A Light in the Dark

I based this short story on a prompt from the WritingPrompts subreddit. It’s a little rushed, but I loved the concept.

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Source: PublicDomainPictures, CC0 via Pixabay

Shannon turned eighteen a week before I did. She came down from college for the weekend so we could celebrate together. We decided that when we each turned eighteen, we would have a sleepover and learn each other’s powers in the moment, before everyone else. Shannon was an advocate of living in the moment. She was studying nutrition, went running every morning, and used to pinch me in high school whenever she caught me daydreaming. So when she got the ability to fly on her birthday that night, it just added another notch to her love of adventure. And she still runs every morning, which is more than I would do if I could fly. It’s pretty amazing.

The thing is, the abilities people inherit when they turn eighteen seem to be entirely random. My mother can read sentences five times as fast as a normal human and my father has enhanced vision – he can see from further away, that most of us would need a telescope for. Shannon went to college even before she knew that her ability was. I took a year off, to wait for mine. You see, Shannon always had her grades, her athleticism, and her confidence to work with. Me, I had mediocre grades and next to no motivational drive. I just figured I could find out what my ability was, and base my future on that. There was no guarantee it would be something involving my eyes, but I was hopeful. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was five, so it would be great to be able to ditch them for good, and get super vision on top of it.

Except … I didn’t. I drove up to Shannon’s college the night before my birthday, and we stayed up the whole night … the whole night, up until 4:05 AM, the time I was born. At first, I was certain nothing had happened. Until Shannon pointed at my hands. They were glowing white, constantly lit up. After a day of annoying nightlight hands, I realized that they were never going to “turn off”. This told me nothing about my future. This was an absolute joke.

I took to wearing black leather gloves to work, and once I showed my manager why he let it slide. I spent nights wishing I could trade powers with someone, anyone. Didn’t some night owl bookworm want glowing hands more than me? Or an insomniac who stayed up all night on their laptop, browsing tumblr? I liked sleeping, thank you very much. And sleeping was a lot less annoying without a light source in your hands. My parents started hinting at college at dinners, and it as getting harder and harder to deflect their questions. It was easy enough for them, with their abilities. They couldn’t possibly understand my situation. Not even Shannon, my best friend. No, there was no way she could.

I had a late shift at the store on night, and decided to take a walk once we closed up shop. It was only ten, after all. The city was as lively as ever. The one thing I learned once I turned eighteen was that I was one of the few people who didn’t enjoy showing off their ability. It seemed like every street corner had a group of people – some my age, some older – smiling and laughing at each other. Up ahead, a man was levitating upside-down, pretending to panic as he appeared to pulled up by an invisible force. The younger girl watching from the ground gasped, then laughed once she realized it was a joke. Yeah, really impressive. But … it was.

I stopped walking, pulling my gloved hands out of the pockets of my winter jacket. Tentatively, I began to pull the glove off of my right hand, and the light, that annoying white light met my eyes. I sighed. What would I do, if the light had been gone? I’d be free of it, but then … I’d have no power. Would it really be better?

I loud thrumming filled the air suddenly, and in an instant the streetlights, the shop lights, everything shut down. A girl across the street screamed in fear, before a murmuring voice reassured her. The city really was dark, without all the streetlights. The skyscrapers were so tall, their shadows seemed to tower over everything. Did someone with powers do this? I’d seen some news stories like this. People cutting the power so they could steal from a store, or just have some fun. I looked at my hands before pulling off my gloves.

I guess I wasn’t scared … because of my hands. I was never really in complete darkness, not really. The gloves hid it well, but they didn’t take it away. I tucked my gloves in my pockets before sticking my hands out in front of my face. I had the gloves on so much, sometimes I forgot how annoyingly bright they were. I walked to the edge of the sidewalk, to wear that girl had been, and leaned against the street lamp. I opened my mouth to say something – what was I going to say, anyway? – when my hand met the cool metal pole. In an instant, the street lamp brightened. I glanced upward, eyes wide. What? That girl was staring at me. Her weird, leafing boyfriend, too.

All along the street, the lamps began to turn back on, one after the other. Shop lights, and banners, and skyscrapers came back to life. I could feel my hand pulsing. Was this really happening? Was this … me? I placed my other hand on the street lamp, and the lights seemed to turn on faster, brighter. Now everyone was staring at me, but not in the way I was expecting. No one was laughing, or giving me pitying smiles. Their smiles looked real. Some of them looked openly impressed. But no one was smiling wider than I was.

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