I settle myself at the end of the dock, alone, just the way I like it. When it became apparent that cities were no longer safe, I, like many others retreated to somewhere less populated out in the country. There is plenty of room to occupy considering how the planet’s population has been cut in half. The remaining half didn’t get off easily, though.
Gazing at my reflection in the still water, I sigh. A stranger stares back at me as I hardly recognize myself anymore. This new face of mine is startlingly white, with blue rings around my pale eyes. My face isn’t the only new thing about my appearance. I lift my right hand, peel off my dainty leather glove, and look at my glowing fingertips in the reflection of the water. While I watch, the glow extends up my arm and disappears a moment before entering my eyes.
This is just one reason cities aren’t safe anymore. I am frightened just seeing my own eyes glow. Seeing it on someone else is exceedingly terrifying.
I feel the power coursing through my veins like a poison. Shutting my eyes, I turn away, and feel my eyelids burn. Even though my condition is somewhat rare among survivors it is nearly impossible to hide let alone live within their ranks. It’s harder for us and only those with the most control over the condition can scrape by. Once upon a time I lived in a prosperous city, and then it wasn’t so prosperous. The all too fresh memory of the explosions stings and my ears begin ringing. I can almost feel the fires that ravaged my home burning my flesh.
Snapping my eyes open, I refocus on the peaceful mountain scenery before me. The burning in my eyes is but a dull throb now. Blinking rapidly, I await salty tears to well up in my eyes. But they never do, nor will they ever when my eyes are glowing like they are now.
I’m shaken by my nightmares. I know that I shouldn’t come out here to be left alone with my thoughts. That usually doesn’t bode well, but I do it anyway. More often than not, I find myself seeking solace. Sometimes I need to hear the silence that the country offers. I can’t help it. The static and the noise smothers me, kind of like it is now.
“Thane,” I greet softly.
Thane, my protector, tall and handsome with his fair hair and blue eyes. Without a doubt he will stand by me no matter what the world comes to. He has a good heart and values loyalty above all. My courageous hero; the one who pulled me out of the flames literally.
He kneels down beside me and cups my face in his hands, unafraid. “You good?” he asks, peering into my eyes.
“What do you think?” I snap at him, tearing my face away from his grasp.
He sighs in defeat. “I think you’re pushing me away again, and that’s fine.”
I turn away from him, pouting, I’ll admit, childishly. “I can take care of myself, you know.”
I’m startled when he starts laughing suddenly. Looking at him, I watch him make a show of wiping away comical tears. “Don’t I know it? Enola, I know better than most that you are strong.”
Scowling at him, I cross my arms. “Then why do you insist on staying here with me?”
He quiets down and smiles kindly at me. “Because I l–” he breaks off all of a sudden, and my heart skips. Was he about to say what I think he was about to say? He clears his throat awkwardly before continuing, but it feels like a lifetime before he does. The suspense has me at my wits end. Butterflies flutter in my stomach all at once. Deep down I suspected, but I never admitted it to myself. I couldn’t ever imagine what that would mean.
“Because I loathe the idea of you out here alone,” he finally finishes.
I feel my face heating up and it’s not from the glow inside me. “Didn’t you just say that I was strong?”
He nervously runs a hand through his hair, obviously flustered. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean you won’t end up destroying yourself if I abandon you.”
I want to deny it, insist that I am stronger than that. Unfortunately, the world I live in now has robbed me of that strength. Every time I’m alone long enough I’m reminded of that, of everything I’ve lost, actually.
Thane watches me, watches the bitter emotions flitting across my face. I let him see it all. It doesn’t scare him how I feel. No matter how withdrawn and reserved I become, he’ll continue to protect me from myself. Part of me wishes he wouldn’t waste his life by my side. That part of me can’t stand the thought of bringing someone else down with me. Thane isn’t like me; he could live in the city and be happy.
“I’m a freak,” I mutter darkly, eyes downcast.
“No. You’re Enola,” he states, reaching out to tuck a flower I hadn’t seen before into my hair.