Maria hated Anthony. The teachers at their school doted on Anthony and joined him in bullying anyone that Anthony targeted. He was Gifted and Maria wasn’t so Maria was always wrong whenever they fought.
One day, as Anthony’s bullying took on overtones that frightened and infuriated Maria, her temper broke. The aftermath opened a whole new world to Maria, allowing her to ensure that Anthony wouldn’t hurt her or anyone else ever again.
Valkyrie tells the exciting coming of age story of a young woman in the Eight Factors universe. It is appropriate for young adults and up.
By Meyari McFarland
“Leave me alone, you jerk!” Maria yelled.
Anthony laughed. His hair floated around his head in a corona of fire. It crackled, giving off only the faintest hints of smoke. His little brother, David, reached out to pull Anthony away by his fire-proofed sleeve but the heat surrounding Anthony’s body was apparently too much for him to beat. David snatched his hand back, shaking it before sucking on his fingertips.
“Make me,” Anthony drawled. He leaned close enough that Maria cringed away from the heat coming from his hair. He smelled like fire, like hatred, like all the things that Maria had come to hate about the Gifted since her big brother Pablo’s Gifts erupted.
He laughed at Maria, reaching to palm her breast. She screamed in fury, jerking back only to go flying as Anthony shoved her. She skidded over the grass, tumbled when she hit the blacktop and then landed on her face next to the bin full of basketballs they’d used earlier for dodge ball. Blood dripped down Maria’s upper lip. Her elbows felt like the skin was completely gone.
Anthony laughed. “You can’t actually think you’re interesting, can you? Come on. You’re a no-Gift nobody with an idiot for a brother. No one’s interested in you.”
His laughter was echoed, hesitantly by other ungifted kids, dismissively by the two instructors who were supposed to monitor the playground. Maria glared at him, something like fury beating inside her chest. She felt like her skin was about to tear from the sheer anger inside her, like the ground under her feet wanted to growl along with her.
Maria pulled herself to her feet, shaking with emotion. She looked at Anthony’s sneering face and just… Enough. More than enough. So beyond enough that Maria wished that she had knives to throw at Anthony, guns to fire. A fire extinguisher to put him out and drown him!
“You wouldn’t keep harassing me if you didn’t like me, you little shit!” Maria screamed.
She grabbed a ball and flung it at Anthony’s head. He jerked and fire flared around him. The ball exploded so Maria grabbed another and another, flinging them at him while he cursed at her. All the kids that had clustered around him scattered, the Gifted ones with startled expressions, the ungifted ones with delighted grins. Maria kept flinging balls even though Anthony kept blowing them up. The startled fear on his face was more than worth the scolding she would inevitably get.
“Stop it, you stupid bitch!” Anthony shouted. He crowed as Maria ran out of balls. “You didn’t even hit me!”
“Don’t call me a bitch!” Maria bellowed.
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