Part III: Time Out
Right before dinner, everything went to hell. Allen got into a shouting match with Sage and then Jaeger had decided to step in by introducing his fist to Allen’s nose. Caroline was the one who broke up the fight and calmed the situation down concerning Sage and Allen, Jaeger having ran out. After that, the adults got into a mess of screaming, arguing, with threats of lawsuits and legal retaliation.
With all the noise, I felt my anxiety hit me hard and I practically ran out of the house. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who needed some air as Amber came out a few seconds after me, opened her jacket and popped a cigarette in her mouth, which was against school rules — not that I cared — before walking off. Unlike her I only took a few steps and lied down on the grass, focusing on the night sky and breathing calmly, my eyes closing and my brain drifting into that zen no-thoughts place. I stayed there for a moment, feeling the stress slowly flow away with each breath.
“Hey, are you alright?” I opened my eyes and saw Jenna standing at my side. “Couldn’t help but notice you sneaking out.”
“Yeah, just a bit noisy for me in there.”
“Why aren’t you spending time with your family?”
“I’m a local, so I see them all the time. Plus, dad seemed busy trying to deescalate the situation and Jason’s trying to win your mom over.”
“Oh. Mind if I sit with you?”
“Sure.” I sat down on the grass and she did the same.
“Can I ask you something?” She asked after a moment. “It’s not personal, I’m just kind of juggling my thoughts and feelings and I don’t know who else to talk to.”
“Is it weird that as much as I wanted to see Caroline and I was happy to see her, I kind of feel jealous right now…” Her chest flattened up against her knees as she spoke. “She’s living her dreams, making friends, going to do what she’s always wanted to do and even got a girlfriend… And me, I’m just stuck back home…”
“The fact she has superpowers can’t help.”
“That’s the thing… I’m a mutant too.”
“Really? What can you do?”
“I don’t know…” She sighed.
“You don’t know?”
“Since Colleen’s a mutant, our parents had me tested for the VNG as a kid, it came up double positive but I never manifested. Caroline’s a second generation, so she manifested over some stupid thing; she was just playing in the river, slipped and then blam manifestation. But Colleen and I are first generation mutants, it takes a strong stimuli to cause us to manifest. My sister had the dubious luck of getting hit by the only speeding car in miles.”
We didn’t quite know why second generation mutant manifested more easily, although the leading theory was something to do about hormone or another factor during pregnancy as second generations mutants with a non-mutant AFAB parents didn’t exhibit the same ease of manifestation. Out of curiosity, Ian had had me tested not long after he’d adopted me but it had come out with only a single positive, meaning I was only a carrier of the mutant gene.
“But so far nothing’s done it for me yet;” she continued, “I broke a leg while hiking, got into multiple fights with idiots from school, I played with fire, jumped in the river and tried just about anything I could think of… Add to that the stress of being gay in a small town and the isolation that comes from being the sister of the school’s only transgender and mutant person and it’s really hard to feel like my life’s going in the right direction…”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” I offered her a hug and she took it. We embraced for a moment before she let go.
“I want to be happy for her, I really do… And the fact all I feel is jealousy makes me feel terrible.”
“That’s alright. You know, someone once told me that feelings can’t be right or wrong, because we don’t control them. It’s what we do with them that’s right or wrong. You shouldn’t feel guilty about your feelings and if you support Caroline despite them, then you’ve done the opposite of wrong.”
“That’s a very wise person who told you that.”
“It was my therapist. She’s great, she’s also a huge blue lizard.”
“Doc Venus? Caroline told us about her.”
“The one and only. She’s my therapist and family doctor.”
“She sounds great and I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have just unloaded on you like that. I mean we’ve known each other for like an hour. And I’m complaining about being jealous of your girlfriend.” She said, letting out a self-derisive snicker. “Soooo not a good friendship starter.”
“It’s fine. I kind of get where you’re coming from. I mean I’m also a small town queer girl surrounded by people with superpowers when I don’t have any.”
“How’d you come to be a hero?”
I gave her a quick rundown of my life; what happened to my parents, how Ian had adopted me, what it was like being a kid who hung around the legion all the time, the reason Ian had sent me to Ravenhold in the first place. When I was done, Jenna wrapped her arms around me, giving me a tight hug.
“Thanks…” I muttered once she let me go.
“You’re welcome.” There was a second of silence.“It sounds like the argument’s died down. We should grab some grub before it gets cold or everyone forgets to leave any for us.”
“That sounds amazing. I’m not even a big brisket fan but after Caroline’s tofu taco last night, I’d eat a whole cow raw.”
“She made you eat tofu? Ew.”
“I know, she’s evil! I’m surprised you’re not defending her.”
“Eh, I’m not the biggest foodie in the world like the rest of the family.” She said with a shrug. “Mostly I know my way around a kitchen because it’s mandatory in our house; everyone helps cooking. But yes, Tofu is evil.”
“I have a feeling we’ll be good friends, Jenna.”
“Me too.” She said with a smirk.
We walked back inside together and as soon as Caroline saw me, she ran up to me.
“You disappeared. Where did you go? Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I just needed some quiet. Jenna was nice enough to give me some company.” She gave me a long, slow hug. “Everything alright here?” I asked.
“Well, nobody’s getting sued and Allen’s parents can’t legally withdraw him from the school for reasons I don’t know. Jaeger’s in big trouble, but I don’t know the detail.”
“Just another day in crazy town Maine.”