Virago: Part the First — Fire & Rain

The sun dipped down below the horizon before it was even five o’clock. Kelsey grimaced lightly as she looked up from her phone. She knew that Hannah, her sister, would have another fit if she walked home in the dark. Actually, it shouldn’t even be an “if”, it was going to be a “when”. Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania wasn’t even that dangerous. Kelsey struggled to remember the last time anyone had even shoplifted or burglarized anywhere in this town.

The door sounded, and Jeremy walked into the 7-Eleven. They didn’t say anything to each other, he was just here to take her shift. Kelsey briefly raised her eyebrows and proceeded to clock out. Another boring day gone down the drain. Convenience stores were definitely not a very steady source of amusement.

 

Kelsey grabbed her hoodie from the back room and headed down the alley behind 7-Eleven. Looking up to the sky, she breathed in the cool November air. She paused in her walk, and idly took the pack of Newports out of her hoodie pocket. Jeremy always teased her for smoking such a shitty brand, but Kelsey couldn’t help it if she liked the taste. She pushed her shaggy chestnut locks out of her eyes with a slight frown. She really needed to get it cut.

Hannah would already be pissed at Kelsey for walking in the dark. It couldn’t hurt to spend a little extra time out in the beautiful night air. Sitting down on the pavement in a small backstreet, Kelsey breathed in the taste of her Newport. She was completely lost in her thoughts as she laid down staring at the sky. She almost didn’t hear the soft clicking of an approaching bicycle. As luck would have it, the cyclist noticed Kelsey.

“The hell is wrong with you?” the young high schooler scoffed as he skidded around Kelsey’s Converse-clad feet. “Dumbass.”

Kelsey’s eyes twinkled as his bicycle sped away. What was wrong with her indeed? She closed her eyes. It wasn’t long before she heard a satisfying yelp from a short distance off. She didn’t need to open her eyes to know the kid had hurdled off his bike. Maybe he landed on a shoulder and perhaps an elbow. A grin tugged at the corner of her mouth. It wasn’t even that hard of a fall. He would be fine.

 Hannah refused to believe that Kelsey had any abilities. “That’s just the shit you see in movies, Kels,” she’d say. “People don’t actually have that stuff. Nobody can do anything like that.”

Kelsey didn’t see it that way. Life in a small town offered little excitement. When she was away at college, it was a lot more interesting. If she was ever annoyed with a professor or wished the kid behind her in class would stop tapping his pencil, something would happen. Usually, it was just small things, and some would call it luck. Perhaps the kid’s pencil would fall off, and roll far away from his desk. Maybe the professor’s Powerpoint would disappear. But the fact remained the same, Kelsey seemed to be able to mess with people. Once, when she was walking to class, she noticed a fight happening between a couple on campus. Kelsey recognized the girl from her dorm. Her name was Megan, and Kelsey had noticed bruises on her body when she passed her in the communal showers. When Kelsey recalled this image, something inside of her burned. And then, something else burned too. Megan never had any new bruises after that day. Her boyfriend’s book bag had spontaneously caught flame before their eyes.  Apparently, he was pretty superstitious.

Kelsey felt a drop of rain on her cheek. Great. Now she had to walk home in the rain. She flicked away the remains of her cigarette before hoisting herself to her feet. Her phone began to ring. She didn’t have any personalized ringtones, but Kelsey knew it was her sister. Nobody else bothered to phone her.

“Kels? Where the hell are you? Your shift was over twenty minutes ago!” Hannah’s voice was at its typical annoyed pitch. For anyone else, she spoke in a very sweet manner. Kelsey was lucky enough to have a special tone of voice reserved to her for being a younger sister. Hannah was 26, so there were only two years between Kelsey and Hannah. But Hannah had always acted as if the age difference was far greater.

 “Chill, I’m on my way home. I got caught up at work.”

 “Right, whatever. Listen, do you know what happened in the bathroom?”

 Kelsey was puzzled. Did she accidentally lock the cat in there again?

 “There’s something weird dripping from the faucet.” Hannah continued, “I don’t like it. I’m gonna call the plumber tomorrow. It’s too late now.”

 “Do what you gotta do,” Kelsey replied absently. Hannah had probably just forgotten to turn the tap completely. Maybe something was stuck in the pipes.

 “Alright, well. I made wraps, so hurry up. Are you walking home? It’s really dark out.”

 “Okay, I’ll see ya in a bit.” Kelsey ignored the last part and hung up.

 The darkness deepened. Kelsey plunged her hands into her hoodie pockets and trudged down the street. If she hurried, she would be home in fifteen minutes.

 But she wasn’t.

Next chapters:

Part the Second — Finagle the Fangs

Part the Third — Neighbours

Part the Fourth — Sisters

Part the Fifth — Dark Bath

Part the Sixth — Arthur

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