“Byron, are you done packing your things?”
It was hard to believe that summer break was over so soon. He felt as if it was only just yesterday that they moved into the apartments. They learned a lot and had a lot of fun. In fact, they even made friends their age. He had originally thought he would only ever have one friend: Andy. Then he met Cylde, and now he had more friends than he could count on both hands. It was a dream come true.
Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get to see his new friends that much since they were going back home. They promised to write and visit, but he had his doubts. He didn’t know anyone who used email or letters, and their moms said they weren’t old enough to be using phones to text. They had to wait until they were at least in high school before their moms would even consider it. He pouted at the memory. How was he supposed to make sure they stayed friends if they couldn’t even talk to each other?
Byron could only hope that they would actually visit. Maybe he could convince his mom that they should come back during Thanksgiving or Christmas. Then they would have a lot of time to hang out and play instead of over the weekend. It was perfect. He frowned when he realized that his new friends might not want to hang out during those holidays. They might want to spend time with their family instead.
With a huff, he dragged his bags to the car. He could still hear Aunt Mandy shouting at Andy to hurry and pack up or else he’ll have to slither home. Byron wasn’t surprised to see that Cylde had already finished packing and had already placed his stuff in the car. He had seen him heading to the car while he was busying packing his stuff. Handing his bag to Cylde’s dad, he joined him on the sidelines to watch.
“I’m going to miss everyone,” he said as he kicked his legs back and forth.
Cylde hummed thoughtfully. “I wonder what kind of training we’ll do now since Phrynosoma isn’t coming with us.”
Honestly, he thought Phrynosoma’s training was kind of scary. It wasn’t the same scary as their moms–it wasn’t really scary for them since they were used to whatever their mom planned for them–and they didn’t know what to expect from him. One time he wanted to throw them off a cliff to see if they could survive such a fall. They weren’t sure where he would find a cliff, but he seemed determined to toss them off one.
Their moms and Lisa vetoed it immediately. Instead, it was agreed that they learned to scale buildings. It was a compromise between the two groups. Their moms hadn’t wanted them to gain the bad habit of running away especially since they wouldn’t always know the landscape. Lisa argued that there were times where retreating to another place would be a better option rather than stay in a dangerous situation.
Phrynosoma wasn’t the only other person to train them. Amanda and Pain joined in, saying they wanted to train with others for experience. He wasn’t sure what to think of them. They were too old to be proper friends, but they weren’t old enough to be treated like Phrynosoma. He eventually settled with considering them neighbors even though they weren’t really neighbors until he could figure something better.
The giant–he couldn’t remember his name for some reason–also helped out, but he preferred not think or remember what happened during those times he showed up. Honestly, a lot of their training was a blur, or he came up blank. It was hard to remember exactly what they did and on what day considering the schedule their moms had planned out. The days they had time away from training were treasured thanks to Lisa’s efforts.
He still couldn’t believe Lisa was normal like him. Considering how she beat Aunt Mandy, he thought she must have something strong or had a cool ability. It made him hopeful that he could be just as strong. He conveniently ignored how Lisa was only able to beat her through wits and the home field advantage. Otherwise, she would have not been able to beat her on her own.
This was the first time he met another ordinary person, and he sort of liked and disliked her because of it. He liked her because he found someone just like him. She should understand his frustrations about being normal, and he could learn so much from him. He disliked her because she was happy with being normal. She didn’t seem to be upset she didn’t have any powers or wasn’t born another species or wasn’t from another world.
Why wasn’t she bothered about being born normal? That wasn’t normal. It was the opposite of normal. It was abnormal. He specifically learned that word when he talked to Andy and Cylde about it. They didn’t get why she was okay with not having special about her, but at the same time, they didn’t get why he was so upset about it. It had nothing to do with him so he shouldn’t think about it.
He huffed and puffed. They didn’t understand. If he had a power like his mom, she wouldn’t have had a problem training him sooner. It was only because they got attacked by that stranger that she decided to teach him self-defense. She didn’t even want to teach him how to fight, only to defend himself. Andy and Cylde didn’t have the same problem. He knew they had gotten other training before their moms got together to teach self-defense.
The same could be said about the lady from the coffee shop. They had gone inside by chance during one of their training lessons, and for a second, they had thought it was Lisa. The only difference was she had blonde hair and blue eyes. Lisa had not been amused to hear that especially when they went from asking if they were twins or sisters to if she lied about not having any powers or being a regular human being.
She steadfastly remained firm that they were not related in any way to each other and that she indeed was a perfectly normal person. They were a bit doubtful considering the coffee lady was normal too. Byron had been completely shocked to find another normal person. What were the chance of finding not just one but two normal people in one city?
Unfortunately, he didn’t get to talk to her as much as he would have liked. None of them drank coffee–their moms wouldn’t allow them to touch it–so they had no reason to go there. Not only that, but it seemed like she was trying to avoid or ignore them every time they showed up. It was almost like she didn’t like them or something. He mentioned it to Andy and Cylde who agreed with him after thinking about it.
Loud shouting drew his attention, and he stared in the direction of the voices. Andy and Aunt Mandy were fighting over the luggage, tugging it back and forth between them as they headed towards them. His mom and Ethel walked over to helped out when they got even louder. He shot a look at Cylde when he heard the reason why they were fighting.
“I can carry my luggage myself. I don’t need your help hag,” Andy said as he yanked his bag towards himself.
Mandy pulled the bag into her direction. “You’re taking too long. Everyone’s waiting on you to hurry up. Why does it take you so long to pack?”
“It’s your fault.”
“How’s it my fault?”
“I couldn’t find some of my stuff in my room. They were in your room.”
“Why on earth would they be in my room? Where you going through my stuff?”
“It’s not there was anything important in there hag.”
“You brat. How dare you disrespect your mother.”
“Respect is earned you hag.”
Before Reba and Ethel could get to them, someone stepped in. “Are you seriously arguing with your son over packing?”
Mandy’s face twisted in disgust when she saw who it was. Lisa returned the gesture with an impressive disapproving glare. Andy took the opportunity to make a break for it, taking his bag with him. He rushed to hand over his bag to his dad who was waiting at car. Once he passed off his luggage, he headed straight for them. In that time, Mandy didn’t waver from her spot, choosing to keep staring at Lisa.
“Do you think they’re going to have another fight?” Byron asked.
Cylde shrugged while Andy scoffed and said, “Who cares?”
Even though Mandy promised not to fight her physically, that didn’t stop her from fighting with her verbally. It wasn’t uncommon to see them at each other’s throats. Watching said fights could be boring at times, but there were a few times where the three of them stopped what they were doing to stare. They ended up learning a bunch of new words. All the bad ones came from Mandy herself much to her horror.
At least she could say that not all the bad words they learned on their summer vacation came from her. They had ended up meeting the Ifrit family despite Lisa’s warnings, and the three of them were surprised to say that there was someone Mandy disliked more than Lisa. Actually, hate was more like it. Lisa nearly threw them out after the damages caused by the two groups. They were lucky no one got hurt.
Mandy and Zemud, the Ifrit son, had both been forced onto their knees to apologize for their actions and that had been after they paid for all the damages. It had been a very close thing since it was apparently in her right to evict them, and the police had gotten involved. Andy, Byron, and Cylde weren’t sure about all the details, but they were told that the two groups weren’t allowed to be within several feet of each other.
If they did end up bumping into each other, either one or both groups would have to vacate the premise. They were not allowed to talk to each other in any way that might incite another fight. The consequences for breaking any of these conditions were very bad. The three of them weren’t told exactly how bad, but it was bad enough that Mandy actually listened. Mandy almost never listened to anyone except for Reba and Ethel.
“Where’s Phrynosoma, Amanda, and Pain?” asked Andy.
Cylde said, “We haven’t seen them today. I don’t think they’re coming.”
“Why not? We’re leaving today.”
“You’ll have to ask Lisa. She’ll know.”
Andy grumbled but didn’t make the move to head over to where their moms and Lisa were talking. Since they were no longer shouting–technically, Mandy stopped shouting as no one else had been besides Andy who was with them–they couldn’t hear what they were talking about. It also meant they weren’t fighting and were probably talking about boring stuff.
“I don’t see any of our new friends either,” commented Byron.
“Ha. I guess they weren’t really good friends,” said Andy.
Byron frowned as Cylde chided Andy. While he had been happy to make more friends, Andy seemed to be the opposite. He kept sneering or ignoring them every time they met up to play. No one else seemed to have a problem. Even Aunt Mandy seemed to like them so he couldn’t figure out what Andy had against them. He wondered if it was because one of them was a girl.
At first, Byron and Cylde had also wanted nothing to do with her. Girls were yucky. They still believed it, but she had proven herself to be cooler than any girl they’ve known so she was an exception. Apparently, she was a shapeshifter and the younger sister of the coffee lady. She didn’t play with dolls or dress up or house. In fact, she liked playing games like tag and hide-and-seek. Sometimes she would change into another person if they asked.
It was almost like playing with another boy, and since she could technically turn into a boy, it was true. That, however, also meant she could be whatever age she wanted. One time she had pretended to be one of their moms, and they had been so confused because she didn’t act like her–Mandy in this case–but they didn’t know it was her at the time.
Maybe that was what Andy was mad about. He didn’t realize it was someone pretending to be his mom even though she hadn’t been acting like his mom. She hadn’t argued or got mad at him like his mom would. When she revealed herself, Andy had been silent for a couple minutes to process what just happened before he exploded. After that, she promised not to change into any of their moms.
“Andy, Byron, Cylde, we’re going now,” called Ethel.
“Coming,” they chorused.
They scrambled to the car, taking their seats as their moms joined them. Lisa had already walked away, only pausing to give them a wave. Byron waved back, but she missed it. Instead of calling out to her, he turned to face forward and made sure he was buckled up. Andy and Cylde had already done the same. As the engine started, he looked around one more time to see if anyone showed up to say goodbye. He was disappointed.
Seeing his down expression, Reba said, “Lisa let us know that everyone’s very busy and couldn’t come to say goodbye. They told her to tell us their goodbyes.”
That cheered him up slightly. He didn’t know what they were busy with, but it was nice to know that they didn’t completely forget about them. Andy and Cylde didn’t visibly react to her words, choosing to stare out the windows. Byron just knew they had to be happy about it too even if they didn’t show it. He couldn’t wait to see them again.
“So, kids, did you enjoy your summer vacation?” asked Reba.
“Good. We might come here again next summer.”
The trio’s eyebrows shot up. They didn’t expect that, not that they were complaining. Byron knew for sure he wanted to come back. He had a lot more fun compared to the summer camp her usually went to. The question was would Lisa even let them come back? She might have gotten used to them, but she seemed pretty glad in the few days before they had to go.
“Of course, it would depend on Lisa and if there is room for us next year.”
“I noticed a lot more people have started to move,” said Ethel. “Some of them are quite suspicious.”
Andy, Byron, and Cylde never noticed, but it wasn’t like they explored all the buildings Lisa owned. Well, they would just have to wait and see. Maybe they would even find out more about the AWG they kept hearing about. Apparently, it was the reason they even went there in the first place. For some reason, they felt like they had forgotten something important about it. It couldn’t have been that important if they couldn’t remember it, right?