Miracle Girls #5

Last-minute study session or no, it was practically impossible for me to focus on the test. Ordinarily, that might be because spring break was mere hours away, but… well.

Maybe a quarter to a third of the way through class, I raised my hand to be excused — the only thing Mrs. Rojas said we should be raising hands for during an exam. She gave me a nod, acknowledging I was going to leave the room.

It meant restarting the test when I got back, of course. A little setback designed to curtail cheating in the age of smartphone browsers. There were three versions of every math test from Mrs. Rojas. Two were distributed in a grid pattern to prevent copying off adjacent students, and one was for those who had to make the test up or start over. A bit paranoid, in my opinion, but my standards for sufficient vigilance were apparently low enough to get me killed.

In the short window of time I had free reign to look around the room on my way out, I noticed Pat and Austin had both set their test papers aside. Pat was reading something extracurricular, though it was difficult to identify given his habit of discarding book jackets. I just knew it wasn’t our assigned reading. He’d been prepared for the test, so it made sense to me that he’d breeze through it. Austin was sitting back, eyes half-closed. He tended to breeze through math tests, too, but not because of anything I could copy off of. In fact, I was pretty sure he coasted on test scores and did the bear minimum of actual homework in this class to avoid failing. Different approaches, different priorities.

Speaking of priorities.

Once I was tucked away in a corner of the school that I knew as a camera blind spot, I grabbed my phone and the business card. I didn’t punch in that number right away.

CRYSTAL: Hey just a heads-up
CRYSTAL: I met a superhero today
CRYSTAL: Extraordinaire showed up at school asking about the whole “reported missing” thing
MOM: Wow, exciting!
CRYSTAL: Just thought it’d be best to mention it before you found out some other way
MOM: Okay. Thanks.

Hide behind lesser truths, I reminded myself. It had kept one secret long enough.

CRYSTAL: She had some follow-up questions actually
CRYSTAL: Not that there’s much to say
CRYSTAL: So I might get held up after school
MOM: Got it. As long as I know where you are.
CRYSTAL: Sorry about yesterday
MOM: I’m just glad you made it home safe.


In any case, that was one of the urgent matters taken care of. I moved on to the other.

She picked up on the first ring.

“Let me guess,” Extraordinaire’s voice came through the phone. “Crystal?”

“So you don’t hand this number out to just anyone,” I deduced.

“Ah, you saw through that. Fair.”

“How secure is this line?”

“That’s not how that works,” Extraordinaire answered. “You would need the right measures on your end, too.”


“I have your contact information, now. If you really want to chat privately, I can send something over.”

“Okay, sure.”

The call ended. A text from Extraordinaire’s number, which I took a moment to add to my contacts, appeared. It was just a link, which led to a website that was just a round button labelled with her “E” emblem.

I tapped the button. My phone’s screen went white, then turned off. The whole device restarted after a minute. I would be worried about that, if the past three years had turned up any credible reasons to distrust Kaitlyn Marsh. Emphasis on credible, to be fair. Not much I could do about it now, though.

Once I was able to see my home screen again, I noticed an app icon that combined the same emblem with the silhouette of an old-timey phone. Rotary phone? Whatever. I opened the app, and the same dial tone that would play if I called somebody sounded off. Once again, it was cut short.

Now the line is encrypted,” Extraordinaire told me.

“That’s… great.”

“Oh, sorry for the scare. That was technically a virus, but only for the sake of efficiency. It should also counteract a little bit of the built-in software degradation that’s supposed to convince you to buy a newer model, if that’s any consolation.”

“The… isn’t that illegal?”

She laughed.

“Well, anyway, I guess I wanted to clarify what you think you figured out earlier,” I said.

“It sounded like you died and got powers,” she answered. “What kind?”

“Um. That’s hard to explain.”

“Is it hard to demonstrate?”

I considered it. “Less so?”

“Okay. If you feel up to sharing, name a time and place.”

“Aren’t you a little busy?”

“Conditionally,” she answered. “If you want to suggest a few options and let me pick the most convenient one, that’s fine.”


“Or you can say no,” she added. “I don’t mean to impose.”

Oh, sure. She was the one who had to worry about that.

“I’ll get back to you on that,” I hedged.

“Sounds good. Bye.”

I found the button that ended the call. Back on my home screen, I swiped to the unused last page of apps and found one with Extraordinaire’s emblem and the “typing” cursor. That would be for texting, then. I wondered a bit if it was really necessary to split the two apps up, but maybe the difference between one and two taps mattered in an emergency situation. I rearranged the two encrypted communication options onto their own page.

“Well, I survived,” I said, falling into step with the boys.

“I’m sure you did fine,” Austin said.

“Did you remember what cotangent means?” Pat asked.

“I don’t want to think about it anymore.”

Pat conceded. “How’s the rest of your day look?”

“After everything else that happened today?” I offered a tight grin. “Peachy.”

“Do we get to hear that story yet?” Austin prodded.

“Not much of a story, I’m afraid. ‘Hey, why did you have a police report earlier?’ ‘Oh, nothing. I missed a curfew.’ ‘Alright. Stay safe.’”

“You could at least make up a more interesting story,” Pat pointed out.

“Oh, well in that case, she’s totally asking me to be her sidekick,” I said, putting on the thickest tone of sarcasm I could manage. “Cape, utility belt, subject to human limits? About time she ticked off the ‘child tag-along’ box. With the free space, that’s bingo, actually.”

Austin started humming a theme song, which was interrupted by his own laugh joining mine and Pat’s. Saying something absurd and then immediately one-upping it had been a fairly reliable way to deflect unwanted topics, in my experience. I was more comfortable sharing certain things with certain people nowadays, but “I’m a superhero” definitely wasn’t one of them yet.

It also wasn’t true yet, but that was beside the point.

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