*A new addition to the Starlight saga, but you do not need to read the rest of the series to understand this.
Have you ever met a person that takes on the world with a passion so intense that you could’ve sworn they had seconds left to live? Like everything is life and death, each moment they lay idle is a moment wasted, an instant closer to the end, an opportunity wasted?
Their eyes gleam with brilliant, fiery passion that burns in their blood, filling each word with intensity and ravenous hunger, an urgency to each word. While others waltz slowly, lazily through the streets, they burst ahead, each step as fast and urgent as a leaping flame licking the sky.
And you could swear that deep down, they are not quite like the rest of us. Can’t rest, can never stop and take a breath. You could swear that everything they do is done with the utmost passion, every emotion strong. Raging fury or cold nothingness. Bursting with joy or the deepest sadness imaginable. There is no in between.
My name is Kenna King, and I just described myself. I know it. I can’t change this urgency, calm the passion, douse the flame. There is no denying who I am when every passerby can see it in my eyes. Hear it in my words. When my mother gave birth to me, she could see it instantly, just like everyone else I’ve ever known.
Everything about me is like fire, from my dark, coal hair that hangs in loose waves around my shoulders to my almost-black eyes that gleam like embers.
My mother named me Kenna for a reason. In Scottish, my name means “born of fire.”
My name is Kenna King, and I was born with fire in my soul.
A voice crackled over the announcements, calling everyone to immediately stop what they were doing. With surprise, I jolted out of my focused state, allowing myself to see the world around me. The classroom grew silent for once, and I had to physically stop myself from filling the silence. My pale hands hovered impatiently over the keys, itching to slam the letters down and watch the words spill over the screen like a waterfall crashing down onto rocks.
Dragging my eyes away from the keys, I forced myself to sit still. Stop moving. I gritted my teeth with effort, chastising myself over and over, Just listen to the announcements. Just listen. STOP. With a rasping gasp, I glared at the speaker, willing the words to come out with all my being. I couldn’t stand the motionless silence, each second that passed was agony wracking my body.
My fingers inched toward the keyboard, yearning desperately to hear the loud, satisfying smack as I pounded out the letters. Slapping my hand away, I clenched them into fists.
I imagined what my mom would say if she could see me now. I knew exactly, having had the words drilled into my head over and over since I was a young child. Calm the fire, Kenna, douse the flame. Resist the urge to let it burst out. Calm the fire. Her low, soft voice echoed in my head.
Envisioning her youthful face gazing down at me with kind, dark brown (almost black) eyes that looked so much like my own, but missing the fiery gleam, I tried to listen as the speaker began to rattle off words. My mind kept returning to her though, her eyes that were so wide and thoughtful where mine were always narrowed with focus and intensity.
“Listen up, students. This is not a drill.” Everyone looked around in panic, shock lighting up their features. Girls shrieked and leapt up while boys sat, frozen in fear and anticipation. Mrs. Kramanski shot a baleful look at the panicked students, her thin lips curling up into a sneer.
“Shut it, you ungrateful brats! Sit down right this instant!” she barked harshly. Shocked students hastily scrambled to their seats, some still wide-eyed and motionless, glued to their chairs.
“A threatening man is outside the building with a firearm, and has fired a round at the glass. Please shelter in place and refrain from panic at this time. Stay away from windows and doors and proceed with the lockdown procedure.” My heart pounded wildly, and I leapt up from my seat, sweat coalescing and dripping in rivulets down my forehead. Waves of adrenaline crashed through my veins, surging in my blood and setting my soul on fire. Time blurred for a second, my vision fading in and out from black to razor sharp focus to black again.
Distantly, I heard screams and gunshots ring out, the tinkling sound of shattered glass in the background like a soundtrack of horror. My vision blurred as the lights snapped off and my classmates all rushed to the corner, huddling in fear.
But I didn’t go to the corner. I heard shouts, heard the teacher hiss at me to “get to the corner now, or you’re going to get killed!” The words bounced off me, ricocheting like a bullet off bullet-proof glass. I couldn’t stand by and let this happen. Not when I knew that I wasn’t defenseless.
Calm the fire, Kenna, douse the flame. Resist the urge to let it burst out. Calm the fire. The voice insisted, but my body knew what to do. Amid urgent cries and orders to follow protocol, I went over to the window. I felt the flames writhe in my body, that palpable fire and passion that blazed in my soul feeling more and more like actual heat.
Calm the fire. Calm the fire. My hands were hot against the glass, burning with intensity and real heat. Douse the flame. I slid my fingers under the edge, raising it with a grunt. Resist the urge to let it burst out. Slipping my legs through the slot. Calm the fire! The voice shrieked, but I couldn’t now. It wasn’t even an option.
The wind howled, whistling through the trees as I perched on the thin ledge, looking over the courtyard. My pulse raced when I saw him, a distinctly male figure below with a gun at his shoulder. Shattered glass sprinkled the grass around his feet, glittering like dew under the orange afternoon sun.
Just as the teacher’s slim, skeletal hands jutted out the window to pull me in, I leapt out of the window, projecting myself in the man’s direction. Every book I’d ever read, every movie I’d ever watched, had described falling to your death as life slowing down. They were wrong. I was hurtling through the air, and the only competent thought I could manage in the split-second was, I’m going to die. Kenna, born of fire, will be doused like a match.
Just before impact, the burning flame surged within me. All the built up restlessness and fury and passion burst out, and in seconds, I was surrounded by flames. Not the emotional kind, no. Actual fire burst from my body, exploding out of me. My feet floated down effortlessly, hitting the grass with a dull thud as golden, white-hot flames licked my skin, pulsating in an aura around me.
Calm the fire, Kenna… The voice was barely a whisper now. Douse the flame… It faded off, as though too weak to continue. Fire bellowed around me, my body tingling with a buzz like a blaring bass. I sprinted across the lawn, blazing like a comet, my un-singed dark hair waving behind me like a banner. Shock lit up the man’s face, and he swung his gun towards me, firing off a round that missed me by a hair, grazing my shirt and ripping the black fabric.
I ran up to him, and he screamed, doubling over in pain as my aura of fire pulsated and glowed. Fueled by my adrenaline, I willed the metal gun to heat up, forcing my will onto the thought of it. Immediately, he dropped it, clutching a red hand to his chest and collapsing. I had never truly understood why I was so restless and passionate, never resting, never lying idle. Always wondered why my mother described it as “the fire in my soul,” always questioning why she wanted me to calm it. Now I knew. The fire wasn’t just in me: it was me. It was why my eyes were black like coal, but glittered with an ember of passion. Why I could never stop, why my personality seemed to light up a room. Why people had to always tell me to “chill out,” to rest when I wanted to keep going.
“You- you monster!” The man shouted. Fury flared in my chest, the fire raging on, red sparks shooting at him in flurries.
“I’m not a monster! You are. There are innocent kids in there!” I shrieked at him, crouching down to look more closely. The flames that raged around me scrambled onto his body and I gasped. His skin was charred. Blackened. His eyes went blank.
There would be no response.
He was dead.
And that made me… a murderer.
The realization hit me like a ton of bricks, and the fire grew and grew. But nothing was burning. The grass was still a pristine green, speckled with glass. Nearby trees were unaffected by the fire, swaying nonchalantly in the breeze. I was the only one burning. Guilt cascaded over me in waves, fire ebbing and flowing around me as my mood spiraled. I had killed a man. Saved many classmates and hundreds of innocents, but no less, I was a murderer.
Something in me broke, and the sparks flowed like rivers around my feet. Golden light filled my ears, my eyes, and the world was all burning light, the awed students watching from windows disappeared into the gold. My consciousness drifted off and I faded off into dazzling flame.
When I came to, I felt the sand under my back. Getting up, I dusted myself off, noticing that a faint ring of fire still glowed around me like an aura. It looked like I was in a desert somewhere.
“I needed to get you away from there. I hope you don’t mind the heat.” I turned around to see a snickering girl, about my age, laughing at her own joke. This didn’t seem to be a normal girl, though. Everything about her seemed regal and galaxy like, from the cascading black hair that settled around her shoulders to the golden dress and back to the crown with planet-shaped jewels that seemed to glow from the inside out.
“Who are you? Why am I here?” She smiled with a little sigh. I shuffled forward slightly, analyzing her pale skin and midnight blue eyes. A queen of some sort? Maybe- My speculations were cut off as she looked me dead in the eyes and answered.
“My name is Selene, and I was born with the night sky in me. Some may call me a goddess, of the moon and night and all that. But as of now? I’m a rebel. Will you join me, Kenna?” Intensity flared up in my heart as she extended a hand, but I didn’t try to calm it. My tan hands sparked as I grasped her hand. A grin spread across her lips. “Starlight and embers finally unite,” was all she said before letting go of my hand and walking off. I quickly scampered after her. As I trotted off with some kind of rebel star girl, having recently discovered powers and saved hundreds of lives, somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought, My name is Kenna King, born of fire. I’ve kept it inside my whole life. But now? There’s no holding back. I just let the fire out.