Day 171 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about seeing the world in a different light.
Erin: When I got moved to 1st shift everyone considered me lucky. I didn’t feel that way. I liked the world in the dark. There were less people out and about at night. Not much was open when I used to get off of work, but the stores with late ours were so pleasantly abandoned at those hours. With even the bars closed down I could go full weekdays without seeing anyone other than my coworkers and college students who served me at my hangouts. I didn’t mind the calm five days and stocked up on my excitement over the weekend. I had so much energy during the hours I was normally at work. Being the life of the party was a breeze. The sunshine and daylight were harsh and they made me average. I liked life in the dark where I felt invincible.
Shannon: “I’ve always been more of a dog person,” I explained as I scooted away from my friend’s new cat. Its big eyes were staring at me, and I’ve never trusted a cats intentions. I didn’t want it to think I was any kind of threat.
“That’s surprising,” she gave me a look as she picked Oliver up to set him on her lap.
“Why? You know I’ve always loved dogs,” I shrugged.
“Yeah,” she quickly agreed, “But if you were an animal you would totally be a cat.”
“What,” I cringed. “I am not,” I disagreed, feeling offended.
“You’re an introvert. You’re independent and you aren’t constantly seeking attention. You’re really sweet when you want to be, but feisty too. Yeah you’re a cat,” she smiled as she tickled the cat’s back.
My eyebrows tightened as I contemplated if she could possibly be right. I never thought of it that way before.
What new perspective has your character been shown?
For the first week of class I refused all of Leo’s invitations to join him in the Dryad Society’s common room, or whatever it was they called it. I was still concerned about having such a silly power as speaking to birds, and that I would become an outcast in their little group, but Leo seemed to be enjoying it immensely. There had been a stiffness to our last few conversations, though, as though he was pulling away from our old lives as inseparable; he was moving on and growing up out of the nest where I was staying the same little chick, stuck without anyone to help me fly. That was why, last night after I’d completed a long essay on the healing properties of lavender, I texted him giving in to his requests. His response had been quick and ecstatic with way too many emojis.
This morning, the second Saturday since term began, I woke up too early to do anything productive, so I spent it reorganizing my possessions and picking out the perfect outfit for meeting a group of people with abilities. A cream-coloured peasant shirt and a pair of ratty old jeans were hanging off the back of my chair, like a ghost, waiting for me, but I couldn’t bring myself to get dressed just yet. From the patio doors I’d already watched the sun drip over the school’s uniform main building and dust the treetops with gold, but I was too nervous about my day to change.
When Leo arrived at my door with a heavy-handed knock on the door and an off-tune whistle, I pried it open with concern skillfully concealed behind my eyes. “So, you’re still worried, eh?” he asked, his sly ever-knowing smile reminding me how like an open book we were to each other, and I secretly cursed him for it. After a silent volley of arguments flew between us, I hung my head as Leo appeared as the superior brother. “Oh, dear sister, you really have nothing to fear. They’re so nice and helpful. Plus, you can finally show off your abilities to someone other than me,” he winked, beginning his horrible whistling anew because he knew I’d grow tired of it quickly.
Sighing, I snatched my bag from the bed and hustled him from the bright and airy room, locking the door and replacing the carabiner on my belt for safekeeping. When we were younger Leo would sometimes send stray cats to steal my things in the night, so I learned to keep anything important somewhere a feline’s paws and claws couldn’t get at without my noticing. With a last desperate glance at my dorm room, I let Leo steer me down the hallway, his excited energy rolling off him in waves that crashed against my wall of concern.
“Okay, so, I’m gonna take you on a roundabout way just so no one gets any ideas,” he whispered as we made our way into the bustling main building and scurried past clusters of students speaking in hushed voices. Ever since that illness swept through students who attended a party, everyone had been on edge and wary of people or things being out-of-place; it was very disconcerting not knowing if the next group you attended would be the last you ever did. Of course, that didn’t bring the framework of the university to a screeching halt, only the more conservative groups and classes. “So, how are you enjoying school?” Leo asked, his tone chipper and his long strides quick.
I was contemplating telling him the truth, that I didn’t care for any of this official learning crap, when he stuck an arm out in front of me and stood stock-still. Placing his finger carefully onto his lips to stop me from complaining, we held still against a corridor wall for a few long minutes before Leo peered around the corner again. After a further moment of silence, he swept into the middle of the hallway and nearly skipped down the way, with me trailing gloomily behind him. All this secrecy stuff was starting to get on my last nerves.
“Leo, what are you doing?” I asked in a dry tone while picking at a stray thread on my bag as though it were the most important thing in the world. With a final flourish, he stepped before a completely unassuming classroom, knocked on the door, stuck a key he’d pulled from his pocket in the lock, and turned the handle a few times. As he stuffed the key away, glancing over his shoulders as he did so, he gave the heavy wooden door a shove and waited impatiently for me to step through.
Peering around the frame, all I could see was a dark abyss smiling out at me, practically sucking all the light from the sunshine-filled hallway. I glanced up into Leo’s beaming face and breathed in a last lungful of fresh air before taking the plunge into darkness.
But, as I shuffled forward into the gloom with Leo shutting the door with a heavy shuddering, torches on either side of the space lit on a cramped brick and mortar corridor that was headed down and to the left. Behind me, Leo was breathing down my neck as he bounced on his heels, clearly wishing I’d move faster into his secret society. I turned to look him in the eye, bright orange flames reflecting back at me, turning his coffee-coloured irises to molten chocolate. “Look, Leo, I really want to understand how you see the world; always wondering about everything. But, you know I’m not really wired that way,” I pleaded with the man I knew as well as I knew myself.
When he finally replied, after a long and thoughtful pause, the exultation was still in his deep voice, “I know, Raven, but it’s all about how you want to see things. I wonder about everything because I want to learn and grow and there is just so much that we can learn just from our surroundings. You just have to decide, for yourself, that you want to wonder about stuff.” With that, he leaned past me and started on the stairs slowly, lagging behind to allow me to catch up.
As we made the journey to the bottom, I thought about what he’d said and made up my mind; I was going to be interested in the world outside myself and wonder more. In that moment I made a silent vow to myself, to the universe, to be more like my brother. So, when we came out at the bottom of the steps, I let my childish curiosity out in the Dryad headquarters. Rushing forward, I stared into an enormous crest carved from some type of shimmering blue stone that I made a note to learn more about and ran my fingers across a leather-bound book resting on the mantle below it.
“Leo,” I heard as I swiveled away from the interesting book to look for my brother, “I know we said we wouldn’t need you, but we have a mission that we require your aid with.” The thick, tired voice belonged to a tall, blond jock with a chiselled face and bright eyes. With his arm resting on Leo’s shoulder, he turned him to an ancient, intricately-carved desk littered with papers and maps and books of every type. Peering around them, with my new-found sense of interest in the world, I inched closer to see what they were murmuring in hushed voices about. When the giant noticed my stalking, though, he whispered something in Leo’s ear that earned him my brother’s signature “you silly bean” laugh.
Turning his grin on me, Leo called over the roaring fire, “It’s just my sister, Raven. Come on over and see what they’re up to,” he motioned for me to join them, while glancing back at the table with his brow furrowed. I tiptoed over into full view of the plans with the giant’s eyes warily trained to my features as though he could see right through my skin to my true intentions, which, I suppose, he might have been able to do. If he’d growled, or his hair had bristled, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised. “This is Jeff, Raven, he’s one of the higher-ups in the group. They’re trying to-” but he was cut off by Jeff’s massive hand waving before his eyes.
“I get that she’s your sister, but Elsa said no one should know unless they need to know.” Jeff spoke with a finality that made me slightly uncomfortable; as though he was of the mind that this Elsa person was the purveyor of the absolute truth.
Thinking through the situation quickly, as he always did with his lightning-fast reflexes, Leo countered, “Ah, but if you want that thing you wanted from me, Raven would be even better for the job. I’ve just got strays to work with, but she’s got that entire forest out there to recruit from.” He was looking pretty proud of himself as he chanced a sideways glance at me, the grin still stretching his pale lips. When Jeff’s eyes bored into mine, I could almost see the cogs working in his worn-out brain; he must have been working on this plan for a long time to be this exhausted after the first weeks of class.
“Fine.” That finality came through again, but I ignored my skin crawling and, instead, stared defiantly back into his emerald eyes and willed him to try me. Sighing deeply, he motioned to me to draw nearer as he began the explanation of their plans from the beginning, “See, we need to know what they’re up to before we make our move. We already have a few different plays in mind, Elsa and I, but we don’t want to act until we know- Yes?” he asked, rolling his eyes as I’d mumbled an important question.
“Sorry, just, uh, I don’t actually know who you’re talking about?” I squeaked, my mind buzzing with Leo’s interest and urge to know anything I could.
With a sidelong glance at my brother, Jeff answered and swung right back into the plan, “The White Rose Society. We don’t know why they drugged their- Raven, can it wait?”
“No, I don’t know what that society is and I assume that’s important,” I replied, my tone becoming more steady as I got used to my environment.
“Alright, yeah, I suppose so. They’re an ancient group, possibly older than this school is, that have a secret mandate that would shatter the understanding we have of our abilities forever. No one knows exactly what their plan has always been, but it’s been prophesized to have catastrophic consequences for the planet.” If I hadn’t been certain the man before me had no emotions, I would have thought I saw a pained look in his eyes. “Anyway,” he gave me a final, imploring look before pressing on, “we need to get a spy close enough to the White Rose Society, Mira and Daniel to gain some real information about the goings on and what they’re planning before we can do anything. Now, Elsa claims to have found someone willing to do just that, but I want to have a backup plan if that fails,” he whispered to the table, his arms tightly wrapped across his chest in a show of discomfort.
When Jeff continued, I looked to Leo, “We want one of you to send an animal comrade to track the two of them and gain access to their headquarters. It would probably be best if, Leo, you sent one of the strays into their lair because Dan has a soft spot for animals. But, Raven, if you could have some birds track them when they leave their dorms, that’d be perfect.” Up until that moment I hadn’t been concerned about anything, but when he already knew my ability, Leo’s wondering thoughts pecked at me like a starving vulture; how did they know that I could speak to birds?
With an awkward cough, I garnered the boys’ attention and asked in a minute voice, “How, how did you know about my thing with birds?” When they both stared at me with shock and some unnamed emotion in their eyes I braced for the worst.
“Well, your brother, here, told us all about you,” he spoke lightly through a genuine smile. I suppose that’s what happened when you wondered about things and showed an interest in the world; other people noticed you, too.
August and Josh sits in the living room as Mikio gets ice packs and a first aid kit. Their injuries weren’t too bad, but she suggested they stay home from school the next day and not move around too much. Josh tests his ankle a bit, wincing when it protests. August is just leaning back into the couch, his eyes closed.
“We couldn’t protect her,” he finally says.
“We did our best,” Josh assures.
“Our best wasn’t enough.”
August looks up, “Josh, there are people out there, gifted people, hurting others.”
Josh sees the gleam of an idea in August’s eyes. “No. Gus, we aren’t Avengers.”
“Exactly! The Avengers don’t deal with these things. They don’t look at people unless they are trying to take over the world. People need to stop those hurting others, like that man was.”
“August you saw us out there.”
Mikio walks in with the supplies. Josh waves her to August first.
“We’ll train then. Learn to adapt better. Maybe get some tech.”
“Oh yeah, and masks too,” Josh says sarcastically, “it’s dangerous, Gus.”
August looks at Josh over his mother’s shoulder. “Don’t you want to use your skills for something useful, Josh?”
Josh looks at Mikio, “Mom. Tell him this is ridiculous.”
“I am your mother, Joshua. I don’t have to do anything,” Mikio says. She finishes wrapping August’s shoulder, and gives him a toweled ice pack for his head.
“He hit his head. He’s not thinking straight.”
“I want to help others.”
“You want to be a hero.”
“Both of you, stop it.” Mikio sighs. “Augustus, you need to think seriously about this. A choice like this is not one made rashly. It will change, if not take over, your life. But Joshua…” she looks at her oldest son, “do you think your brother is wrong?”
Josh’s determined anger subsides. His eyes show the same hurt in August’s. Mikio knows his answer. “The world can use heroes, but I would exercise caution.”
“Don’t you know how dangerous this could be?” Josh asks. “Why aren’t you trying to stop us?”
“I raised you,” Mikio says simply, “I would know you two have good hearts. And I’ve trained you, so I know your skills. As a team, you can use them against evil. And as a team, you can protect each other.”
Mikio then helps Josh, then lets them rest.
“This is a bad idea.”
“Is that a no to helping me?” August says, “Don’t tell me the thought hadn’t crossed your mind.”
Josh knows it did. He wants to help others, but he can’t risk his little brother. “Promise not to do anything reckless out there.”
August offers his hand, “Promise.” Josh takes the hand, grabbing his brother’s forearm, too. “We’ll need tech. And masks.”
“Have any ideas?”
August lets go and leans back, sighing until all the breath is out of his body. “Problem for another day… My head hurts.”