Pencils, Rules, Bones, Heart
by JT Gill
In seventh grade, my crush is a boy named Austin. He walks the halls with head down, hand out, a pencil hovering circles over his open palm.
He doesn't ride the bus home. Max Renner makes sure.
"Freak!" Max shouts, shoving him up against lockers between periods.
Despite the Government's ideas that "Extraordinary Children" would be best served through integration, the reality is that they are quickly labeled, cast out.
We have third period together. History with the human Stork--Mr. Martin. Austin slouches in the back row, head down, hair in his eyes. I steal glances at him and imagine us running away together, the extraordinary boy and his wife.
When the bell rings, I catch him at his locker.
"How do you do that with the pencils?" I ask.
"This?" He floats a pencil in front of me, twirling it in midair.
I smile. "Yeah. That."
"Why do you care?"
"The other boys can't float pencils," I say, and toss my hair defiantly.
"I can do other things too," he mumbles, looking at his feet.
"Show me," I say.
He chews his bottom lip. Underneath a smattering of freckles, his cheeks burn red.
"I'm Alyssa by the way." I hold out my hand.
"Austin," he says.
And then Max's voice shatters the moment like a pane of glass.
"Freak's got himself a girlfriend," he calls.
He stands several lockers down from us, sniggering with a group of his cronies.
The pencil hovering over Austin's hand snaps. The crack startles me.
He opens his locker and tosses in the halves.
Inside, there are dozens of others just like it. Broken.
I stop riding the bus home, choosing to walk with Austin instead.
Together, we tread the sidewalks. For me, he moves books, rocks, and of course, pencils. I clap each time, and smile when he can't keep the pride from his eyes.
And we talk.
He tells me about his parents, how they died before he was born. Radiation. The same that came from the bombs, gave him his power, made him extraordinary. I tell him how I always dreamed of being extraordinary, and we talk about the rules placed on him by the Government. The ones he's not supposed to break.
"Like what?" I ask.
"Well, we're not supposed to use our powers after dark, for one."
"Rules were meant to be broken, you know," I say, smiling wickedly.