This is part one of a short YA story (1500 words total) that I submitted to one of Writer’s Digest’s short story contests. It’s about a wartime romance between a boy named Lucas and a girl named Margueux, who each harbor secrets that could have them killed. The story is inspired by a dream I had, and I plan to extend this short story into a possible novel.
IN PLAIN SIGHT
Lucas had two reasons for working at Prachtig Auto Mechanics: one, his mother had taught him to always hide in plain sight, and secondly, working underneath a car’s hood or undercarriage concealed the strange way metal reacted to his touch.
Many off-duty soldiers came to Prachtig, and Lucas used his unique skills to repair the cars of the very men who wouldn’t hesitate to turn him in should they discover he was an Abnormaal.
Winter had arrived, bringing heavy snows, which meant more accidents, more breakdowns, and more business. It was risky for Lucas, especially during wartime, but he did his work dutifully, efficiently, never attracting notice from his boss or the other mechanics.
There was only one risk that truly worried him; only one concern that made his heart lurch.
Margeaux peered out the window of her apartment and watched as the snow fell. An unread book lay in her lap and a cup of tea rattled atop its saucer as Amelia vacuumed.
“Are you waiting for your father?” Amelia asked over the din.
“He’s away on official business for several days.”
On another witch hunt, no doubt, Margeaux added bitterly to herself.
Amelia clucked sympathetically. “You should invite some girlfriends over. A young lady shouldn’t be alone.”
“My studies…” Margeaux smiled vaguely, gesturing at her book.
“Ah, yes…” Amelia wanted to say more, but thought better of it. “Until next week, then?”
Margeaux nodded distractedly, returning her attention to the window.
She watched as Amelia exited the building, her small figure bracing against the wind. Once she was out of sight, Margeaux waved a handkerchief out the window. A boy emerged from behind a flickering lamppost, his dark hair and broad shoulders dusted with snow. She could see him smiling even in the dark.
Seated on a leather settee, they held each other tightly, relishing this rare moment together. “I want to kiss you,” Margeaux told Lucas, not for the first time. He ran calloused fingers through her dark ringlets, his eyes crinkling fondly at her.
“And I want to kiss you,” he said. “But you know that’s impossible.”
“What if it isn’t?” she returned softly, stubbornly.
“I’m not willing to risk even a small shock. You could be electrocuted.”
Should I tell him? She wondered, as she had many times before. Why was she afraid? She loved him, but her secret paralyzed her.
The fear continued to bubble inside her, growing, until it burst. She felt her voice leave her body, wavering. “I had an older brother.”
Lucas’ body stiffened, sensing the weight of her words.
“I adored him. I followed him everywhere. One day he climbed a tall tree. He had reached one of the topmost branches, but when I caught up, our combined weight was too much. The branch broke.”
Margeaux winced as she remembered the jigsaw shape of her brother’s body. “Emile died from the fall; I didn’t.”
Lucas let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding and pulled Margeaux closer.
“It’s not your fault. You were young… A mistake. That’s all.”
“No, you don’t understand,” she said, pulling away from him. “His body was shattered, but I landed without so much as a scratch.”
Lucas’ face paled as her words sunk in, the meaning becoming all too clear.
“You’re… an Abnormaal?”
She pursed her lips and nodded, tears stinging her eyes.
“Does your father know?”
Margeaux let out a sharp laugh. “Are you kidding? He hunts people like us for a living; forces us to become weapons. Do you think he’d spare my ‘talents’? The girl who can’t die. I’d be on the front lines.”
“He wouldn’t,” Lucas whispered, horrified. But he had his doubts.
“If he ever discovers us, it’s over,” Margeaux said grimly, pulling Lucas to her. “So kiss me.” Their lips touched and a crackle of electricity snapped between them, making their skin tingle. Margueax laughed as her static-charged hair floated about her face.
Elated and relieved, Lucas grasped her face, kissing her furiously now, desperately. Blue electricity cocooned them, arcing between them, joining them in awful brilliance.
They didn’t hear the front door open, only the sound of a pot clattering on the floor, spilling strew. The lovers flew apart and Margeaux rushed after Amelia who had fled in terror.
“Amelia, stop! Let me explain!” Margeaux cried, breathless, as she caught up with her.
“I came to bring you dinner,” Amelia sobbed. “Are you hurt? We must call your father!”
“No, I’m safe! He’s my…friend.”
“Yes,” Margeaux whispered. “But I love him. Please, don’t tell my father.”
Tears welled in Amelia’s eyes, but she nodded stiffly as she gripped Margeaux’s hands. “You are like a daughter to me. I would never hurt you.”
Margeaux embraced the maid. “Thank you.”
Amelia cast one last worried glance at the door before hurrying from the building, pulling her shawl tightly around her shoulders.
“Remember our plan?” Lucas asked when Margeaux returned. “Your maid will turn us in.”
“No! I trust her.”
They glared at one another, an impasse. “I better go,” Lucas said, finally. “Will you be there tomorrow?”
A knot formed in Margeaux’s chest, but she nodded.
© 2012 Tania del Rio
This article was written by Tania