The house was quiet as Tara padded into the kitchen for breakfast. Arms stinging less than the night before, she poured a bowl of cereal and sunk into a seat at the counter. She still didn’t know what to say to Quinn, about yesterday. Sorry? Or here, help Nick control his powers, and then maybe you can hide him from the school people who somehow found us and will definitely find him too. She stabbed a Fruity O with her spoon. Instead of splitting, the cereal popped into the air and splatted on the counter. She sighed.
Of course Nick had used the one memory he knew would make them leave him alone. She stabbed another Fruity O, this time snapping it in half against the edge of her bowl. Of course Nick was mad at her and Tamy, and Quinn was too, and their mother would rather Nick didn’t have any powers. So why did she and Tamy have to come here for two weeks, with everyone mad at them? What was the point?
The stairs creaked. Tara glanced up. “Hi Tamy,” she muttered. Tamy yawned. “The Fruity O’s are half gone.”
Tamy stumbled across the tile. “I wanted choco-dinos anyway,” she mumbled.
Tara reached across the counter for a napkin and wiped up the splatted Fruity O. She stretched the other way and dropped the napkin in the trash past Tamy. “Why do we have to come home?” she asked. “Quinn doesn’t like us, Mother would rather we didn’t have powers, and Nick’s currently mad at us.”
The fridge rattled as Tamy yanked it open. “I dunno,” she said. “So our parents can’t report us missing to the government.”
Tara blinked. “Parents? Plural?”
Tamy shook her head, pouring herself a bowl of cereal. “I meant ‘us’ as in, most everyone in our grade. Or the school, or wherever.” She plunked the milk gallon back on its shelf and walked to the counter. Tara scooted to the corner to give her room.
“But we are missing,” Tara pointed out. “We don’t even know where that school is.”
Tamy rolled her eyes. “Which is why they send us all back to our families for a week or so twice a year.”
Tara gritted her teeth. “Stupid government. Stupid family. Why did Nick have to have powers?”
Tamy paused with her spoon nearly to her gaping lips. She lowered it. “Wow, you’re cranky.”
“Don’t call me cranky,” Tara muttered. “It makes me out to be some old crazy man.”
“You’re angry with the world for no apparent reason.”
Tara stabbed her spoon at her bowl, sending milk flying. “I’m angry because we’re supposed to help Nick control his powers before we leave in a week, and we can’t do that because he’s mad we left at all, and Quinn hates us because we get powers and get to leave to play around at some fancy school while he has to work, and then there’s Mother, who told that lady from the memory she doesn’t even know us anymore!” She wiped her nose, which was practically dripping. A hiccup shook her shoulders.
“Tara, I get it,” Tamy said softly. “I do.”
She hiccuped again. “How come you’re the calm one?” she asked, sniffling. “It’s not fair.”
“Because I have you.”
Well, that just doubly wasn’t fair. Tara sniffed forcefully, quelling the sound bubbling in her throat. “I need a tissue,” she stood, glancing briefly at Tamy. “Really badly.” She ran to the bathroom.
“Are you going to finish your Fruity O’s?” Tamy called after her.
“Not right now!” Tara yelled back.
Tara glanced up from the aqua bath rug at the blare of car honks. Puzzled, she stuffed her wad of toilet paper in the trash and rose from the floor. The incessant honking blared louder. Tara grumbled in annoyance, reaching for the door. Until furious knocking came from the other end and she paused.
“Tara get out here quick,” Tamy rushed, “it’s the old white car!”
Tara stepped away, glanced in the mirror, and carefully rubbed her puffy eyes. Old white car? “Okay, give me a second,” she replied, taking a long breath.
“They’re in the driveway!” Tamy hissed. “And they won’t stop honking!”
“They’re in our driveway?” she asked. “Why?”
“I think they must’ve followed us home yesterday. What do we do?”
Tara eased the door open. That white car. “We…do nothing?” she said. “They’re the ones annoying everybody.”
Tamy covered her ears at a particularly loud blare. “But they’re annoying. And what about when Mom gets back?”
Tara hesitated. Last night they’d told their mother the scrapes had come from a bike wreck on a hill. They hadn’t said anything about the playground, or Quinn taking the car to help them. “We could play dumb,” she suggested.
The back door squeaked open. Tara jumped and seized her sister’s wrist. “Are they breaking into our house?” she whispered.
“Anyone home?” their mother called.
Tara relaxed slightly as she glanced at Tamy. Who shrugged.
“We can’t pretend like we aren’t here,” Tara whispered, “she’ll find us eventually.”
“Yeah,” Tamy yelled, causing Tara to wince. “We were…” she pried Tara’s hand off her wrist, and whispered, “what were we doing?”
“Using the bathroom!” Tara whispered.
“Who’s cereal is still on the counter?” their mother asked. “And what is with the car honking itself to pieces in our driveway?”
“That’s mine, Mom!” Tara called, slipping back into the bathroom while easing the door shut. “I’m in the bathroom!”
“I’m waiting for the bathroom!” Tamy added.
Tara sat on the toilet seat biting her lip as their mother’s footsteps, half muted by car honks, padded from the kitchen towards the hall. “I parked up the street and ran through our neighbor’s backyard just so I could sneak in the back door of my own house,” their mother griped. “What is that car doing?”
“Uh, mom!” Tamy called. “Where are you going?”
“To give them a piece of my mind,” a door slammed.
Tara leapt from the seat and burst into the hall. “What, no, stop her! What if they tell her what we did?”
“Is that really such a bad thing at this point?” Tamy asked, fidgeting. “Maybe Mom will make them leave us alone.”
Tara fell still as the car honking stopped. Her ears were still ringing faintly. “But she can’t know Quinn used the car,” she hissed. “Or that we started it.”
The front door swept open and Tara glanced over to her mother’s hardened face, eyebrows chiseled angels. “Girls, I think you have some explaining to do.”
“About what?” Tara asked, trying to act confused.
“According to those three boys,” she pointed through the door, “the two of you attacked them yesterday. Out of nowhere. What has that school been teaching you?”
“Uh…” Tamy said.
“I’m going to finish my cereal,” Tara exclaimed, sprinting past their mother.
“I’ve gotta use the bathroom,” Tamy added.
“Girls,” their mother said harshly, and Tara froze, foot hovering over the kitchen tile. “Sit down.”
“What’s happening?” Nick suddenly asked from his bedroom doorway, and Tara jumped.
“This doesn’t concern you,” their mother said. “Go eat breakfast.”
“Um,” Tamy began, “it actually does. Quinn too.”
Tara slowly turned around, taking in their mother’s parted jaw and furrowed eyebrows. “Well then,” she finally said, crossing her arms. “All three of you, sit down,” she motioned to the couch.
“I mean, I think we should wait for Quinn too.” Tamy said.
Their mother sighed, rubbing her forehead. “Fine. If it involves Quinn, I’ll wait until his shift is done,” she trod down the hallway past Tamy. “I need to work anyway,” she muttered.
Tara breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you,” she mouthed to her sister, who shrugged.
“I didn’t want to get yelled at anymore than you did,” she whispered back.
Then Tara sped to the counter to finish her bowl of soggy Fruity O’s.