Changes, EP. 1
By Haya Barakat
"Mi hija, please take that off," Rebecca told her daughter, reaching for the studded choker she was wearing.
Chloe waved her off. "Mamá, it's fine," she replied, her raspy voice more exhausted than usual. Her mother continued to convince her to take the necklace off as Chloe walked to the door with her black backpack slung over her shoulders.
"Leave her alone, mi amor, she won't take it off," Chloe's dad Arthur grumbled from the kitchen table, side-glancing Chloe as if nonverbally threatening to throw the choker in the fire after she returned from school. Chloe rolled her eyes as her mother sighed and walked away.
"Okay, fine, but she's going to look like a chica gótica at school," Rebecca said, putting her hands up in surrender and walking away from her daughter. Chloe rolled her eyes again.
"I am a chica gótica, Mamá," she said back as she opened the front door to her large, two-story house. "Adiós, Wren!" she called to her little brother from the couch, who sat next to her older sister Deborah and waved eagerly.
"Bye, Coco!" he yelled back, gaining a flinch from Deborah, who rolled her eyes at his volume. Without another thought and a pet goodbye to her golden retriever Dallas, Chloe walked out her house and started the ten-minute walk to school, ignoring the calls from her mother telling her to at least consider taking the choker off. She put her earbuds in and blasted rock music, a new song she took note to learn on the bass when she got back home.
As always, Chloe admired the scenery around her- the hundred-foot-tall palm trees swaying in the soft warm breeze, the always fresh-cut grass of her neighbors' giant homes, the bright shining sun above her without a cloud in the sky. A perfect April day.
Chloe spotted a few other kids from her school strolling there as well, most in small groups of two or three, but one was walking alone near the back, her head down and her wavy blonde hair almost covering her sky-blue eyes. She was in a few of Chloe's classes but never really paid her any attention, like Chloe did with everyone in her classes. She thought her name was Phillip or something like that. She walked with her back arched and shoulders slumped, her golden-tan barely visible from her gray hoodie and baggy jeans.
She should walk with more confidence, Chloe thought, tearing her dark eyes away from the girl as she continued walking with her chest puffed and her posture straight. She looked around for a bit more before her eyes caught the black of her chipped nail polish. Of course, her mom had wanted her to put on some pink or yellow color, but Chloe would never agree to that. It just wasn't her style.
But, Chloe pondered, glancing down at her studded choker, which had a light blue healing crystal attached to it. Maybe I should accessorise a bit.
She stared down at her nails and- making sure no one was looking- focused, imagining the same color on her crystal on her nails instead of black. Before she knew it, the black disappeared and made way for a pale crystal-blue color, replacing all of her nail polish, a tingling sensation in Chloe's hand as it transformed. She smiled in satisfaction and shoved her hands into her leather jacket pockets after flipping her straight, dark brown hair over her shoulder. She felt as if someone was watching her, but she ignored it. She experienced that sensation all the time after discovering her abilities and it became more frequent after she started learning how to really use and control them, but every time she looked, no one was there. It was just her imagination, which often went wild, anyways.
For the first time, she ignored the feeling.
The school day went by in a blur. Chloe almost couldn't remember anything that happened besides the fight that went down in the hallways on her way to Honors Algebra II. Other than that, nothing too exciting.
But the moment she sat down in her usual seat at lunch, she knew something was wrong. Like something was missing or going to happen.
Before she could think too deep into it, Chloe grabbed her brown plastic bag holding her lunch- the usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich and strawberries- from her backpack, but when she gazed back up to set her bag on the table, she was greeted with the sight of the blonde from before- the one walking alone- taking a seat across from Chloe, even though she never sat there. She usually sat on the edge of the table near the back, not in the middle of the cafeteria.
Chloe peered at her as she sat down, her blue eyes darting everyone and her posture straight, as if worried Chloe would make fun of her if she saw her shoulders slumped a second time. Chloe raised her eyebrows and the girl snapped back to reality.
"Right, sorry. Hi. You might not remember me, but uh, I'm Phillipa," Phillipa introduced to Chloe, who nodded her head in response.
"Yeah, we have a few classes together. I'm Chloe," she replied, giving Phillipa a quick wave
"Uh, yeah. Hi. Um, I wanted to ask you something," Phillip stuttered, glancing down at Chloe's hands with wide eyes.
"Yeah?" Chloe asked warily, looking Phillipa up and down with narrow eyes. Phillipa hesitated for a few seconds.
"Um..." She pursed her lips before taking a deep breath. "How'd you do that?"
Chloe stared at her for a bit, her brows knit in confusion. "Did...what?
Phillipa's eyes darted from Chloe's eyes to her hand and back again. "You know...with your nails?" She held up her hand to show Chloe her pink and blue-painted nails.
She wasn't sure what to do. The only time she didn't look when she thought someone was watching her and someone was actually watching. Great. No one knew about any of that except Wren.
"Uh, I didn't do anything," Chloe bluffed, trying her best to not look away from Phillipa or fidget and give away her lying.
Phillipa scoffed, playfully rolling her eyes. "Come on, I saw you! You changed your nail polish from black to blue!"
Chloe opened her mouth to speak again, probably going to spit some elaborate lie about a new color-changing nail polish her chemist cousin made for her, but Phillipa spoke again, words that filled Chloe with shock and confusion.
"Are you like me?"
Chloe froze, unsure of what to say. "Like....what?" she asked, but she knew exactly what Phillipa was talking about. She just didn't want to admit it. She didn't want to say it again, especially since she still couldn't explain or understand it.
"You know...changing? Changer?" Phillipa inquired, gesturing her hands wildly and her wide, round eyes alight with excitement.
Definitely different from the shy girl in class who never speaks, Chloe reflected, but Phillipa's questions were bothering her. She wasn't sure how to answer. She could just laugh in Phillipa's face and call her crazy, or she could tell the truth. On one hand, maybe Phillipa wasn't talking about the same thing Chloe was thinking, and Chloe would sound insane if she said yes and they started talking about completely different things; Chloe about random superpowers and Phillipa maybe about some new makeup thing. On the other hand, if Phillipa and Chloe were thinking the same thing, Chloe might finally find someone like her.
Chloe was silent for a bit, pondering on her answer. The wheels in her head were turning. If her brain were made of wires, they would've short-circuited.
She finally decided on an answer, one she didn't know at the time would pretty much change her life forever, but she felt as if she had no choice, which she hated. Phillipa saw her change, and she's apparently the same way, and she and Chloe shared two classes together. There was no lying through or escaping this one. Besides, Chloe was always honest. She wasn't going to stop out of fear of being ridiculed from someone she doesn't know, especially after all the mocking from her own blood.
Chloe took a deep breath and looked Phillipa in the eyes.
Mi hija- my daughter
Mi amor- my love
Chica gótica- gothic girl