I pull into the driveway of my house, looking up at the two-story building. It’s painted a plain white color with a brown roof. The Christmas lights are still up and lighting up the night. My attention turns to Izzy, who is slumped over in the passenger seat, worried about how much of what happened she’ll remember.
I step out of the truck and walk around to the passenger side, opening the door and helping Izzy out, but she quickly loses her balance and begins to fall. She barely manages to catch herself by grabbing the railing of my truck, slowly pulling herself to her feet with my help.
"You okay, Izzy?" I ask, taking her arm and wrapping it over my shoulder to help her stay balanced.
"Yeah … What happened J?" She replies, slurring her words as her head hangs limply.
"Just some assholes, don’t worry about it, Iz."
As I began to walk towards my house with her, I spotted a hand shaped dent in my truck’s railing where Izzy had grabbed. My gaze moves towards her for a moment before I shake my head and continue onward. I’ll deal with that later.
Once I reach the front door, I take a deep breath, slowly reaching to grab the handle and pushing the door open. The first thing I spot is my dad, lying in his recliner in the dark living room. An empty bottle of whiskey or scotch hangs loosely in his hand. He turns his shaven head to look at Izzy and I, his dark, almost dull, brown eyes glaring at me.
"What the fuck are you doing back?" He asks, starting to get up from his chair.
"Sit the fuck down, I’m not dealing with this." I say, walking past him and going up the stairs. Behind me, I hear him sigh after a moment and sit back in his chair. It’s nice when he’s drunk enough to be too lazy to be an ass.
As I help Izzy up the steps, my attention is drawn to a family photo hung on the wall, the five of us standing together wearing white and black outfits. My dad and Kate stand behind my sisters and I, my dad wearing a fake smile. I can remember the bourbon on his breath that day. Kate is smiling as well, looking a bit more honest than Dad’s, but a sense of unease is visible too. I sit on the floor with my legs crossed and Jessica sits on my lap, Thea kneeling just beside us. My expression shows total disinterest despite the smile on it, Thea’s being pretty similar to mine. The only one of us even close to looking truly happy was Jessica, mainly due to the fact that it was one of the few days there wasn’t some kind of argument between her parents.
I turn my attention away from the photo and continue up the stairs, arriving at the hallway leading to all our bedrooms and making my way to mine. Izzy and I enter the room, flicking the lights on. Immediately, I realized that my dad had come in here and tossed the room up, probably searching for drugs or booze while I was gone. My clothes are strewn across the room, and drawers are left half open. I glance up at my dresser, seeing the familiar cream-colored cowgirl hat is still in its normal place hung on the corner.
After taking in the sight, I bring Izzy over to my bed and lie her down, taking her shoes off of her and helping her get comfortable before taking a deep breath. Despite feeling exhausted, I should go see Jessica and let her know I’m home. I exit my room and go across the hall to her room, gently knocking before I enter.
I see Jessica sleeping soundly beneath her pink floral covers, her soft and round face sticking out from under the blankets. I quietly step over to her, trying not to wake her just yet. Upon reaching the side of the bed, I kneel down to about her height and gently shake her.
"Hey Jessie, wake up." I speak softly, watching her eyes flutter open before locking onto me. She throws the covers off of herself as she practically leaps into my arms.
"Jason!" She squeals, clinging onto me as if her life depends on it.
"Did you miss me, Jessie?" I smile down at her. She pulls her face out of my chest to look back at me and nods up and down quickly, tears flowing down her cheeks.
"D-don’t leave again, Jason!" She squeaks out before shoving her face back into me, nuzzling in and squeezing me tightly.
My hand gently runs down her back in order to try and soothe her, giving her a kiss on the top of the head as she eventually calms down. She pulls away from me and wipes away her tears, smiling up at me with the brightness she always seems to carry.
“I’m tired Jason … Can we play tomorrow?”
“Of course Jess, you rest up and we can do whatever you want in the morning.”
She gives another smile before settling back into bed, watching me as I give her a gentle kiss on the forehead before making my way out of her room, but she stops me before I fully exit.
"I love you, Jason."
"I love you too, Jess. Sleep well."
I turn to exit the room and take a deep breath, but am quickly startled by Thea’s quiet voice to my right.
"What happened, Jason? You’re beat up?"
I quickly spun around to see her. Her dark, long brown hair partially covers her face as her green eyes peer through. Her pale skin is quite visible despite the dim light.
"Jeezuz Thea, you gotta stop sneaking up on me like that."
"I don’t do it on purpose; I’m just hard to notice, apparently, and you didn’t answer my question."
"I just got in a fight. It’s nothing to worry about."
She eyes me up and down suspiciously before shrugging.
"Whatever you say, Jason, just be careful. Okay?"
"Will do, now get to bed before dad starts yelling about us talking."
"Is he still awake?"
"Yeah, when Izzy and I came in, he was. And he tried to start some shit, but I walked away."
"Well that’s good. See you in the morning."
She shyly smiles at me and gives me an awkward hug before turning and going into her room, glancing back before shutting the door. I do the same and head into my own room, taking off my jacket and getting into the bed beside Izzy.
My mind races about what happened tonight; those assholes at the bar, that lightning girl, the fire... Was the fire even real?
I lift my hand and stare at it in the darkness, focusing on it and trying to replicate what I was feeling when it happened. A moment passes, then another... Then fire envelops my hand, illuminating my room. No pain, just like before, it’s just on fire...
I release my focus and the flames extinguish, the room darkening again. I’ll have to experiment with this more later, but for now I need to sleep.