Changes in my life have delayed the publication of the Providence Trilogy, but it should still debut, one novella at a time, in 2015.
Told as a series of diary entries, Waterfire chronicles the way Kelly learns that she has the power to set things on fire with her mind. All such pyrokinetic teenagers must attend a school where their power is repressed at all times. With the help of her friends, Kelly must escape the prison-like regime in order to save her mother's life.
Maybe if I write about the first day here, it will stop rattling around in my head like big clumps of lead.
Actually, I wish I had a big clump of lead to carry around with me instead of this stuff. They give us small patches, like nicotine patches for people who want to quit smoking, but with our kryptonite to wear against our skin and help control the urges. It does seem to cut down on the incidents – I haven’t made a fire since I got here a week ago. But, God, it itches like crazy! I’m always scratching at mine, I can’t help it, and I have to be careful with where I put the new patch of the day because I could look like an idiot scratching my armpits or some other sensitive area all day. They let us take them off at night so we can sleep, because everyone has an adverse reaction to their patch, but not everyone itches. Melinda, the high and mighty, claims it makes her tired so she can’t do PE. Like she’s having her period, all the time. I swear, she’s like a Victorian with the vapors every day at two o’clock. And the teachers fall for it! They let her go take a nap in her room. I wonder what she really does in there while we have to jog laps around the gym and bounce ridiculous balls off stupid things, like each other. I mean, what does that have to do with not setting anything on fire?
Anyway, my first day here, I barely had time to drop my bags before we had a get-to-know-you kind of meeting, which they called “orientation.” They made us all sit in a circle on the floor – yes, the concrete floor, with no rugs or pillow, what were they thinking? About flammability. I swear that’s all we are to these people — big walking fireballs. Todd, the lanky upperclassman who led the group with a senior girl and one of the teachers, had us go around the circle saying our names and what our kryptonite was. It was probably more to orient them to us, to prepare the patches, than for any other reason.
So there are precisely twenty of us newbies here. They started the circle with Brian, who was sitting right next to me, but it went in the opposite direction! So after Brian said he couldn’t produce flames in the presence of tungsten, eighteen other people went ahead of me. I was getting more nervous by the minute and barely heard what the other people said, with their run-of-the-mill kryptonites like lithium, beryllium and even krypton, which seems reasonable enough but is pretty expensive for the school to have on hand. My ears pricked up when a girl named Jill admitted phosphorus took away her powers. I snickered quietly to test whether anyone else would, but there were no takers. Come on, it’s embarrassing to be a pyrokinetic and have that ability erased by phosphorus, right? The stuff they put in the heads of matches? Doesn’t that seem a little ironic, at least?
“There’s no shame in any kryptonite. We all have one,” said Todd. He looked at me out of the corner of his eye like I was some kind of troublemaker.
So I rolled my eyes to show my disregard for authority to the other new students and held my breath again. Maybe if they didn’t laugh at phosphorus, they wouldn’t laugh at me, either. Maybe. Possibly.
No one was looking at my reddening face because it was Melinda’s turn, whoop de doo. She demurely announced her name and said, “My kryptonite is platinum.” She flashed a smile that I swear cut the air with a knife-sharpening sound. She drew a shiny necklace from under her blouse. “I already wear this all the time, ever since my parents gave it to me. I won’t need a patch.”
A hushed “ooh” went around the circle. Todd was nodding, as if Melinda had already arranged it all with the administration. Brian, right next to me, sucked in air. I couldn’t say exactly what he was thinking, but I knew right then that I liked him. A lot. Unbidden, the image of placing a darkly shiny tungsten wedding band around his finger entered my mind. It helped that he smelled pretty good. Since then, of course, it’s hard to smell anything other than my stupid patch.
Melinda’s act was hard to follow and I didn’t notice what anyone else said, so when it came to me, it still seemed like I had to compare myself to platinum. I covered my mouth to muffle the name of my fire-dampening element, but of course Todd said, “What was that? Say it again.”
“My name is Kelly,” I repeated, putting my diaphragm into it. “And my kryptonite is sulfur.” I wondered if I’d started a blaze on my face. I couldn’t feel my cheeks as I smiled, bracing myself. It was the same sinking, sick feeling I had with Uncle Jack a month ago. The laughter bubbled under the surface. I could feel it coming.
“Fire, but not brimstone,” Melinda said in a way that questioned the possibility.
Then it started. Todd snorted and the teacher, Ms. Matheson, barked a laugh over the snickering that was growing so sinisterly in volume. She clapped her hands over her mouth and composed herself to say, “There is no shame in any kryptonite! Hush! Quiet! My weakness is lead!”
She reached into her purse beside her — I’d thought she was just kind of weird to keep her purse with her in this situation — and pulled out a key ring with no keys attached to it, but several irregularly shaped rocks that must have been made of lead. She certainly hefted it as if it weighed a ton. “I can’t wear lead against my skin because it would poison me like a regular person, beyond taking my pyrokinesis away.”
The laughter died down with the interest in the new distraction. I thought of getting up and walking out, but Ms. Matheson continued and I had to hear. “I have to carry these pieces of lead with me at all times so I can get to them in an emergency, like a diabetic or something. I can’t even put this charm as far away from me as the conveyor belt when I go through airport security. Believe me, that can add to the difficulties of a trip.” Then she smiled so sweet and silly at all the newbies, they had to chuckle the way you might at a cute baby.
I loved Ms. Matheson then. She looked into my eyes and I could tell that was exactly what she wanted — a new friend from among the outcasts. She must be a weirdo in her life, too, with no friends her own age. I looked away and stayed quiet, hoping no one would remember me for the rest of the orientation. When Todd and Ms. Matheson finished explaining about curfews and hall passes and field trips, I stood up as slowly as I could, my every movement calling attention, in my mind, anyway. They were commencing a ritual of significance I didn’t learn until later and didn’t notice me slip out. Without a hall pass. [...]
What adventures will Kelly get herself into? Waterfire is a humorous, dramatic, and engaging novella and also a love poem to Providence, Rhode Island.
Though Waterfire isn't available yet, I do have other books with a similar flair available now.
You are welcome Jessica. This sounds like a wonderful series,