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Hold On Tight
Author's note: I was inspired to do this piece by a photograph I saw right here, on Teen Ink.
We're all different. Izzy, Josh, Sam, and I. We all have something special about us. Izzy has X-ray vision. Josh can read minds. Sam can shape-shift. I can see the day that people will die on. Two things we can all do is fly and we're all telepathic.
My sister, Addie, as soon as she was born, I knew she'd die young. The date of the day doesn't come to me immediately. I see the month, day, and year repeatedly everywhere. I have to put the puzzle pieces together. Addie died at the age of four on June 26, my birthday. I was turning six. I was only two when I first used my ability. But now I'm sixteen and she would be fourteen. But I don't allow myself to see the dates of death of the people I love anymore.
But since Josh, Izzy, Sam, and I have these abilities, we're valuable. Mostly, we have a usual life. We all have birth parents. We're not some scientific experiment. We're real people.
Sup, I'm Isabel. But people call me Izzy. I have X-ray vision. Which, comes quite in handy when one of my three brothers breaks their arm or something.
"Kids! Dinner!" yelled Mamma.
"Coming!" I yelled back.
I hopped off my bed and hurried into the kitchen. It's first come, first serve in this house. I dropped into a hard, wooden chair and filled my plate. I scarfed it down. "Good stuff," I said with a mouthful of peas, mashed potatoes, and steak.
"Mm-hm," Momma said, not looking at me.
I knew she couldn't stand it when I talked with my mouth full. That's why I did it. I hurried mostly because I was going to meet Lux at her house. Lucky for us, it wasn't a school night. So I could stay as long as I wanted.
Once I finished my food, I kissed Mamma's cheek and raced out the door and next door.
"What up, Lux?" I said, walking right into her house. She was sitting on her staircase. "What's gotcha down?" I asked.
"Nothing, Iz. I was just bored waiting for you." She jumped up. "Where's Joshie?" she asked. She calls him that because he's the youngest in our group by two years.
"Sick. Flu. He has a big crush on you," I rushed, accidentally rhyming.
"Like I don't already know. Everyday when I walk past him at school in the hallway, he has this look in his eye." She shivered. "I hate little brothers."
"You don't have any," I pointed out.
"It seems like I do," she said.
We both shivered.
"So, where's Sammy?" I asked. I call him that just because I want to. He's the oldest in the group by a year.
Lux shrugged. "I don't know. He's eighteen. He's got better things to do than hang out with two high school seniors and a fifteen-year-old nerd, such as your brother," she said.
We both started to laugh hysterically.
No he doesn't, I sent her.
We both started laughing again.
We both breathed to calm ourselves down and went up to her room. We fell back onto her bed and stared at the ceiling. Lux's phone started to ring. She picked it up to see who it was and answered it. "Hello?"
I heard a soft muffled sound coming from the other side of the phone.
"What? Why are you calling me?" she asked. Then she sent me a message. Apparently I'm the one he trusts the most.
Who is it? I asked.
Who do you think? she replied.
I smiled. Sam, I thought.
Lux nodded even though Sam couldn't see her. "Yeah, sure. Whatever. Be there in ten." She hung up.
"Sooo?" I said slowly.
"He's in trouble," she said carelessly.
My eyes widened. "What kind of trouble? Major? Minor?"
"Ummm.....I don't know. But, let me just tell you," she started, standing up now and slipping on a denim jacket. "Josh is with him." She pulled her long, blonde curls out from under collar and walked out.
I followed. God, Josh. I swear. If you've done something...I tried to send him.
Shut up, stupid, he sent me.
Hm, I thought. Long distance telepathy. AWESOME!
* * * * * *
Lux jumped out of the car, slamming the door, and strode over to Josh and Sam. They stood there with their hands in their pockets looking rueful.
"Sam!" she yelled. "Josh! What do you guys think you're doing?"
"Don't do that!" she yelled, pointing her finger at him. "You need to stop getting into trouble because somehow I'm always the one who comes to get you!" She now had her hands balled into fists. "And, oh, don't get me started about Josh. Why is he here?"
The cops started to walk over.
Cops. Coming, I sent Lux.
She immediately changed her attitude unwillingly. "I'm just glad you guys are okay."
"Excuse me, miss, may I ask how you are related to Mr. Samuel Adkins?" asked the sheriff.
"Well, Sheriff Bernstein, I...m his little sister. Yeah, it's just us. And as for little Joshie, he's her little sister."
Josh said, "You just said that I was Izzy's--"
"I know what I said," Lux announced, no taking her eyes off of the cop.
"Well, all right, then. For now, Mr. Adkins is not charged with anything. His mother has already shown up. She's over there tailing to Mr. Field. If you would like to speak to her." Bernstein turned and walked away.
Lux turned back to Sam. By the hard stare she was giving him, I knew that she was viciously sending him furious messages. "You suck, you know that?" she finally said.
"I do," Sam admitted.
Lux glanced at him but then sighed and drooped her shoulders as Bernstein came back. I dug my pink Chuck Taylor All Stars into the road, waiting to see what my little brother had done.
Bernstein said that there were no charges and that boys should tell us what they'd done. We agreed and went back to my house.
"Well, we uh...." Josh started.
"We sorta got into some trouble with the Exilims," Sam finished.
Mine and Lux's jaws dropped.
Here's what happened:
I was bored, roaming the streets. I didn't want to call Lux or Izzy--they're not fun. So, I called Josh, even though he is three years younger than me, he can be a fun little dude. So, I met him at his house.
We just walked through the neighborhood awhile, but then he started complaining about how it was getting dark and how his Mom would be mad. I ignored him. Well, actually, I just told him to shut up.
Anyways, we walked back to his house and hopped in my that I keep there and we drove to Bell's Tacos. And we each got four tacos. As I was driving him home, I was also eating my third taco. I took a back rode so it would be quicker...but...I sorta crashed the car. Josh and I weren't hurt or anything. Just panicked. We hopped out of the car and ran down the street. As we ran, I looked over my shoulder and saw a man pulling out a rather large phone.
Oh, crud, Joshie Poo, I messaged Josh. He's calling the cops.
Don't call me that, he sent back.
A smile dared to curl my lips but then I remembered our situation. I picked up my speed, ready to take flight, but just then a helicopter appeared above us. Exilims started to climb down from a ladder while Werewulves started piling out.
Ready to fight? I asked Josh.
You bet, he replied.
We ran into the crowd of Werewulves and Exilims, reading for combat. We got our fists ready to fight.
"We're not going to hurt you," an Exilim hissed. "You're worth more in good condition."
Josh and I still braced ourselves for whatever they were going to do.
"Josh!" someone yelled angrily. I glanced at Josh. The Exilims and Werewulves piled back into the 'copter.
"Where is your sister!?" someone screamed angrily.
"My mom," Josh muttered under his breath. We both turned and stared down a dark alley.
"Joshua Ryan Tanner!" she yelled. "Where is she?" Mrs. Tanner was close now, all up in Josh's face.
"Sam, what happened?" she asked me nicely.
"Nothing. It's just--" Our parents don't know about us. What we can do. "We just hit and ran."
"Huh?" she said, confused.
"We drove into some guy's yard and ran," I spat out.
"Okay. You guys know what you did was wrong, right?" she said. Josh and I nodded. Mrs. Tanner led us back over to the man's property and she talked to him. She came over to us moments later. "All right, boys. Here's the deal: He already called the cops but he doesn't think he's going to press charges."
So, that's how the cops showed up. We obviously weren't charged with anything. Thank God. And that's how we all ended up back at Mrs. Tanner, Josh, and Izzy's house.
I hate big sisters. And big sister's best friends. And Moms. Ugh! Why can't I just have a normal night with a not-normal friend like Sam? Whatever. Izzy, Lux, and Mumma suck. So does Sam. If he didn't have the idea of running from the car, we still would've been sitting the car, and the Exilims and Werewulves wouldn't have dared to come on Mr. Field's property, so we wouldn't have put everyone in danger. He sucks.
"Yo, Sam?" I said, coming into the living room after Mom told me to take a shower and get ready for bed.
"What's up?" he replied, hitting the power button on the TV remote.
"What are you still doing here?" I asked curiously. I walked into the kitchen and got out the essentials you need to make the ultimate hot fudge with-a-cherry-on-top sundae.
"Your mom said that I could stay the night since it's so late and she said that you couldn't have a sundae," he pointed out, noticing what I was doing.
I shrugged. I sat down on the couch with my bowl of ice cream and stuffed it down my throat. Sam sat down next to me and turned the TV back on. We watched Transformers and then Mumma came out and dragged me to bed.
You suck, I messaged to Sam.
Love you too, Sam teased.
* * * * * *
"Josh, wake up, little man," Sam said. "Rise and shine! It's school time!" he finished. I hopped up and hurried into the shower so that Izzy didn't get it before me.
I slammed against the closed door. "You better be quick!" I yelled at Izzy.
The door opened. "Shut up, Josh." Izzy stuck her hand in my face and pushed me back.
"You too, buttface," I replied.
"You guys really do love each other, don't you?" Sam said.
Izzy and I stared at him. "Yeah, right," we both said at the same time and she slammed her bedroom door while I slammed the bathroom door.
I woke up extra early, ready for the first say of my senior year of high school. I pulled on some jean shorts, a purple tank top, and my grey and black classic Vans, with my hair in a pony tail to the side. Before I ran downstairs, I grabbed my brown school bag.
"Good morning, Lux," Mom said. She set a plate full of bacon and toast on the table. I grabbed one slice of bacon and one slice of bread.
"Morning' Mom," I said through a mouthful of bread. "Haf to go. Can't be wate. Wuv you." I raced for the door.
"Love you, too," she replied.
I scurried out the door and grabbed my skateboard out of the garage. I pulled on my helmet and knee pads--just in case. I set it going and hopped on. I kept checking my phone to see the time.
I finally reached the school but as soon as I did, the bell rang. I rode into the hallways of the school.
"Isabel!" I screamed, warning her. She was in my way and I couldn't stop. She spun around at her name and stepped out of the way. As I passed her, she grabbed my elbow and yanked me off the board. I brought a hand to my mouth as the skateboard ran into Principal Wagner's feet.
He picked up the board and walked over to me. Izzy still had her hand on my elbow. "Hello, Miss Ryder. It's a joy to see that you've come back this year," he said.
I said what popped into my mind the second I saw him. "It's a joy to see that you're not on your death bed this year, sir."
Izzy gasped beside me.
"Very well, Miss Ryder," he said. He walked past me and went down the hall, shaking his head.
"Oh my God, Lux. You're brave. Very brave," Izzy noticed.
I shrugged. "I know." I skipped to class.
* * * * * *
Sam wouldn't stop sending me messages in class.
Whatcha doing? Learning? What's up? How's it goin'? What're you learning? Havin's fun? I'm bored. When does school end again?
I got really annoyed when he started sending me text messages. Hey. Meet me in the school parking lot after you're done learning. 'Kay? I replied: 'Kay, as fast as I could.
When school ended, I was so relieved. First day of school's the worst. I marched out to the school parking lot, my brown school bag bumping against my hip. I saw Sam's black truck, him leaning against it. Not a scratch to be seen. He must've worked on it all night last night and all day today.
"Sup, Sammy," I said, finally reaching him.
"Hey, Lux," he said.
"Ohh. I get it. While I'm at school you keep sending me messages and then, when I'm out of school, you have nothing to say to me. Is that correct?"
I sighed. "Okay, tell me. Why'd you want me to meet you here, in the parking lot?" I asked.
"Well...yesterday you seemed stressed and I want to relieve some of that stress for you. C'mon, get in the car," he said.
"I am not getting into that car with you unless you tell me where you are taking me," I said.
"Come on, Lux. I don't have all day, and neither do you. So, just in the truck."
I shook my head. "No." I crossed my arms.
"Fine," he sighed. "Go find Izzy. I'll take you guys home."
"Fine." I turned to get Izzy but then two arms wrapped around my waist and started carrying me to the truck. I yelped in surprise and let him take me to the truck. He set me in the front seat and I made a humph sound and crossed my arms as he circled around the truck to the driver's side.
I couldn't find Lux anywhere. I tried her cell, but no one answered. I called her house, but Ms. Ryder said that she hadn't been home yet. I tried calling Sam.
"Hullo?" he answered.
"Oh! Thank God, you answered!" I said. "Lux is missing--"
"Oh. My. God. Where are you!?" I yelled, parking in front of my house.
"With Sam," she said.
"Well, duh. Where's your phone?" I asked, hopping out of my car and heading into the house. I walked thrugh the front door and snuck past my mom, and my little brothers Josh, Alec, and Felix.
I went into my room and plopped onto my bed, slipping off my shoes as Lux finally answered. "He took it."
"Well, where are you going?" I asked, confused and curious.
"I don't know. It won't tell me," she said.
"Okay, then. Just beat him till he gives you your phone back when you get to wherever you're going. 'Kay?" I finished.
"You got it, sista."
I laughed and hung up. I opened up my back pack and did my homework. Then Alec--eight--and Felix--six, came rushing into my bedroom and jumping on my bed. I pushed Alec off and he pushed Felix off and they both started crying.
"Both of you get out of my room!" I yelled, throwing a pillow at each of them. They both cried harder and ran out. Josh popped up at my door then.
"Hey, can I borrow--"
I threw a pillow at him too, but he dodged it and never came back. I laid on my bed, staring up at my plain, white ceiling, since I had nothing better to do. I grabbed my car keys off my bedside table.
"Hi, Isabel. How was your first day of your last last first day of high school?" Mamma asked. I groaned and sat across from her at the table.
"Good. Not very good. But...good," I answered.
"Go. Get up. Take Josh or Felix or Alec with you. Please. Or all of them. I can't take them right now. I need a break. They've only been home two hours and I already feel like I'm dying on the inside. Just take them somewhere. Please!" she begged.
I nodded. "Alright." I stood up. "Josh, Alec, and Felix! Get in the car. Let's go, let's go, let's go! We don't have all day!" I yelled. I started marching to the car and Alec and Felix did the same. Josh walked lazily.
"You suck," I heard him say quietly as he passed me and hopped in the passenger seat.
As soon as I got Felix buckled in his booster seat and made sure Alec was buckled too, I said, sitting in the fron seat, "Okay, boys! We get to go to four places. We each choose one. Felix, you're first. Where would you like to go?"
"Pizza Arcade!" he yelled.
I nodded once. "Okay. Here we go."
"No, seriously. Where are you taking me?" she asked for the millionth time.
"We're almost there, Lux. Just shut up," I demanded. "Close your eyes."
She closed her eyes. "Isn't this all techincally kidnapping? I mean you pick me up and put me in your car and then your taking me to some mysterious place? Not cool, dude. Not. Cool. I mean--"
"Open your eyes."
She opened her eyes. She gasped gasped. She stared at the sparkling blue ocean. She scrambled out of the car. "It's beautiful," she managed to say. "But...why take me here?"
"Because the ocean seems to take away stress. Makes you relax," I said, tucking my hands in my jean pockets.
"Well I love it," she said, glancing at me with her eyes that sparkled blue more than the sea.
We climbed down the rocks that lead to the sandy beach and she kicked off her shoes and tip-toed into the water. "C'mon, Sam!" she yelled to me, lose strands from her ponytail flapping at her face.
"I'm good," I yelled back.
"Oh, come on! Have a little fun. You're the one who took me here, after all!" Before I knew it, she scooped up some water and splashed my face.
"Now actually, that's not very cool," I said. I scrambled to the water to get her back. I splashed her and she screamed. She slipped on something and started to fall back. I raced to grab her. I grabbed her hand and pulled her to me so she wouldn't fall in.
"Thanks," she breathed.
"No problem." I let her hand go.
She gasped for air and stood in waist-deep water. "That's...was just...cruel!" she yelled at me, her hair fully loose from her ponytail and soaking wet.
A smile appeared on my face.
* * * * * *
We sat on the beach, sand sticking to our wet clothes. She sat Indian style and twirled her curly blonde hair around in her fingers out of habit.
"Lux...can I ask you something?" I asked.
She nodded and turned to me. "Sure. What is it?"
"When do you...use your Ability?" I wondered.
She sighed and laid back on the sand, her curls now dry. She stared at the sun but then closed her eyes. It took her some agonizingly long minutes to answer.
"I try not to," was all she said, then it went silent..."I mean, I don't want to. Sometimes I think that I have the worst Ability. I don't want to know when someone I love is going to die." She rolled her head to look at me as my eyes met hers. She quickly snapped her head away and sat up. "When do you use yours?" she asked.
"Almost never. I mean, I do mine by choice. Whereas you...you just see the numbers. You don't really get to choose when you see the death of someone...do you?" I said.
"Usually, no. But if I really care enough, then I don't see it. I choose not to. Like...my mom. Izzy. Like you." This time she didn't look at me. She just stared off into the distance.
Sam took me home. I had fun. He was fun. I never knew he could be. I mean, he's always Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected. I ever rarely get to see him like this. He dropped me off at my home and I hurried inside, trying to be quiet because Mom was probably sleeping. It was late. As soon as I walked in the door, Mom said, "Oh, thank goodness, you're home!"
"Hey...Mom," I set my school bag on the stairs and put my phone in my pocket that Sam finally gave back to me.
"Sweetie, I need to talk to you," she said. I searched her worried face. "Right now."
"Well, what's wrong? What is it?" I asked as she led me to the couch. I sat down and so did she. She stared into my eyes and I knew something was wrong.
"Well, first off, I heard about Sam and Josh's incident with the cops."
"That's not all." I frowned. "I...don't want you hanging out with them anymore. They seem like bad kids--"
"What about Izzy!?" I said, worried.
"Her too. That's why I'm sending you to live with father in Washington, on his ranch," she blurt out.
"Oh.. My God! I can't believe you're doing this to me!" I stood up. "On my first day of school you're telling me this? When am I leaving?" I asked.
"That's the day after tomorrow, Mom! I can't believe you!" I raced up to my room and jumped on my bed. I buried my face in my pillow and screamed.
I don't know when I fell asleep, but I did sometime. I work up the next morning at the carck of dawn. I slipped on some shorts, a red T-shirt, and my jean jacket with my Vans. I pulled my hair into a ponytail and bounded downstairs. I picked up my school bag and grabbed a banana from the counter, ignoring Mom at the table. I walked outfront and called Izzy.
"Open the front door. I'm coming over. I need to tell you something. It's urgent." Then I hung up.