Also, I've put together a lovely button for my fellow writers and anyone who enjoys the Collaboration Challenge and would like to share.
For now, on to the story.
Part One: Shedding Light
Zack sat in his home room classroom, his bag at his side, his feet resting on the metal basket under the chair of the desk in front of him. It was a standard school with rows of individual desks, a whiteboard wall and shelves at the back. Windows sent light in from the left and a brick wall blocked the light on the right.
He was sketching that light, using his pencil to create airy lines floating in, stopping in disjoined splats against the wall. As he sketched, the light in the room came to life, floating around in concentrated sparkles as if the room had become the inside of a diamond.
Light danced across his dark clothing, getting caught in the red sweep of his hair and echoing the freckles across his sharp nose. His red hair used to get him teased before he grew into his six foot five frame. For some reason, the bullies didn’t like to go after someone they had to look up to see.
Zack manipulated the light through his pencil, directing it to light up the clock, the craft paper taped to the brick wall, to reflect off the dull grey floor. He didn’t stop sketching until the door handle turned. Zack dropped the pencil and crumpled up the paper, killing the effect as the door swung open. The girl who walked in stopped his heart, rivaling any diamond light show he could create.
Morgan was beautiful today, dressed in orange and black striped socks, black satin capries tied at the knee with orange ribbon, a white peasant blouse cinched with a black belt just below her breasts. She had black and orange ribbons decorating her angled haircut, the kind that was short in the back and longer in the front. Her makeup was dark and smokey, her lips a deep, purple-red.
She dressed as a witch every Halloween. Last year he’d overheard Morgan telling her friends she was channeling her inner Morgana. He wished she really could. Maybe then they would have something to talk about. Maybe he could have a friend, rather than keeping to himself to protect his secret.
When no one else followed Morgan in, Zack glanced at the clock, surprised to see there were still six minutes until the bell would ring. He was always in the classroom early, enjoying the silence and calm before the break of the day. Morgan was usually out in the halls, laughing with her group of friends, teasing her boyfriend and comparing the latest and greatest on their touch-screen phones. Something must have happened if she’d been driven in here.
Zack sat toward the back of the class, on the brick wall side of the room. Morgan was halfway up the room, directly in front of the window. He didn’t have a clear view of her face, but he could hear the stressed breathing.
Legs shaking, Zack forced himself up from his chair. He did not usually socialize, but this was Morgan. They were alone and she was upset. Maybe he could help. Maybe she would notice him.
His knees almost gave out when he reached her row, but he straightened his shoulders and forced himself forward, almost like he talked to people every day.
“H-hey, Morgan?” The stutter hadn’t been great, but at least his voice hadn’t squeaked. “Are you okay?”
Morgan shuddered, looking up at him and away in one quick motion. Zack’s stomach dropped at the dismissal. Dizziness kept his feet still. He didn’t want to stumble away and add to the embarrassment.
“Oh, what the hell,” Morgan mumbled. “Who knows what rumors will spread?”
Zack kept quiet, not wanting to admit he never heard the rumors. Morgan turned and pinned him with honey-green eyes.
“I--” Morgan’s lips thinned as if she tasted something bitter, then she balled her fists and forced herself to continue. “I just caught my boyfriend kissing some other girl.” Zack wasn’t surprised, but he didn’t want to say anything. “And. Hmm. And I think I turned him into a frog.”