This story is by Emily swiers and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I didn’t like staying in one place for too long. There was an uncertainty and paranoia that stirred deep in my stomach whenever I spent more than three months in a single place. Frankly, even three months was too long. I shifted through the top layer of garbage, peeking at a half eaten burger and fries sniffing it cautiously before snatching it up.
Living on the streets was difficult. Not a single soul would disagree with me. After ambling around the city, I pulled my aching limbs back to my little corner of the world. At one point when I was weaving through the backs of homes that lined a wild field, a nauseating chill made my hair stand up.
Distraught, I looked around. I didn’t hear any screams, there was no sudden crashing of cars, or cries of pain or sadness. Those were all good signs until I was a block away from the place I had been calling home for the past few weeks. I knew my quirk had done something awful. The little box that I had been my shelter was gone, but, worse, the entire building was gone. Nothing was left, except a huge gaping hole in the earth.
“Strange, very strange, a small earthquake caused the ground under the complex to be unstable and the entire building fell into this sinkhole,” a man was explaining to a woman, the other onlookers listening intently.
“Good thing no one was living in these yet.”
I scampered away distressed by the amount of people and loud noises but more so that I had destroyed a building. I wished, repeatedly, to have a more useful trait. The special little quirk that every one of us were born with.
Instead mine was unfortunate, nothing useful like being able to spontaneously locate anything, or have a superior sense. A year back, I had come across a male that had such keen eyesight he was able to spot the destructive and quite irritating labrador three blocks away. He had a remarkable trait that I was a bit envious of.
Huddled under a wide awning behind a Starbucks, I waited for the rain to stop. My spot of solitude was ruined when the disturbing sensation twisted my gut. Less than ten seconds later I watched a worker’s trash bag rip and the awning that was protecting them from the rain collapse.
I sprinted out of the large back alley as soon as she was finished cleaning up, loathing my unpredictable quirk.
A golden haired female gestured to me from her perch outside on a back deck of an apartment.
“You’re getting wet.”
Thank you for stating the obvious. I was a drowning cat at this point. I wasn’t sure what this stanger wanted, but I was on an exceptional roll with my bad luck today.
“You can come up until the rain stops.”
I had every intention of leaving, my bad luck was too powerful today. However, I found myself standing beside the golden female, watching the rain fall.
“I used my quirk. I hope you aren’t upset.”
I remained silent, after all there wasn’t much for me to say. She wasn’t the first I had met that was able to gently nudge one of us into taking action we didn’t want.
“You look like you needed some help.”
My only response was to scratch my skin where the little insects had been biting me. The itching had become worse, and my black hair was becoming matted with grime and other things I didn’t want to think about. “I have some food inside.”
“I’m bad luck.”
Amused she huffed in the back of her throat before seeing my expression. “Oh,” was all she said for a moment, “That must be hard.”
She didn’t push me for information, didn’t ask me stupid questions, instead we sat and watched the rain. A minute turned into ten, and ten blossomed into thirty. I found my stomach finally full with not only food, but clean water.
“Tom leaves for work early and I will have more food. My name is Chloe!” I dashed out of the apartment as the rain dissipated along with the sun. I didn’t go back to the apartment the following day. Far too fearful of the consequences knowing my bad luck had brought the death of my mother, my two older brothers, a friend back in Chicago, the worst was the silver haired one that had been pregnant with three unborn babies. I found out very quickly that it was better to be alone.
The third day I found myself outside of Chloe’s apartment balcony. I never showed up for more than an hour and never stopped by two days in a row. I thought the lowest exposure of my presence would limit her chances of getting hurt.
That failed miserably. By the fourth week of meeting Chloe, my quirk caught up with a vengeance. From the tips of my ears down to my spine, the frigid desolate feeling filled my lungs until I felt like I was drowning.
If I closed my eyes, I could still picture each event from the loud bang of a trash can that caused Chloe to jump out of reflex into the street, then the speeding car flying around the corner, the tires screeching and Chloe’s body being crushed under the wheels. She would be death number nine that my curse had taken.
The self loathing and hatred against my trait erupted inside of me. If I were the receiver of the horrid luck, then maybe I would feel like this but tt was bad luck that would hit everyone around me.
After living in a continual state of fear, seeing Chloe’s death broke me, and I gave up. My stomach was shriveled, and in a constant state of hunger that I could no longer feel anything. There was something wrong with my leg, maybe an infection after a cut I received after stumbling across a territory that wasn’t very kind to trespassers. My hearing had deteriorated in my right ear. I wasn’t disillusioned. Death was coming and I would welcome her with open arms. I couldn’t even tell when I had collapsed, but I must have at some point because I was staring up at the endless sky.
I groaned in pain as something or someone touched my back leg. I attempted to kick at whatever was touching me, and swatted at it when something touched my ear.
“You’ll be okay.”
That was the problem. I didn’t want to be okay. Death for something like me was better.
Much to my disappointment I woke up. I wasn’t outside; it smelt like a mixture of a candle being blown out, the distinct remnants of the wick burning, and coffee. I rubbed my face and took in my surroundings.
“Don’t move too much.”
A man with a stern face was kneeling in front of me. His large hand reached towards me, and I made a warning noise in the back of my throat as I weakly tried to move away. The immense weight encasing my leg limited my movement. “You’ll be okay after a few weeks. I have to clean out this ear. It might not feel too great.”
He had a white tuff in between his fingers, which he stuck into my right ear.
“The vet said you’re lucky I found you.” Ha. I was never lucky. “It’ll take some time but after your leg is healed and your ears are free from these pesky mites, you’ll be feeling brand new.”
After fussing with my ear, he rested his chin atop his hands admiring me with warm eyes.
“You know I had to give you five different baths. You had so many fleas and ticks.” He chuckled, and his slightly intimidating face transformed now that he was smiling. It was a little crooked and a little boxy.
As much as I wanted to escape, the cast around my leg restricted my movement. I worried about my trait but with each passing day nothing happened.
Once he came home waving around a ticket saying that he won the lottery. It wasn’t a large sum from what he explained to his parents on the phone, but it was still oddly lucky. Around the time my cast was removed, I watched him with interest from the large window as he tripped and stumbled on a step, but that allowed him to dodge a man coming from the opposite direction that just spilled coffee which would have splashed all over him.
It was as if he was strangely and innately…lucky.
Little occurrences happened, and I wondered if humans were like us. Did some of them have innate quirks? Was it possible that we were two sides of the same coin? My black tail twitched at the realization as I curled onto his lap one evening nine months later. Maybe just maybe I had found my good luck charm.