Entry A-8 “Transformer Station Explosion”

Venus counted down the seconds on the clock. It’s almost time. The clock was about 2 minutes fast. (Everyone in class was very much aware of this, and frequently used it as leverage to get a couple of extra minutes of extra recess out of their teacher, who was not.) Venus braced for the horrible sound the school’s intercom would blast at 3 pm on the dot, signaling the end of their school day. It would always interrupt Ms. Cabby, forever amid a lengthy lecture, and she would stare at the intercom every single time, waiting for it to go about its business. And then she would always scramble to tell the students about print-outs or homework or whatever else was important for class.

Venus felt satisfied having correctly answered every last question she was asked today. She could tell that the teacher gave the other classmates easier questions than her. But, honestly, Ms. Cabby should give her even harder ones instead. She’s not a baby anymore... Ugh, it’s not easy being the smartest student in class.

Venus was packing her stuff up neatly into her beloved Special Detective’s Utility Backpack, only to be interrupted by Elise who tugged on her shirt a little too hard to just be getting her attention.

“Venus.” Elise said. It didn’t really sound like a question.

“Elise.” Venus said in response, startled, and Elise giggled a little bit.

“You should come with me after you put your books in your bag.” Elise plainly demanded.

That was pretty specific, Venus thought. Elise is smart - maybe not socially smart, but sly nonetheless. Venus didn’t mind humoring Elise with a little adventure. After all, this was an opportunity to learn something about Elise, given her status as a renowned (self-proclaimed) detective.

Venus sluggishly followed Elise’s footprints. The dirt path crept up the hill effortlessly just as Elise did, who was humming an upbeat tune as she skipped at an incline. The yellowed grassy hill bore the occasional tree or bush, each harboring the vibrant, decaying colors of autumn, just for them.

It was a particularly hot day. Venus felt her bangs stick to her forehead and her backpack biting into her shoulders as she panted uphill, adding insult to injury. Venus was nowhere near as in-shape as Elise, and yet she was the one carrying all of their textbooks. She just couldn’t say no when Elise asked so nicely. She couldn’t quite place why.

Elise stopped to look back at Venus, who was clearly struggling. “Ever see something blow up?” She asked.

Venus thought she misheard and stopped dead in her tracks. Elise did the same.

“You know, like, with a big cloud?” Elise continued, then tried to imitate the sound a bomb would make.

Venus knew what an explosion was.

She asked for clarification, for the sake of their conversation. “You mean an explosion? Like on TV?”

“That’s not a real blow-up.” Elise scoffed, as if an expert on the subject of blow-up.

Venus felt confused and defeated and wasn’t sure what to say, so she kept walking instead, now taking the lead. Elise giddily bounced after Venus, delighted to learn it would be her first time.

Elise stopped at a break in the hilltop grove—before her laid a steep drop that overlooked the nearby strip mall and parking lot of Yard☆Mart. Beyond the ocean of parking lots and their half-connected establishments stood a big power station, followed by the spanning and sprawling Interstate 708 that connected and disconnected this small town. Fractalline suburbs sat further out and stretched far up the other side of the valley, wicking their way in kind between ridges and riverbeds.

Elise stepped toward the view and splayed her legs out on the dirt. Venus stood firmly on the path. It was alarming how careless Elise could be.

“Mom would get mad if I got dirt on my uniform, so...” Venus explained.

Elise kept her gaze locked down the valley and said nothing. Venus got a bit closer, scanning Elise’s intentions, but found none. She was wearing a neutral smile, just like always, staring at something in the valley. It seemed like they were going to stay here for a bit, so Venus let her heavy Utility Backpack slide down her back and land carefully onto a patch of grass. She spread her hoodie out over some of the dirt to Elise’s left and sat down on top of it, also facing the valley.

“So... what did you want to show me?” Venus turned to Elise somewhat awkwardly.

Silence again. Elise just continued to look closely at the same spot as before. Venus frowned. She just couldn’t figure out what was up with Elise.

“What’re you looking at?” Venus asked, trying a different angle of approach.

Elise’s palm suddenly connected with the top of Venus’ hand, and she turned to look straight at Venus, whose heartbeat had jumped up by exactly 100 bpm. She tried to pull her hand back but couldn’t. They stared at each other. Silence fell over them, which Venus promptly filled with unrecognizable thoughts.

After a pause Elise finally replied.

“Waiting for it to happen.”

Venus couldn’t even ask for what ‘it’ was—she was completely paralyzed. Elise smiled extra wide again. Venus’s pulse deafened her thoughts as Elise’s hand wormed its way around her fingers and squeezed tight. Why are you doing this Elise why why why why.

And then it happened.