Art by Kelsea Basye & Words by Paul Rizza

all i want out of life is to be struck by lightning and survive

I must sleep on toast, I think, or a giant crouton, or breaded cutlet. I sometimes eat in bed, yeah, but I’m always wary of leaving crumbs, so where do they come from? It took me a while to figure it out but I guess it’s my socks. I eat in my dorm room, get bits of food on the floor, walk over them with my socks, and because I spend a lot of my free time in bed a lot of them end up in there with me.

A text from Adrien arrives saying “where were u last night” and I start to explain but then erase what I’d typed. He describes for me some thrilling events that transpired without me. How he and Marianne snuck away to the dormitory roof after dinner, meeting Claudette and Sophie there as the storm rolled in, and how the charge he acquired as they flew through the thunderhead was even stronger than the one from that time we’d tailed that stolen car all the way to Fontainebleau. How Sophie had glowed blue in the dark cloud. And how the liquor store robber that was their chosen prey had, when Adrien unleashed his collected energy in a single spasming bolt, gone right through a garage door. “hahaha,” I respond, and I do mean every syllable.

He invites me to come out tonight. He doesn’t have to point out that, apart from the three girls we’re friends with, I’m the only other kid in the school who can fly, or collect and sustain a seemingly impossible level of electric charge without being harmed, or release said charge in the interest of exacting justice upon whomsoever I choose. Adrien wants us to be superheroes. I don’t even want to get out of bed.

I think Adrien and Marianne are fucking but no one seems to know for sure. They react so casually to our friendly interrogations on the subject that they either must be fucking or they’re comfortable enough with each other to have considered it at length and chosen not to. I’ve decided no one will ever know. Everyone knows Claudette is into girls, but which specific girls is a total mystery. Sophie? It’s possible, judging by the amount of time they spend together, but no one has ever asked either of them directly.

Adrien invites me out next weekend too and I say I’m about to fail History to get myself off the hook. My grades are impeccable but we aren’t in the same class so he has no way of knowing that. Claudette asks me what I’m doing today and she receives a variation of the excuse I gave Adrien. I think about various possible ways I could productively spend my day off as I start looking for a Takashi Miike movie I haven’t seen yet.

A few days ago Marianne told me it was impossible to be depressed when you’re one of only a handful of humans who can fly. Flying is great, it’s true, and if you’ve done it in dreams you already know. Adrien tells me I have a responsibility to use my powers for good, that blood is on my hands if I don’t spend my time destroying evildoers. I laughed at him when he said that but it bothers me sometimes.

That night in Fontainebleau was the best night of my life. It was a month after the Experiment and none of us had much of an idea about how to exploit our newfound abilities. A lot of that time was spent developing and perfecting aerial maneuvers, learning assorted flips, loops, rolls. It was completely by chance that we happened to witness some asshole steal a young woman’s car at a rural gas station, and after finally succumbing to Adrien’s encouragement, we ended up following him for 70 kilometers, at which point a small stormfront made itself available to us and we took advantage of the latent electricity it was crackling with. We didn’t kill the guy, we just scared him a little (I could have said ‘shocked’ there but I restrained myself).

Sophie comes over to my room and we hang out alone for the third time ever. My roommate is somewhere and we sit on my bed watching the newest Miyazaki movie and eating brownies that her mom mailed to her. I’m certain we’re making crumbs.

I treat my studies seriously, even if I rarely go to class. Our school doesn’t take attendance into accord which is great because I learn more easily just by reading the textbook. I know Adrien and Claudette blow off their classes because of our powers. They think school is a waste of time in light of what we’re capable of and they have a point, but I can’t bring myself to cut that safety net away. Besides, unlike them I genuinely enjoy my academic pursuits, especially in such a free environment as the one we enjoy. So while I’m reading about the Reign of Terror, they’re some 200 meters above me, turning corkscrews through cumulus clouds and trying to write their names in arcs of lightning.

At 11 o’clock Sophie texts me from her own room wondering if I’m going to join them next weekend like Adrien says I might. I tell her I implied no such thing, to Adrien or anyone else, and that I probably would not. I want to stop doing anything I don’t feel an impulse to do. She wonders another thing: if I might be interested in taking a trip with her alone. None of us ever really go out flying without the other four. A picnic maybe. It can be a secret...

Kelsea Basye lives in Brooklyn, NY  Paul Rizza lives in Toronto, ON

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