Beep beep beep.
The alarm thrusts me awake from my beauty sleep as per usual. It's 6:30 AM. I stretch, bend and roll over to the other side.
I must have fallen asleep once more since the watch reveals the numbers 7:04! I'm almost flying out of bed only to be struck by dizziness. I clutch my head and stumble downstairs, placing myself heavily on the chair by the table.
Mom has already prepared breakfast for my sister and me. I think I'll go with milk and cereal. Basic. I'm not much of a breakfast person, to be honest. My sister just finished her porridge and has already started smearing butter all over her toast.
We are pretty different, both in appearance and in personality. Miya has blue hair and blue eyes, just like her dad. I, on the other hand, have red eyes and grayish hair color. The eyes are surely inherited from my mother since she has almost identical ones herself. But my hair color is more of a mystery.
My real dad left my mother and me when I was just a newborn. My mother says she just stumbled across my stepdad weeks later. They had a child soon after. Ironically, my sister and I are in the same year of high school since we were born in the same year. And this one will be our final.
My sister is a prodigy - she receives top grades in every subject and is the vice president of the student council. In contrast - I get low to average marks in everything except P.E.
"I was just about to wake you up, sweetie." Mom said, interrupting my thoughts.
"I was awake anyway. I just had some trouble getting up. I'm not much of a morning person, you know..." I lie.
A text saying -2 points for lying enters my vision.
"Haha, good one, Zeya. I could hear you snoring to my room." My sister says confidently.
"Shaddap..." I whisper as I glance at her. We are not close. It's merely a facade we show our parents.
We finish breakfast in silence, and I later hurry up to my room to get dressed. The female school uniform consists of a white shirt, a black skirt, and black stockings. I usually wear a sweater on top of the shirt. I tie my hair into a simple ponytail since I hate when it hangs all over my face.
I check the skin right below the collarbone. It is marked by the number 12. Everyone but you is unable to see how many points you earn for an action. But everyone can see the number that has been etched somewhere onto your skin. I have a hard time keeping the few points that I ever earn...
I hurry downstairs once more. My sister is already standing idly in the hall, looking impatient.
"Just hurry up, would you?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm on my way, as you can see." I say as I roll my eyes.
I put on my shoes hastily, and we head off. The school is about a 10-15 minute walk away from home, depending on your walking speed (and mood). We walk in silence. Miya is uninterested in conversing as she pulls up her phone and checks in on one of the social media she has on there.
The weather is, as a matter of fact, better than the weather report predicted. The silence that hangs over us is interrupted by two of Miya's friends who run towards us.
"Mimi!" A girl squeaks as she clings to my sister. A guy also joins her side and starts talking, but I'm unable to overhear their conversation.
I begin walking more slowly to get further behind them. A few blocks from the school, the two friends turn their heads slightly towards me as if they were talking about me. I give them an annoyed look back.
As we enter school grounds, Miya and her friends hurry along, and I head towards the classroom in solitude. The school building is a tall, worn-down, grayish complex. There are three floors with classrooms, club rooms, restrooms, etc.
Another text enters my vision, this time saying: -1 point for missing practice. Darn it. I forgot about that.
In the corridor, I encounter my one and only friend, Haru. He is, in all honesty, the definition of handsome. Girls usually flock around him due to his immense charms and overall positive aura. He is intelligent and a gentleman.
Usually, one's hair and eye color reflect their powers, which is also true for Haru. He is lucky enough to be born with the power of light, and hence he has blonde features.
Of course, all of this makes him sound like the ideal guy for any girl. But there is a slight problem. Due to his tremendous popularity at our school, a few girls target me for being his friend. Some girls like to remind me of my insignificance. But I don't blame him for my current situation, and I try to keep him out of it as much as possible.
"Yo, Zeya!" He says in a happy tone once he sees me. The other jealous girls can't seem to comprehend how we possibly can be friends, but the answer is simple - we've been friends for twelve years.
"Hi, Haru." I hope he also forgot I was supposed to come to practice.
"What happened to a certain thing called keeping your promises and showing up for practice?" He says sternly. I give him an apologetic look.
"I'm so sorry! I overslept and had to walk a bit slower to avoid my sister and her 'lackeys'." I say ironically.
"I thought I told them to behave around you." He says while rubbing his chin.
"No need to overreact. Nothing happened. Honestly." He scrutinizes me all over.
"If you say so. But oversleeping is not a good excuse, you know..." He says while rubbing my hair with his fist.
"Hey, stop it!" I say while slapping his hand away. Some girls look in our direction and murmur something. I ignore them.
"Come on! We'll be late for class." He says while heading towards our classroom.
A few years back, Haru was scouted for his powers by the Villian Suppression Force (VSF for short) to become one of their trainees. Only a selected few get to enter, but they tend to favor those with a high count or a rare power.
During their time as trainees, they learn everything from enemy weaknesses to mastering their powers. I've also heard having a high count increases your power level, meaning the strength of one's power. But, I haven't seen Haru's count in a while (last time it was around 5000), and that's above average for our age. It's even above what some people earn in an entire lifetime! And it's nothing compared to my minuscule 12 - I mean 11.
I sit by the window as usual, and Haru sits right behind me. Miya was already seated when we entered. The teacher arrives soon after, and I proceed to stare out the window.
The lesson was a blur, and I'm happy it's over. I must have spaced out a lot since Haru has two pages filled with notes, and I only have a couple of words. He tells me he has to meet up with some of his other friends and that he'll be back soon. I head towards the restrooms instead.
I barely have the time to open a stall door when the girls from this morning step forward. Their 'leader' - Akiko, I believe her name is, scans me from top to toe.
"Well, well, well." She says mischievously.
I turn away from her and begin entering the stall. Just as I'm about to close the door, she blocks it with her hand.
"Where do you think you are going? Not so tough now that your knight in shining armor isn't here, are you?" She says in a cocky way as she glances at the girls behind her. They giggle.
Akiko steps closer to me, and I step backward. I hit the wall on the other side of the stall. She smiles wickedly as the corners of her mouth turn upward. The only noise in the room is the frequent drips of tap water in one of the sinks.
Her eyes start glowing - an indication that she intends to use one of her abilities.
"What are you gonna do about it, huh, you powerless freak?" I clench my fists in response.
"I may be powerless, but I am not a freak!" I say as I lunge forward. Just as we are about to engage, a hand appears on Akiko's left shoulder. The hand drags her away, and I come face-to-face with Haru.
"I can't let you out of my sight for a couple of seconds before you start chasing after my friend, can I?" He says while turning to Akiko.
"Well, I... You see..." She stammers. "Never mind," is all she says before leaving.
"Thanks for the save, but I can take care of myself, you know."
"Yeah, I'm well aware. But I saved you from a couple of points reductions, didn't I?" He says slyly.
"I suppose... Not like it matters anyway." I say while turning away.
"It does. Don't make me go over this again." He says sharply. I let out a sigh in response.
"More importantly, what the fudge are you doing in the girl's restroom?!" Realization suddenly struck his face, and his eyes widen in horror. His head turns in all directions, probably looking for potential witnesses. He then rushes out in lightspeed (not literally), and I'm left alone once more.
I finish what I came here to do and exit the restroom. Once I'm back in the classroom, I see a couple of papers lying on my desk. I walk closer and realize that they are copies of Haru's notes. He is not currently in the classroom, but I remind myself to thank him as soon as I see him the next time.
Sometimes I wonder whether or not any actions by the people I hold dear have any real meaning and significance. If we were to live in a world without KARMA, would Haru still give me his notes?
The school is full of all kinds of students. Due to the powers you are born with, it may also change your appearance. For instance, there are multiple people with animal-like features. But the most common features are the colors of your eyes and hair. Haru's power also gives his skin an ethereal but faint glow (which I am jealous of).
The school day is over before I know it. Haru decides to follow me home. Miya had someplace to be, so she'll be getting home later. It's a beautiful day with barely any clouds in the sky. The call of cicadas can be heard faintly in the background, a reminder that summer is soon about to end.
After walking and talking for about ten minutes, we finally reach our destination. My family's house is relatively big, with two floors and several bedrooms. We also have a large garden with a private dojo. Both Haru and I practice kendo, and we are in the kendo club at school. It was a kendo practice I missed this morning... Kendo is the reason we got to know each other in the first place.
We enter our garden and walk over to the dojo. My mom isn't home yet. She is usually guiding us during our practice. Haru and I are on pretty equal terms when it comes to skill. I tend to win around as much as he does.
We spar for quite some time, and my mom soon joins us.
"Zeya, remember your posture! This is no time to get sloppy." She says carefully.
"Yeah, yeah, I know." I say without losing eye contact with Haru. He swings his shinai gracefully, but I manage to dodge it just in time. Haru loses his balance slightly, enough for me to counter and hit him in his stomach.
He falls to the floor in an over-dramatic way and pretends to be dying.
"Zeya... I thought we... were friends..."
"Famous last words." I mutter.
"Please... Just let my dog know... that I love him..." He says as he takes his last breath.
"Okay, enough with the drama." My mom says as she steps in, and we giggle in response. Haru then leaves shortly after.
"Try to find a boyfriend with less of a dramatic personality next time, please?" She says jokingly. I blush.
"He's not... my boyfriend." I say quietly.
Whenever my mom and I are alone, the "real" practice commences.
The world is unaware of my power. I am not, in fact, as powerless as everyone believes. Not even Haru knows I have powers, nor the rest of my family. My power is actually -