1st Prize Winner
Today should be the best day of my life. Tiny sunfish darted around my toes in the water. I stuck my hand out, trying to convince the water to form an ‘S’. The waves rippled but refused to reform.
I only had a few hours to wait. My older sister had Manifested almost the moment she woke up on her sixteenth birthday two years ago, an ‘E’ floating in water above her at the breakfast table. But Eileen was always perfect. I, on the other hand, was not. My strawberry blonde hair was often in a messy bun, I wore cut off trousers, and usually smelled like fish from helping out on Dad’s fishing boat.
Dad says my free spirit reminds him of Mom. She didn’t follow rules either and even Manifested water an entire day early.
I had never met anyone who hadn’t Manifested any element on their sixteenth, but I’d heard about them. Some Manifested later and some never did. My breath hitched. No one in my family had ever not Manifested.
I took a deep breath, letting the sunlight reflecting off the glistening water relax me. Here, on the end of the dock, I was at peace. Water had always been my escape.
My whole family had Manifested water. Now it should be my turn but the water refused to move. The heat of the sun was all I could really focus on to draw my mind from the worry that was increasing as each minute passed.
I sighed, pulling my lanky legs up and walking back towards the cottage. The sun was dipping down and the riot of orange and red followed me into the kitchen. Dad looked up expectantly from the sitting room chair, but I turned away.
“Seraphina,” Eileen said as she chopped vegetables at the worn table. I ignored her too, instead staring at the whitewashed stone walls that made up our cottage. The old wood stove had been lit and a stew pot sat atop.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said, turning to look out the window toward the darkening beach.
“You’ll Manifest,” she assured me. “Barry Clementine took until almost midnight to Manifest last year.”
Heat flooded my face, embarrassment or fear, I wasn’t sure. Why was it taking so long?
The fire crackled in the silence.
“Phina, it’ll happen,” Dad said gruffly. I knew he was trying to reassure me, but the fear was building, my own heartbeat pounding out an erratic song.
“Maybe,” I whispered. The heat that had flooded my face was everywhere now. Large, hot tears began to leak out. Eileen went to tip the vegetables into the pot and I turned so she wouldn’t see.
I jumped as Eileen shrieked, dropping the vegetables. A radish rolled and hit my tanned foot.
The room was silent as I turned around and saw the stove. The fire had twisted up and shaped a burning ‘S’ in the air.
I had Manifested … fire?