All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
What a load of rubbish.
Georgia was willing to bet that most ‘happy’ families were not happy, merely appeared so to outside observers. At least, this was true for her own family. Sure, she was gifted with looks, wealth, and plenteous magical abilities, but all that meant was you had more to worry about losing. Were her friends really interested in her or simply what she could do for them? It was like the lottery. Once you won, you had more friends than you could count, but were they really?
In a way, it was worse, because she had no basis upon which to judge. At least lottery winners could reasonably suspect that strangers suddenly turned chums might be posers. But the lottery of life had been in her favor since birth. Her father was a powerful wizard, her mother a wealthy socialite and self-funded superhero. None of that hidden identity nonsense from them, they didn’t believe in it. But oh, how Georgia wished they did.
She fiddled with the chemistry set her best friend, Montana, had given her for her sixteenth birthday. Another unfortunately-famous child, her parents were equally well-known, though in a different way. She felt, with a reasonable amount of certainty, that at least Montana could be trusted. Well, with one glaring exception.
“So… when do you think your dad is getting out of super-prison?” asked Georgia, mixing another potion in the transparent, glass beaker.
“I don’t know,” Montana fumed. “It’s bad enough that he hasn’t been there for most of my birthdays, but you think he’d at least want to be there for my sweet sixteen!”
“Well, it’s not for another month,” said Georgia, consulting her father’s secret potion book, the one she’d snagged from the crystal cave below their mansion. He may have been a master of the mystical arts, but he was crap at keeping secrets – from her, at least. A few magical phrases and she’d easily enchanted her way into his “secret” workshop. She dropped a bit of purple dust into the beaker, a miniature rainbow briefly poofed above the glass container, and a tiny dove the size of a pencil-eraser flew out of its liquid contents before the colored prism dissolved back into the glass. “And he’s been on good behavior, right? Maybe the parol committee will cut him some slack.”
“Hmmm,” said Montana, observing the tiny display thoughtfully. “I think it needs more cinnamon.” She leaned back and grabbed a bottle from the spice rack they had borrowed from the kitchen. “But maybe you’re right. There haven’t been any incidents, other than that toad thing – which hardly counts.” She added the cinnamon to the potion, but nothing happened.
“And that was just a small incident, right?” said Georgia cheerfully. “I mean, he didn’t really hurt the guy.” She shook the beaker and frowned at its contents.
“Well, he threatened to dissect him, but nothing ever came of it.” Montana took the spell book from her friend, tracing the spine with her finger as her eyes skimmed the book’s contents.
“So he changed him back?” asked Georgia, putting down the glass container.
“Nope,” mused Montana, glancing up from the page before her. “He said the guy was more agreeable that way. Besides, there’s worse things that can happen then getting turned into a toad.”
“Hey!” said Georgia brightly, “I’ve got an idea. We haven’t included nearly enough Ingredient X in this. Just a sec, I think my mom left some in her lab.” Quickly, the girl exited the room, leaving Montana to brood over her father’s fate. Only two weeks left until her sweet sixteen. Why did the bastard have to knock over that billionaire’s cruiseship? So what if it would have funded his research. She wanted him with her. She was his daughter. She deserved to have her father around, even if he was a brilliant, insane, amoral scientist.
“Got it!” Georgia plopped back down on the plush carpet and added Ingredient X to the beaker. When purple foam began to overflow the glass container, she joined hands with her best friend, and they began chanting.
Soon, the foam dissolved into a small rainbow-colored unicorn with brightly sparkling wings, but the girls continued chanting. Montana smiled. She’d never been much of a girly-girl, but if that was what her friend wanted on to give her for her birthday… “Congratulations,” she said. “It’s a… horned pegasus?”
Georgia grinned broadly. “You mean, it’s an escape plan.” She thought directions to the tiny creature. The glittering horn drew a large oval on the container’s side, which burned away like acid, then delicately stepped outside and laid down in front of Montana. “He can help your father get out for your birthday,” she said. “Do you think I’d let my one and only friend be sad on her special day?”
Montana gasped in feigned astonishment, even forgiving her friend for calling her birthday her “special day” – what was she, five? She hugged her tightly. “And he’d have to go back afterwards?”
“Well, of course,” answered Georgia. “We can’t have him running around unsupervised. It’d be far too dangerous.” She didn’t have the heart to tell her friend that the tiny little monster would dissolve shortly after it helped her father escape. For a girl with dastardly parents, Montana was far too kind-hearted.
“Of course,” said Montana, contemplating how to hide her father without her friend catching on. She would never send her father back to prison. However, with her burgeoning superpowers, she felt confident she could control him. Implanting the escape plan in Georgia’s mind had been easy enough, and – after all – he was far older than her friend.
Montana grinned, contemplating all the while how she could use her developing mind control powers to help make the world a better place. Hell, at the rate her abilities were progressing, she might even be able to use them to make everyone happy.
All it would take was a little concentration.
***I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
*Image courtesy of Horia Varlan via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.