Bad things happen when Mia gets sick.

It started with a cold. Nothing too big, mom still made her go to school and I, as usual, walked her. Whenever she sneezed, dandelion seeds flew around her head, coming from nowhere, making us both giggle until they were blown away by the wind.

The next day, she had a cough. A raw, hacking cough that she said hurt her throat. Every time she coughed, thunder roared and lightning flashed. The sky that had been clear when we left the house became full of angry black clouds.

I scowled. "I didn't bring a jacket," I said. "It's not going to rain, is it?"

She sniffed and shook her head, her eyes watering. "No. I mean, I'll try not to-"

She was interrupted by another coughing fit. Lighting cracked and struck a tree just ahead of us, splitting it in two and causing half of it to go crashing into the street.

"Sorry," she said miserably.

The next day she had a fever. Mom let her stay home, and since she had to work, she let me stay home to watch over Mia.

Mia spent most of the day asleep on the couch, tossing and turning beneath the blanket.

Up and up and up her temperature went, from 100 to 102 to 106 until it at lunch time she hit 115. That's when the fires started.

I was getting an icepack from the fridge when the kitchen table caught fire. Mia wasn't anywhere near the table: she was still on the couch. But the table was on fire and all I could do was run outside to get the water hose. The spigot outside is right next to the kitchen's door. I stood on the porch and sprayed water all over the table until the flames were out.

The table was blackened in places and stank from the polish burning, but other than that, it was still whole.

Before I could do anything else, the curtains caught fire. I dragged the hose inside and across the living room, spraying water all over the windows. Mia tossed and turned on the couch, making angry mewling noises. When the curtains were soaking wet and fire-free, I went out and turned the hose off. The carpet was soaked. Mom was going to have a fit.

"Mia," I said, shaking her shoulder. "Mia!"

I pulled the blanket off her, and it flared up like chemical paper and turned to ash. Mia sat up, burning in waves of red and orange like there was fire trapped beneath her skin, her eyes were hollow and flickering like the inside of a furnace.


"Water," she said. Smoke leaked out from her mouth.

"Come on," I said, holding my hand out. She took it. It hurt. Not like I'd suck my hand in fire, but the kind of hurt that came from holding onto hot food for too long. I led her outside. Once she was standing in the middle of the patio, I got the water hose again and doused her. Steam billowed up from her with a hiss. When all the steam was gone, Mia was standing there, perfectly normal. Her clothes were damp, but the rest of her was dry. She looked exhausted.

"Thanks," she mumbled, trudging back into the house. She went back onto the couch and fell asleep, this time without the blanket.

I called my mom and told her the fever broke.