By Sam Huffer


She always has a problem with me cutting my hair short. Mum knows I have to force the water to stay in the bath, that washing my long hair infuriates me. And she always shouts whenever one of us kids doesn’t do what she asks. What happened to talking levelly?

What’s that sound? It’s raining again. And it’s not hitting me, of course. I’m always miserable in time for rain, it seems. The rain’s pitter-patter and the river’s murmurs harmonise pleasantly as I walk; the river’s churning instantly erasing the rain’s ripples. My boots squelch aggressively in the mud as I walk, leaving a trail of tiny puddles. Walking under a tree, I look up and watch a droplet tremble over my head, swelling with water before leaping free. It never hits me, but curves away to be absorbed by a large puddle. It’s all the raindrops ever do, my magic frustrating their advances.

I look down at my reflection in the puddle – brown hair, round face, sad, dejected eyes. Not my natural green, but the deep, ugly blue of my uncontrollable hydromancy. The blue that betrays my misery. Why can’t they happily flash yellow for once in my fucking life? Or angry, flaming red! I’m angry right now, aren’t I? Not enough, apparently. Probably too upset like always. I hate it. Stomping the puddle angrily, I continue walking.

There’s a funny noise… like laughter… boys talking boisterously. I try to ignore it, focusing on the sound of water around me, but the laughter slowly drowns it out. Oh fuck – it’s those three asshole noble kids from the academy, probably wanting to flaunt their fancy, wind magic. They think they’re so great, bullying people with happy magic. Shitty little punks. Forst – their tall, thin, silver-haired leader – approaches me first.

‘Hey Riven! Moping about by the river again, are you?’ he sneers with a punchable smirk.

I’ve never had the courage to punch him though. He and his two cronies bully me relentlessly, pushing my buttons, stabbing at my insecurities, torturing me emotionally while the adults ignore it. I wasn’t happy before I met them, but those vicious jerks have deepened this well of misery. Why can’t they leave me alone?

I turn and look into his cold, ice-blue eyes. I might as well get this over with. ‘What do you want, Forst?

‘Don’t be rude,’ says Teh, the burliest of the three. He wears an ugly grin and his black eyes glint maliciously. ‘We just want to talk.’

Bullshit you do. ‘Right, just like yesterday in class? Want to pick on my hair some more?’

‘We don’t need to; it speaks for itself,’ Balange retorts. He pushes his glasses back up his nose to his cold, grey eyes. He’s far smaller than Teh, but smarter. ‘So short, undignified, unladylike. Ugly. I was just asking Forst if some boy had stolen your moping grounds.’

‘Not that we’d care,’ Forst continues. ‘We’d shove him in the river and keep looking for you.’

I clench my hands into fists – pointlessly – and spit out, ‘Why don’t you jump in the river instead, you bastards, and see how you like it?’

Forst chuckles – never a good sign. ‘In mid-winter? Gods no. We’d catch a cold.’

He steps uncomfortably close to me, nose to my forehead. But when I don’t back away – why should I? – he punches me in the stomach.

Fuck that hurts. Thankfully, the rain’s soothing… oh crap.

‘I think we’ll make you instead. It’s not like you can fight back right now, right?’


‘I see your fury.’

Stop winding me up.

‘The angrier you get, the faster your sadness evaporates…’


‘…robbing you of the one thing you can actually do…’

Don’t you…

‘…splash us with puddles.’


I glare up at his now red and light-green eyes as his fist connects with my cheek. I thud on the ground – my face stinging – and stare up at the clouds. I glance down at my cloak. Great, it’s filthy. Mum’ll be pissed. And I can feel the crap running down my face too… but I’m facing up, aren’t I?

‘Like my new magic?’ he crows. ‘I think ash…’

A secondary element? That explains the eyes, at least.

‘…is rather fitting for a superior magician who actually deserves their powers, unlike you.’

Like hell you deserve any power.

He kneels besides me and punches my face, one side squelching into the mud.

Fuck, ouch!

‘You? You’re useless.’



He hits me again.




At least I’m not a cruel brat who’s undeserving of happiness, unworthy of power! Everything gets handed to you! It’s not fair.


I lash out blindly as he punches me again. I miss and roll on one side. Looking around, I see Forst on the ground… clutching a bright red burn on his face? What? My hand feels hot. Fire! Is that fire?!

‘Ouch!’ I exclaim, shaking my hand. What was that shock? I look down at a puddle forming between us and see my eyes glowing electric cyan. Fire and lightning? I can use magic other than water?


It feels like water is running down my face. Tears… of happiness? Impossible. I’m never happy, certainly not this happy. It’s not just tears, it’s like the wind’s pelting me with rain. I look back down, seeing my eyes glowing yellow in the puddle. Air magic too? Could today get any better?

‘Three elements in a row?’ exclaims Balange. ‘Impossible!’

I blink, refraining from wiping my tears away. I want to feel the physical proof that I’m happy enough to unlock aeromancy. I stand and see that Balange and Teh have retreated a few steps, while Forst, still lying in the mud, is gaping stupidly.

‘Feels pretty possible to me,’ I smile, and walk away.



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