I’m not too sure when I first realised I possessed a gift, but I do know that its appearance early on lead me to a secretive life.
Mama told me that as a young boy, I had become so angry that I’d been called to dinner and away from my toys, that I’d thrust my wrist forward at her, standing in the doorway to my room, when a gust of wind had blown the door shut, knocking my mama down. I stared at the door in shock, unable to comprehend what had just happened. With a flick of my hand, I had shut a door well out of reach with a great push of power. Mama took my hands and tied them up, leaving me in my room while she ran off to understand what had just happened. This was when I realised there was something within me much more powerful than my young body had once shown.
Mama said that boys like me had to hide our gift, or else the bad men would come and take me away, take the gift away. I didn’t want to leave mama, I didn’t want to be taken away, so I kept my gift a secret. When I would get angry, my hands would once again be tied, so that I couldn’t do any damage.
We lived on a farm, far from the bustling city, and away from prying eyes. It gave me a chance to practice my gift without fear of being seen by the bad men, who I grew to find were called “Project X”. An ominous name that sent shivers up my spine whenever mama threatened to turn me in. I was an obedient boy whenever the Project were mentioned, doing my chores without as much as a whimper.
In the yard, when I had free time, I’d set up loose bottles, old barrels and other things I could use as target practice. Even though I had shown my gift at random times, I hadn’t quite found how to harness it properly. I’d cry and cry, trying to replicate the wind burst from before, but I was a tempestuous boy, and the results were inconsistent.
Once, in a fit of anger, I had summoned a force that flung a barrel through our front fence and onto the road beyond. I had to fix the fence with one hand tied behind my back.
I had fixed the fence as quickly as I could, but it did not stop people from talking. Soon after the incident, not more than a few days on, I was hurried into the attic of the house by mama, as a car containing two well-dressed men approached our front gate. Peeking through a small opening from the attic, which I had gotten into thanks to a pull down ladder, I saw mama converse with the men. I couldn’t hear the words, but it seemed like she had chased the men off, convincing them no boy lived in our house. Mama told me later that the men had come to take me away, and that if I couldn’t control my gift, they’d come back and take it away. I was more careful from then on.
Mama fell sick when I was ten years old, and try as she might, she eventually had to stop our homeschooling and send me to a public school a few fields over from our farm. Mama would tell me every day not to let my gift show, that the others would be jealous, and when they’re jealous, they’ll call Project X to get me.
I would come home in a state of ecstacy, having supressed my gift all day, overflowing with energy to practice with. Slowly, I began to master my power, focus my attention, and gain control. During a school break, mama had tied my arm behind my back for an entire week after I had been a little too adventurous, sending one of our chickens flying into the sky with a flick of the wrist.
It was only a matter of time, I knew, before I was found out, and an incident with the class bully, James, gained the attention of my teachers, and then Project X. I had hardly touched James, but I'd scared enough people to be sent the principal. Sitting in the his office, a smiling man in a suit entered and spoke to me. I stayed silent, though the man did not seem to mind. He told my principal he’d like some privacy with me, and after we were alone, he placed in my hand a shiny coin.
“If you ever want to talk, just speak into the coin, and I will be there.” He had told me, among other promises of being able to help me. I pocketed the coin and was sent home.
Mama was not happy that I had been spoken to by Project X, and immediately pulled me out of school. I did not tell her about the coin. Staying home, I thought, was better anyway. I could practice away from the other kids who shunned me and whispered behind my back.
Mama became weaker as the months went by, delegating nearly all of the chores to me. We lived a quiet life, and she could not stop me from being more brazen with my efforts to master my gift. Soon, the chickens were gone, and I was left to stew without targets.
I was nearly a man grown, sixteen and strong, when I finally spoke into the coin that the man from Project X had given me. Well, I say I spoke to it, but it seemed that Project X had been keeping tabs on me. I used mama’s money to buy livestock, but the farmers near me had stopped selling them to me. I had just been rejected by a farmer further from our farm than I’d previously travelled, so I decided to stop by in town on my way home to gather supplies from the market.
The local shopkeep watched me warily as I entered his shop, my hood raised to try and remain anonymous. Though it had been years since I had been to the public school, I recognised the face of the boy who walked into the shop after me. James, who I had stood up to years previously, the boy who had made me feel so hopeless, came in looking dishevelled and lost. I stood at the back of the store, watching him closely as he made his way to the front counter. In an instant, a gun had been drawn, and the bully began shouting at the shopkeep to hand over cigarettes and money.
It was finally my time for more target practice, finally my time to show that I could use my gift as was my right.
The shopkeep caught my gaze as I strode up behind the would-be robber. I lowered my hood with the grace of an action star, and shouted for the bully to put the gun down. He turned suddenly, facing me with confusion, and then his face flashed something along the lines of glee. He laughed at me, and I felt my blood boil.
I raised my hand and let out an almighty surge. The bully was not in my line of attack.
A gust of wind rocketed forward, missing the diving boy and striking the shopkeep head on. He flew back into the shelving behind the counter, and I heard the crunch of bone snapping against metal and brick. I saw the bully jump to his feet and make a beeline for the front door. I let out another burst of energy, but it was much more tepid than the original, and only succeeded in blowing a magazine rack towards the front window, shattering it immediately. The bully was gone, and I found the shopkeep cowering underneath the front counter, finger already pressing the panic button which alerted the local authorities. I extended my hand to help him up, but he flinched away from my support and whispered a prayer under his breath.
The red and blue lights flashed outside the store soon after, and I was taken away to a police station. Though I pleaded my case, telling the officers to check my story against the shopkeep’s, I was told that I’d be charged with property damage and assault.
The officers uncuffed my hands as they left me alone in a cold cell. I whispered into the coin, hoping to be saved. Couldn’t they see I was a hero? Couldn’t they see I was just using my powers to stop a bad man?
The smiling man in his jet black suit soon appeared at my cell door, and took me away.