by Christopher R. Muscato

#Snowball #Miraculous #InconvenientGirl 

It was a miraculous thing, when the powers emerged. A quirk of evolution. They said I was miraculous. A miracle. A girl with the powers of ice.

What my hands touch, freezes over. Where I breathe, the frost follows. Even my gaze can turn the blood cold, or at least lower the room temperature during the midsummer heat. A miracle, this girl with power, they said. 

A miracle they are all too willing to let fade.

For far too many, the heating world is an abstract concept. A global average increase of one degree. What is that, to anyone? One degree. But I can feel it. In every cell of my frozen body, I can feel the warming of the Earth. And with every degree that the Earth warms, I can feel the bonds that hold my frozen body together start to melt. 

What miraculous power. What a shame it will be lost, and while the world will watch, no leaders will lift a hand to prevent it.

We know the science. We know what must be done. But we ignore the subtle signs and the advise of the advocates and the imploring of the respected researchers to heed their work, and we slip further into a crisis of our own making. 

In your arrogance, you will hand this world over to fire. In your negligence, you will let my powers fade. In your malice, you will watch my body melt. 

Of course, in the end I am but one individual. What need to rearrange world policy for one person, for one girl? And yet, am I not representative of my generation? What miraculous power we might have had, what potential. Instead, this will be a generation stripped of power, robbed of stability, drowned in sorrows. You will have stolen our future.

Every drop of water from the ice marks the rhythm of the countdown, the beat of the executioner’s drum. Drip. Drip. Drip. What a miraculous power. Dripping away. What a miraculous puddle, they will say. What might have been? What might that power have been to the world, a world desperately in need of a miracle?   

#Amplify #SilentNoMore #NoisyGirl

Mia paused from wiping her tables, and observed the small television on the far side of the diner. Clara Ström, the television read. Only 16 years old, and there she was, addressing the United Nations. The girl was a sight, her icy fists, blue and glistening, pounding against the podium as she called world leaders to task. 

Mia heard the unmistakable clattering of her manager emerging from the kitchen, and quickly returned to scrubbing the table. The manager brushed by, barely noticing Mia, and Mia relaxed. She chanced another peek at the television. Miraculous, a girl with power. That’s what Clara Ström said. Mia turned her focus back to her tables. A girl with power. That wasn’t her. 

The neon lights over the diner flickered out, signaling the end of her shift. She could still get some sleep before school the next morning. Mia quietly shuffled into the back to collect her tips. It was dark. The manager was waiting. 

When Mia left, she had her tips. She pocketed the money, dirty, heavy in her hands. She could still get some sleep before school. She could sleep. She clenched and unclenched her fists, feeling the compulsive need to wash them, cleanse them, erase them. She needed sleep.

“Mia, are you with us?” The voice shook Mia awake, and she nodded abashedly, chin tucked into the collar of her oversized sweatshirt, her ears turning red. Her professor kept talking and Mia tried to focus on the lecture. Her grades had been slipping, but she liked the community college. Focusing did not come easy anymore. Not with so little sleep. Not with the restless nights that come after a shift like yesterday’s. 

Mia could not focus on her schoolwork. But for whatever reason, neither could she shake the image of a 16-year old girl staring down the most powerful people in the world, daring them to meet her icy gaze. Mia looked down at her own hands. She saw no sign of power.

Another shift. Mia was pouring coffee for a woman in a dark jacket and collared shirt, working through a pile of documents and manila folders. The woman thanked Mia for the coffee absentmindedly and shifted in her seat, and in that moment Mia spotted the flash of gold on the woman’s belt. The woman caught Mia staring at her badge, and lowered her papers. Mia blushed, averting her eyes, and shuffled away.

The next day, the woman with the badge was back in the same booth. Coffee. Black. 

“And what’s your name?” She asked suddenly, as her order arrived.


“Nice to meet you, Mia. I’m Georgia.”

Mia nodded curtly, and scuttled to the next table.

The woman became a regular, always the same booth. Always the same order. From pieces of overheard conversations, Mia determined that the woman was a detective. Sometimes she was alone. Today she was accompanied by a man also in a dark jacket and collar. They laughed as they swapped stacks of manila folders.

“Thank you, Mia,” Georgia said as Mia appeared with the daily order. 

“Mia, can I see you in the back for a moment?”
Mia froze as her manager’s voice rang from the back of the diner. She set down the pot of coffee and scurried to the back. She adjusted her ponytail to hide the cold sweat accumulating on the nape of her neck. Her hands started shaking, and she buried them in her pockets as she entered the manager’s office. 

“I need you to cover for Nancy next Thursday. Does that work?”

Mia nodded. The manager looked her up and down, one eyebrow raised. 

“Okay then. Back to it.”

Back on the floor, Mia could still feel her pulse pounding in her temple. Georgia’s papers were already flat on the table when Mia made it to her table. The detective wasn’t looking at them.  

“Everything okay, Mia?” 

Mia nodded, shrugging as nonchalantly as she could. Georgia’s eyes darted towards the manager’s office, then to her partner.

“Todd, give me a minute, okay?”

As the man at the booth slid quietly out the door, Georgia leaned across the table. 

“Mia, is there something you want to tell me? Is there something you need to say?”

Mia shook her head, no, there was nothing to…her eyes fell on the television on the far end of the diner. In that instant, Mia felt as if she had ice in her lungs. She felt the cold. As she opened her mouth, she half expected a blizzard to storm out, but instead of ice, there was only sound. The sound of a name. A sound that rocked the very foundations of the ground she stood on. 

#Radiate #SeeTheTruth #BrightGirl

“Hey Bethany, you see this story about the girl in California whose voice blew up a diner?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“They’re saying she was sexually assaulted by her manager.”


“That’s what he get, picking on a girl like that. Damn, this says she didn’t even know she had powers until that day. Number of y’all out there is growing.”

Bethany just nodded in response. She hated the word. Powers. Like it really changed anything. Like power meant anything at all. Not for people like her. 

“Oh, this week’s the anniversary isn’t it? Hey I’m sorry, Beth-”

Bethany waved off her friend’s apology. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll catch you later, alright?” As Bethany packed her bag, her friend’s phone kept blaring news about the story. More women were inspired to speak out and name their attackers since the California incident. They said it was the start of a movement. Bethany rolled her eyes. 

At the church, Bethany lit a candle. The young man in the photograph smiled confidently. The man in that photo had a lot to be confident about. Not the man now buried in the cemetery behind the church. Twelve bullets to the back. The killer still out there. Protecting and serving. 

“Nice to see you here, Bethany.”

“Hi, Momma,” Bethany said quietly, sullenly. 

“One year ago, today,” her mother said, gravely, announcing the passage of time like the arrival of a ruthless emperor lording over a conquered land. “He’s still with us.”

“Yes, Momma.”

“He’d still want you to use your powers, you know.”

“Yes, Momma.”

“Bethany Lynn Marshall, don’t you take that tone with me. You and your brother’s powers were gifts from God. Neither of you were meant to hide it.”

It was power that got Tray killed. The boy shone like a beacon, radiating with light. Can’t have a black man with a power that demands so much attention. His power wasn’t something that could be ignored or denied. And he refused to hide it. So they snuffed it out. This was what Bethany knew. A white girl could scold the United Nations, but a black man with power had to be silenced. Bethany chose not to say anything, out of respect for her mother. They stood without speaking, observing the picture of the young man. Observing his confidence. 

“Just one time?’” Her mother asked finally.

Bethany sighed, and turned to look directly into her mother’s eyes. She searched her mother’s mind, found the memory. Bethany’s eyes glowed, and suddenly Tray stood before them. The whole Marshall family was there, flickering projections that strode around the room. 

“Happy birthday, Momma!” Tray crowed, signing and dancing as he presented his mother with a bouquet of flowers. The ghost image of their mother clapped and laughed, and ghost Bethany joined in the celebration as well. The glow from Bethany’s eyes faded, and the memory disappeared from the room. Bethany’s mother wiped a tear from her eye. 

“Thank you.”

Bethany was alone that night. She had made sure of it. Her small and cramped apartment, sparsely decorated, felt like a desolate island, Bethany its sole occupant, marooned in its infinite darkness. She sniffled and rubbed her nose with her sleeve. One year. Her mother’s request was the first time Bethany had visited a memory of her brother since his death. She brought the memory to life, and now she thought the pain might kill her. 

The tears were flowing freely, streaming down her cheeks faster than her sleeves could carry them away. Her breath caught in her throat, escaping in short, punctuated gasps. She longed for her brother. She longed for his words. She longed for his memory. 

Bethany fought the urge. She fought. And fought. And then she could fight no more. In a single, swift movement, she jolted upright, gripping the edge of her bed with strained knuckles and stared into the mirror, interrogating her own eyes. Her retinas started at first to glow, and the glow intensified until there seemed to be fire pouring from her gaze.

In her room, a flicker, an impression of a man, and then her brother materialized. He paced for a moment, and then sat down, facing her directly. This was her last memory of him alive.

“I gotta get outta here, Beth,” the boy said softly. “This place is killing me. I don’t know what else is out there, but I know it’s not this. There’s something more, and I don’t know what it is or where I’m going to find it, but I am. There’s truth, you know? A truth out there. Ain’t nobody giving it to us, and I’m tired of asking.”

Bethany wiped the last tears from the corners of her eyes. The glow diminished. The fire remained.

“Well, where’d they all come from?” The police chief asked, his voice gruff. He adjusted his belt irritably as he shuffled around the station. “That Marshall case was over a year ago.”

“One year last week,” the deputy replied. “We think that’s what started it. The anniversary.”

The police chief grumbled something unintelligible and jerked his head towards the front door. The deputy jostled after him. As they exited the station, they were met by throngs of protestors, shouting, waving signs, crashing like an angry sea around the police station. The word murderer rang from somewhere in the crowd. 

“The officer in question was found to have acted in self-defense,” the deputy began to shout, searching the crowd for the offending accuser. The police chief stuck out a hand and silenced the deputy. He quietly surveyed the scene until his gaze landed on a young woman at the front of the main column. Her eyes seemed almost to radiate authority. He walked up to her.

“What do you want, Ms. Marshall?”

“Just one thing. The officer who shot my brother.”

“What about him?”

“I know what your internal investigation found, sir. All I’m asking is a single courtesy. Just let me look him in the eyes.”

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