Author’s note: This is a raw NaNoWrimo draft. I didn’t change anything except paragraphs (as WP doesn’t convert the tabs). In this section, you’ll see a few places where I didn’t name characters. This is common in my first drafts.
English and biology were after lunch. By the end of biology, Aiden could barely keep his eyes open. It was the middle of the night and the only thing keeping him awake was the fear of teasing if he fell asleep in class. Taking notes helped and again he had reading to do to catch up to the rest of the class.
The last class of the day was called Major Magical Control, the room listed as A-1, which he couldn’t find. The warning bell rang and he stopped a fellow student to ask where it was. “Go out the doors at the far end there.” She pointed. “The annex is the building out back. There’s three rooms, A-1 is the first.”
“Thanks.” Aiden ran, hoping he would make it in time. He got there just before the final bell. A-1 looked like a gym, but there were no basketball hoops or any sign of sports equipment. The walls and floor were all painted white, weird symbols drawn all over them. High above was a gray ceiling. It smelled strange, like ozone with a hint of burning.
Aiden was surprised to see Dylan there, wearing torn up jeans and a ratty AC/DC t-shirt.
“Aiden [last name]?”
He turned to the teacher. “Yes ma’am.”
“Welcome. I’m glad to have you. Did you bring any clothes to change into?”
How many times today was he going to feel like an idiot? “No. I didn’t know this was a gym class. It says Major Magical Control–”
“Don’t worry about it. Tomorrow, bring old clothes that you won’t mind ruining. I was going to have you observe today anyway. Have a seat.” She pointed to a long bench.
On the bench already. It was almost funny. A tingle went through him just before he reached the bench and he stopped, blinking. “Make sure you stay behind the wards,” the teacher called.
Wards? He looked down at the symbols on the floor. A circle surrounded the bench with glyphs both inside and outside. He leaned closer, noticing they weren’t painted but metal pounded into the floor. He touched part of the circle and drew back at the shock. It was like that time he’d stuck his finger in the wall socket. Frowning, he sat on the bench.
“Dylan, we might as well start with you. You won’t wait your turn anyway.” The teacher pointed at a girl with straight black hair. “[name], you face off against him.”
“Why me?” the girl squeaked.
“Because I think you’ve been holding back and he might scare you into using your full strength.”
Dylan rubbed his hands together and smiled. Not a smirk, but a full smile with teeth. It was creepy. Swallowing, the girl moved to stand opposite him. “Remember this is practice, Dylan,” the teacher said. “She needs to stop holding back, but you need to learn control. You’re not trying to hurt her.”
“Right. I know.”
“Get ready. One, two, three… go!”
Fire erupted from Dylan and streamed toward [name]. Aiden let out a choked cry. The girl, eyes wide, held up her hands and the fire seemed to hit a wall. The air crackled and iced formed in a rough circle around her feet.
Aiden’s heart pounded and he fought an urge to run. This was definitely not floating a piece of paper across the room. What the hell was he doing in this class?
The fire disappeared and the girl dropped her hands. “Excellent job, [name],” the teacher said. “I knew you could protect yourself.”
Dylan snorted. “Yeah, because I was holding back.”
The teacher gave him a look. “Which is what you need to learn. When you’re in the outside world, you’ll need to control yourself. Your first reaction can’t be to burn things.”
Dylan’s mouth turned down.
“All right, next pair.”
Dylan’s frown deepened as he walked toward the bench on the opposite side of the room.
For the rest of class, students came up two at a time to hurl magic at each other. Two girls who could have been sisters raced around the gym hurling fireballs at each other. One of them headed straight for the bench and Aiden ducked. It hit the wards and disappeared in a shimmer of blue light.
He kept wavering between fear and awe, and yet it still didn’t feel real. It was like watching TV or a movie in 3D. Nothing in his life had felt real since Mr. Johnson showed up at his house. Aiden felt like he’d been stuck in a dream for over a month. He kept thinking he’d wake up.
In his notebook, he wrote ‘bring old clothes’ so he wouldn’t forget. He had four pages of notes from the day, and most of that were mentions of things he needed to read in his textbooks. That was on top of the homework. There wasn’t much of that, but combined with trying to catch up, it made him groan.
His backpack felt like it weighed fifty pounds. The sooner he caught up, the less he’d need to haul all his books back and forth.
His parents were asleep on the couch when he got home, an old movie playing on the TV. He shut the door quietly and headed for the stairs.
“Aiden?” Dad asked in a fuzzy voice.
“Yeah,” he said quietly and stepped into the living room.
“How was school?” Dad yawned.
“Fine,” he answered automatically. No, he should be honest. “Weird.”
Dad got off the couch carefully, trying not to wake Mom. “Were you scared? No one tried to hurt you, did they?”
Aiden shook his head. “It’s just… weird. Really weird.”
“I know what you mean. I keep wondering what my new boss is, what my coworkers are. If they think of me as lunch.” Dad sighed. “And I’m afraid to ask because it might be rude.” He laughed, a strained sound.
“I’m sorry.” Aiden looked at the floor. This is when it felt most real, when he thought about how he’d thrown his parents’ lives into chaos. They’d left their jobs, their home, and they couldn’t explain why to the rest of the family.
“It’s not your fault. You didn’t choose to be this.”
His stomach when cold and tight, wondering if he’d say the same thing if Aiden told him he was bi. Or would that be different? Aiden didn’t want to say anything about it because his parents had been through way too much already. Maybe in a year or two. Or a hundred.
“I know, but I feel like I ruined your lives–”
“Hey, we told you. Never, ever feel like that. It doesn’t matter what you are or where you came from. We raised you, you’re our son. We’ll get through this together because that’s what families do.”
Aiden’s throat went tight, eyes burning with the threat of tears. All he could do was nod. Dad gave him a hug and for just a second, Aiden could pretend everything was okay.
“Geez, what do you have in there? A whole library?”
Aiden shifted his heavy backpack. “All my textbooks. I have to catch up on three weeks worth of class.”
“Well, don’t think about starting on it tonight. You look dead on your feet.”
“So do you,” Aiden said with a little smile.
“Yeah, I’ll wake your mom up and we should all get to bed. I’m getting too old to stay up all night.”
Bed. That sounded so good. “Okay.” Aiden covered a yawn and went upstairs.