I was a deer trapped in headlights. My mind was blank, and I stood frozen in place. The lights flooded my vision, blinding me to my surroundings. The drumbeat in my chest consumed my hearing, the fast pace in time with my breathing.
Breathe, I ordered myself, but a short, raspy gasp of air was all I managed. My chest tightened, and a humming sound replaced the beating in my ears. It started low but slid up the scale, growing louder and louder. The lights above my head were rattling. They were so bright, so all-consuming that I could only focus on what I couldn’t see. I tried to shield my eyes with my trembling hands.
I could feel the electricity in the room, and my magic reacted to the energy, causing it to flicker. Control it. My laboured breaths were quick and shallow. The paper I held between my fingers wavered, and I sensed moisture in my hand. It felt strange, slick and warm.
The hum in my ears intensified to a loud buzz, and the lights grew brighter still. I thought I heard a shout, but couldn’t decipher what was said. I scrunched up my nose and squinted my eyes, trying to focus on my surroundings, but my clouded vision could only see white.
My legs were shaking, and my chest constricted as I forced air into my lungs. I could feel the moisture on my brow as my face grew hot. The buzzing grew to a roar in my ears. My cold magic was fighting with my unseen enemy. The blinding white light flickered, and I could make out where I stood.
A camera was pointed at me, and studio lights were on my face. I blanched again, gasping and trembling. My magic attacked the wires, freezing them solid, and the electricity sparked. The huge light bulbs above my head exploded with a loud bang. Shattered glass rained down like glittering snowflakes. The roaring buzz stopped, and someone shouted at me.
“Kia! Move out of the way!” Then there was a warm body covering mine as my legs buckled beneath me. I fell to the floor, surrounded by the broken glass. “Quick, Danny, help me get her up.” I looked at my palms, wondering why they felt damp. Two sets of arms helped lift me to my feet as I clenched and unclenched my hands. What is this? The piece of paper floated back to the floor as they led me to a door and outside into an alleyway.
“Kia, are you alright?” I heard the question, but I couldn’t focus on anything but my hands. Was this sweat? I lifted my hand to my brow, and it felt moist and cool. I squeaked with my inhalation, and my heart was still thrumming wildly in my chest, but my magic settled down now that I was safe.
“Danny! Go grab her a bottle of water.” I looked at the man who had laid his body over mine, protecting me from the glass shower. He was tall and lean, with blond hair and green eyes hidden behind wire-rim glasses. The concern in his gaze was genuine, and he reminded me of meeting someone like this in my past.
“Kia, can you hear me?” His deep voice reverberated against my chest, and I managed a full breath. I looked at him and gave him a nod. He let out a held breath, and Danny came running out with the water bottle. I looked between the two men, so opposite in appearance. Danny was shorter and fit, with dark curly hair that matched his skin. His deep brown eyes also held concern in them.
“Are you alright, Kia? I’ve never seen light bulbs explode like that.” His tenor voice sounded high in comparison with the blond man to my left. My breathing steadied, and I kept my hands unclenched, though they were still trembling. I accepted the bottle from Danny and tried to open it, but fumbled with the twist top.
“Here, let me,” Andy said. He took the bottle from me and opened it before handing it back, wrapping my still trembling fingers around it.
The water was cool, soothing my throat as it flowed down. I let out a deep breath and slumped against the alleyway wall, gathering the courage to speak.
“I’m sorry, Andy, Danny. I didn’t mean to frighten you,” I whispered. They both shook their heads in unison.
“How could you have known the lights were going to explode? Oh man, Wendell’s gonna freak. Those lights cost a fortune!” Danny exclaimed. He didn’t think the lights exploding was my fault. Could they really not tell? In my panic, my magic had focused on the thing causing my fear response and attacked. I was very lucky that no one was hurt by my cold. However, the lights and electrical wires were probably still frozen solid.
“Don’t worry about Wendell, Danny. The lights are repairable, unlike people. I’m glad no one was hurt,” Andy said as he leaned up against the wall beside me. “I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so afraid of cameras. You turned as white as a ghost. Which, given your complexion, I didn’t think was possible.” He was smiling, trying to bring humour into the conversation, but still laced with caution.
“It’s been a week of watching you guys do the job,” I said. “I know you kept saying that the only way to understand presenting the weather is to try it, but I will not be doing that again.”
A piece of trash fluttered through the alleyway, a plastic bag tumbling and falling. I opened my senses, trying to feel for the warm breeze nearby.
“After that kind of explosion, I wouldn’t want to try either. Are you alright, though? Ready to go back inside?” Andy asked, looking me over.
“I’ll be okay. I’ve survived worse. Give me a few more minutes, and I’ll come back inside.” Andy nodded and disappeared through the door, Danny trailing behind him. The two mortals safely inside, I released my freezing aura towards the dancing plastic bag.
“Ow!” a small voice cried out, and the bag fluttered to the ground. I could feel the warm spot running from my cold.
“Stop! Talk to me.” I called out as I reined the cold air back in. “I didn’t mean to hurt you!”
I saw a glimpse of a little girl with platinum blond hair tied into pigtails running down the alleyway. I chased her onto the main street and tried to see where she went. Her form was translucent, and she passed through the people on the street quickly, unnoticed except as a warm breeze.
I sighed in defeat. She’d gotten away again. That was the same little aura that had left the imprint on my arm. I was sure of it. We were hot and cold, detrimental to each other. To catch her, I would need to find someone who could help. Is there anyone that would help me? I looked down at my hands again as I returned to the station to continue my learning and observation. I clenched them again, remembering the film of moisture on the palms. Who can I ask about this? I thought. A vision of a tea set out on a table next to a hearth and fire popped into my head. Hestia. If any of the Olympians could give me guidance without judgement, it was her.