teacher and the school nurse. 'Use it for good?” I said. “Like we just did by breaking his nose?'

The second bell rang, indicating that students had five minutes to get to their homerooms. 'You wanted it,' Jim said. 'That’s the key. And it can get a whole lot crazier than that. But you're a good kid. I didn't give this to you without thinking hard about it. You'll find out a way to use it that will keep them off you without violence. Just because you have it doesn't mean you also will become a bully. In fact, it means just the opposite. Experiment with it all you want, but do so with kindness. Only go for violence when there's no other option.'

'And if there is no other option?'

The hardness in Jim's face surprised me. 'Then give it all you got and give it hard.'


When I walked into my homeroom, there was no teacher and everyone was talking about Jake Tyler’s broken nose.

The room was buzzing with it, so alive with it that I actually was able to take my seat without anyone noticing me or giving me a hard time. Chalk up a victory for me, because that’s never how it went. I listened to the cacophony of voices surrounding me and was surprised by what I heard.

“Bitch bit it big time.”

“See him cry? What the hell was that? He sounded like a girl.”

“What’s weird is that he dropped like a stone. I was behind him. He just went down hard. It was kind of funny. I’ve seen him on the field getting tackled from behind and go down harder than that, and yet each time, he just gets up as if it was nothing.”

“That’s because he was wearing padding and hit grass, idiot. Pavement is a little different.”

“I still think it’s funny. Did you hear him? It was like, ‘Boo, hoo, hoo! I bwoke my nose! Call me a waaaambulance!’”

“Jake’s a good guy. I think you should tell him that yourself, loser, and see how he reacts.”

That silenced everyone. The person who said it was Sara Fielding, who now, after taking a load of snot and spit in her face, was apparently one of God’s children. She was above it all. She was the voice of reason. After facing an act of cruelty, all cruelty had left her. She was a shining example of someone rising from the ashes.

She was the worst kind of hypocrite.

She sat stick straight in her chair, her aggressive blonde ponytail the perkiest thing in the room, which was saying plenty given her perky boobs. Her books were on the left of her desk. On top of them were her iPad and iPhone. Everything was neat, neat, neat. Watching her, I thought how much I disliked her. I thought given her new stature in life, there should be some sort of shining aura around her. She had transformed herself into an angel, so why shouldn’t she look like one? She obviously considered herself one. She should be lit from within.

And then she was.

It didn’t last long, but everyone saw it. Suddenly, Sara had light shining out of her eyes and nostrils, her private parts, her ears and her mouth, the latter of which became blazingly apparent when she opened her trap and started screaming again.

As she turned her head, it was as if a spotlight was fanning the room, with some of the students taking the blinding light straight in the face.

It was surreal. All around her was light. She literally was a feast of light. It came off her in waves. She stood and turned in horror for help-but no one was coming for help. Everyone reared back. They were terrified of her.

Some held up their hands to shield their eyes when she turned to look at them. What was more bizarre is that she was getting brighter. What was once a series of powerful lights now was a fierce show of light. Her head was so bright, you could see through her cheeks. In the electrical stimulus that consumed her, her hair started to fan out and the tips of each strand lit the room in thousands of tiny laser-like beams.

As I looked at her, she reminded me of something Lady Gaga might try for her next video. And then Sara’s hair started to singe at the tips. Smoke curled and wafted into the air, filling the room with a rancid stink.

And then Sara started to spin.

“What’s wrong with me!” she shouted.

Nobody knew, but they were captivated. In her cute little brand new pair of pastel pants, light was shining from places no light should shine. Light was shining from her hoo-hoo. Light was beaming out of her backside. It was as if every orifice of her body was a conduit of light.

'I'm burning up! Hot! Hot! Burning! Do something!'

But no one moved. They were transfixed. Sara twirled, swirled and whirled, and all anyone did was slowly recede from their seats and press themselves against the back wall.

As I watched her spin like a top, her head literally started to smoke as her hair continued to shrink in the searing heat. It was obvious that the light might consume her. And then things took a turn for the worse-the light was changing. It was becoming orange, the color of fire, which was reflected in her skin tone. She was burning up inside-and that was it for me. I shook my head at the sight of it, snapped out of my reverie-and just like that, it was lights out for Sara, who immediately returned to normal.

Silence struck the classroom.

Sara stopped spinning and just stood there. Her ponytail had released itself from its knot and what was left of her hair now hung in her face. What had been a shoulder-length haircut was now a mere bob.

“Dude, what the hell?” someone said.

She didn’t move.

“You alright?”

She looked down at her hands and feet. She patted her head and ran her fingers along the crisp tips of her hair, most of which broke off in her hands like pieces of fried straw. She held out her arm and asked one of her girlfriends if it had stopped. But her friend, Carrie Williams, didn’t reply. Her face had gone pale with what she’d just seen and she said nothing. She couldn’t speak.

Since nothing surprised me when it came to the depths of human cruelty, I wasn't surprised when someone went for it and asked Sara if the spit Hastings globbed onto her face was toxic. Maybe even nuclear. That turned out to be enough for Sara, who shoved a finger at the offender and told him to shut it.

“Shut it?” he said. “Sara, you light up like a Christmas tree and you tell me to shut it? You've got some explaining to do. What are you, some kind of witch? What the hell was that?”

But she wouldn’t answer because she didn’t know. Rattled and on the brink of tears, she swept up her books and other belongings, and bolted for the door just as Alex came through it. He stepped aside so she could press past him and then he spotted me as the room burst into a frenzy of conversation. He took the seat just ahead of mine and lifted an eyebrow. “What’s going on?”

“Sara just found her inner light.”

He looked confused. “What does that mean?”

“It means she literally just turned into a funnel of light. Her eyes were like spotlights. Her head turned into a disco ball. Her hair started to burn-take a whiff and you can smell it now. She had light coming out of her ass and light coming out of her other parts.”

“Oh, come on.”

“I not joking. Just listen. They all saw it and they’re all talking about it.”

While he listened to the group, which was confirming everything I said, I realized that I had created this. Somehow, I caused Sara to light up as if someone had shoved the mother of all roman candles up her butt, lit the fuse and then stepped away to watch the inevitable happen. I eased back in my seat and ran it all through my head, trying to figure out how it happened.

I’d slipped into thought. I’d imagined her shining like the Virgin Mary. I’d said to myself that she should be lit from within. And then she was.

I pressed my hand to my shirt and could feel the amulet’s warmth. I didn’t understand it, but I couldn’t deny it. I was me. I was responsible. I caused this even though I hadn't intended to. And there was something else I couldn’t deny. The light she emitted only had grown in strength. If I hadn’t shaken myself out of that moment, something terrible would have happened to her. She could have combusted.

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