My Sister’s Magic

I wish I had my sister’s magic. She’s already wielding flames like an Alpha, and this is only her first semester at The University. As twins, we couldn’t be more different. Sometimes I imagine we’re really a whole that was cut into halves, because aside from body parts, everything she has I lack—and vice versa.

It’s her calm mind and temperate emotions that allow her to master fire so effortlessly. She is not easily distracted or provoked. She’s unreachable when she’s focused. I, on the other hand, I contain a tempest. The slighted thing spurs me on. My moods are a maelstrom, and they bring everyone and everything around them down—down to the depths of my turbulent conscious.

My sister once told me that she’s jealous of me. I didn’t believe her until I saw the fatigue behind the focus in her eyes. I had always wanted to be like her so that I could have fire. There is so much I want to burn down. I was surprised to discover that she wants to be like me. My powers are so rudimentary. Seeing the surprise and incredulity written all over my face, she pointed out that I have freedoms she can never enjoy. I can rage and cry and fight and laugh uncontrollably. Alpha Incendiaries can’t do any of that. They are never allowed to be weapons—only vehicles or vessels.

Just the other day we were walking towards campus when a racist, upon seeing us, hurled some explicit words as well as his coffee cup in our direction. Both the contents of his statements and his cup were hot—hot enough to burn. I felt my skin and then my temper boil.

My sister could have set him ablaze with no more than a glance. She could have manipulated his mind so that he would think himself on fire. That’s what I would have done with her power. I would have sentenced him to seeing consuming flames whenever he uttered words full of hate. But that’s not how my sister operates. She just took a slightly deeper breath in and kept the pace at which she was walking while we healed. That is the serenity of my sister. She lives like a lake that can only be mildly disturbed—no matter what you throw at her. I, however, wasn’t feeling so generous towards the bigot, so I made him mute for a month.

I find it quite satisfying using mortals’ maladies against them. Speak out of turn, whether it be a racist rant or sexually explicit language, and I can take your voice with chronic laryngitis. Touch me or someone I care about inappropriately, and I’ll give you the flu—preferably the day after you get the vaccine shot. If you’re unkind towards a child, you’ll get a dose of pink eye. Greed will get you allergies. Infidelity an STD. Ulcers and kidney stones go hand in hand with abuse of any variety. And I love using diarrhea for unchecked vanity.

I try to abstain from the degenerative and the deadly—but not because humans aren’t deserving; they are—and more. The world is full of people who are teeming with hate and unbridled cruelty. I could afflict them all. I don’t simply because such manipulations would lead to severe consequences with The Faculty. My sister doesn’t have to worry about such things. As someone on the Alpha track, she can quite literally do no wrong. And once she self-actualizes, she’ll be living above the law.

 

My Sister's Magic by aabsofsteel

That is the serenity of my sister. She lives like a lake that can only be mildly disturbed—no matter what you throw at her.

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Family Meals

As a little girl, Easter Sunday was all about the dress. And as a girl who felt fiercely loyal to the conventions of her gender, buying that dress was an opportunity to assert every aspect of my juvenile femininity. I wanted pastels, frills, flowers—and the dress had to pass the twirl test. The look I was going for could best be described as Southern belle, debutante, ballerina, flower girl, fairy tale princess.

It was rare that my parents became consumers due to the commercialized sentiments of a holiday. Christmas wasn’t focused on presents. We didn’t buy Halloween or Easter candy. I remember just a few seasonal shopping rituals: Every fall dad would take me to buy a new pair of sneakers (always the same brand, always the same color). I’d also get a new pair of dress shoes for school. And every spring, as Easter approached, mom would take me to the same store to buy a new dress of my choosing.

In our family, a holiday was a day that brought and kept us all home. There were no jobs, schools, or extracurricular activities—no parties or events—we had to go to. It was a day to be under the same roof—a day of rest and family togetherness.

Easter Sunday was also about the family meal. With our divergent schedules, it was a rarity that all five of us sat at the same table at the same time to eat. Family meals were a gift. I cherished those times. They reminded me of how much I liked and loved my family.

Liking my family is different from loving them. Familial love often flows from biology, chemistry, and conditioning. I love my family because they are my family. But I like them because of who they are—regardless of any relationship to me.

Usually family meals would become a vehicle for us to make each other laugh. We’d reminisce, make jokes, and tease. We’d recount stories of our individual and common life experiences. Food was the centerpiece, but love and laughter were the point. To this day, few sounds make me happier than that of my family’s laughter. Few sights swell my heart more than the broad smile of a family member.

My family has changed. I’ve lost and I’ve gained. Sadly, the five became four when my mother died. And now I have new family on my husband’s side. Easter Sundays (and the like) look different now. My husband and I rarely get to recreate the stay-at-home holidays I cherished as a child. I see my biological family less often, but that only makes the meals we do share more special.

Especially in light of how much we’ve lost and how weighed down we’ve been by sadness in the past, all I want most holidays is to share a leisurely meal with my family and hear them all laugh.

Foreign

I am often in awe of immigrants, especially the trailblazers—the ones who are first to leap into a new and unknown land and language without anything familiar or anyone familial or friendly waiting to catch them. What an exercise of audacious bravery. Moving isn’t easy. It takes courage and flexibility to build a life somewhere foreign—whether it’s a new country or a new city.

Though they didn’t have to hurdle a language barrier, I think about what it must have taken for my parents to leave their families behind—to board a plane and set off for a country full of streets, foods, and customs that were new them. Even the weather was foreign—new phenomena like winter’s snow, cold, and the changing leaves of autumn.

They both left an island so small that almost everyone there knew them, and they came to a country so big they must have felt invisible by comparison.

Were they afraid? Did they hesitate? Did they ever feel so homesick they thought they’d made a mistake? What kept them from going back? Was it confidence? Was it faith?

What enables a person to move so far away from father, mother, and motherland that visiting home becomes impossible or, at best, infrequent? When you move to a new place, how long does it take to stop feeling lost where you live? How long before the foreign feels familiar? And what if you’re met with discrimination because of your color, customs, accent, or origins?

It takes courage to move. It takes great bravery to go somewhere or try something new. There are no guarantees in the unknown. Sometimes foreign lands are unwelcoming lands too. And so I am in awe of those who leave country and culture—friends and family—the comfortable and the familiar and move somewhere foreign. I marvel most at those who must live surrounded by a foreign language as well as a new country, but all moves are impressive to me.