Author's note: This story has been roaming around my head for a long time; I'm glad to have it out for others to... Show full author's note »
A Day In The LifeA Day In The Life
I lifted my eyes slowly, being sure to memorize the stunning view ahead of me. A blood red sun, contrasting the vivid purple and pink sky, was setting into the horizon of tall trees. I was sitting high up on a sturdy branch of my favorite oak, my two best friends next to me. I leaned against the smooth trunk, sighed to myself ever so softly, and tore my eyes away from the brilliant sky.
I looked over at my friends, sitting next to me on our branch. Alice was mesmerized by the sunset, her deep brown eyes never faltering away from crimson sky. Her long, barely brushed red hair matched the color of the sky perfectly, but she tossed it over her shoulder impatiently, eyes still fixated on the summer sun.
Quiri, on the other hand, fidgeted constantly. His long, tan fingers ran through his dark brown hair absentmindedly, and he kicked his legs against the branch. His midnight blue eyes met my cerulean ones, and he smiled pleasantly, but I could tell his mind was a million miles away, so I retreated back into my own thoughts.
I smiled to myself, remembering another time when I had watched the sun set with friends- on the roof of the Manor, just under two years ago when we were new here. Quiri wasn’t around then- it was just me, Alice, Tolling, and-
Bam. I nearly fell out of the tree; the emotional pain I felt everytime I thought of Flex, the fourth of the original Survivors, was excruciating. He had been the one who held my hand when I’d woken up from the Sickness in the hospital, screaming in pain, the one who’d comforted me at three AM when I’d had yet another nightmare, the one who I always knew I could count on. He was like another older brother to me, and I was his number-one fan, his adoring lil’ sis.
And then, just like that, he had vanished from my life. He’d told us that he was tired of being hidden away on a mansion just because he was different, that he wanted to go out and help people and live his own life. And so, against express government orders, he left us and went out into the world. He started working in a hospital and living in an apartment on the outskirts of St. Louis. Flex had called us every day and told us how happy he was, that someday soon we could all leave the Manor and return to our old lives. We were all just beginning to believe him. And then, only three weeks after he had left Survivor Manor, he had a relapse of the Sickness and died. This time around, his bout was lost within hours; there was no time for us to say goodbye.
I hugged my arms to my chest tightly, unwilling to let my emotion show in front of my friends. Alice, intent as she was on the sky, didn’t notice the look of pain cross my face, but Quiri did. His eyes found mine again, his face concerned, but I avoided his questioning gaze, embarrassed. So he took my hand, squeezed it softly and quickly, and dropped it just as fast, our gesture of reassurance. I smiled my thanks to him.
We’d all been through more than your average teenagers. I had been living my happy little life as Julia Von Streep, a taller than average, somewhat geeky twelve year old who had a passion for all things ballet. I had everything a sixth grader could want- a family that loved me, a best friend that supported me, good grades, and even a promising dance career.
Then I got the Sickness.
I mean, it has some long scientific name, but everyone just knows it as the Sickness. It’s horrible. No one knows where it came from, how it started, what it’s composed of, only that it rearranges every allele in your DNA. Everything about you- your hair, your eye color, your skin tone, your height- completely changes over the course of about two weeks. It’s like someone ripping you apart from the inside and trying to rebuild you in the course of fourteen days. About 20,000 people are diagnosed with the Sickness every year.
Only eight of us have ever survived.
Once you find out you have the Sickness, you are admitted into the ICU for a few days, where you are allowed a few visitors, and your family and friends can say goodbye. Then, once the DNA metamorphosis begins, you are taken to the hazardous ward, where you are treated by nurses in yellow biohazard suits. They do all they can to make you comfortable, but you generally die a few days later. Families aren’t even allowed to have the body; it’s still too contagious.
Flex was the first to make it through this nightmare. He stunned the doctors in his Dallas hospital by hanging on for two, and then three weeks after he’d contracted the Sickness, until he was strong enough to open his eyes and move his limbs. No one knew what to do with him- for all they knew, he was still contagious and could start an epidemic. But no one was willing to study him closely enough to see.
Because the doctors and scientists didn’t want to let into back into the community, they started to build the Survivor Manor, for him and for other future survivors of the Sickness. They agreed not to tell the public that it was possible to survive, in case this was a fluke. They decided to not even tell the patient’s families that their children had survived. They reasoned that Flex’s family wouldn’t have been able to see him or talk to him anyway. Flex inched his way back to health without the support of his family and friends.
About three weeks after Flex’s miraculous recovery, doctors in New York City thought they had a different patient who might live- Tolling. When he ended up pulling through, Flex and Tolling got together and named themselves the Survivors, because they had cheated death by beating the horrible disease. At their meeting, both discovered that the Sickness had given them extraordinary talents. Tolling was much stronger than he’d ever been before- he could bench-press three times what he’d been able to in his old life just a week after recovering from the Sickness. He didn’t have huge muscles or anything, but all of a sudden he was strong. Flex had heightened senses- he could hear, see, smell, and feel things no one else could, like whispers from rooms away. And while they were waiting for the mansion to finish being built, they found Alice and me, in two separate hospitals across the nation from each other, both struggling to stay alive after enduring an entire week of the Sickness. They traveled to us, helped us through the intense pain. And we both squeaked through.
When we first moved into Survivor Manor, right after I had recovered, we had a Survivor powwow and decided to make some changes to our lives. The four of us made sure we all took online classes to keep up with our grade levels (Flex had to enroll in an online university), picked out rooms in the huge mansion, and most importantly, changed our names. It was Flex’s idea- we all looked and felt different from our old selves, so why not be different people?
All of our names symbolized us, or at least meant something special. Flex, who used to be Russell Ross-Davidson, decided on his name after his hometown, Flexley Valley. Ben Reichart became Tolling because the first sound he heard after surviving the Sickness was a church bell tolling noon. Alice, who used to be Elyssa Floyd, chose the name Allanor as a combination of her two favorite aunts’ names, Elanor and Alison. But because no one would pronounce it right (it’s Al- uh-nor, by the way) she decided to go by just Alice. She tells everyone she named herself after all the famous Alices- Alice Paul, Alice Cullen, Alice in Chains, Alice in Wonderland, but it’s really just because she got fed up of hearing it said wrong. Alice’s special power is her ability to sense the feelings of others. Also, she ended up with really good night vision- even when it’s completely pitch black outside, she can see. I have no idea how her talents connected, but there you go.
I chose Miracle Sky as my name. Miracle was because my life was a miracle- I know should not have survived the Sickness. All the odds were against it, and yet I pulled through. Sky is because it’s my favorite color- the bright blue that settles over us on a clear summer day. But I go by Mira for short.
My special power is sort of similar to Alice’s emotional one, but much more confusing and complicated. I can sense information that others have and use it to solve problems. It’s kind of like I can go into people’s brain, pick out information that I want to know, photocopy it, and use or have it just like them. People generally don’t even notice when I do it- they retain all the info that I “borrow” from them. Also, I can use information and fit it together much more easily than most people. It’s like everything I know is a puzzle. I can get all the pieces, and solve them more quickly and efficiently than most people.
“Mira! Snap out of it!” Alice had evidently come out of her stupor and was ready to go. “They’re waiting for us back at home, remember?”
“Right. I’m coming.” I jumped to the ground, spreading my arms and legs wide as I fell and landing nimbly on my feet, Quiri and Alice right behind me. As we walked back to the house, they carried out an animated conversation, but I zoned out, completely contained within my own thoughts.
Flynn had joined the Survivors about three months after we’d moved into Survivor Manor. She had had an especially difficult bout with the Sickness, but she clung to life determinedly. When I met her, she was underweight and scarily skinny, with sunken, scared blue eyes. She was much healthy and prettier now, having gained her normal weight back and grown out her glossy blond hair. But it still killed me that she looked so different from the person she used to be, Lola Cortés Riviera, a girl with Hispanic heritage on both sides of her family, with cropped black hair and tanned skin. Now, she’s pale to an almost albino color.
She picked the name Flynn after a character in a Disney movie that she had watched incessantly with her younger sister before the Sickness. And her special talent was really cool- instant camouflage. She doesn’t disappear or anything, but if she tries to, she can change any aspect of her body- her height, skin and eye color, her hair length, shoe size, even how old she looks. Changing her look takes a lot of effort, though, and when she’s not actively trying, her appearance goes back to the blonde, blue-eyed teenager she really is.
“Mira!” Quiri nudged me. “What do you think?” I hadn’t even heard the question.
“Oh! Um, well…” I was spared answering as I spotted Tolling and Flynn walking towards us, his arm across her shoulder. They smiled at us and waved, looking blissfully happy.
I loved both Toll and Flynn, but I wasn’t at all comfortable with them dating. It’s not that I felt jealous of her- I don’t feel that way about Tolling at all. He’s like a brother, nothing else. I was nervous that they’d break up and make our lives a whole lot messier.
“Race you back, guys,” Quiri yelled to Alice and me, already sprinting away.
“Hey, no fair! Just ‘cause my special talent isn’t speed like yours…” she followed behind him, hopelessly behind. I giggled and sped off toward them.
“Hey, good, you’re back,” Kwitney said, bouncing on the tips of her toes and putting down her book. “I made popcorn. Somebody call Lennon and we can start the movie.”
Kwitney was the latest edition to the Survivors. She was adopted from Russia as a toddler by an African American couple and had grown up with all adopted siblings, each a different ethnicity and background. She had been Ashlee Steffen, a brown haired, soccer-loving girl from Washington state. Now, she looked more like her adopted parents- chocolate skin, a mane of curly black hair, and big brown eyes.
Kwit had picked her name at random from the back of a reference book, but it suited her just perfectly. She’d only been here at Survivor Manor for four months, but she’d already gotten really good at her power- healing. She could cure anything from a bruise to a burn, from a minor cold to small broken bones. Believe me; she’d had plenty of practice healing all of us; seven teenagers together all the time does not create the most injury-conscious environment.
Lennon thudded down the steps, his blondish brown hair flopping over his eyes. It was mussed up oddly in the back, like he’d been sleeping. He’d been here ten months, and among all of us, he looked the most like his former self, Tanner Goldstein. His hair had darkened just a fraction, he’d grown two inches, and his eyes had changed from piercing blue to a softer blue-green, but that was about it. He’d renamed himself after his music idol, John Lennon. His special talent was really awesome. Lennon could control electricity- anything that had a battery or a power cord was completely under his command.
“Hey, Kwit, did you get the sodas?” he asked, sprawling out on the entire couch.
“Yes, Lennon,” Kwitney replied, rolling her eyes and shoving his feet off the sofa so she could sit down. He shoved back good-naturedly.
“Come on, Mira,” Quiri said, eyes on the screen. “It’s about to start.”
I sat down next to him on the floor. Quiri had become one of my best friends almost immediately after he had come here, just over a year ago. He named himself Quirinus, after an ancient Roman god, because his dad was a college professor of ancient history. He had a confusing mixture of qualities; soft-spoken and gentle when it was just Alice and me, but very macho and tough around the other Survivors. He loved to tease me, but if anyone else insulted me he’d snap at them. But mostly, he was just my best friend.
“Hey, shut up! It’s about to start,” Tolling threw a pillow at Lennon, who was slurping his root beer loudly. Lennon grabbed it off the floor and hurled it back, yelling “Pillow fight!”
We all abandoned our movie positions and proceeded to hit each other with the maroon throw pillows, completely wrecking the living room in the process. Then, as we stared at the huge, daunting mess, we fell to the floor, laughing as the movie played on in the background.
It was a perfect day.