Darryn was born with a head full of hair, black as the bottom of a well. His nose? Not the cute button seen on newborns but a long one with an upturn at the end. As for his chin, it was already angular with a cleft poised to deepen later. None of his features resembled that of a baby. Darryn had the look of a man.
Most striking of his features were his emerald eyes. Large and deep, they had a penetrating gaze. The doctor said his eyes could pierce a person’s soul.
That gave his parents the first clue.
In the hospital, soon after Darryn’s birth, the nurse presented him to his parents. Nestling the blanketed bundle in her arms, his mom brushed a soft finger over his cheek. Darryn responded by opening his eyes. He gave her a long, meaningful stare.
“We’ve been chosen,” she said.
“He’s been chosen,” his father replied.
They knew the infant’s purpose. Darryn knew it, too. For the next sixteen years he studied, trained…calculated.
This story, however, isn’t about Darryn. Not yet. It’s about Alina. She was born a few minutes before Darryn in a town not too close, but not too far, away. Her eyes were not green but brown, like the bark of a tree. They seemed to hold no magic. In fact, nothing about Alina seemed special at all, inside as well as out. She was just a baby, with simple baby thoughts. She knew nothing of Darryn or his purpose. In fact, she knew nothing for a very long time.
And that, unfortunately, put Alina at a dangerous disadvantage.
sixteen years later
Color mattered most to Alina. She had to get it right every time. In this case, she needed the exact orangey pink that lit up the early morning sky.
Now was her chance. Sitting on the driveway, she faced east and checked her art supplies. Her large, white canvas stretched out in front of her, glowing in the pre-dawn light. Resting by her side sat her artist’s palette, as well as paints and brushes she required. Everything on the pavement looked ready to go. All she needed was the sun.
She glanced down at her watch. Sunrise would be soon. Grabbing her iPod, she selected a song. “Iron Thorns”by Desolated Gates. Perfect. Who said heavy metal couldn’t inspire? Then, with her hand on her palette, she waited for the light. Soon color crept into the summer sky.
Alina had to work fast. Squeezing paints into little mounds, she started mixing colors. With the music in her ears, nothing stood between her and the sunrise—not the birds chirping, the dogs barking, or even the roar of her mother’s car.
Wait. The roar of her mother’s car?
Spinning on her hip, she turned toward the garage as the car started backing down the driveway.
“Mom, stop!” she yelled.
The car kept coming. Dropping her palette, she scrambled to her knees. She couldn’t escape in time. The vehicle was moving way too fast. She couldn’t get up, couldn’t run. All she could do was thrust her hand out toward the bumper and scream with all her might.
The car jolted, halting six inches from her fingers. Her body froze in shock. What just happened? Was she alive? She didn’t know. The world around her looked so blurry…hazy.
“What’d I hit? What’d I hit?” Her mom rounded the corner of the bumper and shrieked. “Oh, Alina!”
“It’s okay, Mom,” she said, regaining her composure. “You...you didn’t hit me.”
Dropping to her knees, her mom wrapped Alina into a hug. “I almost killed you!”
“But you didn’t.” Man, her hug was tight. “It’s okay. You can let go now. Really, I’m fine.”
Her mom eased back on her heels. They knelt together for a while, still stunned by what had happened. Then her mom turned white. “I just realized something. I…I didn’t brake.”
Alina blinked. “What do you mean? Of course you did.”
“No, I didn’t.”
Her mom’s voice sounded strange, nervous. Then she did something weird. Really weird. Cupping Alina’s face, she stared deeply into her eyes. What was that about? Her mom’s gaze shifted to the bumper. Running a palm along its surface, her hand stopped right in front of Alina.
“It’s hot,” her mother said.
“Alina, did you touch the bumper?”
“No. At least I don’t think so. I put my hands out toward it but the car never got that close.”
Something flashed in her mom’s eyes. “We have to get inside.”
Alina noticed her mom had on nursing scrubs. “Don’t you have a shift at the hospital?”
“Get up now!”
Seizing Alina by the wrist, her mom stood up, forcing both of them to their feet. They marched past the car, through the garage and straight through the doorway, stopping in the kitchen. With a frown, her mother pointed to a stool at the breakfast bar. Alina sat down, her mind swirling.
“Alina,” her mom said. “I’m going to ask you a question. You have to tell me the truth.”
“Of course, Mom.” What made her think she would lie?
“Have you ever stopped or moved things without touching them?”
Now Alina understood, although things like that hadn’t happened often. In fact, she wondered if they’d happened at all. It could have been her imagination. Like the time when she was five and a tree branch fell, almost crushing her bike. As she watched the limb fall, she’d leaned over and waved her hands like a bowler willing his ball down the lane. When the tree branch moved, missing her bike, she’d fancied she’d had super powers. Later, she realized it must have just been wind. Easily explained. In fact, they all could be explained—all the silly little things that had happened to her in the past.
Except maybe two weeks ago in early June. That had been pretty odd. She’d been sitting on the deck when two bees showed up. One flew right in front of her face. Forgetting to stay still, she had panicked, bolting straight out of her chair. She’d leapt toward the door. But before her hand could touch the door knob, the door had blasted open all on its own.
Then there was two days ago. The incident still freaked her out though she hadn’t moved anything. She had, however, acted like an idiot and jammed a bread knife into the toaster. Her waffle had been stuck and she’d used her knife beforehand without trouble. Not this time, though. There had been a shock. A big one. Yet, she hadn’t dropped dead from electrocution. In fact, the electricity had felt sort of good—a fact Alina couldn’t understand. She might have told her mom had she not shorted out all the circuits in the house. Why add to the drama?
Now that she thought about it, more than a few unusual things had happened to her lately. She just hated to admit it. Something deep inside her warned her to keep quiet. But lie to her mother?
Alina cleared her throat. “Sorry, Mom. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Her mom pressed her lips together. Smoothing a light curl behind her ear, she walked over to Alina. “If I said your life depended on it, would your answer change?”
A chill crept up Alina’s neck. “Uh…”
A wave of sorrow washed across her mother’s face. “Alina, how long has this been going on?”
“Just a little when I was younger but lately it’s been happening a lot.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I don’t know. I thought I might be imagining things, plus I know it’s tough raising two kids alone. I guess I didn’t want to worry you.”
“Well, I’ve been worried for a long, long time.” Her mom hesitated, then a tear rolled down her cheek. “We need to call your grandma.”
“No. Your dad’s mom, Grandma Bea.”
Grandma who? She didn’t know she had another grandma though it did make total sense. She had two parents, after all. Well, at least she used to have two. Her dad had died when she was four. As to how or why, no one had ever told her. Sure, she’d asked about what had happened to him but every time she did her mom had just cried. After enough tears, Alina had just stopped bringing it up. That is, until now.
Reaching out, she placed her hand on top of her mother’s. “Does what’s going on with me have anything to do with Dad?”
“It has everything to do with Dad.”
“What happened to him…could it happen to me?”
“Yes, Alina. Yes, it could.”
Then her mom broke down. Sinking to the floor, she pulled her knees into her chest and started to cry. Alina whipped around the breakfast bar, dropped down and wrapped her arms around her mom. If only she could ease whatever pain her mom felt. What was going on?
Was something wrong with her? If her dad died, did that mean she’d die, too? A shudder ran through her body. For the first time, she wasn’t sure if she wanted answers about her dad. It didn’t matter. They were coming.
Excerpted from "Extraordinary: Light vs. Dark" by Janene Murphy. Copyright © 0 by Janene Murphy. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.