About the Author
As the wind swirls, fueling the raging fire at my back, I now know her words to be true. What makes us most powerful can also kill us.
I’m Earth’s prisoner, sinking deeper into the sand and watching helplessly as a growing wave closes in on me until its massive form towers over the shore.
Fire, water, earth, and air. It was all supposed to be in my control. Something went terribly wrong.
They told me to stay away, that love was a dangerous game to play. I didn’t listen. And now I’m paying the ultimate price.
I take one final glance in his direction, my heart aching as I say a silent goodbye. It’s time to let fate take its natural course.
The wave folds over and crashes on me, the force of it releasing me from the sand’s grip then sweeping me off my feet. Its currents throw me like a rag doll, ripping me far from shore. With all my strength and remaining breath, I claw my way to the surface. I don’t know how far I need to rise, so I just keep fighting while my throat burns from lack of oxygen. The current is as resilient as an anchor.
I’ve lost all air, and I can feel myself grow weaker until all I see is black. Unable to hold on to my power any longer, I release my will and float free within the quieting water, slowly overcome by an eerie peace.
Not even my magic can save me now.
My dirt-covered sneakers kick beneath me like a pendulum, timed perfectly with the beating of my heart. Tick. Tick. Tick. As if that isn’t already a haunting soundtrack to my thoughts, the second hand on the clock above my head grows louder, providing more chaos to my already-cluttered mind.
The waiting game is longer today than normal. That’s fitting, considering the hard glare my mom gave me before strolling straight past me and through the door to my principal’s office. I try to combat the visual of my mom’s anger and the guilt that comes with it by searching my thoughts for something else—anything else. It’s close to impossible. The only other image flashing through my mind is of that cocky jock Steve Salmon and the crude words he muttered to me right before he went crashing through the first-story window of our science class.
“I’m so sorry about this, Erica. I thought therapy was helping her deal with her anger issues.” My mom’s voice is faint through the walls but clear enough for me to make out every word.
“Oh, Grace,” Principal Waverly says sympathetically, because apparently they’re on a first-name basis. “I know you’re doing everything you can. Maybe homeschool will be a better option for her. Then she can continue to get the extra help while keeping up with her schoolwork. She’s a great student. If it wasn’t for these little outbursts, she’d be thriving and well on her way to an Ivy League school after graduation. I just can’t put our students at risk any longer.”
“So what does this mean for Katrina? There’s only a month left of school. What about graduation?”
“I’m afraid it means Kat will be expelled from Silver Lake High, pending an expulsion hearing. However, if you choose to take her out willingly to homeschool, then we can forego the formal process. Then she’ll still have a chance to graduate on time. However, she will not be invited to the ceremony to walk along with her peers. I’m so sorry.”
I bow my head, feelings of shame and disappointment snaking through me. Principal Waverly has always been kind to me. Understanding to a fault. But not even she can save me this time. No one wants me here.
My mom starts to cry. “I don’t know how it got so bad.”
The sound of a tissue sliding from the rectangular box at the edge of Principal Waverly’s desk paints a sad image in my mind. It seems like all I’ve been doing lately is making my mom cry.
“Kat needs to understand what’s bothering her deep inside so she can better control her actions. Maybe this has something to do with her father. Have you been in touch with him?”
“No.” My mom snaps the word. “Not since Katrina was born. But he’s not the problem. She doesn’t even ask about him.”
The silence that follows is heavy enough to weigh down my heart.
“Well, she’s got to be curious at least—”
The sound of a chair scraping the floor tells me their conversation is over, which doesn’t surprise me. There are many reasons why I don’t ask about my father, my mother’s coldness toward the subject being one of them. I tune out the remaining chitchat and instead focus on how I’m going to face my mom after this “incident,” as everyone calls it.
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