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Friday, December 31, 2021

F³ What We Take into The New Year

             Cassie was out with friends for a New Year’s Eve party, and I had expected Nikki to drag me to yet another grand ball or party at the Fairhaven Club with the city’s elite, but instead we watched bad horror movies with Elvira hosting. It was like a normal date night, and the best New Year’s Eve in memory.

            “Do you know,” she began, interrupting the commercial for the latest spray-on sealant, which I muted. “I have never been one to truly celebrate the new year. The world’s claims of a time of rebirth or reinvention held no interest for me.”

            “Well, yeah, immortality’ll do that to you.”

            “I witnessed historic revolutions that promised to shake the pillars of nations, and was part of the smaller, personal revolutions in countless lives, and the constant I saw was that change doesn’t happen with the tick of a clock from one second to the next.”

            “So you’re not going to be resolving to lose weight next year? I only mention it—”

            She put a finger on my lips, silencing me. “To try and distract me from a melancholy thought. I appreciate the misdirection for what it is, but allow me to finish, Matthew.”

            I nodded.

            “The seconds, minutes, hours, or even days, weeks, months, and years to not produce change. I have never regarded the calendar as having any power over my outlook on life as the decades and centuries have produced very little change in society or in myself. However, I look back at this year as one of remarkable change, of intimacy with you.”

            “Um, well, I—” I stammered, but she again shushed me.

            “Do not think I am looking for some long-term commitment, Matthew. Merely take it for the compliment that I intend that for the first time in a long time I have looked back on this year and regret its passing, yet I also look forward to what the new year may bring, not because I resolve to make changes, but because this chapter of my life, with you in it, continues.”

            I gave her a small grin. “I never really thought about it like that. Especially in recent years with all the craziness, I’ve kind of looked forward to the new year as a way to leave the old behind. But you flipped it. The parts of the old year you choose to take with you into the new. And for what it’s worth, I feel the same way. ‘If that new year leaves the ground and you’re not with me, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.’” I tried not to lay my Bogart impression on too thick, but couldn’t help but slip into it.

            “I’ll allow the sentiment, but please leave the impression in the old year.”


Friday, December 24, 2021

F³ Christmas Story

             For a change, I didn’t have any weirdness going on at Christmas. Nikki hadn’t dropped by, I hadn’t seen the kid, and Nick was staying far away for all I could tell. It was just me and Cassie on the couch watching Christmas specials. The tree twinkled merrily with gifts underneath, and we had hot cocoa, made from Ma’s special powdered mix. I need to make sure we called Florida in the morning. Hopefully we could get the video working, though sometimes Ma and Dad had difficulty with the tech. Heck, sometimes I had problems with the tech.

            I picked up the remote, ready to select the next film, highlighting The Santa Clause, but Cassie shook her head.

            “Not that one, Uncle Matt. We used to watch that one all the time, but now. . . .” she trailed off.

            “Okay, Cassie. We don’t have to watch that one. How do you feel about National Lampoons?”

            She nodded slowly, but as the intro to the selected flick started up, she wasn’t really seeing it. I put an arm around her shoulders, and she leaned into me.

            “I miss them, Uncle Matt.”

            “Me, too, Kiddo. Now, your dad and I, we loved this movie, because your grandpa, well, he kept trying to do the same thing with the lights, only your dad and I were the ones to do all the real work. He was the supervisor, you know? Anyway, even though we were working at it, we still made some fun out of it. Did you know that a strand of Christmas lights is strong enough to support a ten year-old’s body weight?”

“What?” she looked up at me.

“True story. We were scared of sliding off the icy room so we used extra light strands as safety ropes.”

“That worked?”

“Oh yeah. See, the lights in those days were big and needed a lot of juice, not like the skinny strands of lights they have, now. And for all that your grandma worried about us doing crazy things, she never once had a problem with grandpa sending us onto an icy room. Guess she thought we were safe as long as we were ‘supervised.’”

Cassie chuckled at that.

“One time your dad slipped and went over the eave. And there I was up at the top, making sure to belay him. But grandpa, all he says is, ‘You dropped the staple gun. I’ll toss it back up to you.’”

“Nuh uh!”

“Oh, yeah, to you they’re nice grandparents who give you stuff. To your dad and I, they were slavedrivers, though we did get hot chocolate once inside, and your grandma’s cinnamon ring.”

“That sounds good, can we have some, now?”

“Sure thing, but don’t tell Grandma, tomorrow morning. She wanted us to save it.”

Friday, December 17, 2021

F³ Motion in The Ocean

             I didn’t widen the gap between fingers, but I did pump up what I thought was the electricity flowing out of me. It shouldn’t result in a bigger arc, but it did. A fat stream of white lightning danced between my fingers. But it was more jagged than normal lightning, too, or at least . . .

            “It’s fuzzy,” I said.

            “Yeah,” Nat said.

            “Like Kylo Ren’s lightsaber,” Kate said.

            “Never mention those movies,” Jack said.

            “I didn’t say I liked them,” Kate said.

            “They’re definitely explosions,” Nat said.

            “What the fuck is exploding?” I asked.

            “Yeah, it’s not like he’s packing C4 or something,” Kate said.

            “Packing, heh,” Jack said.

            “It feels like lightning inside you?” Nat asked.

            I thought about it, then nodded. “As far as I can tell.”

            “The charge is the same?”

            I hadn’t thought about that. Never had to think about the charge, before. Even positive lightning was really negatively charged. It just moved down a different pathway than typical lightning, from the top of the cloud to the ground instead of the bottom of the cloud.

            I closed my eyes and thought about the lightning inside me, feeling the charge move around my body. Electricity swirled around my stomach, as normal, exactly the same as every other time . . . except the direction it moved. I had never noticed before, never even thought about the direction the electricity flowed until now, but it went clockwise through my stomach. But not now. Now it mostly moved counterclockwise, and it did so automatically.

            “Um, I don’t know, but it’s moving the opposite direction,” I said.

            “What?” Nat asked.

            I shrugged. “Beats me.”

            “That’s fucked up,” Jack said.

Friday, December 10, 2021

F³ Jinxed

             “What do you see?” Jack pushed his face about as close as possible to my fingers.

            “Little explosions.” Natt said. “Just a line of explosions stretching from one finger to the next.”

            “The fuck?” Kate and Jack said.

            “Jinx,” Kate got out first. “So no talking.”

            I looked close. Storm riders could see things, but it wasn’t as easy as flipping a switch like Superman and his various visions. It took a lot of concentration to try and focus at a great distance or down close. More than once my eyes went cross-eyed trying to get there, but finally I was able to see what Nat described, like tiny fireworks going off.

            “Screw that,” Jack said.

            If something is exploding, it has to be caused by something. Why am I thinking fireworks? Wait, is something moving? I can feel it leaving my finger, but am I imagining what I’m seeing? What is—

            The sparks disappeared as I lost all concentration at the sound of a loud slap. Jack went reeling, as if he had been dealt a Hollywood special effects slap.

            “Motherfucker!” Jack rubbed at his cheek as he sat up.

            “What? You get slapped when you break a jinx,” Kate said.

            “No, I buy you a fucking soda!” Jack said. “Fuck! I think you loosened a filling.”

            Nat shook her head and growled something under her breath, then turned her attention back to me.

            “Okay, Reilly, do it again, but maybe make it bigger so we don’t have to squint as hard. And the two of you kindly shut the fuck up or I’ll put my foot in both your asses.”

            “Kinky,” Kate and Jack said together.

            “Jinx,” Kate said.

Friday, December 3, 2021

F³ The Curse of Being Jack

             I frowned, thinking about Nat’s question. Electric arcs, whether lightning or between my fingers, were generally blue. It had to do with the temperature. The hotter it was, the bluer it was. White lightning—not moonshine—wasn’t actually a thing. Generally, any white associated with lightning was just light blue or as a result of gases in the atmosphere being ionized.

            “I don’t feel any heat at all,” I said.

            “How can that be?” Nat said.

            “I look like an expert?”

            “Most of the time I think you’re a moron, but you have a habit of having strange stuff happen to you.”

            “Gee, thanks.”

            “Learn how to take a compliment,” she grinned, but it slipped as she leaned in looking intently at the arc.

            “Don’t touch or you’ll be just like Jack.”

            “God, that’s gotta be the worst fucking curse in existence,” Kate said.

            “Only because you bunch of losers can’t handle my awesomeness,” Jack fired back. “It's a curse, really.”

            “I’m sure you regularly handle your ‘awesomeness.’” Kate did the air quotes.

            “Shh,” Nat hissed. “I think I can see something here. I don’t think this is lightning.”

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