Going back was the worst.
I had hoped that, after a case like mine, I’d be moved to another school. No such luck. My trip in the locker had no positive consequence whatsoever, and I was back in school after more than a month outside of it.
I forced my feet one after the other, pushing the class door open.
Don’t give them the satisfaction, I told myself.
The whole class turned toward me as I came in, along with Mr. Gladly. Mrs. Knott stepped from behind me, going to the history teacher and speaking in hushed tones. I looked over the crowd, spotting the faces of my tormentors. Madison looked like Christmas had come earlier. Emma smirked knowingly, visibly planning something. And Sophia scowled like I’d just stolen her wallet and taunted her with it.
Oh, and she was glowing.
What? I said on the inside.
I thankfully didn’t react outwardly, as that might have repercussions.
As luck would have it, the only open place for me to sit was right to the left of Sophia. I made sure to take my seat from the other side of the desk, leaving her no chance to trip or push me.
Class restarted, and I couldn’t help but sneak a few glances to the girl at my right.
Yup. Still glowing.
I barely paid attention to Mr. Gladly’s words, focusing on that issue. What did Sophia have that was so special? Why her and not anyone else in the class?
One thing came to mind, and I had to resist puking on my desk at the image.
Nope. Not happening. None of that soulmate or true love stuff here. Not happening. Ever.
I pushed that thought out of mind and focused on other stuff. Hopefully, the trio would have gotten their jollies with the locker incident, and I would have some peace for the next few days. The looks they’d given me wasn’t giving me much faith in that idea, but one had to hope.
The bell rang. Everyone gathered his or her things, and I was no exception.
Then Madison pushed my last schoolbook off my desk, where Sophia grabbed it and held it up, dashing what little hopes I had.
“Give it back,” I said, rising.
She glared at me. “Or what?”
I reached for the book, only to grab her wrist. “Give it…” I started, only to stop as a feeling rose in the back of my head as soon as my fingers touched her skin. Something taut, like a fishing line. I had an impression that I could pull up something, but what I didn’t know.
Then Sophia shook me off and the feeling passed. She tossed the book in the farthest corner of the class, then left without a word. Emma and Madison followed, but not before the second bumped me harshly.
I made my way back to the book, thinking all the while. Was the reaction I had linked with that light? That might explain why I hadn’t reacted to Madison (or to anyone before then), but I didn’t have much data to go about. The only thing I knew was that only Sophia had such an effect.
I then shivered as my previous thought on the subject came back to me. Nope. Still not happening.
Walking out, I barely made it out the door before someone grabbed me by the back of the head and slammed me against the wall. It hurt, but once again there was that pulling feeling inside my mind.
“You should’ve stayed away,” Sophia’s voice came from behind me. “Should’ve known your place. Seems you need a reminder.”
I managed to put my arms against the wall this time, but it still hurt. Twice, three times she smashed me on my arms, the feeling teasingly remaining present in the back of my head.
I didn’t care what it did. Barely an hour back in class and it was already hell. Whatever it did, anything was better than the current situation.
Something pulled up, I don’t know what, but the feeling disappeared as another took its place.
Sophia went for another two blows, and then went away huffing. I was left on the ground with that sensation in the back of my head, not knowing what had really happened.
I went through math class trying to put a name to the feeling now lodged in the back of my head.
It somehow felt somewhat alive or sentient, so I didn't try poking it, just getting impressions.
It felt like darkness. Like shadow. It managed to give the exact opposite impression of the sensation of sunlight.
I also had the felling that it was missing a part, like it was broken. That break didn't feel recent, more like an old wound.
Needless to say, I didn't do much work in that class.
I also didn't miss the bell this time, dashing out as soon as the first ring sang out. I took refuge in one of the bathrooms opposite the classroom. Normally, I found doing this to be shaming, but this time I relished the solitude.
I had something to test.
Before Math class was halfway done, I'd realized there was only a single reason for the bizarre feelings and the shining.
I had powers.
Probably it was due to the locker, but I had no idea what my power was.
And that's why I wanted to be alone. I was going to try finding out.
I ate the lunch my father had made me in record time, and then brought out pen and notebook. And I poked the thing lodged in the back of my brain.
I waited a few seconds, just in case it had some form of startup time, but zilch. I didn’t even feel it react.
I started trying to prod it from different sides, in different ways. Pushing and pulling and stretching and…
Abruptly, my point of view changed. I went from looking down at my knees to a view of the ceiling from the floor. A very shadowed one.
It was also itchy? Annoying? Painful, maybe? I tried moving away, to find a more comfortable place, and found myself with a close-up of the back of the toilet bowl, looking at the dust and webs there. The irritation was gone, and I could see clearly from here.
I took a moment to think and catch up with what was happening. My field of vision was wider than usual, nearly 180 degrees from where I was. With the space available behind the toilet, my body had at least shrunk or become immaterial.
Moving back to my previous spot was easy and fast. Now that I was expecting it, the feeling that came with that position was bearable, even if uncomfortable.
It took two tries before I managed going back to my normal shape and size. It was easy now that I knew how, and I turned back and forth a few times once I got the trick. Checking the back of the toilet in my normal state, I found that there wasn’t even a square foot of free space there. That piece of data, combined with the sensation of the thing in my mind and the field of view I had then made me pretty sure I had what I just did.
I could turn into shadow.
Not the dark, mist-like stuff you saw in movies, but a real two-dimensional shadow. I had the feeling I was faster in that form, and I was pretty sure the reason I could see properly from behind the toilet and not from the middle of the stall was that light polarity was inverted for me in that state.
I was about to grab the notebook I had left out and write out those conclusions when the door banged open. “Pretty sure she’s in here,” Madison’s voice rang out.
I didn’t freeze, like I expected. My point of view switched as I instinctively shifted into shadow in the middle of the stall. I didn’t move, hoping they wouldn’t see me.
They knocked on each door in turn, then forced mine open once they realized it was locked. Sophia stepped in as it swung open.
I found out then what it felt being stepped on while in my other form. Nothing. Not a thing. It was even refreshing somewhat, as Sophia came and blocked the light, diminishing the irritation I felt. I could see under the soles of her shoes, could point out the remains of long-scrapped gum there. She then passed over me, and I found myself in her shadow.
And she dragged me along with it.
I was surprised for a moment, but relaxed as I found I could still move around just as easily. I could leave and enter her shadow without a problem; I was just dragged along if I didn't focus on staying in place.
The trio found my pen and notebook, and I was glad right then that I hadn’t written down a word yet. The three talked for a few moments while I practiced, moving from Emma’s shadow to Madison’s, and back to Sophia's. They then made their way out, notebook still in hand. As the last left, I moved into the shadow under the door, then returned to normal form inside the bathroom.
I had a big smile on my face.
Not only did I have a real power, I now had an efficient way of escaping the bullies. It wasn’t perfect, as classes would still be a pain, but I now possessed a way of disappearing that they wouldn't be able to break.
I went and withdrew from my backpack the novel I had brought to read. I had some time before the bell, and a chapter or two was just what the doctor prescribed.