Bennie James was one of the biggest soccer addicts in all of San Antonio, so anyone who knew her would say. She always played for one team or another, and if she wasn't with friends, in school, eating or sleeping, she was on the pitch.
And that hot June day didn't seem to be any different, at first.
Bennie had been at practice for half an hour when a thunderstorm rolled in, with blessedly cool air, shading the team from the hot sun.
It was the cool gusts of wind that first attracted Bennie's attention from the drought-yellowed field. She shoved her sweat-dampened bangs out of her eyes to view the charcoal-colored sky, but her eyes fell on a man leaning against the fence around the field. He waved to her.
Is that who I think it is? Bennie squinted in an effort to make out the features of the familiar figure. It is!
Bennie waved back at her "uncle" Perce. A friend of her Dad's, Bennie remembered Perce being around a lot when she was little, but after her dad died he didn't visit as much. In fact, it had been at least five years since he'd come at all.
Why does he show up out of nowhere at soccer practice instead of calling the house like a normal person? He's always been crazy.
"HEADS UP BENNIE!" came a voice. Bennie's attention snapped back to the field and she saw the ball headed straight for her.
Well he'll just have to wait until practice is over. Nothing's gonna distract me from finishing the scrimmage before the storm gets too bad, Bennie thought to herself as she focused back on the field.
"Yo, James! Take this one!" Coach Winny's voice called her, and Bennie lost herself in the game as the sky darkened and the cool rain began to fall in torrents. Bennie sent the ball sailing in a high arc down the field to Amy Gonzales, who took it away to the opposing goal. Bennie risked the temporary pause in her play to glance back at the stands, blinking through the rain.
The small number of parents and bored siblings who had come to watch practice were all leaving for the shelter of their cars. But Perce still stood there, undaunted by the rain.
He's definitely still crazy, Bennie thought as she was called to play offense, dribbling the ball. But then, I guess we are too, for not stopping even though the lightning could strike any time--
She'd no sooner had the thought when a white knife of pure electricity came down with blinding force and with a "BRAA-UUM! Buh-boom boom!" struck the sidewalk outside the fence. The entire ground shook dangerously.
"That's it folks!" Coach Winny roared over the din. "Definitely closer than seven miles! James! Kick it in and we're out of here!"
Damn, I jinxed it. We just got into the zone too. Stupid lightning. Annoyed, Bennie dribbled the ball down the field a little further and gave it a kick...
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A Winner of the Pearson Prize for Fiction, 2010! Benjamina James was like any other fifteen-year-old until one day a bolt of blue lightning struck her on the soccer field. She soon finds she has strange abilities including shooting fire and lightnin...