The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
The Gifted Ones
By Misty Thomas
Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from QB Managing Editor Misty Thomas' novel, The Gifted Ones. Check out the 'zine at Quail Bell Magazine's table at the Richmond 'Zine Festival this Saturday.
The first time I realized what my sister and I had, I knew we were very different. I also know that we are very special. We have been given what some people call gifts. These gifts are those that hold great power. We can read into the future and we can cast spells and make real magic. Magic sounds like such a silly term considering all of the technology we have been given in the twentieth century. I suppose some would call us witches. We prefer to be called the gifted ones.
We do not follow some supreme religion or practice cultist behaviors; we simply summon magic from the earth, air, and fire. We are spiritual witches, so to speak. Special gifts and powers are not something that is given to people easily. Our mother knew with us that we’d be special. She was also born with these special gifts. When she found out that she was having twins, she knew then that we would change her life and the lives of others as well. Twins… no one knows the true power that they hold. And these are our stories. Not all of them are good, not all of them are bad, but it wouldn’t be an interesting tale if our lives went down like a fairy tale now would it? Not at all.
I guess I should start at the very beginning. That’s where stories usually start out isn’t it? But where do I start? Do I reveal the entire family tree or just touch on the subject of our mother and father? I’ll start with our father.
There’s not too much to tell about him. He grew up somewhere in the most southern region of Georgia. We don’t remember too much of him due to the fact that he left us really early on. Maybe we were four or five, maybe older. The memories of our father are all repressed. We would have glimpses of these memories in which we would share with each other on occasion. The most vivid of these memories was one in which our father was drunk and had been using cocaine all night long. He had many drugs of choice, but I do think that was the one that night in particular. He was arguing with our graceful yet naïve young mother. Who knows what they were arguing about but they seemed to go at it for hours.
That was the night that we realized the power that we had together. This is the kind of thing that you only see on the science fiction shows on television or in those movies. As our father put his hands on our mother, he said “You’re a freak and so are these girls! What have you done to this family? This is a family of fucking freaks!” I looked at my sister and I looked at our mother, the pain in her eyes was crushing me. My sister and I looked at each other and attempted our first protection spell. All it took was for us to think “protection” over and over again. Then it happened, our father fell to the floor. In one instant, we had stopped him from hurting our mother and us forever. He wasn’t dead, he was passed out. He had fainted because of the spell that my sister and I had used on him. When he awoke from the spell, he was disoriented and immediately packed his things and headed out of the house. That was the last time we ever saw our father and that was the first time that we knew our gifts were intense and incredibly powerful.
Harmony and I attend school in New Hampshire. We live in a very small town outside of Manchester. It’s quiet and that’s the way our family has always wanted it, quiet and low key. This is our senior year of high school. But this isn’t the first or last time we will attend it. It will just be in another place and another time. Like I said, we’re different and memories of ours are over grand amounts of time and space. I’m starting with these memories though because they’re happening now as you read this, in 2012.
Everyone loathes high school, of course, unless, you’re the cheerleaders, or the captain of any sports team. Harmony and I are not. According to some, we’re freaks. We dress like an average high school girl, although, I prefer to wear green and Harmony prefers to wear red. We like to represent the elements that we feel closest to, mine being Earth and hers being Fire. Other kids at school think that we’re extremely weird because of the bond that we have. We can look at each other from across the hall and know what the other is thinking and act accordingly. It really messes with people’s minds. The popular kids are either jealous or scared of us; the jury is still out on that one. Others really like us, I think it has something to do with the fact that we’re twins. We have a very tight group of friends. We all love classic rock, grunge rock from the 90’s, and classic and indie films.
Harmony and I are identical twins, as I have mentioned. She is an inch shorter than me, but the same in weight. We are pretty thin and we both have shoulder length red hair with green eyes. We have been told we are enchanting to the eyes. Harmony’s eyes are a bit smaller than mine; I’ve always been told that I have the eyes of one of those anime characters. We have a few freckles on our cheeks and very pale skin. Harmony has a bit of a button nose, whereas mine is more slender and peaked, much like the nose of an Italian. Harmony has a scar on her face where she was cut with some glass when she was much younger. I have a birthmark on the same place on my face that is very light and in the shape of a tiny oval. I’m a little insecure for how pretty everyone says we are Harmony, on the other hand, will take a compliment and run with it for days. She knows she’s pretty and can take a compliment well, I cannot. I blush and embarrass so incredibly easy. I am also not as talkative as Harmony. She can talk to anyone and will; she is very open about herself and her love life. I do not share so easily. She has many admirers; however, I am very choosy with mine.
Claire is my best friend. She is a very tall, blonde with eyes so blue they could pierce your heart. By tall, I mean, about 6’3”. She has the gifts of magic as well. She’d take us to school every day of our junior and senior year since we weren’t allowed to have a car quite yet. Our mother let us drive hers and our grandmother did too, but they liked keeping a close eye on us. We have few very close friends here, but a lot of acquaintances. Like I said, we’ve moved around a lot because of our abilities but we have been here for quite a number of years. Nothing too drastic has happened since we’ve been here and I think that must be the reason why our mother has stayed here so long. She tries to keep things low key and when she senses otherwise, off we go to a new city.
The first day of school is always a who’s who of fashion and popularity. Clearly neither of these things I care about in the least. Claire and I have English together this semester and thankfully because my crush is in this class. Travis has been my crush since I can remember. I think somewhere around the time we moved here in eighth grade. I have never had the guts to say anything to him other than hello. Of course, Claire, being the talkative one, always makes conversation with him. There’s something about him that is incredibly different this year. I can’t put my finger on it though.
“Hey Travis. How was your summer?” Claire sprang at the chance to speak to him, knowing how much it embarrasses me.
“Ah man, it was fucking sweet! Went to Colorado with all of the guys. We went to some really cool Indian reservations and did some family research. It was so cool!” Oh my god, he had the most amazing brown eyes I’d ever seen on anyone. I tried so hard not to watch him as he spoke to her.
“That’s really cool man! Didn’t know you were an Indian. I bet you really learned a lot.” She seemed so intrigued by what he was saying, I knew her motives. She really wanted to get me to speak to him and chime in on the chat. I just couldn’t do it. He gave me butterflies like crazy, it made me severely nauseated.
“Yeah, the things I learned are amazing. It seems like my family tree has a lot going on .There are even some secrets that I’m still trying to figure out.” He trailed off. His face went elsewhere. It was like he just blacked out. Then class started.
During class, all I could think about was Travis. I would catch myself staring at him instead of listening to Mrs. Jones lecture on about Beowulf. His eyes seem to take up more of my attention than anything else. I couldn’t stop thinking about these family secrets he told Claire about. What if his family secrets were just as intense as mine and Harmony’s? Shit! He caught me looking at him! All I could do was blush. Then I saw him reach into his smaller notebook and rip a small piece of paper out. He wrote something, passed it to Claire, and then she passed it to me. Oh my god! I felt like I was about to vomit!
“Is there something on your mind pretty girl?” The note said. Was he really trying to make a move on me in English class?!
I looked around, I know I was blushing. Claire looked at me and smiled. I could see her giggle to herself a little bit. It was all funny to her.
“There’s always something on my mind. And thanks for the compliment.” I wrote back. Note passing was so easy in Mrs. Jones’ class. She was an ex-hippie, so she was a little oblivious to us and I’m sure she had hearing damage from all of the concerts she’d attended back in her day.
“There are more compliments where that came from! You probably should stay clear of me though, I’m not good for you. Although, I sure would like to take you out one night.” This note was already getting good and class wasn’t even half way over.
“I’d love that! But how can I say yes if you already told me that you’re not good for me? That’s a bit contradictory, don’t you think?”
Claire was getting such a kick out of my facial expressions during the whole passing of the note. That’s one of my flaws; I can never hide anything on my face. I can’t fake or hide my emotions, EVER! It was such a blessing and a curse all at the same time.
“Yes, it is, but I can’t help it. All I think about is you pretty girl. Come to my locker after class or eat lunch with me. Please, this is me begging. You intrigue the hell out of me!”
And this, this is where it all started. Travis was no longer just a crush. He had initiated a conversation, a very flirty and playful conversation, to say the least. We were about to be something more. I didn’t know what yet, but maybe I would know in a few minutes. I looked up, smiled, and nodded my head. “I hope I don’t vomit.” That was all that I was saying in my head.
I told Claire that I’d see her in Spanish and told her I’d update her on our meeting. I think she was more excited than I was. She tried to give me a few pointers, but she could see that I wasn’t paying her any mind. She threw up her arms in anger and walked off. The anger would last about seven minutes and then we’d be back to normal.
The walk to Travis’ locker seemed to be the longest walk I have ever taken in my life. It seemed like he was miles across the hall when it was only about ten steps. He was surrounded by seven guys and they all scattered upon my arrival.
“Um, they didn’t really have to leave. I don’t bite.” I said smiling up at his 6’4” stature and gorgeous brown hair and brown eyes.
“Well maybe they do.” He joked. “Besides, I was telling them all about you.”
“Oh were you? But you don’t know all about me so how can you tell them all about me?”
“You have no idea how much I know about you, Hope.”
The bell rang.
“Shit, I’m going to be late for Spanish.” I said and I bolted to Mr. Henandez’s class.
“See you at later, beautiful.” Travis was beautiful and really creeping me out all at the same time. What have I gotten myself into?!
Claire was waiting for me in Spanish. Somehow a few other girls had already heard about the note in English class. Claire had a tendency to run her mouth about things, and clearly this was no other instance. I heard whispering and giggling from the few girls I would talk to rarely.
“Um, hello, you and Travis?! He’s the hottest skater kid at school! Are you guys going to go out or what? I need details girl!” Allie was one of the other girls I’d talk to on a regular basis, she and Claire were part of the gossip crew at school; so of course, she had to start in on me too.
“Tranquilio ladies!” Mr. Henandez said as the class started. I looked at Allie and rolled my eyes. Then I made a motion as if to say “I don’t know.”
Spanish class went by so fast that it was almost like a dream. I tried to find Claire in the hall so she could give me a ride home, but instead Travis found me first. It was almost like he’d been stalking me in a way.
“Hope, I need to talk to you. Will you let me walk you home or at least to the coffee shop so we can talk?”
“Don’t you have to go to the skate shop or park or something?”
“Nope, not today. I told the guys that I wouldn’t be there today.”
“Um, ok. Let’s get a coffee. Yeah, coffee.” I was a little confused about what his intentions were at this point. He was acting much weirder than before, if that were possible.
The walk to the coffee shop was awkward. Travis has this energy that I can’t figure out. He portrayed such a different guy in front of his friends, but seemed so shy and intense with me, and so self-confident around them. I suppose that is how a lot of guys act when they are in front of their male friends as opposed to a female that they may have feelings for.
We found a quaint little booth in the coffee shop and got our coffee and sat down to talk. Something came over me when I looked into his eyes. It was almost like I was in some kind of trance. His smile was so alluring. I had been crushing on him for so long and it was finally happening. What was I to do?
“I have to tell you, Hope, I never thought that I’d have the balls to even talk to you, let alone, ask you out. You know, I’m gifted too, just like you and your sister.”
“What? What are you talking about? Gifted, like in the smart classes?”
“Don’t act coy sweetie, you know what I’m talking about. I know what you and her and your mother did to your father. Those who are gifted know. We’re meant to be together. That’s why we’re here now. It’s all in the plan of the gifted.”
“What the hell are you talking about?! The plan?”
“The gifted are this way for a reason and we have special gifts that we must bring to certain people. You and I will share our gifts.”
“Travis, you’re freaking me out just a little bit. Let me ask you, what is your gift?”
“I can take people’s memories and I have abnormal physical strength. It’s why I’m so good at skating. I can heal on my own, and rather quickly. It’s crazy I know, but together we can be amazing!”
“You’re really scaring me Travis. What happened to our father was an accident and also, none of your business. Can we just for five minutes be normal? I just want to get to know you.”
And with that, he took my hand across the table and pulled me closer. He gazed into my jade eyes. He then pulled me closer still. I could feel the very edge of his lips on mine. My heart fluttered. I knew he was going to kiss me.
He took the side of my left cheek in his hand and caressed it ever so gently. I heard him take a deep breath like he didn’t know what to do next, but he did. We kissed and kissed and kissed. His lips were so soft and his tongue teased the outside of my mouth and lips every so often. It was only a five minute kiss but had seemed like an eternity. I looked up at him when he was finished and I was utterly and completely speechless.
“How’s that for normal, pretty girl?” He smiled and I blushed. I was still speechless. After a few seconds, I finally got some words out.
“So what are we now? Dating? Boyfriend girlfriend? Knowing that we’re both gifted with magic, can we even achieve a normal relationship?”
“Are you afraid of me Hope?”
“I’m not afraid of you or even afraid of a relationship with you. I’m afraid of what you and I are capable of doing together. I’ve liked you for such a long time Travis, and I never even thought this moment would happen. I keep thinking that I’m going to wake up from this dream. This is such a great feeling, but at the same time, I’m so scared. If you must really know.” Then, I sighed.
“You’re an amazing girl and I can’t wait to spend more time with you. How’s Friday night sound? We could go to the carnival and get out picture taken with the bearded lady!”
“I think that sounds awesome Travis. I have to get home. My sister is probably worried sick about me. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I kissed his cheek and he pulled me closer and pressed his lips against mine again. Damn, he’s so hot, I thought.
“I’ll call you later on tonight, pretty girl.”
I walked home with a little more pep in my step than before. Giddy, that would be the perfect word to describe me. I felt like I as floating on a cloud. Nothing could make this feeling go away. I had no cares in the world. What a perfect date!
I got home a little after five o’clock. I found Harmony in her room catching up on her homework. She looked startled when I walked in.
“Woah, you scared the shit out of me! Why the hell do you look so happy? Did you finally get laid?”
My virginity was a big thing between us. She’d already done the deed, but I was terrified of even the word, let alone the emotional baggage that goes along with it.
“Nope, but I did have a coffee date with Travis Miles!”
“Oh no way! He’s so damn hot! Dude, how did you land that one?”
“Wow! Your confidence in me is stupefying! He wrote me a note in class. Claire was the note passer. It was so surreal. But yeah, we had a coffee date. I guess we’re going out or something. We’re going to the carnival on Friday. He’s interesting, Harmony. He’s gifted too. Just like us. I’m not trying to get too close yet, not until we can get a read on him, together.”
“He’s gifted? Does he have brothers or sisters? He could be very dangerous Hope. Maybe even deadly! Why have you gotten us into this? What if we have to move again? What if he hurts you? Did you not think all of these things through? This will not end well. Can you look into his mind and see his plans for us and for you?”
“I can’t get into his mind. It’s like he has a block on me. He can’t get into mine either though.”
“It has already started then! You’ve got to cancel that date as soon as possible. Shit, call him right now!”
“And tell him what?! I’ll be out of the country or busy washing my hair? Calm down, Harmony, I’ll be fine. He’s so harmless.”
“That’s what you want to think, Hope. That’s what you think.”
I sighed and left her room. Dammit, maybe she’s right. The only way to find out though was to take my chances. I’d never been one to act so quickly, but I think that there is a reason for Travis being in my life. And I was damn sure that I was going to find out what it was. If it took all the life and breath I had in my body, I’d have to make that sacrifice.