Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. The clock on the living room wall was driving me insane. I sat up on the couch, stretching my neck a little. Why did it have to be so loud? I looked up at it, the second hand slowly moving around the clock. Ten till one. Mary will be home from yoga soon. I groaned. I wish Charles had stayed with me. He wasn't as judgmental as his wife. But, alas, Charles had lots of papers on his desk at work that needed to be done before the end of the work day. Gotta make money somehow.
The clock continued to make its annoying sound, causing my anxiety to slowly rise. I could only imagine how Mary was going to react this time. Would she listen to me? Doubtful. She never listens to me about this. No matter how hard I try to get her to believe me, she never does. And it's never my fault. I just wish she would listen to me...tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick...I couldn't take it anymore. I grabbed an empty glass from the end table beside the couch and threw it at the clock. It shattered on impact and the clock fell from the wall, also shattering on the floor. The front door shut. I looked up to see Mary, my foster mother, standing there, arms crossed over her chest, eyebrow raised, foot tapping slowly on the floor. I gulped.
"Did the clock piss you off, Ellery?" Mary asked, dropping her keys and purse on the entry table on her left. "I'm surprised you didn't just set it on fire,"
"Mary, I didn't set her on fire," I said, standing. She rolled her eyes, then walked past me and the couch towards the kitchen.
"Like I haven't heard that before," She snarked. She opened the cabinet door by the refrigerator, and took out a wine glass. "Seriously, Elle, how do you do it?" Mary asked as she took some red wine from the fridge and poured it into her glass. She turned and faced me as she took a sip. "Did you pour some accelerant on her chair before class? Toss the matches in her own bag to hide the evidence? How did you do it?"
"Mary, I swear, I did not do it. I was just sitting there, trying to listen to the teacher, and she wouldn't shut up. She was picking on me, Mary. Calling me names, and..."
"A lot of people have picked on you, Ellery, and you've ignored them. Did this girl say something that just made you snap? Did it ignite something inside you? Explain, Ellery. I'm listening,"
"That's a first," I mumbled under my breath.
"Excuse me?" Mary said, glaring with her dark brown eyes. I gulped.
"Nothing," I walked around the couch, stopping at the center island in the kitchen. Mary was on the other side of it, leaning against the stove. "Mary, she...she called my mom a crack whore..." I looked down at my hands. They were resting on the edge of the island counter top, pale and plain.
"Elle, we don't know who your mom was. For all we know she could have been a crack whore," My head shot up. Mary took a sip of her wine. Anger filled the tears that were threatening to fall from my eyes.
"What...? How could you say that?"
"Very carefully, Ellery. Just because someone who never knew your mother says she's something terrible, doesn't actually mean that that is what your mother was. That girl was just trying to get you upset and it worked." She took another sip. "So, after she said that, did you then decide to set her on fire? Where did you get the lighter, Elle?" I slammed my hands down on the counter.
"I didn't set her on fire!" I yelled. "What she said made me so angry and upset, and I tried to block it out, to ignore her, but I didn't set her on fire!"
Mary sat her glass down angrily. "Then how the hell did she end up on fire, Elle? Huh? How do they all end up on fire?" She closed the distance between her and the island. "I'm not stupid, Elle. Every single school you've been to, someone has been set on fire. And it's always someone who has picked on you or messed with you in some way. And every time, you swear you had nothing to do with it," She leaned down so we were eye level. "I get that you've had a crappy childhood. I get that you've been in some pretty messed up foster homes. But, Ellery, I have had enough of this behavior. This is the third school this year that I've had to get you into. There are no more in this county, Ellery. And Charles and I can't afford to move again. He just got this job, Ellery. He can't just quit and move because you can't learn to control yourself. How long is it gonna be before someone dies, Ellery?" The tears started to pour down my face.
"I didn't do it," I choked out. Mary rolled her eyes as she turned around to retrieve her glass from the other counter. She took a long sip this time before sitting it back down and turning towards me.
"I'm giving you one last chance to tell me the truth, Ellery. One last chance to be honest. If you can't manage to be honest, then there is no room for you in this house anymore," I flinched. Her words stung me like a bee. Mary and Charles had been my foster parents for the past five years. They were the best foster parents I had ever had. They took care of me, really took care of me, unlike the others who were only in it for their check. They took me on family vacations, something I had only dreamed of doing since my dad died. They actually made me feel loved and wanted. And I did love them. They were the closest thing to parents that I was ever going to get. And to hear Mary say what she said, it really hurt. How could she say something like that?
"Mary, please..." I came around the kitchen island. "Please don't get rid of me." New tears were starting to fall down my face. Hers showed no sign of emotion.
"If you tell me the truth, then I wont. It's that simple, Ellery. Just tell me the truth."
"There's not really much I can say that I haven't already said, Mary. I swear. I was sitting in chemistry class, trying to ignore the awful words she was saying. I tried to keep myself from getting angry, but I couldn't. It's like it was boiling inside of me. I kept thinking how I just wanted her to shut up, and then I heard her screaming and she was on fire. I swear, I don't know how she was set on fire, but I did not do it. How could I have possibly have done it if I had nothing to start a fire with?" I was trying so desperately to get Mary to believe me. I had hope that maybe she would, but that hope was small compared to the fear I had that she wouldn't and that she would sent me back. I couldn't go back again. I had already been in so many homes, so many terrible, terrible homes.
Mary looked at me. Her golden blond curls were pinned behind her ears. I saw a tear fall down her rosy cheek. "I'm sorry, Ellery." She left the kitchen to go to her purse. I stared after her, frozen. She's going to call my social worker. Sure enough, Mary pulled her cell phone out of her purse and a few second later, put it to her ear. She kept her back to me.
"Paige? Hi, yes, it's Mary. Mary Morton. I'm afraid there was another incident. Yes. Charles brought her home a while ago. Yes. No, she won't tell me what really happen. She still insists she had nothing to do with it. Yes. I know. I'm sorry. Yes. Please. Again, I'm sorry. I can imagine what this will do to her...okay. I'll see you shortly. Bye." Mary put her phone back in her purse and slowly turned around. "Paige will be here in an hour. You should go pack your things." She didn't look at me as she spoke.
"Mary..." I managed to choke out. "Please...don't send me away. You can home school me. Then you won't have to worry about any more incidents..." Her brown eyes shot up at me.
"Really? And what happens if I make you angry, Ellery? What happens if you set me on fire? I don't think I can take that chance."
"What about Charles?"
"Charles is sick of this too," Mary snapped. "Obviously you're too caught up in your own self pity to see what it's doing to him. He can't sleep. He's worried you're gonna snap and set the house on fire. You're unpredictable, Ellery. We love you very much, but this is going too far. We don't know how to help you, but maybe someone else will." She turned and started walking through the living room towards the stairs. Anger and fear started to swell inside me. She was getting rid of me. She said she loved me but she was getting rid of me. You don't do that to someone you love.
"No!" I yelled. I felt a bright energy explode from me and all of the hanging pictures flung off the walls. Mary screamed and dropped to the floor, covering her head with her hands.
"Ellery Jane! What the hell?!" She stood up, shaking, eyes wide. "What are you?"
"I don't know!" That bright energy was still inside me, swirling around, warming my entire body. Tears were pouring down my face now. "Make it stop!"
"There's only one way to make it stop," A deep, eery voice said from behind me. I spun around to see a tall, muscular older man standing in the doorway of the back door.
"Who the hell are you?" Mary asked.
"None of your business, human," Another, slightly higher pitched voice said from Mary's direction. I turned back around to see a shorter, lanky blond hair guy holding Mary by her neck from behind. She clawed desperately at his hand to release her as she gasped for air. He smiled. I turned my head to face the first guy.
"You can take whatever you want. There's a flat screen in the basement, and lots of jewels upstairs that are probably worth something. But please, don't hurt her," The first man smirked.
"We aren't here for things, girl. We're here for you."
"W-what? Who are you? Why me?"
"Like I already said, none of your business," The second guy said.
"We're here to finish what we started," The first guy retorted. My heart stopped. Slowly, my eyes moved up to meet the ones of the first guy. He smiled at me, and then his eyes changed to an eerie red. I gasped.
"Awe, she remembers," The second guy laughed.
"Yes. Me. It's taken me a long time to find you, but I finally did. And I won't let you escape alive again." His smile dropped, and I swear he growled, a low deep rumble from his chest. Mary whimpered behind me. When I turned, the second guy had lifted her in the air, her feet dangling above the floor.
"Let her go!" I yelled, running around the couch towards him. Scorching hot fingers wrapped around my upper arms and pulled me back. I screamed and thrashed about as much as I could. It did no good. The first guy held me still against him as the second guy put Mary back on the floor.
"Should we make her watch again?" The first guy purred in my ear. I cringed. The second guy's eyes flashed yellow, the same bright yellow I remembered in my dad's house the night they murdered him.
"No!" I yelled.
"I'll take that as a yes, boss," The second guy said, squeezing Mary's throat a little harder. She gasped loudly, digging her nails into his hand.
"Please! Let her go!" I thrashed about more against my captor, once again doing nothing.
"Don't play too much, Clayton. Remember what happened last time," The first guy said. The second guy, Clayton, rolled his eyes, and threw Mary on the floor.
"Sorry. The last time, that little bitch killed Dalton. I want to make her suffer," I remembered the other one. Clayton kind of looked like him.
"He killed my dad," I snapped. Clayton glared at me with his yellow eyes.
"Damn right he did," He snarled. "He was raising you and he knew what you would grow up to do. He was putting us all at risk by letting you live. We were just trying to save everyone."
"My dad was a good man! He didn't deserve to die the way he did!" Images of my dad's shredded body flashed in my mind. Here came the tears again.
"If anyone didn't deserve to die the way they did, it was Dalton. You torched him. My brother. He was a good man." He picked Mary back up by her throat again. The fear in me was starting to be replaced by pure anger. I could feel my whole body warming up again, that bright energy spreading from my toes to my finger tips.
"Let. Her. Go." I said through clenched teeth. Clayton laughed.
"Clayton," The first guy warned. "You're pushing it, boy. Finish it before we have a repeat of last time. And this time you'll be the one torched."
"I've got this, Emron. Chill." Clayton clamped down harder on Mary's throat. She looked at me, tears in her eyes, as she gasped for air.
"Stop." Clayton ignored me.
"STOP!" All of that bright energy exploded out of me. Emron's finger's released my arms. I didn't care about him at that moment. My eyes were locked on Clayton. His evil smile slowly shifted to an open mouth of shock as he looked at me, eyes wide. My hands flew out in front of me, and hot, firey light shot from them, heading right for Clayton. He let out a scream before he was engulfed in flames. I turned my palms over, looking at them. Did fire really just come out of my hands? I looked at Clayton. He was frantically smacking himself, trying to put the fire out. Was this how everyone caught on fire around me? No...it couldn't be. I never put my hands up to anyone.
That moment I remembered Mary. I looked around for her. She was on the floor. On fire.
"No!" I screamed, scrambling over to her. Her ear piercing scream rang in my ears. I grabbed a pillow off the couch and started beating the flames with it. The pillow caught fire.
"Help me!" I turned around, looking for Emron. He was no where to be found. I heard the front door open. Clayton was running outside, still on fire. I looked back at Mary. She wasn't screaming anymore. Her dark eyes were staring up at me, motionless, lifeless. The fire around her was spreading to the floor, the furniture, the walls.
"Mary," I called out softly. Her eyes kept staring at me. "Mary," I choked. I couldn't breathe. The smoke was starting to fill my lungs. I knew I needed to get out, but I couldn't leave Mary. This was my fault. I caused this fire. I don't know how I did, but I did. And now Mary is dead.
I started coughing as more smoke entered my mouth and nose. I tried to stand, but I was too dizzy and fell against the couch. Despite the bright light from the flames that were closing in on me, I could hardly see. My eyelids were getting heavier. I laid my head against the couch, reaching with my hand towards Mary's. She was still warm. For a split second her face changed to my father's. It was like I was five years old again. Holding his lifeless hand, in the middle of a fire, sirens wailing outside.
Right before I gave up the fight and let my eyes close, a shadow emerged through the flames, reaching for me.
Then, everything went dark.
Well, that was a lot! I hope it wasn't too much, and I hope you enjoyed it. Don't forget to let me know what you think. Any guesses as to what will happen next?
Until next time,
XOXO Marie Kane