Mrs Stark was wiping down the table. She frowned as the events from last night played in her mind. Adrien had went up to talk to his sister. Then he came down a few minutes later, and what he told her disturbed Mrs Stark greatly. Why was Liz unable to remember her schoolwork that she had been studying? Mrs Stark had seen Liz studying extremely hard all the time, so it wasn’t because she was not concentrating or applying herself.
Was she having eyesight issues? Did she have amnesia? Hmm. Liz usually had an excellent memory, far exceeding her own, so that wasn’t it. Was Liz distracted somehow?
She picked up a broom and began sweeping.
The screen door opened.
And Liz was about to walk out, wearing knee pads, elbow pads, a helmet, and was carrying her skateboard and a backpack.
“Wait, Elizabeth!” Mrs Stark called out, putting the broom against the wall.
Liz had one leg inside and one leg outside, like she couldn’t decide whether to come or go. Mrs Stark studied her for a moment, then spoke.
“How are you going?” Mrs Stark enquired. Liz was taken aback at the strange question, but soon recovered.
“Fine,” Liz replied warily.
“About what happened last night…” Mrs Stark saw something in Liz’s eyes. She was on the defensive, which worried her even more. “…were you feeling jealous about Adrien?”
“A little,” was the reply.
“Why is that?”
Liz was silent. Then gave a tiny shrug in response. “And what did Adrien say?” she questioned, like there was no need to ask her these questions.
Mrs Stark tried to make eye contact, but Liz made sure to avoid actual eye contact with her.
“Mum, it’s a simple fact of life. Don’t worry about it.”
Mrs Stark was alarmed at the matter-of-fact way her daughter said it. Mrs Stark knew that Liz was way smarter than what the results said. And she knew that Liz wouldn’t normally give in to such thoughts that Adrien said she was thinking. No. The Liz she knew would make sure that that’s all they remained – thoughts, nothing more. So why was she like this? What was really going on? “When did this start?”
“Don’t worry about it, Mum. I’ve known it for years, so-”
She felt terrible. She had never seen it. I only wish I had. Then she thought of something else.
“Why would you think that about yourself?” she interrogated.
She noticed that Liz looked quite…surprised at the question. It was as if she thought Mrs Stark should have known the answer. She’s going to have to tell me as I don’t. “What put such an idea into your head?”
It was like a kick in the stomach. When did we ever say anything like that? I would never ever want to make her feel worthless. Complete opposite.
“Amy!” Mr Stark called. “May you help me, please?”
“Coming, dear!” she called back, then turned back to Liz.
Only to see the screen door swinging shut.
Liz skated across the street and sped faster.
Hey, I don’t understand why I can’t learn anything, so how can you understand, Mum?
A man jumped out of the way, shouting something at her, but she didn’t even hear him. She swerved around a pole and went down another street, barely avoiding a garbage can.
Maybe I should’ve avoided saying anything. They’ll want to discuss things and I just…I simply…Oh, why bother?
“Peter! I need your help!”
“I asked first, dear,” he teased.
Amy came over to him. He was about to tease some more, but then noticed that she looked horrified. “Love, what’s wrong?” he asked, wanting to help her however he could.
“It’s to do with Elizabeth,” she started.
How am I going to avoid it? This is so…frustrating. I don’t want this! They’ll just be insisting that it isn’t true. They won’t understand. I-
There was something white at the edge of her vision. What was it? It seemed to be growing brighter. What is that?
To try and clear her vision, she blinked.
Searing pain shot through her head.
White filled her vision.
She couldn’t breathe.
Come on! Air. Please!
There was a scream. “Watch out!” someone shouted.
A startled cry to her right. She banked left. Her skateboard slammed into something and she was thrown off.
She slammed into something. Glass shattered.
I can’t breathe!
She tried to hold on. Was thrown off.
Concrete slammed into her back. Her ears rang.
One person…no, two people…is that eight? surrounded her. Panic seized her. Space. I need space.
She tried to take a breathe.
Please, please…where’s the air gone? Is it getting darker? How is it night so soon? Why can’t I breathe?
“I-I d-don’t know! She just flew out of nowhere-”
“Someone call an ambulance!”
“-I didn’t mean to hit her! I tried to stop-”
“Is she breathing?”
No. Let me close my eyes. I need to…
A pair of hands lifted her up. “No, miss. Don’t close your eyes.”
But I’m tired…
“Here, put this on.”
Liz gulped down the air. She began coughing violently.
“Give her more air now!”
More air filled her lungs.
Something was in her throat. It rose to her mouth. She let out a loud cough and something warm and red splattered out.
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