For this prompt, I visited my serial heroine’s past again. If you’d like to read the other flash fiction bits, you can find them here:
The Lies Begin
Lying in Wait
And if those and this spark your interest, and you want to jump into Your Lies, you can find all the chapters that have been posted here.
So this month’s photo is…
The Lies We Tell
The piece of paper floating in the air burst into flames. My stomach lurched sickly as the bright light faded and ash fell to the wooden floor.
“Damn it, Dee! Focus. You need to focus. It’s not about throwing your power at it. You need to control it.”
Kyle waved his hand and another sheet of paper lifted from the stack that rested on the rickety table—the only piece of furniture in the old barn on his property where we met. It drifted until it hovered in the center of the room between us.
“Don’t just think of it burning,” he said slowly as lines began to blacken on the white page. “Visualize what you want. See it and then use your power to make it happen. It’s a part of you, but it’s also a tool, Dee. A tool you control. Something you can wield and make do what you want. Always remember that.”
Even though frustration bubbled inside me, I smiled when I saw my name burned into the paper before it fluttered to the ground.
“Easy for you,” I said, narrowing my eyes to lift my own page up into the air. “You can practice any time you want. You don’t have to shove it all down and pretend it doesn’t exist.”
Sweat slid along my temples. I tried to focus and direct my magic to do what I wanted. Just like Kyle had been showing me for months—or at least attempting to. If it had been anyone but him, they would have given up long ago. Out of patience with my bumbling and failure to be able to do the simplest of things.
“Don’t blame your mom,” he said, leaning against the table—something I wouldn’t recommend given the state of it, but he managed to stay upright. “After what happened to your dad, she’s scared. And she should be.”
“Your dad…” I swallowed heavily, unwilling to say it. Even after three years, I just couldn’t. Not when it came to Dad. “He disappeared, too, and your mom’s not trying to make you something you’re not.”
The furl of smoke danced up toward the ceiling from the singed edge of paper. I bit my bottom lip and worked to pull the burn downward, just a bit.
“It’s not the same. My mom has magic; yours doesn’t. She doesn’t understand how impossible it is to ignore, how it claws at you and wants to be out. To be used.”
My eyes stung. My dad had understood. He’d been just like me—filled with power and needing to wield it. He’d known how suffocating, how painful it was to pretend to be “normal”.
“When do you leave?” Kyle asked abruptly.
“This would be much easier,” I ground out, “if you didn’t talk and distract me.”
“Do you really think you’re always going to have silence and all the time in the world when it comes to using your magic? You need to be able to do this with distractions, Dee.”
I curled my lip, sparing him a quick glance before looking back at what I was doing. “Next weekend.” College. The next big step. The next frightening step.
“You still need to be careful. Keep it secret.”
“I know!” I snapped. A small flame flared, but I was able to smother it quickly. Though the black mark snaking towards the center made me frown. “I’m not stupid, Kyle. I’m well aware of the risks. Have been for a long time with everyone shoving them down my throat.”
“Delia,” he murmured.
“Shut up,” I said, with little heat. The anger I felt wasn’t directed at him. Hell, it wasn’t even directed at my mom. Or anyone. It was just…everything. The fact I was born like this, had no control over what I was, and that I could be killed. Just for existing.
“I worry about you.”
“You don’t need to. I’ve held it together this long, right?”
I trembled as I tried to keep at my task, pay attention to what he was saying, and fight the overwhelming inevitability of being on my own. Kyle was a year older than me, but had decided to stay while I finished high school. Now, as I was moving closer to the city to attend college, he was going off on his own, too. It was the first time in my life he wouldn’t be there.
“I’m scared,” I admitted in a whisper. “Not of being found out. I can handle that.” I thought I managed to say that convincingly despite all my doubts. “But I’m going to be alone. Especially with you off doing who knows what, who knows where.”
And I was worried about him, too. Though I wouldn’t say that out loud. I knew more about what he was planning to do than he realized I did. Because, damn it, I wasn’t stupid.
Our fathers had been taken when they were investigating the disappearance of other magic users. I didn’t know everything they discovered, but I knew it wasn’t good. And I definitely knew that Kyle hadn’t shared everything about that night three years ago. Not even close. And, now, he was going to follow in their footsteps, continue the secret, and dangerous, work they’d been doing.
“You could always stay here,” he reminded me.
“Not a chance.” I laughed. “Besides, you’re still leaving.”
“Off on your world travels.” I threw his lie at him. “Your grand adventure.”
“College isn’t for me,” he said smoothly.
A part of me wanted to call him out on it, to tell him I knew he was lying to me and had been for a long time. I didn’t, though, because I knew he was trying to protect me, and I loved him for that, no matter how unnecessary. It was the story of my life—lies kept us safe. Kept those we cared about safe.
I sighed and, with a wave of the hand, sent what was left of the paper toward him. He plucked it out of the air and his laugh echoed around us. Holding it up, he met my gaze. “You giving me your heart, Dee?”
I returned his smile. The heart was rough, but definitely recognizable as such. “I gave it to you a long time ago.” My face flushed when I realized how it sounded. “Not like that! Just…I love you. You’re my family, and I’m going to miss you.”
He strode across the room and yanked me into his embrace. “I love you, too. And one day I’m going to have to see you fall for some twat, and then he’ll have your heart. So, for now,” he drew back and murmured a few words that resulted in the burnt paper glowing for a moment, “I’ll hold on to this and enjoy being the only one.”
He pulled out his wallet and tucked the heart inside—the edges not crumbling at all. A protective spell, then.
“And,” he continued, “don’t be scared about being alone. Because you’re not. I’m always here. You need anything—anything—you call me. I’ll be there in a blink.”
I laughed and went up on my toes to kiss his cheek. “You’ll want to, but even you can’t be halfway around the world ‘in a blink’,” I teased, still going along with it. Pretending I didn’t know he’d be close, likely in the city. Hell, he be nearer to me than if he stayed here.
He gave a lazy shrug and grinned. I narrowed my gaze. “You can’t…can you? Kyle! You’re telling me you can teleport?” That was a rare as fuck talent, and only the most powerful of magic users could do it—while expending enormous energy.
“I’m not telling you anything.” He tapped my nose and stepped back. “Now…again.”
I cursed as several sheets of paper rustled and travelled toward me. Showoff—he hadn’t gestured or even looked away from me.
“Fine, but one day,” I pointed at him, “one day, you’re showing me how to do that.”
I made one of the papers flame wildly, just to hear him laugh, the sound washing away some of the dread and fear that still lingered. Even though I knew it’d only last a little while, I’d take it.
Be sure to check out the other peices inspired by this month’s photo!
Bronwyn Green | Jessica De La Rosa | Kayleigh Jones | | Kellie St. James | Kris Norris