There’s something weird about the way scents permeate the air; the way they can tickle the senses and stimulate the memory banks of the brain. It’s weird, and some so utterly lovely.
I blink, eyes focusing on the black plastic spatula hovering over the pan.
“Hello? Earth to Bryanne,”
My nose twitches as the once sweet smell of vanilla batter mixed with ripe blue fruit is overtaken by a burnt, foul aroma.
“Shit,” I muttered, wedging the spatula under the circular food. With a quick flick of my wrist, the pancake jumps into the air and lands neatly in the pan, burnt side visible for all to see my mistake.
Abigale makes a deep-throated growl; a sound that, whenever made, seems to pull an invisible thread, forcing my golden irises heavenward.
“I don’t think that’s how that works, Abs,”
“It is if I make the rules.”
I snort at the absurd statement, catching Abigale’s subtle movements as she leans her hip against the black granite countertop, her leather jacket blending in with it. To ever see Abigale in any other color with a hint of pigmentation not as dark as our dammed, immortal souls would be the day heaven won the war.
I nuzzle the end of the spatula around the corners of the pancake, loosening the edges. “What do you think the priests would say if they knew Satan’s children didn’t just eat breakfast, but that their favorite breakfast was blueberry pancakes?”
“I think they’d all keel over on the spot.”
“That would make our jobs easier,” I shove the spatula under the rest of the pancake and flip it back over, revealing the other side to be a beautiful golden brown. It hides the burnt underside as if there is no burnt underside at all.
Abigale lets loose a low whistle. “Wait to make a death trap, sis,”
“It’s hardly a death trap. Get the plates, will you?” I lift the pan off the gas stove before reaching for the knob to shut off the flame. My fingers barely graze the cold metal when the flame sputters out. My gaze shifts to Abigale, her self-satisfied smile saying it all. I sigh, still turning the knob. “Just because you extinguish the flame doesn’t mean the stove is off. What? Do you want to kill us all of gas?”
“Maybe,” the word comes out sing song and dripping in a faux innocence that twists my gut. Abigale reaches up, going onto her tiptoes to pull a stack of white plates with golden accents from the top shelf. She flashes a grin my way, her canines glinting in the sun leaking through the floor to ceiling windows. Deep maroon swirls in her dark brown irises and a chill sweeps across my lower back. “It would make my job much easier, don’t you think, Bry?” It’s a whisper of a question, but it echoes off the white walls in the large kitchen, echoing around my skull. My throat closes up and my grip on the frying pan tightens, brown knuckles turning white. A swift gust of wind swirls around the kitchen, wrapping me in a warm blanket of protection and wrapping around Abigale like a cold threat. My pastel pink top shifts against my abdomen in the breeze, the wind kissing the heated, golden skin underneath. Abigale’s grin looses some of its malice.
“Go set up the dining room,” my voice grows stronger with every word.
Abigale doesn’t move for a long moment, and for a second I think she won’t listen to me. There’s a prickle to the atmosphere now as one child stands against the other; a battle no one is ready for.
“You’re no fun,” she rams her shoulder into mine as she passes and my teeth ground together against the pain. “Don’t forget the eyes before you come out. Wouldn’t want to threaten the others, sis.” Abigale bites out before disappearing from the kitchen. Oxygen floods my lungs the moment she’s gone. Soft conversation drifts in from the dining room and I listen to the clank of dishes being set down too roughly.
“Demons below,” I mutter as I lift a hand, resting it just under my right eye. The skin is warm and I can picture the rosy hue that always accompanies the silver swirl when it takes over the irises. My lids close and I breathe, steadying my heart. Every day is a challenge in this household, and I’m learning that I’m not as cut out for the family as I once thought.
Get it together, Bry.
Opening my eyes, I look at the pancake, still in the pan and flip it onto the large stack already created for my siblings and I. The burnt side faces the world, visible for all to see, threatening a vial taste that’ll crinkle the nose. I turn it over, revealing the golden brown side, cooked to perfection. A disguise for the hideousness that lies beneath. My throat closes up once more and I glance to the dining area where conversation still flows; where my eleven other siblings have all gathered for our routine weekly breakfast meeting. All of them with sweet faces; sweet voices; sweet everything.