Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chapter 6

Lola threw kicks and punches that would have shattered bone, had they connected, but with every missed punch Liz threw two or three blows of her own that all found their mark. Lola delivered her strikes with such force that you could hear them more than see them. She had the strength advantage, but she had unfortunately wildly underestimated Liz’s speed. "You know chica, for someone the same age as me, you move like an old lady, and you fight like one too!" With that, Liz delivered a double-kick to Lola’s face, then roundhouse kicked her and finished with an uppercut kick, planting her hands on the ground and kicking perfectly vertical with her left leg. Lola flew straight up into the air, and Liz jumped and followed her. In mid air Liz continued her assault, punching and kicking Lola in the midsection, finally knocking her down to Earth with a back-flipping roundhouse kick. Liz’s hands began to glow brightly with white prismatic colors as she yelled “FLASHING-LIGHTS!” With each word she threw a slicing beam of constantly shifting light at the cloud of dust where Lola landed, forming a Giant X on the ground with Lola’s prone form at the center.

“You think we should help her? She isn’t doing so well…”

“Uh-uh”, Lewis answered, “the last time I tried to help Lola out of a fight she was losing she nearly killed me and the boy she was fighting. No it’s better to stay out of her way, for better or worse. Though I have to admit, I’ve never seen her take such a one-sided thrashing before.”
Lewis immediately realized that he misspoke as everyone present suddenly felt Lola’s anger shake the ground. A Black explosion emanated from where she lay, and when it dissipated she stood there in her normal clothing. She did not look like she was having a good day; her clothes where torn and battered, and she was seething with anger. “I didn’t know it was gonna be that kinda party. I would have brought better presents.”

As she said that Lola’s hands burst brightly with black energy of her own. “Uh oh”, Marty said, “this is about to get way out of hand.” “Lola, can you finish your life or death struggle with your sworn arch-enemy later? Our dinner is getting cold.” Lola let this thought sink into her head; she surely wanted to settle this fight, but she did not know how much power Liz had, and it was neither the time nor the place for this kid of battle; dinner from Mart’s family did take precedence. His mother’s pecan pie above all else was worth more than finishing this battle. But she would remember this girl from now on for sure. She had made her impression on Lola, she had to admit that. She let her guard down and glared at brand new sworn arch-enemy. “This isn’t over between us Liz, not by a longshot.

“Whatever Chica, I’ll see you in school, so we can do this anytime, anywhere. Kisses!” Liz blew Lola a kiss and winked at her, a move which served its purpose of driving Lola up a wall and across the ceiling. Liz returned to her cheerleader pack, noticeably with Sarah in tow. Lola, Marty and Lewis turned and walked in the opposite direction.

“I could have taken her you know.
“I know L.”
“She just caught me off guard.”
“We Know Lola.”
“Next time, her ass is mine.”
“We know L. Liz is pretty hot though isn’t she Lewis”
“Oh, I’d do her in a second. And I don’t even know what doing her entails yet. But whatever IT is, I would do IT to her. Definitely. In triplicate.”

Lola cracked her knuckles, “You two are idiots, number one, and number two, she would be pretty if she wasn’t such a jerk. Or have you forgotten it is because of her that Sarah isn’t with us tonight?”

“Lola”, Lewis said, “Sarah has a right to find her own activities. I mean, we all have found stuff to do that does not necessarily involve each other. I have my computer and D&D stuff, Marty has football, and you have… well, you have being you, which I assume is a full time job in and of itself.”

Lola walked on a bit before she found some subtle meaning in Lewis’s remarks. “Hey, what’s that supposed to mean? Are you saying I have no life? I have a life? I play video games, I have hell of an imagination, and I’ve whipped both of your asses…. Its tough living up to the high level of Awesome I have set for myself, but dammit, I do it day in and day out!"

“Yes”, Lewis answered, “All of that is true, but you haven’t really done an activity, you know, a group activity. In high school everyone is going to want to know what you do, what group you belong to, what “scene” you’re into. And let’s be honest, you never where much of a team player.”

“I GET ALONG FINE WITH OTHERS!” Lola’s aura started to glow black as she said this, and Marty and Lewis backed off a little. “Yeah, you’re really exuding team spirit right now” Marty commented.

Lola seethed even more, but deep down inside she had to concede their point; she was not exactly a people person. The problem was she didn’t care to be one. She had her friends, and everyone else could go screw themselves for all she cared, especially that girl Liz. Lola wasn’t much for sports, but she did like tennis. She figured that was a residual effect of her being Asian more than anything else.

“Ok, maybe I see your point. I guess when school starts I could try out for the tennis team.”
“Really L? Tennis? How…stereotypical.”
“Shutup Marty. You went for football, which is only slightly less stereotypical for your people than basketball, so you don’ have a leg to stand on in this argument.”
“So if I understand you two correctly, as a Jew I should join the accounting club?”
“Yes”, they said in unison.”
“Ok, as long as we’ve all gotten our stereotypes straight. Look we’re almost at Marty’s house, I hope we didn’t miss diner.”


“So are you gonna come down or stay in that tree like the nut you are?”

Liz hadn’t headed directly to the Baking Workshop, which was allegedly the entire point of her skirmish with Lola. Instead she hung back from the other girls until they were out of sight, and walked up to a tall Oak tree, the same one the leaf had fallen from earlier. There in the higher branches was nothing; well, nothing anyone could see unless they knew beforehand that someone was there.

“Hold on Lissita, I’ll be down in a second.” Jumping down from a height that was much higher than any sane person would consider safe, landing in a mass of jet black hair and even darker eyes, was Gabriel. He landed with more grace than humanly possibly, gently ruffling Liz’s hair as he did so. “You did well, I am proud.”

Liz’s eyes beamed with pride, “I told you! I told you I could take her! Lola’s nothing special. People are just afraid of her, that’s why she always wins, well, I ain’t scared a her.” Liz bounced around Gabrielle like a hyperactive puppy, completely unable to hide her desire for Gabriel’s approval. “I did everything just like you told me to right? I told you I was a fast learner. You have to teach me everything. You promised you would teach me everything when I was older, and now I am, right? Come on, I have to have proved myself by now! Are you going to show me your angels now, please?”

Gabrielle regarded her coldly for a second, and then his eyes softened. “Yes Lissita, maybe it is time. I think it’s time I show you everything. And yes, you did prove yourself. Lola is amazing, and you held your own very well.” He put his arm around her, as much to stop her bouncing as much to comfort her. “I think it is time you started acting like the woman you are. My Lissita deserves nothing less.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chapter 5

Brenan Ramirez, 45, is a complicated man, and no one understands him but his woman. He speaks very little, as all of the women in his family can attest. He is in control of absolutely nothing in his house, as the women in his house also can attest. To almost everyone who comes into his house, he is almost a fixture, speaking in two-to-three word sentences, and never offering too much of an opinion on anything. And that is what everyone in his social life thinks of him; little different than the coat rack in the hallway. Oh his family loves him, sure, and he loves them back, that much is assured. He just never demonstrates much in the personality department. Lola and Aicelle figure that their mother has so much personality that there is no room in their marriage for their father to have any at all, and they both seem happy with their place, so why question it?

Brenan does have one odd quirk that his family has noticed; he is constantly eating. There are very few times of the day when he is not seen eating, or preparing food, or cleaning up post-eating… the man basically ate all of the time. If he was waiting for food to me made, he usually was seen in his favorite chair, snacking on some sort of pork-related food. The irony of all of this was that Brenan’s body did not show any sign of his constant eating; in fact he was in top physical shape. The part of Floy and Brenan’s marriage that their daughters did not know about (much to their daughter’s delight) was that they had a spectacular sex life. When Floy’s girlfriends would ask her why she would marry such a plain man, she would answer “Brenan is a man of actions, not of words”, and then give them the slightest of smiles.

In fact, Brenan was all action, in and out of the bedroom. When he wasn’t snoozing or eating, he was at work as a FBI Detective. He was known as the closest thing the East Coast had to it’s own Sherlock Holmes, personally closing 34 murder cases in his 12 year career. And he wasn’t afraid to get dirty either. He had been shot in the line of duty 3 times, and often fought 2 and 3 suspects at a time, either alone or with his partner. He depended on his extendable baton and Eskrima fighting skills that he learned as a Filipino marine in his youth to see him through any altercations he got in.

Brenan wasn’t just a fighting machine however. He had a brilliant deductive mind, and his whole department knew that he was deep in thought when they saw him in his office munching thoughtfully on a bag of pork rinds. He was always amused by the idea that people thought that he was a genius. All life was, in Brenan’s opinion, was a series of causes and events, nothing more. Even human emotions and behavior was cause and effect, even when you factored in emotions. Man sees wife cheating with best friend, man kills friend. All that’s left is figuring out the details. Just because he happened to be especially good with the details, people hailed him as a genius. Brenan considered his wife to be a genius; she managed far more aspects of human behavior than he had to. He just had to figure out why people did bad things; she had to, well, control the masses. And she was magnificent at it. She hadn’t aged a day in all of their years of marriage, and she still turned heads the same as she did the day he met her. Brenan loved Floy the day he met her… well to be honest, he fell in lust with her the day he met her; she was the sexiest woman he had ever seen in his life, but love came soon after. Any second he was not thinking of work, or his daughters, he was thinking of her eyes, or her hair, or her lips, or the curve of her behind, or her scent, etc. He loved Floy, but he still was in lust with her, and that was what surprised him most. Being a student of human behavior was part of his work, and he had seen almost every type of it. He had seen more loves die than people. What he had seen more than people die, and more than love die, was lust die. Brenan had concluded many years ago that lust is not made to last in this world. At most he had seen it last for a year, and that was only in the case of some exceptionally attractive people. But in his marriage, his lust for his wife had lasted just as long, and was just as strong as his love had. It was the greatest mystery in his life, and it was the one that he had no problem not solving. Every day he woke up and looked up at his wife, and he felt in his heart, and yes, in his pants, the same feeling he had for her on his wedding day, was another day that the mystery endured, and that Brenan knew that all was right with the world.

As much as he loved his wife, his daughters, Aicelle and Lola were the reasons he worked as hard as he did. He saw his work as making a safer world for them to grow up in. they were his daughters, and every criminal he put away was one less person he had to worry about hurting them somewhere down the line. Not that he thought of hi daughters as helpless victims; to the contrary, he knew that they would be quite capable of taking care of themselves simply because of who their parents were and what kind of families they came from. Still, it helped him sleep at night to know that he personally was doing his part to make sure that when they grew up and had children of their own, there would be fewer criminals in the world because of his own personal efforts and the efforts of his coworkers. When Brenan retired he planned to teach others, to make sure that his knowledge of detective work was spread to as many people as possible, again, to make sure that for every criminal out there, there would be someone like him to neutralize that person, for the sole reason to make sure that his daughters would live in a safer world. He loved his wife, but Lola and Aicelle were his future, his family, his legacy, and he would gladly give his own life to make sure that theirs was even slightly better than his own. Floy was his life, but his children were his reason for living.

Everyone worries about Lola. “She’s not girly enough”, they say. “She plays with boys too much”, they say. “She lives in her own little fantasy world and plays those video games all the time”, they say. Brenan never worried about Lola. He saw in her a lot of himself. She was independent, and he knew that telling her what to do would only force her to do the opposite. Lola would always live up to her name, that is, get what she wanted. Now, whether what she wanted was what she actually needed was up for debate, but that is the way things where. It was pointless to get in her way or try to stop her. But he trusted her enough, and knew that she had enough common sense to not get herself into any trouble that she could not get out of. Besides, he had met her friends, and they seemed to have good heads on their shoulders. But really, it was Lola herself that he knew he could trust; she had picked up many of her mother’s better traits. Lola was devastatingly intelligent and incredibly beautiful, just like her mother, yet she managed to not grow up too fast or use her looks to intimidate others. She had achieved a good balance in her life, and he did not think that it should be bothered with. When she rebelled, it was usually against things that deserved to be rebelled against He let her have her space, and he sensed that she appreciated that from him. The one thing that Brenan wanted Lola to feel from him was respect, because she wasn’t a regular girl, and he knew that she probably appreciated respect more than mushiness and hugs and kisses. The biggest smiles she gave him was when he showed her respect, which confirmed his thoughts. There was something else he knew about Lola; you could not tell her she was going to make a mistake, she had to figure it out for herself. He knew that in the last few weeks she had started something that would soon lead to one of the most emotionally destructive experiences of her young life. He also knew it was useless to try and steer her away from this mistake. This in essence, was a woman’s issue anyway; it was up to Floy and Aicelle to help her through.

Speaking of Aicelle, she was the one he worried about. Physically, she had all of her parents good points. She had Model good looks from her mother, and an athletes body from her father. In terms of her personality though, she seemed to have only picked up her parents bad points. She had the tyrannical instinct to dominate any social group she belonged to that was common among Velasquez women, and, unfortunately, she had the casual disrespect for the law that was way too common amongst the Ramirez clan. Brenan was always independent, which is why he went into the military and then into law enforcement. It was his way of expressing himself. He had to chose those paths because his five brothers all chose paths that eventually landed them on the wrong side of the law in the Philippines, and then eventually in America.

At any particular moment, two of his three brothers were in jail either here in NJ or abroad, and the other three were involved in some sort of criminal enterprise. Brenan was the middle brother, and he knew that his family ties were stronger than his ties to his country and the law, but it constantly gnawed at him that he could not get his brothers to go straight. His oldest brother, Christopher, was not allowed into a casino on the East coast. He constantly cheated. He cheated at every thing he did, including relationships. He cheated at games, on his girlfriends, on his wives, on his mistresses, on his taxes…. He just had a general aversion to honesty. But he never cheated his brothers. It was his one saving grace, and the one reason Brenan could never bring himself to arrest Christopher. Actually, all of the Ramirez brothers new Brenan’s weakness; his guilt. If you respected him and his family, he couldn’t bring himself to turn you in. So his brother’s took advantage of this fact mercilessly. They were very careful to deal with Brenan and his family more honestly and truthfully than they had ever dealt with anyone else in their lives. It wasn’t hard though, Brenan’s brother’s loved their nieces and sister-in-law. Christopher never even considered sleeping with Floy, mostly because she scared him. But more likely, none of them had managed to establish a stable family life of their own, so they all sort of vicariously lived their lives through Brenan’s family. Lola and Aicelle where like their own daughters. If anyone was foolish enough to hurt them, they should pray that Brenan gets to them before his brothers do.

Esteban, 47, was wanted in 3 countries for Grand Theft. He has what is currently known as a kleptomaniac. He got bored with just taking things when he was young however, and when he got into his early twenties he started stealing more and more valuable things. Things that were protected by security systems and men with guns. Eventually that bored him, so his thefts became more and more violent until he was finally caught in a bank robbery in Philadelphia 4 years ago. Three times a year Brenan and his family take a road trip to the Federal Prison where Esteban currently resides to visit him. It’s something of a family tradition for the Ramirez clan, visiting family in prison.

Luis, 43, was the Boss of a mid-size criminal syndicate in Quezon City in the Philippines. His “business” included all kinds of illegal activities, and Brenan contented himself with the fact that all of them were far outside of his jurisdiction. Uncle Luis would visit 4 or 5 times a year on “business”, and would always come visit his brother and nieces when he was in the states. Lola and Aicelle loved their Uncle Luis, because he never came empty handed. He always had Luis Vuitton-this or CoCo Chanel-that for Aicelle, and whatever hot new video games where out for Lola when he would visit. Brenan was less than excited when Luis came to visit. Most of Luis’ money comes from drug and prostitution rings he runs in the Libis and Timog areas of Quezon, and Brenan knows it. He knows where the money comes from that buys those gifts, and it eats him up inside, but he also sees that it makes his daughters happy, and he does not want to spoil that happiness. Whenever Uncle Luis comes around in his expensive suits with his expensive gifts, he always exchanges a look with his big brother, a look that says “you know you can’t do a damn thing about it.” And as long as Luis isn’t hurting is daughters, Brenan can’t. After all, Luis is family too.

The brother who worried Brenan the most, however, was Giancarlo, 30. Gian was so much younger than the rest of them that he never really bonded as much as Brenan would have liked. Gian always showed tendencies that Brenan never was comfortable with. He was always too forward with women. He never seemed to be… Brenan just couldn’t put his finger on it, and it bothered him. From what his brothers could tell, he was fine, but his brothers all had warped senses of reality anyway. Gian was currently sentenced to 10 years in East Jersey state prison for human trafficking, of which he had served 2 so far. He had been smuggling women from the Philippines to the East Coast. What happened when they got here no one knew. Brenan hated not knowing things, and Gian was annoyingly coy when it came to giving up where his drop-off points were and where the women went to. Brenan prayed every night that those women got to their families and not… somewhere else.

This is the part of the Ramirez family that he was afraid infected Aicelle. That is why he was way harder on her than he was on Lola. He saw early on that she was not afraid to bend the rules, and though it took a lot of effort from Floy and he, it seemed like they had effected some change in her nature through nurturing. But still, he felt like he would always have to keep an eye on her. Aicelle had the looks and the intelligence to turn a Saint into a Sinner and back again. He only hoped she would use her powers for good, when it looked like her nature was to use her powers for evil. Put all of that together, every single one of those thoughts, worries, concerns, loves, hates, and responsibilities, and that is what keeps Brenan Ramirez’s mind occupied every single second of every single day.

You wouldn’t have a lot to say either.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chapter 4

The next couple of weeks Gabriel showed me more of his Angels and Demons. They were each magnificent and terrible in their own ways. I saw less and less of my other friends, but it was because they actually had things to do; Sarah had joined the cheerleading squad for the Pop Warner football team, so that kept her occupied. As you can tell, I am not the cheerleading type, but she seems happy, so who am I to criticize? Besides which she seemed to have a new idol, some girl named Elizabeth. She was a Spanish girl from way on the other side of town, but who I guess would be in 9th grade with us. She was Brown like me, and had long Black hair like I did as well. In fact we resembled each other in a lot of ways, except that she had already, uh, developed in some ways that my body clearly had no intention of doing so as of yet, which was fine by me. I didn’t want all that attention, and she was already starting to revel in it, so more power to her. I could tell from the opposite side of the field that there was something different about her, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Every now and then I thought I caught her sneaking glimpses at me, but I was never quite sure. The whole exchange was weirding me out, so I decided to just let it go.

As for Martin, it took him a whole year and a half to get his dream self back after Lewis “killed” him. He started playing Pop Warner football, and it turns out he’s actually pretty good at it. I go to see him play sometimes and I see sparks of the old him returning. It’s good for both of us. His family came from the south side of Chicago, and he was the first Brown person I ever saw here outside of my family. It was rough seeing him listless and defeated for so long. But he’s got hope again, and a fire in his eyes that you can see rejuvenating not just him, but his entire family as well. I could care less about football, but every time he scores a touchdown I can’t help but smile for him. It doesn't hurt that his family feeds me great soul food every time I come over, which seems to be more and more often. He should have warned them that I am like a stray dog; if you feed me once I'll never leave.

At this particular game Lewis came with me. He and Martin had actually become really good friends since the Dragon incident. Lewis was Jewish, and though it is a stereotype, he is definitely prone to guilt. Lewis never forgave himself for what he did to Martin, especially since Martin was Black and Lewis was growing into what he called a “Liberal”. In any event he could not do enough to apologize, even though Martin had honestly gotten over it a while ago. I guess in a way Martin had a chance to mature more than the rest of us in that time that he was living completely in the real world, but in the end he still managed to retain his powers. He truly had the best of both worlds, nothing to complain about really, but Lewis just couldn’t get over his guilt. It all seemed to work out for the best though, as Lewis’s guilt seemed to amuse Martin, but he never abused it. Boys fight, boys make up, boys become best friends; boys are silly, but I guess that’s how boys work. They’re my boys and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, especially since one of my boys just scored on a 7 yard run to win the game!

“Yeah Boy, that’s my Juggernaut!” I said as I gave Marty a big muddy hug. After the game was over, Martin, Sarah, Lewis and I were about to walk home together, when Elizabeth came over, in all of her “Just Bring It” glory. “Excuse me? Sarah? Where are you going? We still have our post-game Cheer-togetherness Bakeshop to go to.”

Sarah turned white as a ghost, “OH MY GOD! I forgot about the bakeshop!”

“Bakeshop?” I said, trying not so hard to hide the derision in my voice.

“Yes Lola, It is a Baking workshop, and it is very important to Cheer cohesion and unity, and something that any serious Cheerleader would not have forgotten.” Sarah dropped her head in shame as if she had just been caught selling Federal Secrets to the Russians. “Guys I really have to go, I’m sorry, I’ll make it up to you later.” Martin and Lewis just nodded, but I sensed something was amiss. “Yeah Sarah you go ahead and ditch us for your circle-bake. You know Lizzy, Sarah already had plans with us. I’m sure you’re Stepford Bakeoff will be fine without her.” I stepped in between Sarah and Lizzy. A cool breeze blew on that warm Summer evening, and Martin, Lewis, and Sarah backed off; they knew the look in my eye, and they knew what was going to happen. “I hope she’s quick with this one”, Martin said, “I’m hungry, and My mother’s makin dinner for all of us.”

I thought about how I would take this girl down. In my minds eye I saw myself as the Judo girl from Street Fighter 3, perfect for slamming this bitch's face in the mud. Martin whispered to Lewis “she’s going for the Judo technique, this should be over fast.” As the tension in the air thickened like the skin on old pudding, the very first leaf of late summer fell from an oak tree and twirled between the two girls. As soon as it passed below their eye level they lunged at each other. Lola disappeared, and in the blink of an eye her fist was… firmly caught in Liz’s left hand. The impact sent a shockwave through the puddles surrounding them, and a look of shock through the faces of Lola’s friends. They had never seen someone block one of her punches; ever. But then they looked closer at Liz and saw that she was no normal opponent. Lola finally realized what the weirdness she felt about Liz was; she had a power level of her own, and as Liz’s hand clamped down on Lola’s fist, Lola realized that she was dealing with someone who she should not have taken so lightly. She pulled Lola in and delivered a thunderous blow to her chest, knocking Lola on her back and shaking the ground. When Lola looked up, the cheerleader was gone, and there stood Liz in Bruce Lee’s classic Kung Fu pose, right down to his patented head bop and yellow jumpsuit. She brushed her long black hair out of her face and waived for Lola to come at her. “I’m gonna call Mom”, Marty said, “and tell her we’re going to be a little late for dinner.”

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chapter 3

Later that evening I lay in bed in my all black pj’s (of course) thinking about my day... Ok, it wasn’t “later that evening” it was actually around 4 am. I just couldn’t get Gabriel out of my head. I remember when I had arrived home I had talked to my mother and sister about something, and I think I ate somewhere in there as well, but for the most part the only destination my mind would let me wander to was him. I tried to close my eyes and file away my thoughts and experiences of the day in neat little cerebral file cabinets like I did every night when I went to bed; organizing my thoughts into some order that made sense to me and only me, but the one file would not stay closed. It stubbornly would not close, and the papers would not fit into their folders like they should. And I could not stop looking at the images that they held, the images of him,and his radiant designs... I have never had this reaction before, especially not to a boy, but I’m sure it does not mean anything and it will probably go away soon.

“It’s been a while since I knew anyone who could see my angels and demons, and you can. I’m just happy that it happened so soon. We just moved here this summer because I had to change schools again.”

He was so creative, and his creative energy was unlike anyone I’d ever seen; until this point Lewis was the most powerful person I had ever went up against, but I had a feeling that even Lewis in his Dragon form would have been no match For Gabriel and his Angels. They were so… beautiful. I just wanted to know more about him, and it seemed like there was so much to know. Was all of high school going to be like this? Where all of the people I met going to be as rich and as interesting as he was? He wasn’t in my grade, and he was 2 years older than me, but there had to be some people in my grade like him right? Maybe there’d even be a girl like me, someone like me but older, who I could look up to, the big sister that I’ve always wanted. I was having such a hard time sleeping; for the first time since the whole idea had first been brought up, I was actually looking forward to high school.

Earlier that evening…

“Tatay, did you see Lola when he came in from playing this afternoon? She was practically floating on a cloud. She was muttering something about a Boy.”

Brenan Ramirez, patriarch of the Velasquez-Ramirez clan, answered with his usual “Mmm hmm.”

Aicelle soldiered on, “I think she’s got a crush. Lola’s finally starting to act like a girl!”

“Mmm hmm”, Brenan grunted.

“Don’t you have any input on this at all? You’re little Lola is not going to be little for very much longer. She was all starry-eyed and ‘Gabrielle this’ and ‘Gabrielle that’. I wouldn’t be surprised if soon she doesn’t come home with a little boyfriend. Now what would you think of that?”

Brenan put down his bag of pork rinds, looked at his oldest daughter, and said “Lola, is not that type of girl. You and I both know that she does not understand the girly parts of her brain, and furthermore her level of thinking operates on another plane that the rest of us haven't reached yet. If and when she does fall for a boy, it can only end in tears, misunderstandings, and general disaster.”
Aicelle sighed and rolled her eyes, "Tatay, will you be positive for just once? Maybe this is finally the the sign that she is done being a tomboy and will finally start being a normal girl. We can go shopping for dresses in colors and I can do her make-up and we can talk about boys. It will be like I finally have the little sister I have always wanted."
Brenan folded his paper and took a bite of a particularly large pork rind. "You have your mother's optimism 'celle. I on the other hand, am more pragmatic, and I think I understand Lola a little better than the two of you because she is more of a tomboy. Lola is very strong-willed, and that is a good thing and a bad thing. The bad part is, her ego will blind her to even the most obvious of bad choices. But neither you nor I nor anyone else will be able to tell her differently; she will have to experience every lesson she learns on her own. Now this boy, who knows if he will be good for her or bad? In the end it is less important what he does to her than what she does to him. I am not afraid that Lola will not ever be a 'girl' as you say, I am afraid for my gender when she does chose to realize her full potential. My daughters are the most dangerous women alive." As he said this he gave a big smile to Aicelle, and she could not help but smile back.
"Tatay, what are you talking about? I never hurt anyone!"
Brenan could barely keep his chuckle to himself; he wasn't one to laugh out loud often, but when he thought of the long list of broken hearts and destroyed lives his daughter left behind her in high school and had conveniently forgotten about, even he couldn't hold back his bemusement. "Aicelle, you've broken more hearts than high cholesterol. There were always sad boys coming around looking for you, even in middle school. And you were always leaving the old one when a new, shinier boy came along. I'll count myself lucky if Lola picks one boy and stays with him the whole time through high school. I hardly got any sleep with all the boys calling for you when you were in High School.
"Whatever Daddy, I was not a heartbreaker. I was just picky. And I think it's good that Lola finally has a crush. At least now we finally have something to talk about."
"Be careful what you wish for 'celle, I don't think you really want what you're asking for." Brenan returned to his newspaper and pork rinds and muttered to himself again, "disaster".

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Chapter 2

The next day I went to my usual playground to actually think about what my sister had said. I’m used to dismissing my sister and mother outright, but I had to admit for the first time in my life I did feel a slight bit of trepidation about this whole concept of High school. School had been a breeze for me to this point, and as much as I hated to admit it, I did sort of run things at school up until this point. But I like to think that unlike my mother and sister, I was not making some diabolical effort to be bitch queen, it just happened that my pleasant demeanor and sunny disposition won over those I did not have to beat into submission. As I swung on my favorite swing, I kicked my legs out to go higher and higher. They had succeeded in giving me doubts, which is something only your family can really do when no one else in the world can. In fact that is the real power a mother has over a daughter; she can take away all of your fears and doubts, and she can give them all right back to you twice as hard. I swung and kicked my legs to go higher and higher. I like my black dresses and black shoes; I like my style. Anyone who likes me likes my style, and those who don’t who cares? I love who I am, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t. I mean, what it all boils down to is that I am the girl my parents raised me to be, they can’t take it back now just because I’m a teenager and expect me to become something else entirely. If they can’t change me, what makes them think high school can? I kicked my legs to go as high as I could, and when I came down, I saw a boy sitting a ways off on a bench directly in front of me drawing. He was not sitting there before… in fact he was not sitting there on the previous swing, but there he was as if he’d been there the entire afternoon. He was completely ethnically ambiguous, which normally in my neighborhood usually meant he was probably one of my cousins over for a visit, but he definitely wasn’t related to me. He had wild long straight black hair, and dark, nearly black eyes. He looked kinda muscular like he played sports or something… maybe he was Spanish or something like that… In any case, the way the wind was playing with his hair I couldn’t make out his features for sure, but he definitely didn’t seem to be too much older than I was, but then he wasn’t younger either. It was frustrating, I just couldn’t place him…

“Would you like to come look at it?”

“Huh?” He spoke. I didn’t realize he had spoke, to me, asked me a question, right away, that is….

“You’ve been staring at me for 5 minutes. Either you want to see what I’m drawing or you are simply tired of swinging. Either way I think that you should do something other that sit there and stare at me.”

He was right; I wasn’t swinging, and I hadn’t been blinking, and I was not aware that I had stopped doing either.

“There’s more room on this bench, you can sit here.”

Now that I had been so obviously made, I pretty much had to come over there to hide my embarrassment. “Um… soo, yeah… what is that you’re drawing?”

“Her name is Netzach, she rules over the power of Life in the Universe. Do you want to see her?”

His drawing was beautiful; she was a green angelic woman with long flowing wings and hair to match. I could feel a lot of power emanating just from his drawing. For an older kid he still seemed to keep a lot of his imagination intact. “She’s beautiful”, I said, “You’re very talented”.

“You can really see her can’t you”, he said. For the first time he looked me in my eyes. I wanted to run, or shrink, or jump or… his eyes were full of… something I had never felt before, but it made me feel like I need immediate medical attention. He smiled, “I can introduce you to her… please I want to, there are so few people who can see her…”

I nodded my head yes. Once he took his eyes away from mine I was able to breathe again, which was good, but I immediately missed the feeling, which would trouble me later. He folded his hands together and shut his eyes tight. The wind blew harder through our hair, and when his eyes opened again they glowed green, the same green as he used in his picture. “Come forth Netzach!” Before us a green orb about the size of a basketball appeared from thin air, and from it unfolded two giant, glorious angelic wings. From there stepped the same woman who was in the drawing, who I was to notice later, wasn’t in the picture anymore. Her green robes hung casually from her voluptuous body and as her bare feet touched the ground, verdant life sprung from each step. The air had never smelled cleaner, I never felt better or healthier in my life, just being in her presence; if there truly were an Angel that ruled over all life in the universe, here she was. My new friend reached down and gathered some of the flowers that spontaneously sprung from Netzach’s appearance, and gave them to me. “I’m Gabriel, what’s your name?”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Chapter 1

The summer between middle school and high school, I don’t think I had ever been more excited. I was really looking forward to all of the new people I would meet, the new adventures I would experience, the new people and things I would get to beat up.

Well, my sister said, that wouldn’t fly in High school. All summer I had seen her and my mother having animated discussions in other rooms of the house that I could quite hear but were obviously about me. I could tell by the furtive glances they’d shoot at me as they were talking. It was not in my nature to worry about problems that weren’t brought to my immediate attention though, so I didn’t. I didn’t, that is, until my sister came into my room one hot July day and decided to start to have "the talk" with me. "Lola", Aicelle said, "You’re going to have to be more of a, well, girl once you get to high school, or boys will never like you."

"Why would I want boys to like me?" I asked her, "I have all the friends I need. And, in my experience, boys liking girls and girls liking boys leads to nothing but trouble; horrible, dramatic trouble that I usually get sucked into. I don’t want that kind of trouble, and I am very determined to avoid it."

Aicelle thought about this for a moment, a long moment; it seemed I had made a salient point that she had not really expected. "Well, yes to an extent you are right; High school relationships most often end in fighting and tears, but it is something that you are going to want. I… we, you’re Mother and I, we just don’t want you to be lonely; you could start by wearing something other than black."

There’s something you have to understand about my mother and my sister; they both graduated from Bankai Regional High School, the same place I was about to start attending. My mother, Floy Velasquez at the time, graduated 25 years ago, my sister, Aicelle Velasquez-Ramirez, graduated this year, and I, Lola Velasquez-Ramirez, was expected to pick up the torch of the Velasquez women at BRHS. My mother and sister ruled that school like royalty. They were both Prom Queen, they were both voted Most Popular, and they both ruled the social scene with an iron fist. They decided who was popular and who wasn’t, they decided who dated who, they decided who got into what clubs… I think they even had say over who played in the football games on Friday nights. I saw both of their yearbooks, and to be honest, my mother and sister represent everything I detest about what I’ve heard of high school. And that’s the main reason I was unconcerned about what my mother and sister were talking about because concerning me and high school; I already had an idea. They are deathly afraid that I’m going to ruin their legacy as a Velasquez woman at BRHS. And the truth is I have every intention to. I don’t want to be belle of the ball; I don’t want to be High School royalty, all that crap sounds lame to me, and my mother and sister have been arguing all summer over who gets to try and convince me to stop being me and to try and be a true Velasquez woman. I know they were hoping I’d grow out of being the awesome person I am, and I am so looking forward to disappointing them.

"…and you’re really kind of wasting your potential. I mean you’re sooo pretty, and you really are very intelligent, you’re smarter at your age than I was at your age…"

"I’m smarter than you are now ‘celle."

Aicelle sighed and sat next to me while I played Capcom vs SNK on my PS3, "look Lola, I just don’t want you do get swallowed up and be unhappy. High School is a jungle, and if you aren’t the strongest, you end up being the weakest. I know this may sound like a lecture but seriously, High School’s no joke, I’m really trying to look out for you. I just graduated so I know what I’m talking about. Just think about it ok?"

I paused my game and addressed my sister, "Look ate, I know you and nanay are just doing what you think is best, but I’m 13, and I really like myself. I don’t plan on changing who I am for anybody or anything, least of all High school. I respect your experience, but I know myself better than anyone. I’ll be fine. And I respect what you and nanay have done, but I want to make my own destiny… I don’t want to be another Velasquez woman, I want to be a new one, My own woman."

Aicell looked at in a way she never had before; it was a look that bordered on respect, but even I could not believe that my sister would look at me with respect. Still, she then said "OK, if that’s the way you want it. But if you ever want advice, I’ll be here for you."

"Thanks. I won’t but thanks for the offer." I unpaused my game and finished what I was doing. Aicelle lingered in my doorway for a few minutes, then went about her business as well. "Hm", I though, "I wonder if that’s what people call ‘bonding’".

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


There’s a difference, a nuance in styles that I only learned today, but really could change the rest of my life. Like most of the important details in life, this one was hidden from me by women nigh until my 30th birthday. Apparently, I did not know the difference between “wanting” someone and “needing” someone. For the past 7 years I’ve been operating on the assumption that I needed a girlfriend. I had a hole in my heart, a hole much like the one Miroku has in his hand, vacuuming up any and all love that got near it, and offering back nothing in return. This gaping chest wound, as I like to call it, was insatiable, and always hungered for more. Eventually this hunger became so great that it ate my brain and confused me to the point that I forgot why I wanted to be with women in the first pace. The need to fill my gaping chest would overtake the want to have a loving companion in my life. The hunger grew and took on a life of its own until I was the hunger; behind my face was the hunger. Every time I opened my mouth the swirling winds of the abyss howled their pain to the outside world, and those who could sense it ran in fear, and everyone knew; everyone that is except for me. All I knew was that I needed something desperately, and all I could figure was that what I needed so desperately was a woman. I had distant memories of feeling whole and happy when I had a woman at the center of my life, when I had a mother, when I had… a girlfriend. And since I could not have another mother, I damn well had better find another girlfriend hadn’t I? So the monster swept the countryside, devouring love as it went, giving nothing in return, but no matter how much it consumed it could never get enough. And when it found prey that it could not eat, the monster howled its frustration to the moon, and the earth shook and the heavens wept at his rage, but none could slake his hunger.

And so the mighty beast walked the Earth eating what he could, destroying what he could not, and always wanting more, until one day he came upon a small raven-haired girl who he desired greatly. He opened his great maw, and the winds of the abyss swirled around her, ruffling her hair, and buffeting her plain black dress. All around her the sky darkened, and the grass clutched the Earth for dear life, but the girl was unfazed. She gazed up into the great emptiness with her deep brown eyes and raised her small hand to it, as if to say “stop”. She did this because she was about to say “stop”, which she then proceeded to do. This greatly disturbed the monster, as his victims either ran from him or were consumed by him; none had ever actually talked to him, not in many years. He closed his great tooth-filled mouth and peered at the small girl with his anger-filled eyes. “Who are you to tell me to stop? I am a monster, I stop for no one!” With that the monster roared a roar that wet the pants of children in several surrounding counties. Again, the child stood before him quite frankly unimpressed by his display. “I told you to stop”, she said, “because you are making a great noise and you need to stop”. The monster blustered and nearly fell over. “But I am a monster little girl, it is what I do! I roar and eat things. I need to fill this great hole in my heart you see.”

The girl examined the monster’s heart quite carefully. She looked at him and at his heart again. “You are mistaken. There is no hole here. Just a small wound.” The monster frowned, which was a sight in and of itself, seeing as how his great mouth had grown to such a size that when he frowned there was very much mouth to be frowning. In fact he had to take her word for it; he had not had opportunity to examine his own heart in many years. All he knew was the all consuming pain and hunger that drove him emanated from the place where he remembered his heart to be. “Well” he said, “can you fix it?” “Of course I can”, she said sharply, “Do I look like a ninny?” With that she reached into his heart and withdrew a sharp, spiky, thin, sickly white crystal from his heart. As soon as it was withdrawn, the wound healed, and the monster began to shrink. The winds slowed down, and the howls of the abyss became as a cool summer breeze. Soon there was just a boy, looking at a girl; no monsters to be found. “You saved me”, he said, “Just what did you do?” “Not much”, she replied, shaking the bloody white crystal before him, “I just helped you remember the difference between need and want.” She poked him in the chest and he felt warmth he had not felt in years. “The heart wants what it wants; it does not need anything because it already has everything it needs. You just got some extra need stuck in there. And when a person needs more than they want, well, that can get downright painful.” The girl conscientiously deposited the hateful crystal in the nearest garbage can and went about her way. “What…” the boy said, “What do I do now?” She skipped along her merry way and gave him one simple answer in reply; “You live silly boy, you live”.

People said that Lola was wise beyond her years. She thought just the opposite. Lola believed that she was able to see solutions to problems that no one else could see because she didn’t have all the confusing and contradictory ideas that “experience” gave grown-ups. It was, she believed, her lack of wisdom that enabled her to see the simplicity in life. The only problem with her theory of life was that as much as she tried to follow the rules of simplicity, trouble always seemed to find her. For example, there was the Dragon that ate her good friend.

Lola had two friends that she tended to play with more than others, Martin and Sarah. Martin was a chubby kid from down her street, but he was always able to make her laugh, and he had the coolest toys. Sarah, seemed to think that Lola was the most awesome girl in the world, and Lola thought that she should be friends with a girl who had such great taste in people. Lola overlooked one person however, and it was this person who was to ensure that she would not have the nice peaceful weekend she was hoping for.

Martin, Sarah, and Lola were playing after school on a Friday afternoon when there reverie was unexpectedly cut short. It had been a beautiful day, but it would not be much of a story if it stayed that way, now would it? What appeared to be a small hurricane attacked the playground, hovered for a second, and then took off again. The three kids stopped for a moment, but, like goldfish, quickly forgot what had distracted them and went on playing. A few minutes later, another momentary cyclone buzzed over their heads, and Lola swore she saw a large green blur in the middle of it, but it was moving so fast she could not make out what it was. This finally attracted Lola’s attention, and she began to scan the skies to see just what was disturbing her peaceful sky and peaceful afternoon. Even her big brown eyes could not find the source of the distraction however, which lead her to come to the right conclusion exactly one second too late. From the heart of the sun flew something unspeakable, something that almost unsettled Lola… almost. It was huge, serpent-like, and winged, and most definitely angry. It roared, and its power flattened all of them to the ground. Lola was the only one who could even manage to get herself to one knee, and even that took a great deal of her own power to manage. The leviathan hovered over them, its massive wings beating the air like an oversized hummingbird. As it blocked out the sun, they could not make out any details save for its glowing green eyes and devilishly sharp teeth. With a flick of its neck its head shot out and snatched Martin between its jaws. Before anyone could act, a ghostly form of Martin had been taken into the beast’s mouth and swallowed whole. Martin blinked for a few seconds, suddenly unaffected by all that had been going on around him, and said “what am I doing her, I should be home doing my homework.” He wandered in the direction of his house, seemingly dazed and confused as to what he had been doing for the last hour.

Lola snarled at the Dragon, “You’re gonna pay for that! Martin was funny, and I liked playing with him, and you just ate anything interesting about him!” The monster laughed a horrifying chilling laugh that shook Sarah to her very core. Sarah, for her part, would have been happy if the monster had just laughed, for his voice was far more frightening. “And what are you going to do about it you little runt? I’m going to rule this playground, and a tiny, weak, girl like you can’t do anything about it. If you’re lucky I may let you be my pet when I’m done taking over.” There was a lot Lola could take, and there was much that didn’t faze her, but there was one thing that always got to her, no matter what. Lola could not stand being called weak, it was the highest insult to her. She grinded her teeth in anger, and said, “You jerk! I’ll make you pay for that…” “GRAWR!!!” roared the Dragon, knocking Lola back to the ground. If you want to try, meet me at the big playground near your house tomorrow around noon. And just to make sure you show up”, the dragon wrapped it’s tail around Sarah and took her with him, I’m taking her as insurance. Seeya later alligator!” The Dragon seemed to be amused by something it said as it flew away, chuckling to itself. Lola could do nothing but watch and fume; all she wanted to do tomorrow was play on the swings, but now it looked like she was going to have to do some chores first.


Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez were busy eating their breakfast on a sunny Saturday morning, oblivious to the actions of their daughter as usual. Lola woke up and knew that she had a busy Saturday ahead of her. She opened her closet and looked over her many, many costumes. She had at least a dozen black dresses, of all different shapes and sizes, but all of the deepest ebony imaginable. She chose the sleeveless one with the white lacey fringes around the neck and shoulders, and of course, her black stockings. The next part would be the hardest part, putting on her armor. For what she needed to do today, she would need armor, and armor is always hard to put on. Mr. Ramirez barely looked up from his paper as his daughter flopped down at the kitchen table next to him tugging on her magical leg bracers. They shined as if they had just been polished by the Latinos down at the car wash. The table rattled and rocked as Mr. Ramirez ate his breakfast of fried spam and pork rinds with a side of grapefruit. “You going out today missy?” he said in his thick Philipino accent, failing to look up from his paper. “Yeah dad”, she said, “I have to fight a Dragon.” Mr. Ramirez turned the page of his newspaper and said “Sounds like a disaster. Why do you have to do such things?” By this point the raven haired 10 year old was bumping into her mother, who was busy washing the dishes. “I have to do it because the dragon tried to eat my friend and said nasty things about me. So I have to go do something about it. And I want to use the swings.” Mrs. Ramirez dried another plate and put it in the pile next to her. She sometimes worried about her daughter, especially when she insisted on putting on her “armor” and roughhousing with the other boys. She wished she would be more girl-like and play with dolls. At least her little Lola liked dresses, but her unhealthy obsession with the color black worried her even more. “Little Lola, why don’t you go play with the girls instead of fighting this ‘Dragon’?” Lola finished pulling on her armor and went back to her room for her sword and shield. “Sorry mom, it’s a matter of honor. And besides, I’m angry, and I need my revenge.” The Ramirez’s sighed together; they knew now that even at 10 years of age, that what Lola wanted, Lola got.

The play ground was surrounded by tall Oaks all around. Over the horizon through the large trees came a very small girl, carrying a large sword and a round shield. The wind blew through her long hair, which seemed larger than ever considering the slightness of the rest of her. I say all of that to say her opponent for the day was exactly the opposite in every way. The Dragon was at least 10 stories tall, with a 50 ft long tail tipped with long, extremely sharp barbs. The Dragon’s feet and claws ended in long razor-sharp talons, and his mouth was full of the sharpest teeth that the world has ever seen. He pulled his head back and roared his rage to the sky as children ran in all directions, their terror obvious as they fled from the monster in their midst. For his size, however, the dragon was fast as a lizard, and managed to keep them all corralled with his long tail and neck. The sun dazzled off of his jade-green scales as he darted left and right, snatching up a boy here, a girl there, dropping them into a pile in the middle of the playground where he could strike more fear into their hearts. His eyes burned a deep, cold green as he noticed a new player had entered his private sandbox. For a second she looked like nothing more than a small black dot, but she got a lot larger at a disturbingly fast pace. Like a bullet Lola launched herself shield first into the dragon’s chest, knocking the wind out of him and driving him back several feet. He dropped the tall, pale girl he was holding in order to steady himself. Lola back flipped gracefully from her target, landing on one knee as the dragon tumbled backward, dust filling the air. The children the monster held captive ran past her as she held her pose, civilly waiting for her opponent to regain his composure.

As the Dragon got to its feet, arms and wings flailing, it howled and roared obviously displeased at this new development. “And just who the hell are you”, he finally sputtered. Lola stood as he did, albeit with far more grace and a lot less bluster, “You know who I am Lewis, you’ve been badmouthing me all week at school.” The Dragon, now positively identified as Lewis, narrowed his icy green eyes at her and said “oh yes, it is my darling Little Lola isn’t it? I’ve been waiting for you!” Lewis reared back and lunged, cobra-like, at Lola who hop scotched backwards from his strike. He then slashed at her with his right claws, then his left claws in a 1-2 combination, which she danced out of the way of. Lewis then spun around and kicked at Lola with his left foot then the right. Lola’s fast, but Lewis’s snake-like speed was allowing his attacks to edge closer and closer to her. Just when she thought he was done, his tail came around and slammed her directly in the ribs. As she flew into the air, Lewis unfurled his wings and hit her with a powerful blast of air that knocked her full strength into one of the tall Oak trees surrounding the park. Lola hit the tree at full speed, putting a huge crater in the bark and shaking the tree to its very roots. After her momentum was spent, she fell down the length of the tree and hit the ground with a dull thud. Lewis laughed a great belly laugh, “You? You’re going to save you’re friend?” He picked up the tall skinny girl he held before and huffed at her. “You’re mine from now on Sarah. Lola can’t save you, and if she can’t, no one can.” Lewis grinned a grin that overflowed with the long dangerous swords that he called teeth, and suddenly noticed something; Lola wasn’t where she was supposed to be. He lowered his arm and looked around, slightly panicked. Gradually he started to pick up small bursts of sand drifting around him. “It’s her” he thought, “she’s moving faster than I can see”. Eventually he would catch images of her as she changed direction, little more than what one would see in a subliminal message. He could hear her moving, the tell-tale high-pitched “zwee” sound that high speed fighting makes. But he couldn’t find her!

“That’s it!” he yelled as he unfurled his wings and buffeted the playground with hurricane force winds. “Run all you want, you can’t outrun the wind!” In fact, Lola wasn’t. She ran up one of the trees, and had launched herself directly at Lewis’s nose. He noticed, but a fraction of a second too late as her shield crashed into his snout, breaking everything there. As we all know, getting smashed in the nose is extremely disorienting, and Lola took the opportunity to flip forward, hop, and slash Lewis right between the eyes with her sword. He reared back and howled in pain, grabbing his face as near blackish-red blood gushed from his face and nose. Lola continued running, slaloming between the column of spikes bisecting his back and slashing the whole way down. Lewis desperately reached behind him to stop her. He quickly discovered how hard it is to swat a flea moving near the speed of sound that was armed with a sword and a shield. When Lola got near the bottom of Lewis, the world dropped out from beneath her, literally; he dropped his tail and swatted her with the end of it. She shot into orbit as if a space shuttle were underneath her. Lewis yelled “FIRE WHIRLWIND!” and started to blow fire in front of him while using his wings to create a cyclone. What resulted was just what he said; a huge column of fire, and Lola was falling right into it. All she could do was cover up behind her shield and armor and hope to survive. The heat was unbearable, and he was just adding to it. Once Lewis felt like he had created enough heat to duplicate a small sun, he pulled his wings far back, and blew the Tornado the wall of Oak trees. After being spun in a fiery tornado, the last thing Lola really needed was to be slammed into a rock hard Oak tree (again) exactly the way little girls should not be slammed against large solid objects. As she hit the ground (again) she noticed something aside from the staggering pain racking her body; her dress was torn. Her. Dress. Was. Torn.

“That’s it. Now, I’m angry.”

Lewis was quickly crossing the playground to deliver the killing blow, and slammed his hand down on her. He brushed the blunt side of one of his talons against her honey brown face and said “Oh Lola, you are such a wonderful fighter. You know, it doesn’t have to be this way between us. All I want to do is lay down with you resting your beautiful black hair on my chest.” He ran his talon through her hair and said “we could have a wonderful life together, or” he turned his talon over to the sharp side and the hair was instantly cut just from the force of gravity, his claws were that sharp “we could be enemies. I would much rather do things the easy way. Because if I can’t have you, no one will.” Lola squirmed beneath his hand “is that what this is about? Jealousy? Because I became best friends with Sarah, you turned into this?” Lewis smirked “Duh Lola, don’t you recognize the green eyed monster when you see him? Now how are we going to finish this, the easy way or the hard way? You know you belong with me, and you should be with me. I need you, AND I WILL BURN EVERY KID IN THIS TOWN UNTIL YOU AND I ARE THE ONLY ONES LEFT!”

Lola knew this had to stop, and soon. Not only had her former friend clearly lost his mind, but her dress was torn, and that meant that playtime was over. Lola started to glow with a dark radiant energy that forced the Dragon of Jealousy off of her. “I SUMMON THE RADIANT BLACKNESS POWER-UP!” Suddenly, all light disappeared from the playground; when it returned, Lola was a shining black star, zipping around Lewis at speeds that made him more than slightly nervous. The star circled his right leg, and suddenly his knee cracked. Lewis screamed in pain and collapsed onto his side as his left knee soon followed. The Dragon could not follow her movements; all he could do was feel the various hits she delivered to his body and the accompanying pain. Finally, when the blows stopped, she floated before him. In his daze of pain and blood all he could see was Lola, bathed in what looked like ebony flames. “I want you to know one thing Lewis. I belong to no one. I do not need anyone. And it does not matter how big or strong you or anyone else gets, I will always be able to beat you. Now if you want to talk about this like friends, I’m all for it, but until then, I’m going to finish you before you hurt anyone else. You’re not the only one around here who can Burn baby burn; BLACK STAR SUPERNOVA!” Lola’s aura started to glow stronger, larger, brighter, and most importantly hotter, threatening to engulf all of Lewis. He used his last bit of energy to take off into the air, and flew away. “We’ll finish this discussion later Lola. I guarantee it!”

“Of course we will you idiot”, she said, “We have class together.” Lola sighed and wondered why she went through all of this trouble just to use the swings.


Monday was… awkward to say the least.

I don’t remember what class was about. It wasn’t really important, since I already knew my grammar backwards and forwards, but I really should have been paying attention. What I was paying attention to, however, was the psycho-drama going on all around me. I didn’t quite understand why, but a lot of my classmates where being overcome with some strange new feelings and emotions that I suspect even they did not understand. For instance, my former friend Lewis, to my left, seems to have developed some strange sort of intense liking for me, and in his jealousy he’s turned into a giant green dragon. Well, not now of course, now he just looks somewhat reptilian, but all of those with enough imagination could see the cold green light coming from his eyes and the reptilian scaly sheen his skin had taken. And the fact that he just… won’t… stop… staring… at… me… As for Sarah, the one he is Jealous of, she’s still shaking like a leaf over the whole experience, and I think she’s convinced herself that it was all some sort of bad date she went on. Whatever happens, I have to settle this today because I refuse to have my lunch periods disturbed by this mess all week long, and I definitely do not want to go another 10 rounds with Godzilla over here. My imagination is still sore from our last go round. I definitely had to take care of this today if I wanted to have any peace for the rest of the week. Gym is before Lunch, I’ll take care of Dragon breath then.

The rest of the morning went uneventfully for Lola, except for some furtive glances shot back and forth across the classroom. It was as she said, the air was thick with miscommunications, and few if any of the students were concentrating on their studies. It was late Spring, and the weather was getting warmer. Spring fever was setting in, and everyone was getting antsy; it even showed in the younger teachers. The flirtation between the male and female teacher’s, and the female and female gym teachers at Shikai Elementary School was beginning to show itself. The imagination of the students, however, where running wild, and Lola was only beginning to understand the significance of that for herself and for everyone around her. The monsters in the world would grow and multiply, but fortunately, so would her friends, and the good things that happen to people when they need them too.

Since it was such a beautiful day, all the kids were on the playground today. Lola asked Lewis to hang back in the gym for a while. He did as she asked since he was infatuated with her, but he could not find her. He wandered around the gym a bit until he unexpectedly ran directly into her fist. “SHO-RYU-KEN” Lola cried as she Dragon Punched Lewis into the air. She had gone into Street Fighter mode, as evidenced by her long golden-blonde hair and red karate gi. Lewis Flew into the air and hit the steel girders at the top of the gym. Hard. As he came down he tried to assume his Dragon form, but as you may have noticed, Lola is a very smart girl. Before he hit the ground she met him in midair and gave him a big bear hug, pile-driving him into the gym floor. She then stood him up and yelled “Shippu Jinrai Kyaku!” roundhouse-kicking Lewis into the air, then knocking him down to Earth again. As his broken form lay there, twitching and battered, much of his lizard form drained from him, save for the jealous green eyes, which still blazed with the same fury that Lola had seen on Saturday. She kneeled down in front of him and said, “oh, I wanted to talk to you at lunch. This was just to remind you to be there, and no funny business.” As she got to the gym door to go outside and play with the rest of the kids, she turned around, flashed a big smile at Lewis, gave him a thumbs up and said “Ya’ta ne!”

Recess was rather uneventful, though Lola did notice that kids weren’t slipping into their imaginative forms as easily as they used to. It seemed like it was as easy as putting on clothes before, but she noticed that for some kids, it seemed to be getting… harder for them to use their imaginations. For some now it seemed to be like flexing a muscle; they could do it, but eventually their minds would get fatigued. Not for her of course, Lola always knew she was different. But there was something strange happening to those around her, and whatever it was could eventually afflict her too! If only… if only she actually gave a damn about others she would do something about it!

“Lewis, what do you want from me?”

“I don’t know.”

“What would you even do if you had me?”

“I don’t know.”

“So what exactly, are you doing all of this for?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“That’s becoming somewhat apparent.”

The pair sat bye themselves in a corner of the lunchroom and ate quietly. “You know you scared poor Sarah half to death.”

“Yeah I see that now. You know you could have just told me this before instead of beating the snot out of me.”

“Yes but that would not have been nearly as much fun. For me. Now listen, I don’t know what all of this is about ‘me’ and ‘you’ and ‘us’, but I asked my older sister and she says it sounds a lot like ‘drama’, which is a word I don’t like one bit. She says that a 10 and 11 year old are way too young for ‘drama’, and that it should be avoided at all costs. Me and her don’t agree on much, but I think I’m gonna go with her on this one”

“Do you think I want to feel this way? I mean, being a dragon is pretty cool, but being consumed by jealousy isn’t. Like I said, even if I had you I wouldn’t know what to do with you, and most of the time I think girls are horrible and… what’s the word my dad uses… repulsive. Mainly I just want you so that no one else can have you.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense!”

“I know! I know it doesn’t make any sense! Look, I lived in the city most of my life. When we moved out here, the first night I went outside I looked up into the sky, and a billion stars shined down on me. I never knew they were there before, but they’ve been there for millions of years and I never knew until we moved here. And I sat there for hours until my mother made me come inside. But now every chance I get I go outside and let all those tiny suns shine on me and somehow every time I see them it’s like the first night all over again. That’s how I feel when I see you Lola. Every day when I look at you, it’s like the first time, it’s like the first time I saw a sky full of stars.”

Lewis looked at Lola and suddenly realized that he was speaking out loud and that she could hear him. Consequently for 5 minutes after they both sat in silence and sipped at their milk.

“This is awkward”, Lola finally announced, “I hate awkward. So here’s what happens from here on. You don’t get me, no one gets me. If you turn into that Dragon again, I’ll pound the jealousy out of you, rip your heart out, and physically crush your jealousy in my hands. Now, to be honest, that’s what I’m hoping will happen. More fun for me. There is an alternative; would you like to hear the alternative?”

Lewis eagerly shook his head yes. Anything, he thought, would be preferable to getting the snot kicked out of him. And he was being truthful; he honestly did not like feeling this way. He wanted nothing more than to be able to look at himself in the mirror and not see his own hateful, baleful green gaze staring back at him. Lately he hated himself and everyone else, and the one person who he did not hate he could not have, and that made the hate in his heart grow stronger. As he walked down this path in his mind the balefire in his heart grew stronger, and his nails dug furrows in the table they sat at. He looked up angrily and the fire was back in his eyes. It was met by Lola’s equally unsettling gaze, which quickly put down his minor uprising.

“But we can end this all right now. In fact, I am going to end this right now.” Lewis flinched as Lola sat back down in her chair, never removing her gaze from his. “Listen, I like you, you’re a good friend. But whatever it is that you feel for me, stop feeling it, because it’s creepy and in the end I’m only going to end up having to hurt you again, got it? I don’t mind hurting you, but I suspect you do.”

Lewis pondered her words. Logically speaking, she had kicked his butt twice now, and it had hurt a lot. Add to that the painful longing that the jealousy had engendered in him, and the terror he had inspired in his classmates…

Lewis closed his eyes again. He saw the scaly green path of Hatred he was on, and for the first time he saw how it was lined with barbs and spikes and thorns, and at the end there really was no treasure, no reward but more of the same. The path had always been lined with Jade flames which prevented him from seeing what was beyond them, but now the flames where so low that he could see another path, the one he was originally on. This path involved less burning and clawing and more fast food and video game playing.

When Lewis opened his eyes, they were a normal color again, brown in case you were wondering. Lola was stuffing the rest of her cheeseburger into her mouth, being very careful not to get any ketchup onto her black dress. After she choked down the rest of her meal she said, “I guess you made a decision huh?”

“Yeah”, Lewis said, “I did, and I feel much better. But… what do I do about all the people I’ve scared and hurt?”

“I don’t know” Lola said, “go back to class? I don’t do damage control; I just hit things and wear black dresses. That’s how I avoid these messes you people get yourselves into, I keep my life simple.”