Six years ago
“Mommy! Mommy! Look at me!” I yelled through the open window. My mom came out the house and gasped.
“Skyra, get down from that tree right this instant!” She shouted back.
My mom has never used that tone with me. I began to cry, and wiped my tears with both hands. Suddenly, I fell. Being twenty or thirty feet high in the tree, that fall should have seriously injured or killed me. Strangely, I slowed down, and landed on my feet at the base of the tree, right in front of my half scared, half angry mom.
“What were you thinking?! Climbing that high in a tree?! You scared me to death when you fell! You know what I’ve told you, Skyra. You could have broken a bone, or worse, been killed! You must never, ever, do that again. Understand?”
“Yes, Mommy. But that was fun!”
“What was fun?”
“Falling from the tree was fun?!”
“Yeah! Because I slowed down and landed on my feet in the fall!” I turned my head and saw a man watching us. He was dressed in black and had sunglasses on.
A year ago
I raised my hands in the air, a broad smile on my face. I had just won the School Running Championship, ahead of everyone else in my grade! The weird thing was though, while I ran, a strange wind came and pushed me faster. I never knew I could run so fast. Turning, I received the trophy and said thanks to the man who handed it to me. Wait a second. It feels like I should know this man. Oh well. I mentally shrugged and thought, what does it matter if I know him?
On the way home, my mom said, “Skyra, how did you run so fast? I’ve never seen you run so fast in your entire life!”
I replied, “I don’t know, but at least I won!”
These memories and others rush through my mind as I process what the strangely familiar man in front of me has just said. That I have the power to bend air to my will? Hold on. I know who he is. He’s been there, in all of my memories with me demonstrating some way of having the power to control and distort air. But still!
“That’s not true.” I say out loud.
“Oh, but it is. So I ask you again, will you join us? After all, you don’t usually see people with the air element power walking down the street.”
“Oh yeah? And why should I ‘join’ you?”
“I teach a school, where kids with all sorts of elemental powers come to learn.”
“Right…” I say sarcastically. There’s something secretive about this guy, something I don’t trust.
“Look, just come join us and learn, okay?” I can tell this guy is losing his patience.
“And what if I say no?”
“Then I will force you to come!” And before I can do anything, he grabs my wrists and slaps a hand over my mouth. I struggle and try to scream, but the noise is muffled and no one is around. He drags me to a van, gags me and ties my wrists and ankles together, then throws me in the back. I hit my head on something hard, and the world slowly spins into black.
I wake up, and think for a moment, who am I? Then I remember. I sit up and groan. My head throbs where I hit it. Looking around, I see that I am in a prison cell-like dormitory. I notice a girl with two long braids down her back staring at me from the other side of the room. Trying for friendliness, I say, “Hi.”
She continues staring.
“Where are we?” I ask.
“Academy for Kids with Elemental Powers,” says a voice from the doorway.
I turn to see who said that. A guy is standing in the doorway. He looks about fifteen.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
He ignores me and says, “So anyway, this place has been around for who knows how long, we all have elemental powers, everybody has either the water, fire, air, or earth power, but you can go on and learn the advanced arts, like if you have the fire power, you can learn to create and control lightning, if you have the air power, you can learn to control ice, you can learn plant when you have the water power, and you can control metal when you have the earth power.”
When he’s done talking he leaves, and I am left alone with the girl again.
“So, ummm…what’s your name?”
“I am not obligated to speak with such a lowly being like you.”
“Oh. Okay then.”
She turns her head sharply to the right and stares at the wall, which is a very nice olive color. Oh yeah, that’s sarcasm.
I pass the time by examining every inch of the room, looking for a way to escape. When that guy came in, he opened the door. That seems impossible. After three hours of search, I give up. This room cannot be broken out of.
An hour later, it’s time for dinner. The door opens – really? – by itself. We walk out, and I choose a random passage. Suddenly, a jolt of electricity zaps me. The girl I share a room with just smirks.
“I am not obligated to speak with you, lowly being, but I must say that you are heading in the wrong direction. The meal hall is this way. Whenever you feel a – wait, what element are you?”
“I am not obligated to answer questions from such a high and proper being as you,” I say, mimicking her tone. “But I am an air elementalist.”
“Ungrateful wench. Lowly being, I am only trying to help. Whenever you feel a slight shock, you will know that you are going in the wrong direction.”
“Ok. But how am I supposed to get out of this place?”
“Just because I helped you this once doesn’t mean we’re friends, you idiot!” she snaps.
I decide to follow her. After a few minutes, she says, “Why are you following me, lowly being?”
I reply, “Well, I don’t know where the meal hall is, so I thought I’d follow you to see where it is.”
“I get to dine with the other high members of the school. You,” she says with disgust, “get to dine with other lowly beings just as stupid as you.”
Oh. That makes sense. At least, it explains why she calls me a “lowly being.”
“Well, can you take me there?”
“ME?!?!?!? Take you THERE?!?!?!?!? If I get caught heading there, the teachers will think I WANT to sit in there, and then I will have to sit in there. For a WEEK!!! Do you know HOW SHAMEFUL that is?!?!?!?!?!?”
“Well, no, I don’t know how shameful that is, but I do need you to take me there. And besides,” I say before she can talk, “You could always say you were just taking me there.”
“Why you little-”
“Girls! What are you doing?!” says a new voice from down the hall.
The snotty braid girl says, “Mademoiselle Foodle, I was just taking this lo- I-I mean new girl to the meal hall.”
“Oh really? Then explain WHY I heard YELLING from down the hall?”
“I see…no reason to explain why?”
“No, it’s just that, well, I saw Elyria and Melina having, err, an argument. And, umm, they were yelling at each other.”
“Mmhm. Right…” she said in a tone dripping with sarcasm. “And where did they go? This hallway has no turns or side passages for quite a while. I expect you want me to believe they flew through the ceiling?”
“Oh, well, umm…”
“Lying, were you?”
“Yes you were. From the first day you came here, I expected you to be able to remember that silence is needed in these halls. Clearly, I was wrong. Your punishment will be…sitting at the newbies’ table. FOR A WEEK!”
“The newbies table?! But-but it’s so-so-so-”
“So what? Full of newbies? At least you’ll be with your new friend.”
“FRIEND?!?!?!?!?! Friends with this-this- lowly being?!?!?! The idea itself horrifies me!”
“That is your punishment. Or would you like it changed to a month instead?”
The girl drops her gaze, but I can tell she’s seething with anger. She flashes me a look of pure disgust.
“Stupid lowly being,” she mutters under her breath before stalking off.
I take a few steps after her when Mademoiselle Foodle says, “And YOU!”
I freeze where I am and slowly turn around.
“As for you, because you are new, I will let you off the hook. Just this once. After all, I have a thousand students who I must attend to, and they all MUST be punished!”