“Wren, take it easy!” I shouted to my sister over the howling winds that whipped along the rock-studded beach and stirred the crashing waves into froth.
Instead, my twin threw all of her power against me, knocking aside the rock I’d held there for her, hovering in mid-air despite the fierce wind. I scowled, but played along, raising rock after rock as she dashed them back to the earth.
Wren’s expression was a mirror of my own as we faced off. We were identical, on the surface, even if we had little in common outside the physical. The wind had already stripped strands of Wren’s long dark hair out of the braid I’d done for her not half an hour ago. Deep gray clouds studding the horizon spoke of a rainstorm on the way.
Finally, Wren threw one of the stones far. It flew past me, into the waves. I made sure not to gape; she loved to show her superior strength in these games, and I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of knowing it bothered me.
“My turn.” I told her, watching the trail behind her for any sign of movement. If the aunts caught us at it, we’d be days recovering from the pile of chores that would result. Since we hadn’t started twin school, we were supposed to use our powers sparingly. Too many twins explored their powers in dangerous ways without the proper training and ended up dead before they could be of any service to the Lady at all. But tell that to a pair of fourteen-year-olds who could move matter with their minds. We couldn’t resist.
Wren raised a boulder first. A bead of sweat rolled down her temple as she concentrated her energy on the single rock. Instead of doing as she’d done, I twisted it, raising my own rock and beating it against the boulder, attempting to dislodge it and send it back to sea or sand. One rock wasn’t enough, so I was in the middle of raising an army of rocks – not one of my better ideas – when we were interrupted.
A ball of white fur hurtled toward us. The dog had gotten pretty close before I noticed it, and Wren’s back was to it. It started barking before I could warn her, a sharp yip that made Wren jump. She dropped the boulder, which shattered into two pieces as it hit the rocks below. I stared at it for a split second. Breaking rocks. Now that was cool.
I didn’t have time to say anything before Wren twisted to face the dog, now a scarce ten feet from her. She threw up a hand and a wave of sand and rock lifted the dog off its feet, and sent it flipping through the air.
It was then that I noticed a man running toward us from farther down the beach, obviously coming after his dog. He stopped, confused, when he saw Wren’s action. I couldn’t be sure what he thought he saw, but I let out a little shriek that alerted Wren to his presence. If there was any rule that governed our lives, it was don’t use powers around strangers.
The dog landed on all fours and gave a final yip before scurrying off with his tail between his legs and his ears flat against his head.
I grabbed Wren’s hand, holding tight despite her protest, and ran toward the wooded trail. I expected to hear the man yell behind us, but if he said anything at all, the wind tore the words away before they reached my ears.
Around a bend in the trail I slowed and dropped Wren’s hand angrily. She clasped her hands together and looked at the ground. She could tell I was mad, but I knew she had no idea why. That frustrated me even more.
“Wren! You cannot lash out like that with your power. Don’t you know you could hurt somebody?”
“It was a dog. An annoying dog,” she told me resentfully.
“Did you see the man running toward us?” I didn’t even have to ask. “Wren. We’ve been over this. We’re not even supposed to use our powers like that around the aunts, much less around a stranger. You can’t act like that. We don’t own the beach, you know.”
“We were there first.”
“No matter. If you can’t control yourself, I’m not playing.” I stalked off, too upset to say more right now. I might say something I’d regret. Not that my sister would notice. She could be selfish, not to mention dangerously out of control. Our temperaments were polar opposites. My sister was quiet, shy, and didn’t care for people. In fact, as she’d just shown, she could be dangerous. It wasn’t that Wren actively disliked people; it was that she didn’t care. Another person’s joy, or their pain, never really got through to her.
I stayed ahead of Wren the whole way home, taking our usual path alone. I don’t know if she trailed me or took another route. Sometimes I got tired of caring. She could find her own way home. She was capable of that much.