Tara’s Story: skin thick

Tara stared at the bikes beneath her shoes. The tires spun lazily with the turns and bumps of the car. She jolted forward in her seat as they came to a halt, blinking and staring from the car floor. Quinn turned to face the two of them, face ashen.

“You don’t have a license,” Tamy was the first to point out.

“How’d you know how to drive?” Tara asked, thoughts blurring.

“Where’s the car that was chasing us?”

Quinn pried white knuckles from the steering wheel. “Nick said you needed help. So I drove where he told me to. The other car…I slammed on the brakes as soon as I saw you two, and the other car nearly ran into us when I got out to get you…” he stared at his hands. “Am I dreaming?” he whispered.

“I wish,” Tamy muttered, rubbing her temples. Tara’s jaw went slack at the red scrapes all along her sister’s arms. She glanced down at her own, discovering them in the similar state, skin crawling with uncomfortable heat.

“I told you they needed help,” Nick said.

“And you were right,” Quinn said shakily, glancing out the window. “How come I even listened to you in the first place? Stealing Mom’s car? She’s going to freak. And her keys, they were already in here…” he dropped them beside Nick.

“It was my powers,” Nick smiled.

Tara squeezed her eyes shut. Tamy groaned.

“So you, what, gave me magical driving abilities?” Quinn asked loudly.

“It’s telepathy,” Tara muttered, when Nick didn’t. “Generally speaking.”

“Or maybe just giving people what they want,” Tamy added, still rubbing her temples. “We’re not sure.”

“Nick has powers?” Quinn shouted, belatedly. He slammed the car horn and Tara jumped at the sudden blare.

“Yep,” Nick nodded gleefully.

Quinn’s face seemed to soften. Tara stared between him and Nick, eyes widening. Was Nick using his powers right then? On Quinn? “Ow,” she muttered, squeezing her eyes shut. She unfastened her seat belt. She had no memory of putting it on. “I’m going inside.”

Quinn shrugged, staring out the windshield, so she and Tamy clambered from the car. Tara set her bike on the driveway and leaned against the handlebars, hobbling up the sidewalk.

“Nick scares me,” Tara whispered. “I think he’s magically getting Quinn to still like him.”

“He got Quinn to save us,” Tamy said, limping heavily. “And my head is pounding. So right now, I don’t much care.”

“But Quinn being there is what made us crash in the first place.”

“But he stopped that car from chasing us, didn’t he?”

Tara just sighed.


They left their bikes by the front door and crept through the silent house to the bathroom, where they traded off sitting on the tub with staring in the mirror, washing cuts and running cold water over bruises. Tara closed her eyes, wishing the sputtering tap could drown out her exhaustion.

“Where does Mother keep the bandages?” Tamy asked, shutting off the sink.

“How should I know?” Tara groaned, swishing her feet through the tub water. The temperature wasn’t quite so cold anymore, and besides, her feet weren’t the most injured part of her body. More like…she glanced at Tamy’s bloody elbows and bruised cheeks, nearly mirroring her own. More like everywhere else.

“Should we go look?” Tamy asked, rifling through the cupboard beside the mirror.

Tara’s eyebrows raised. “I’m not sure she has enough bandages to cover all the road rash,” she lifted her red, scraped-up arms for emphasis.

At that, Tamy’s arm fell to her side. “What do you think Mother’s going to say?”

Tara didn’t know.

 Quinn’s muttering and the rustling of trees announced the opening of the front door. Tamy left the bathroom, and Tara quickly drained the tub and shook her feet dry. Quinn’s muttering fell quiet.

“How long have you known?” the walls vibrated with Quinn’s voice.

“Try a day,” came Tamy’s response.

Tara slipped from the bathroom, stepping behind her sister. She eyed Nick, standing self-consciously in the open doorway.

“Mother only found out this morning,” Tamy added.

Quinn’s jaw worked, but no words came out.

“While we’re spilling secrets,” Tamy continued, “Alex is a fake illusion created by Nick too.”

That got Quinn talking. “Alex is fake? What’s next, am I going to find out Mom has powers too?” he threw his hands in the air and stalked for the stairs.

“Hold up,” Tara said, stretching a hand out to bar his path. She glanced at Nick, and he swung the door shut. “You can’t walk away from this. You live here. He’s your brother.”

Quinn groaned. “And you’re my sisters, but when I illegally drive a car to rescue you I hardly even get a thank you.”

“Thank you,” Tamy cut in. She prodded Tara in the stomach.

“Thanks,” Tara muttered, retracting her arm, “for saving us from getting run over.”

“Is that what was happening?” Quinn asked. Tara glared at how he’d completely deflected the conversation. “You were going to get run over? How’d you end up in that situation?”

“We beat up some kids at the playground and they got mad at us,” Tamy crossed her arms.

“And so they tried to run you over with a car?” Quinn exclaimed. “How badly did you beat them up?”

“Not badly enough,” Tamy muttered.

“We scared them away,” Tara clarified. “I punched one, kicked another, and pushed another down the slide. That’s it.”

Quinn swiveled toward Tamy. “Hey, all I did was throw a rock and then punch one other kid.”

Quinn blinked. “And they tried to run you over with a car? What dumb, self-centered guys–”

“Clearly not you,” Tara interrupted. Quinn stopped. “Which is why Nick needs your help.” she glanced at the door. Where Nick had been standing. “Wait, Nick?” she called. “Where are you?”

Quinn spun in a circle, stumbling as Tamy pushed past him. “Nick!” she cried. “Come back here!”

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