Let’s celebrate Han’s return with a great critiquing session!
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Imagination Runner – by Wendy
I was flying through my history exam. After studying until three that morning, I figured it had to pay off somehow. I knew I couldn’t fail this course like I had on pretty much everything else.
History and English were my strongest subjects but math and science and all of that junk, well…I preferred not to think about all of the F’s trailing my grades.
I finished up the last paragraph just as the bell rang. The library sounded like a good place to study, so I packed up my textbooks and headed that way. As I passed through the office area, ignoring all of the creepy “You Can Do It!” and “Be a Team!” posters everywhere, a familiar figure sitting on a bench caught my attention.
“Scarlett?” I asked, coming to a full stop.
“Oh, hey Alex.” She said, grinning. A black bruise covered her cheek and part of her lip was bleeding to complete the beat-up look. Her red hair was messy and her North Carolina University T-shirt was caked with mud.
“What happened to you?”
She stood up and shrugged. “Where are you going?”
“I was gonna go to the library, but I’ll walk you home.” I offered.
“Are you sure it’ll be okay with your mom?” She slung her backpack over her shoulder.
I laughed as I pushed through the glass door into the fresh October air. “She might freak out over your, uh…incident, if that’s what you mean. But she’ll like cleaning you up. Just like the good old days.”
“Thanks. Mae was really on one today. Something about how all of her friends hate her and that it’s my fault for some reason or other.” She rolled her eyes with a sigh.
I nodded. Mae was Scarlett’s crazy roommate who hated her and went on these long rants about nothing.
As we walked down the campus’s sidewalk, I couldn’t help but stare at her bruised face. “So what happened this time?”
She sighed. “It’s a long story.”
“Well, Mr. Fatpants-“
“The dude’s, like, five hundred pounds.” She stated, keeping her eyes on the sidewalk. “Anyway, he substituted our study on economics for reading a biography on Copernicus! I mean where’s the creativity? That’s what gets me.” She sighed. “Now I know he hates me.”
I cringed. Scarlett reading a biography was like me writing equations. Neither one was bound to end very pretty.
“So you punched him in the face?”
She laughed, and then winced, placing a finger on her bruised cheek. “No, but I sorta protested. He got mad and asked if I’d like to make a visit to the headmaster.”
“And then what?”
Scarlett gave me a guilty look. “I said I bet he couldn’t even walk that far.”
I tried to hold it in, but busted out laughing.
“Hey, it’s not funny! His grandson is in our class and gave me a hard time after that ordeal and so…” her voice trailed off.
“Are you going to be ordered off campus?”
Scarlett shrugged. “I don’t know. But it wasn’t fair for him to do that. It was the economics period for crying out loud!”
“Yeah, that stinks.”
We stopped at a curve in the sidewalk and I pushed the crosswalk button. “You wanna take the bus?”
She nodded. “I’ll pay.”
“Don’t worry about it; from the looks of you the driver might think you’re a hitchhiker.”
“That bad, huh?”
“You don’t look like a normal human, to say the least.” I encouraged.
We boarded a long bus with the college’s logo pasted all over it, taking a seat near the front where it was less crowded.
The bus rattled with student noise of girls shrieking and trying to talk louder than the other. The guys were yelling for no reason at all, boasting about their football team.
“Hey, uh…” Scarlett faltered, and then shook her head. “I’ll tell you later.”
She glanced around at the crowded bus and I nodded, settling into the worn-out seat. This reminded me of our elementary school days when I’d walk her home from the principal’s office nearly once a week.
My mom always got so mad at us for finding trouble wherever we went. The habit somewhat faded with me, but Scarlett was a different story. In fact, she got me into the trouble half the time.
The bus bumped through the campus and dropped all of us off at the entrance. It wasn’t a long walk to my house from there and as soon as we arrived, I knew exactly what was coming.
I hadn’t even closed the door yet when Mom rushed in, apparently using what she called the mom-senses to detect something was wrong.
She stood in the doorway of the kitchen, hands on her hips. “Scarlett, honey,”
“I know, I know,” Scarlett slid her backpack down her shoulder.
“Now of all things…”
Mom had basically gone through the same routine for both of us since we were in second grade and now that we were in college, nothing changed.
She sighed desperately and gestured for Scarlett to sit at the bar in the kitchen. “Come on, I’ll get a hot compress to help that swelling.”
We slid into the old comfortable stools and as Scarlett was getting cleaned up by my doting mother, she explained what happened.
After a good lecture, Mom was finished. “Keep that up to your face, honey.” She handed Scarlett the compress. “Let me go find that Tylenol, I know I put it somewhere…” She bustled away to her room and Scarlett chuckled. “Your mom’s the best.”
“Yeah, I just wish she treated me that good.” I stated and swung around on the stool to face her. “So what did you want to talk to me about?”
Scarlett’s wistful smile vanished. “Oh, that.” She turned worried hazel eyes on me. “It’s getting worse.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You mean…”
Scarlett glanced over her shoulder and snapped her fingers. Fire jumped between the tips of her pointer and thumb.
“Yeah, it always does that.” I said.
I hesitated for a second but reached for the flame. “Ow!” I whispered, jerking back my hand in surprise.
“I know.” The flame burst apart into confetti without a trace of smoke.
Since I could remember Scarlett had a secret “magic” ability to imagine things that leaked into reality. Everything was just an illusion, but real fire…that was different.
Categories: Critique Group