TITLE: Energy Bender
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Growing up in an agrarian, intolerant village is difficult for Adelaide who doesn’t understand why she can feel and harness the emotions of others. She guards her sickness, afraid that if anyone found out she would be sent to the Cradle Grave prison camps. When a girl her age goes missing, the Elders have questions for Adelaide that probe too far into memories of her own kidnapping years ago and threaten to expose her secret.
Adelaide felt the grief before she heard the wailing. She was walking to the schoolhouse when a heaviness settled in her feet and then lodged in her chest. Every breath hurt, her limbs ached. She wondered if she was ill. Then she heard the crying. It came from inside the house she was passing, its dirt yard swept clean with a broom. Someone in that house, a woman by the sound of it, was in so much pain that her emotion radiated all the way outside to Adelaide. She stood rooted to the ground, confused and afraid of what she was feeling.
“Skunk, what are you doing?”
Adelaide cringed at the voice behind her. She turned and saw Billy Blount approaching.
“Nothing, I just…do you hear that?” A high shriek punctuated the crying.
Billy spat on the ground. “Dirty blood in that house. Best stay away ‘til they re-sanctify the place.”
“Baby came in the night. Harelip. The Elders took it.”
“Took it where?”
“Doesn’t matter, does it? It was different-blooded.” Billy appraised her. “What are you, soft?”
He smiled in the hard way he reserved especially for her. Most people wouldn’t look her full in the face for so long. Adelaide covered the right side of her face with her hand.
Billy sneered. “I guess you would be soft. You’re practically different-blooded yourself, aren’t you, Skunk?”
He reached out and pulled her long braid, hard. Adelaide knocked his hand away.
Billy laughed. “Could have been you, Skunk.”