31 Months Before The Events of The Highly Capable

Another person’s touch was something I was still getting used to. All I could focus on was the warmth of Tristan’s hand. I was in the back of some beefed-out van holding hands with the boy who could turn invisible—the boy I followed into the warehouse despite all the warnings that went off in my head not to. I wondered how I looked to him and hoped I was starting to mean something to him, for he certainly meant the same thing to me. I looked around, not able to be entirely sure if I was dreaming of being in a van full of misfits with just like me or if it was real.

Everything felt surreal.

I had been on my own for so long. It’s hard to feel on the defensive, always. I pushed everyone away. The moment I was living on the street my relationship with the outside world changed drastically. My motivations centered only around survival, no longer enjoyment. I didn’t care bout what new movie I wanted to watch. I only cared about where I was going to sleep each night. I had hoped that I wasn’t the only one wit the ability to do something unexplainable. Here was evidence all around me. The world is larger and more diverse than I had expected. For the first time in my whole life, I didn’t feel alone and utterly hopeless. I studied the sight of my seemly small hand interwind with Tristan’s. He was almost too cute, with high cheekbones and a naturally pouty mouth. His eyes sparkled, with all these possibilities that constantly flickered through his head. There was a point where Tristan believed anything was possible. He his wonderment made me think of Peter Pan. His infinite hope in the incredible and unexplained was how he so instantly convinced me to meet his as he referred to them. They were, in fact, a crew but Tristan defiantly was not the one in charge. A couple—at least they seemed like they were a couple—seemed to be the ones making things happen. They both had black hair and unreadable eyes. The female, Madison, was a good six years older than me. Her face held sign’s she was getting near the middle of her twenties. Signs of youth was starting to hide behind the signs of experience and stress. She talked in a tone that was always sounding like she was snapping at people. The driver, and her possible boyfriend (though it doesn’t seem right to use such a proper word), Julian stayed mostly silent. He was clearly the muscle of the group. His face didn’t change from the serious expression he made on his face when Tristan introduced earlier in the evening.

The van screeched to a halt. The street was perfectly paved. Well, maintained craftsmen houses stood in orderly lines. Madison brought us to one of the nicer neighborhoods in north Seattle. My stomach churns with uneasy expectations. I wasn’t convinced that I was somewhere I should be. Sitting on the other side of Tristan was his best friend, Brody. The two of them apparently linked up when they were kids, long before meeting up with Madison and whatever this was. We were all some level of thief. Up until then I’d only gone after pockets and purses, never someone’s home.

But, this is how Tristan afforded a place to live in the city–that’s how they all did. I told myself and Tristan I’d give it a try. As we sat in the upscale neighborhood that housed only the successful and the lucky, only doubt swirled in my head.

“Are you ready?” Tristan asked with wide eyes. A smile took up the lower half of his face, reminding me where I’m there.

“I don’t know,” I said honestly.

“Then, maybe you shouldn’t. It will only get easier to do this. If you aren’t sure, don’t,” Brody said, keeping his voice low. Thick black glasses framed his hazel eyes that focused on me. I couldn’t help but feel guilty for being there. But, he was there too—and it wasn’t his first time.

“Leave her be, man,” Tristan said jabbing Brody in the waist with his elbow.

“I’m not being mean. I’m saying what’s real. It’s a choice.” Brody’s raspy voice cracked at the last few words. I was coming to know that Brody’s voice does crazy things when he’s passionate about something. Brody’s lips tightened into a straight line. My knees suddenly felt like a mixture of glass and jelly. I wasn’t sure why Brody was speaking up the way he was. Tristan’s hand around mine tightened, and he shot Brody a look that said drop it.

“Are you chickens ready to make a couple of bucks?” Madison said as she slowly passed a fireball the size of a marble, from hand to hand. Tristan’s skin shimmered, as he slowly faded away altogether. “Yep,” he said. The warmth of his hand was still around mine. The power of invisibility, you can be both present and not simultaneously. Brody’s body faded into the van floor gradually as he said his. Something else I was learning about Brody was he often phased through objects mid conversation. Once he is gone completely, the conversation was over.

The van doors slid open. I waited for a second.

“Come on,” Tristan whispered.

I slowly climbed out of the van the large, fancy houses seemed, even more, massive as I stood on foot. It had been so long since I had been in a true home.

“I’m ready,” I told Tristan.

Brody shook his head. I was annoyed. He barely knew me, and he was judging me for trying something he had been doing for awhile.

Madison was suddenly standing right next to me. I didn’t hear her move, but there she was. A fog of negativity lingered her life overused perfume. Her black hair looked more like a horses mane then someone’s hair. Her eyes showed no warmth. How could someone with the ability to conjure fire seem so cold?

“Don’t get in the way,” she said to me, only further supporting my opinion.

“I plan on helping,” I responded without giving it much thought. “Tristan told me my power would be helpful.”

“Caring too much about someone I worked with was one of the worse things I’ve ever done, and I’ve done a lot of terrible things.” Her voice slid out in a tone that left me sure of where she was coming from.

“Stay here and wait for the signal. Brody and I are the first to go in,” Tristan whispered in my ear, then released my hand. Without being able to feel his touch, I had no concept of where he was in reference to me.

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