OK, brief setup. Nate is best friends with Amelia’s brother, and she’s crushing on him pretty hard. They are in gym class and randomly paired up for badminton…
I have never been more relieved in my life than I was when Coach MacDonald assigned us each to a court and passed out our birdy-thingy. I threw myself into the game ignoring all the awkwardness and pent up emotions that wouldn’t leave me alone. Nate and I were nearly unstoppable. It almost seemed as if I could sense where he was. I knew if he would be there to lob the shuttlecock back or if I needed to, but I refused to linger on the strange awareness—calling it a sportsman sixth sense. Hey, denial isn’t just a river in Egypt!
At the end of the period it wasn’t a surprise we were at the top of the boards. Nate slapped me a high five and pulled me into a bear hug—my feet lifted off the ground as he spun. The minute his hand touched mine a bolt of electricity went through me, and when his arms closed around me it got worse. Every muscle in my body went rigid with pain. My skin felt like it was shrinking and my head pounded. My world shrank to a tiny pinpoint, and all I could focus on was the glowing presence that was Nathanial.
As he set me on the ground my rigid body turned to liquid and I slumped to the floor. I was only vaguely aware of him scooping me up and shouting something as he ran out of the gym. I expected him to take me to the nurse’s station behind the office, so I was shocked when I heard the school doors slam shut behind us. He placed me on the ground beneath a stand of trees across from the door, his hands gentle on my face.
“Come on, Lia. Come on back to me.” He said in a voice that echoed strangely in my ears. He pressed something cool and damp into my palm, and then ran his hands up and down my arms briskly. Slowly the pain receded and awareness returned, my body still felt like Jell-O. “Take it easy, don’t try to move yet.” Nathanial said quietly, his hands never leaving my skin.
“Wha…” I mumbled, blushing at the slurred voice before swallowing and trying again. “What happened?” That sounded better, but my voice was weak and strained like I had spent too much time screaming.
‘Shhhh. It’s ok. I’ll explain later. You need to rest now.”
We sat for a few minutes—him murmuring and rubbing my arms, me trying to figure out what was going on. I studied his face from beneath my lashes, the concern in his eyes obvious. I concentrated on trying to twitch a finger or wiggle a toe. My heart raced in fear as I wondered how long until someone else came to help. Was I dying? Why couldn’t I even wiggle my toes? “Seriously, Nate, what the hell happened? Shouldn’t you take me to the nurse? I should probably go to the hospital.”
“Trust me, you don’t want anyone here to know about this, Lia. If you wanna call your mom and have her come get you, that’s fine, but you can’t tell anyone at school about this. I’m so sorry. I thought I had it under better control. I just got kind of emotional, and it’s harder to control when I get emotional…” He trailed off, looking at the ground miserably. He tore the head off a blade of grass and tossed it before looking back up at me sheepishly. “I promise I didn’t do it on purpose, Lia.”
“Whoa, wait. You haven’t called my mom or anything? What…” I trailed off, unsure how to finish the thought. I wasn’t good with confrontation. When I get angry my tongue seems to get tied in knots and embarrass me. It’s very hard to make a valid point in an argument while stammering. “What did you do to me, Nate? And why exactly can’t I go to the hospital?”
“Well, more or less, you just got struck by lightning.”
“Wait, what?” My brain stopped processing for a prolonged moment unable to wrap around that one. How the hell had that happened? “So basically I was filled 1.21 jiggawatts? Can I travel through time now?”
Nate shook his head with a crooked grin. “You haven’t gone Back to the Future, McFly.”
“Ok, seriously, how did it happen?” I felt something close to panic welling inside me. This was crazy, right? I couldn’t really move, and he was telling me he somehow generated enough electricity to render my nervous system useless? On the freak-out meter—I was burying the needle in the red.