apathy in his abilities chance thorne
Ezra was a young man in his very early twenties, twenty-one to be exact. He hadn’t kept up a serious relationship in his life and had little to no friends, save for the other residents of his apartment. Ezra slept in his own room, only when he found time to sleep. He shared one of the rinky-dink bathrooms with the other men he lived with; there was a toilet, a sink that leaked a little here and there, and a shower that could rarely run hot water. They shared a kitchen and a living room, but most of them spent their free time in their own rooms. Through his first years at his school, he had only ever lived with Owen. They had become friends in their freshman year and decided as seniors, they would want to live in an apartment together. Mason and Gavin were placed by the staff, but the four of them got along well enough to live together for a year. Ezra, by far, was not the binding force of this group, but they were all desperate to live in a space of their own and that is what drove them to meet. Ezra was fine with this and even with the means to change it, he liked his situation.
Ezra was, a particular person. He wasn’t tall, and he wasn’t any wider than the chair he sat in at his desk. He didn’t have outrageous hair, but he did dye it through high school until he settled on a natural-looking brown. And his eyes weren’t special either, the brown he found boring that any regular person could have. His family wasn’t rich and he worked during the summers for most of what he had; Ezra didn’t even own a car, but he would bike through campus or he’d ask his roommates to drive him to the store whenever he needed something.
Ezra’s particularity was peculiarity. He had discovered that there was something different about him when he was a young boy of about seven. Ezra could do things with his mind, maybe even magic, mostly training himself to do things with his hands. He could move things without touching them and probably more that he didn’t know about. He had read books like Harry Potter and Matilda and he watched television as a kid with his mother, usually Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and when October came around, he would watch Halloweentown on the Disney channel every year. He did not know why he could do these things or if he knew anyone else who could, but the material he had read through the years, like what had happened in Salem, he decided to keep everything to himself. He never even told his parents, but there would be days after school they’d find him in the backyard waving a stick he broke off of the largest oak that had been growing since before his family had even moved into the house. They would just think that he was playing with his own imagination, but they never saw the broken bottles he had used for target practice; he had used his magic to collect the glass before it was a hazard. He never tried to manifest fire in his hand like the Wicked Witch, only because he never wanted to burn anything. When he was alone, he found it easiest to focus what could do with a wand made from any random stick; it was by no means actually necessary. Every time he googled “wandless magic” he would find several results about fans theorizing wandless magic in the Harry Potter universe; he didn’t live in that world, but he lived in the real world.
Things were no different for Ezra as a college student. He was cagey and trying to learn how to make friends, but he also sank into his schoolwork and hoped to graduate with his degree in English. And when he wasn’t studying for classes, he was teaching himself in secret. He was young and he knew there was more that he could do other than just moving stuff. He hid his abilities, but he would use his magic when he was alone or when people weren’t paying attention. And he knew that’s what it was; it was magic and Ezra knew he was special.
There was a knock on Ezra’s door and he was glad that he was awake when it happened. He could see his hair tangled, hanging in his eyes. He pulled himself up in bed and sat with his back against a pile of pillows. He called out a yes, followed by a yawn, and the door had opened. Owen stepped inside with a look of sincerity on his face.
“Sorry, Ezra, but there isn’t a lot of hot water left in the showers this morning,” he said, trying to keep his hand from running through his obviously wet hair.
“I’ll manage. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.” Ezra didn’t try to sound like a dick, but in his defense, he had just woken up and no one had accounted for him in their morning plans. Owen stepped out and Ezra could see the light in the kitchen splay out on the hallway wall.
After mustering the motivation to get out of bed, Ezra gathered his clothes for the day and walked to the bathroom, passing Mason as he went to join Owen and Gavin. He turned the faucet handle and like Owen had said, the water ran cold. Ezra took his index finger and rubbed it around the edge of the showerhead twice. Steam began to rise as the water pounded against the floor of the shower and the water ran hot for once in the time Ezra had lived here. That was only the beginning of his day and he knew there were going to be many more times that he would change some things today. Once finished with his shower, Ezra watched himself in the mirror, studying his own features; he kept his eyes on his hair, his nose, his mouth. He focused and watched his hair grow past his shoulders and turn a bright red, and his eyes changed their color, one blue and one brown. But when he blinked, everything had gone back except for an extra inch a half of hair that he had left, making all the difference.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” Ezra said as he entered the kitchen, noting his three roommates sitting around their dining table with mismatched chairs.
They all greeted him in unison as he put two Eggos in the toaster. He leaned against the counter as he waited and he asked how everyone’s day was planned. He grabbed a tin plate off the stack that they had swiped from Qdoba and a bottle of maple syrup from the refrigerator.
“After class, we were planning on grocery shopping. Add what you want to the list,” Gavin said, meaning himself and Mason.
Ezra’s toaster popped and he tore the hot waffles into bits and pieces with his hands and drenched his breakfast in syrup. He sat in a patchwork chair that his parents bought for him in a Goodwill.
“I’m gonna stay here if you’d like to hang out,” Owen added. He was always offering to hang out with Ezra. He smiled at him every time he asked.
With a mouthful of toaster waffle, Ezra nodded at Owen. He’d probably go to class and end up on the loveseat in Owen’s room watching Netflix of his choice because Owen gave Ezra all power when it came to spending time together. Owen would always sit back and let Ezra pick whatever he wanted. He was always very nice to Ezra and supportive of him, ever since they met.
The four of them of them finished getting ready for the day and Ezra had locked the door behind them and he walked with Owen as Mason and Gavin went a separate direction. Owen stepped closer to Ezra, brushing his hand against Ezra’s once or twice. The two of them didn’t say anything specific about it, but Owen did apologize and showed his slight embarrassment and Ezra barely even noticed it. Ezra checked his phone and straightened the cord of his earbuds, but he didn’t notice a taller guy walking toward them until he had run into Ezra’s shoulder. He swore at Ezra, but Ezra let it go.
“There’s enough sidewalk for all of us!” Owen yelled back at him.
“Fuck off, idiot.”
Ezra turned his head back toward the man and glared, but waving his hand, the bag the angry man wore tore open and the contents spilled out on the sidewalk. He swore again, screaming about how he had just bought the bag. Owen wasn’t sure what had just happened, but he kept walking to keep up with Ezra. The two split up when Ezra arrived at his building, saying their goodbyes for the time being. Ezra walked up the ramp and through the glass doors that seemed to open for him, but they weren’t in any way automatic; most of the time, it just seemed like it was a fluke. Ezra sat in the back of his classroom and listened to his professor talk about the Salem Witch Trials and he cringed at the thought of being caught and burned to death for living his life. He had never actually wanted to take a class on the occult, but in his university, it filled requirements to graduate.
“Can anyone tell me what years the trials took place?”
Before he knew it, Ezra was raising his hand to answer. “February of 1962 to May of 1963.” That was the only time since the class began that he had answered anything.
Back at home, Ezra was the first one to arrive. He shrugged off his bag and he dropped it by the door, but a moment later, it would probably be on his bed without him even touching it. He retrieved a pencil from the countertop and pointed it at the sink that had begun to fill with water and soap bubbles. The dishes from that morning and the night before washed themselves as Ezra’s gifts folded the clothes in his laundry basket. He sat on the couch in the living room with a coffee mug filled with steaming coffee that stirred the large amount of creamer into itself and when he snapped his fingers together the speakers in the room began to play ominous soundtracks to classic horror movies. He was fine with not sharing these things about himself, but at some point he began to feel lonely when it came to what he could do. Once the work was done, all he could really do was wait for Owen to get home.
Owen was Ezra’s closest friend. Through elementary school and high school, Ezra stayed alone by choice, only because he never wanted his secret to slip out. At home, he’d act like he had friends and his toys would move and play with him, but they would never speak and they’d never ask him how his day was. He never wanted to be near anyone because they would get in the way of what he was practicing. In school, he’d sit in the corner of the cafeteria and his milk carton would spin until it was inches off the table. Once, when Ezra was in second grade, Ezra had been pushed by a bigger boy on the playground and after the boy ran to the swings, Ezra used his abilities to break the chains; the boy ended up with a broken arm. But when he had assigned himself to his first dorm room ever, he thought that this would be a great start for him and he would try to make friends. Owen was one of his first roommates and they’d lived together up until now. Even though Owen was his best friend, Ezra still kept his secret.
“I didn’t know you’d be home so early,” Owen said as he closed the front door. He smiled at Ezra and made a quick trip to his bedroom and he returned as quickly as he had left.
“How was class?” Ezra asked him, taking in Owen’s appearance. Owen had answered, but Ezra didn’t pay attention; he had never really noticed his friend. He was taller than Ezra and styled his hair better than Ezra ever did. His eyes were a shade of almost granny smith green and his hair, a light blonde with darker roots. From his teeth, Ezra could tell that he had once worn braces, but the light spattering of freckles across his nose drew the eye away from his mouth.
“Ezra? You there?”
“Oh. Yeah. Sorry, I just lost it for a second. Are you sure you don’t want to pick today?”
“I’m good. You’re in charge, Ezra.” Owen handed him the television remote and waited for him to choose something. He was unsure if Owen would mind watching Jessica Jones for the third time. A girl who can’t tell the general public about the things she can do, but she goes on living her life anyway. Would Owen be Ezra’s confidant like Jessica had Trish Walker? It wasn’t like Ezra hadn’t thought about telling Owen, and even if Ezra could never do anything to hurt Owen, he was always afraid of how he could react. He waited for his inner voice to stop debating and finally, he selected the show and Owen didn’t make as much as a peep of discontent. He sat there and watched the opening credits with Ezra.
Ezra, focused on the show, did not realize that Owen had slid his hand across the couch cushion and touched his fingers. Ezra didn’t feel it. Owen moved further up his hand and Ezra finally noticed.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know your hand was there,” Owen apologized, embarrassed once again.
“You’re fine, Owen.”
They both sank back into the show and Owen went back at it with his hand, dancing across Ezra’s. But this time, Ezra was surprised more than anything and the shock of the unexpected caused Ezra to lose control for a moment and the television went black and Owen ripped his hand back and pulled it behind his back.
“What happened?” Owen asked. He grabbed up the remote and pressed the power button, and he kept pressing the button but nothing happened. “What the hell is going on?”
In a panic, Ezra stood and he was flustered. “I can fix this. I can fix it, Owen.”
Owen looked confused for a moment, but he let Ezra look at the back of the television and have the remote. The TV was still plugged in, but Ezra knew already that it was his fault. He pressed his palm to the back of the television itself and he thought. He pressed harder and heard the rough tone of Krysten Ritter’s voiceover as she set up the audience for what the show was about.
“It just came unplugged,” Ezra lied. He studied the features of Owen’s face and he found nothing but disappointment. If Ezra could read thoughts, this was one of the only times he’d be thankful for it.
“You know, I’m not in the mood for Jessica right now,” Owen said, echoing the disappointment Ezra discovered.
“I’m not in the mood, Ezra. Let the others know that I’m not going to come to dinner.”
Ezra thought for a second. Was there anything that he could actually do? He wasn’t going to push Owen into divulging his secrets, but Ezra had a way in mind. He didn’t say anything to stop him from trudging down the hallway and closing his bedroom door behind him. Ezra stopped the show and followed Owen’s lead. He slipped into the room and sat on the loveseat next to his friend’s bed. Owen didn’t roll to face him.
“Tell me what’s going on, Owen,” Ezra said with a soft voice.
“You can’t fix this, Ezra. There is too much that you can’t actually do. And I’m not begging you for anything because we’re not the same. You’re different than I am. You don’t feel the same way that I do.”
“Owen, I think you should just rest and forget about tonight. We watched TV and went for McDonald’s. Things will be different tomorrow.” His voice was firm for once. Ezra placed his hand on Owen’s shoulder as he walked past the bed and he gave a slight push, trying to keep from hurting Owen. As he opened the door to leave, Ezra heard the soft snore of his best friend followed by a declaration of love for him, only made in Owen’s sleep. Maybe he didn’t mean it. Maybe Ezra was just hearing things. Or maybe the magic that he had just used on Owen caused it. But there was no way that Owen could be feeling this way for his friend.
As he left, the curtains in the room pulled themselves shut and his supplies for the next day replaced what was already in his backpack. Ezra waved his hand and the dresser drawers opened and clothes began to fill his desk chair in preparation for the next morning; Owen would have an outfit ready instead of digging for it himself. Ezra closed the door with a soft click and he retreated to his own room. With a wave of his hand, the lock clicked and Ezra sat down at his desk and opened his computer. He was going to push the events of tonight from his mind put himself into his work. He sat back in his chair and watched as the buttons of his keyboard pressed themselves and the screen began to fill with words. He never really relied on himself like this before, but it wasn’t the first time. It was like he was dictating, but he didn’t give any effort.
Why would Owen think the way he did? He never gave any indication of feelings toward Ezra, but stranger things have happened; he could do things without actually moving. But he never thought that he could ever get close enough to someone that they would feel this way about him. Without any influence anyways. He didn’t know how to actually handle it, though.
The next morning started like the previous. Ezra woke with his hair a mess. The pod in his Keurig had changed and the machine started brewing. Without an answer, Owen stepped in.
“I thought I’d tell you that I wanted you to shower first. I’m fine with cold water.” He delivered his signature smile and backed out of Ezra’s room without another word.
Before he left the bathroom, Ezra rubbed the showerhead again. Owen waited outside the door with a pile of folded clothes hugged to his body. Ezra gave him a slight smile as he ducked around Owen to wait in the kitchen. After he had finished a plate of waffles, Ezra asked what the plan was for the day. Owen asked him if he wanted to continue watching Jessica Jones like they had the night before; Ezra nodded and toasted a second helping of waffles.