If you ever see a glowing puddle, don't step in it. Trust me, even if you are in a hurry, you don't have time to go around the stupid flooded underpass and can see the water is only a few centimeters deep… don't step in it. Wait for the broken water main to be fixed. Find away around. But don't step in it. Do anything but that.
And if you do step in it, don't be surprised when everyone else who stepped in it is fine… but you start having odd things happen. Isn't that how every story starts? Odd things start happening. Things change, conflict arises? Well, it's no different for me.
My eyes itched. I fought the urge to rub them, staring determinedly at my book instead. I wasn't going to rub them. It wouldn't help anyways.
"Maria. Maria did you hear me?"
I sighed and set down my book.
"No. I was reading," I said. Or trying to. I hadn't been able to focus very well. The eye itching was getting worse, and now things close up were getting a bit blurry.
"I asked what your favorite part of visiting Grandma was." That was my mom. She sat in the front seat of our chevy impala, turned half around trying to look at me. I sighed and cast a glance to my left. Jenny was madly typing away at her phone, and I could just barely hear the music from her headphones. Her perfectly straight, dark hair formed a curtain between her and the world. No wonder Mom had given up on her and started talking to me.
I almost felt bad for Mom. My younger sister Jenny and I had been away for nearly the entire summer. It made sense Mom and Dad would want to catch up. However, after an entire day travelling and dealing with people, including very rude folk who hogged the airplane armrests, all I wanted to do was read and pretend humanity didn't exist for awhile. While I loved them, my parents counted as humanity.
"It was nice," I said, rubbing at my eyes. Right. I wasn't going to do that. I stuck a tanned hand back on my book. Then I realized her question. Oops. She had asked for specifics. "That is, I guess I liked how small the town is."
"Technically Flagstaff is a city. It even has two superheroes known to live there, and one who appears every summer," said Dad. His eyes were straight ahead, watching the busy streets. Normally my parents did their best to avoid driving near Manhattan, but this time Mom and Dad had brought out the car in order to pick us up.
"Right. Did you see any of them? What are their names again?" Mom peered at Dad, tucking her own dark hair behind her ears. We all had the same hair color, a brown so dark it appeared almost black. Even Dad had dark brown hair, though he was otherwise a stereotypical white guy. Ancestors from Germany and all. Mom on the other hand was latino and proud of it. The result was that both Jenny and I had perfectly straight, dark hair, and skin that wasn't as tanned as Mom's but still held a naturally golden hue. That could be good or bad depending on where you were and how racist folk felt like being.
"The summer one is Snowbird," said Dad with a chuckle. "And then there's Sleeping Pine and… um…"
"Mountain Wind!" cried Mom. She and Dad grinned at each other.
I stuck my book back in front of my face, trying to get my eyes to focus on the words. You'd think after having this itch for hours it would have gone away. Nope. If anything, it was worse. At least I could try and tune out my parents though. They were superhero nuts, and adored everything about heroes… even if the heroes they were now naming sounded like brands of air freshener.
"Well Maria? Did you see any?"
I sighed. The easiest thing to do would be to say no and go back to reading. Yet Mom was looking at me with a gleam of excitement in her eyes.
I closed my book and resigned myself to civil conversation. "I saw Sleeping Pine drive by once. "
"And?" asked Mom. She winced as she tried to turn around too much. I sighed again. Somehow my parents were able to simultaneously be adults and still remind me of children.
"He wore green, had a dark green cape, and even rode on a green scooter," I said. Talk about going crazy with a theme. "I only glimpsed him once."
"That's cause Maria didn't leave the house at all," said a rather snooty voice to my right. I cast a stink eye at my sister. Her headphones were out now, and she performed a perfect little hair flip. "Cause she's too afraid of people and knows she isn't popular."
"Jenny! Be nice to your sister," admonished Dad.
"Sorry," said Jenny in a perfectly innocent voice. If I didn't know my sister better, I would almost believe it was sincere. She had been in drama club consistently through middle school and was quite the little brat… er… actor.
"I saw Sleeping Pine four times, and he was so dreamy," Jenny was continuing, a wistful note in her voice.
Knowing she would keep Mom and Dad occupied with superhero talk, I stuck my book back in front of my face. The text blurred wildly in front of me, and the itch seemed to get worse. Scowling, I frowned at it. It was going to have to do something about this soon, but not until I was alone.