conjured an icicle and hurled it into the brick wall behind Will and the elderly couple she from earlier. They scattered.
Will lurched at her when the woman held him back and pointed to a police officer strolling the streets.
“Is there a problem?” the officer asked.
“No sir. I was on my way home,” Adamaris said, not taking her eyes off Will’s red face.
“And you folks? Do you have a problem?”
“No, officer. We’re just trying to enjoy this beautiful night,” the woman said.
Adamaris rolled her eyes. She went over to the children and kneeled in front of them. “Don’t let them scare you, okay? You can practice magic any time you like, no matter who is watching.”
The children nodded. “Thank you, lady.”
“Go on inside. It’s getting late.” She offered a smile, and the children did as she said.
The scene replayed as she walked home. She’d imagined herself slapping him, punching him, and kicking him right in the family jewels. When she got inside the house, she kicked the door and leaned on it. She gave a heavy sigh as she stared into the distance. She dropped her bag and rubbed her face.
Her teeth chattered as ice crawled and cracked up her neck and hands. An episode. Her lungs burned as she struggled to take full breaths. A twinge shot through her body as she froze from the inside out. She clenched her teeth as she struggled to stay on her feet. Nails dug into the palms of her hands and tears falling from her eyes. The pain lasted a moment and subsided.
She flexed her hands—they were normal. She felt her neck and looked into the mirror in the hall—normal.
“Adamaris?” Ophelia peeked around the corner from the kitchen and smiled at her. “Back already?”
She kicked off her shoes. “It could’ve been shorter if I told him I had powers.”
Ophelia rubbed her forehead. “Don’t tell me he’s a magic hating racist.”
She dipped her chin, ready to take flight through the roof and into the night sky.
“I had to go out with a racist, didn’t I?” She sat on the couch and leaned back.
“It’s not like they wear signs to tell anyone.” Ophelia said. “Other than that, is everything okay? You sounded like you were in pain. Was it an episode or do I have to go kill someone?”
She hesitated and massaged her thumb as her hands sat in her lap. Ophelia sat beside her and held her hand.
She moved away and kept her gaze on her hands. “I didn’t move out here so you can baby me too. As long as I don’t use my powers, I won’t have an episode.”
“I’m not allowed to care about you?”
“You’re gonna ask me about going to a doctor!” Adamaris bit. “And I don’t want to have this conversation.”
She held her hands up in surrender. “Alright. Excuse me for asking.”
Adamaris massaged her forehead. “Sorry. I don’t mean to yell. I just don’t want to pay for any more useless doctor visits.”
Opehlia leaned back and rubbed her hands on her thighs.“Should I hold my breath waiting for you to ask for help?”
Adamaris took off her head scarf and fingered her curls. “I won’t need to ask for help.”
“The pain your mother left us when she died… I’m not sure we can go through another heartbreak.”
She vaguely recalled her mother and the nights her father cried over her when she was a kid. Static memories of her father whimpering at night. She touched her face as she remembered her father’s tears.
“The difference between my mother and I is that I’m preparing you for the inevitable without all the debt.” She stood up. “I’m gonna call daddy.”
“Okay. If you need anything, holler.”
She meandered to her room and snagged her com. She dialed for her father and waited for him to answer as she shimmied out her dress.
“Hello?” He answered with a bounce in his voice.
“Snowflake!” he said. “How are you?”
She plopped on her bed and lied back. “Embarrassed and discouraged.”
She closed her eyes and breathed shakily—tears rolled over her cheeks. “I had a date tonight, and it didn’t go like I hoped it would.”
Check out this interview with me done by the marvelous Ian Kirkpattiecake on YouTube here.
Snap a look at my new coloring experience!