Excerpt from working novel, “Radio”
I continued to remind myself of our unit’s motto, while I simultaneously prayed that Vapor wouldn’t embarrass me by telling them about the silent moment with the barista as we approached the van with six lattes split evenly between us in cup holders. The rest of the unit stood in the parking lot, Dialect clearly overjoyed with a huge smile spreading across her face by the maps in her hands, Vapor and I passed them their hot lattes, with the exception of Surge. Vapor had decided to hold his latte as hostage, claiming she had gotten an extra one for herself to help her deal with being in the van with him and his “non-stop” talking for the past five plus hours. That was a complete exaggeration of course and after some coaxing, Vapor finally handed the latte to him.
There was also something comforting about this area, regardless of my dream of one day living in a big city like Philadelphia and us being in the middle of a rest stop. I breathed in the air, slightly heavy and humid from the recent rain, as much as my lungs would allow me. And on either side of the rest stop, there were some trees whose leaves varied from yellow, red, and brown, while the other trees seemed to be desperately clinging to the green in their leaves. It was simply magical, but also a little saddening because it reminded me of the property where my childhood home stood. It almost knocked the wind out of me and brought me to tears, which I tried to wipe away without smudging my eye makeup.
However I was pleased to see, through my peripherals that Feather was standing next to me. His presence, as per usual, begun to wash away the darkness suffocating me, making it easier for me to breathe again. For he too seemed to be absorbing the nature alongside me as I looked in the direction of a patch of trees that barely had any leaves, unlike the ones I had seen moments before. Through the branches, the sky peeped between them and allowed a flock of Canadian geese in a v-shape formation to come into view. Feather and I could just hear them honking over the racing vehicles on the highway as they flew over us, heading south.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” Feather asked.
We watched the geese until they became so small as the distance between us and them grew.
“We should probably get in the van before the twins throw a hissy fit,” Feather said with a chuckle.
I smiled and nodded as I followed him into the van, still hoping Vapor wouldn’t say anything about the barista or hadn’t already, which I was now realizing I had failed to look at his name tag said his name was…. Oops! Not that it matter because like I had said many times before, I would never see him again.
Blank turned the key and with all of us now situated in our seats, he pulled the van out of the rest stop’s parking lot and back onto route 401. Unfortunately, he accidentally went past the street the house was on, which none of us would have known if he didn’t mutter a series of profanity. All of us in the back started to laugh so hard that we nearly toppled over each other, if it wasn’t for our securely fastened seatbelts. I, myself, nearly forgot to clamp both hands over my mouth, especially with the profanity continuing in Blank’s thoughts that followed what he had said aloud.
“Taking the scenic route, are we?” Surge asked breathlessly.
I thought you knew exactly where we were going or do you need one of Dialect’s maps to help you out, I couldn’t help chiming in.
“Quit it,” Vapor said sternly.
I imitated a police siren through everyone’s mind because when you only communicate through telepathy, it’s super easy to create dead-on imitations of sounds and people’s voices. Call me “Master Sound-machine,” if you will.
“I SAID QUIT IT!” Vapor yelled, which immediately stopped all of our laughter because none of us wanted her to come to the back of the van and use her ability by sliding her hands through our chests and tightly gripping all of our hearts, specifically Surge’s and mine.
When we finally turned onto the correct street where the house stood, I saw the street sign, reached back to get Dialect’s attention and pointed to it.
Harmonyville Road! Told you this place has a good vibe, I telepathically said, trying the lighten the mood killed by Vapor’s anger.
“Cause it’s full of peace and harmony, man,” Surge said in his best hippie voice.
Bite me! I thought rolling my eyes.
“Love to—“ Surge started to say with a sudden gasp.
We, apart from Blank, quickly turned our attention on Surge, curious as to why he hadn’t finished his sarcastic sentence and why he was now desperately trying not to scream in pure agony. It was then that we realized Vapor was not only materializing but was also leaning over him, the majority of her arm disappearing through Surge’s chest. How she had unfastened her seatbelt so quickly that we didn’t hear the click was beyond all four of us. It shouldn’t have with all the missions we had gone on for those bastards at Grey-M Industries and the ten years of us being together, but it did. If I hadn’t been distracted by Surge’s stupid hippie impression, unconsciously dismissed Vapor’s angered thoughts, perhaps I would have been able to stop her. Bewildered and frozen in shock, we watched him clamping his hands around Vapor’s arm. His face seemed to fold in on itself, the blood draining from his face as he continued to suppress his need to scream. Amidst his grunts and gasps, Vapor turned her head slowly around to all of us, her eyebrow crooked upward.
“Did I or did I not tell you all that if you decided to continue ‘Deadpool’-ing or whatever the freakin’ you guys call it that I would squeeze your hearts for the remainder of the trip?” She asked.
“We aren’t on a job, so enough with the banter.”
With bated breath in discomfort, we remained silent until Vapor finally pulled her arm out of Surge’s chest, way too worried about Surge’s well-being than answering Vapor’s question. We had seen her get this mad before, but we had never seen her follow through with her threats. I don’t want to give you the impression that Vapor was a bad person because she’s not. But if you pushed enough of her buttons or if she was in a bad mood, things similar to this would happen. One time she broke twenty plates in one of our previous houses in an effort not to release her temper on us.
“We get it Vape,” Blank said. “It has been a long trip for all of us and a tragedy-stricken move. They’re just laughing, like all of us would if one of us made a mistake. Now come back up front and let it go.”
After a few more seconds, Vapor did as her brother asked, Surge gasping in relief.
“Was that really necessary? I mean why didn’t you squeeze Radio’s heart too?” Surge strained to ask, his hands still holding firmly over his heart.
“No, it wasn’t. I would say I’m sorry, but you kinda deserved it,” Vapor answered in a tone that was the most apologetic I’ve ever heard from her.
“Deserved it? How?” Surge asked, like a child about to throw a tantrum.
“And the reason I didn’t do it to Radio,” Vapor continued, pretending to ignore what Surge had just asked before cheerfully continuing, “because she shared her first moment with—”
Please don’t finish that sentence, I pleaded defiantly.
“A moment with what? With who? A boy? This is huge! No boy has ever tickled your fancy—beyond the physical stuff, I mean,” Dialect said, almost as excited as she was with her new maps.
It’s nothing. No moment was shared with anyone, I thought to everyone and glared at Vapor, hoping for whatever reason that Feather’s feelings weren’t hurt in anyway by Dialect’s truthful guesses.
“But you totally—” Vapor said.
Drop it!! I telepathically yelled.
“Okay, okay. Geez— sorry,” Vapor replied.
The unit remained silent as Blank turned onto Northside road, as the noise of leaf blowers revving and lawnmowers putting could be heard in the near distance, we saw our new home. At first glance, the house looked like some boring cookie-cutter white suburbanite structure that had started out small and then had been added onto in a failed attempt to make it a grander home, more like a Californian contemporary. The tall trees cradled the back of the house and the neighbors across the street seemed luckily not to be at home or at least uninterested in us moving in.