Olivia Tames Terror

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Olivia Tames Terror

A preview of the series Olivia Tames the Legends

When gods invade a public school, they're not counting on an angry teenage dancer.

by K. Alan Leitch

Something I never understood about detention was why kids who weren't on detention still hung around. Not everyone had my famous temper or Siobhan's cruel streak, so not everyone had extra gymnastics practice assigned after school. If I'd had a choice, I would have been home or at Pizzapalooza, or in Miss Crenshaw's dance studio perfecting the slides and rolls that already made me feel perfect. For some reason, my classmates made different choices. They chose to stay at school, playing chess or preparing debates.

Then there was Kent Hwang, choosing to make Steve disappear.

"Pnévmata," Kent announced, "párte ton Steve sti sfaíra sou."

The jargon did what Kent does best: riled me. "You know," I sizzled across the bare gym, "it's hard to master an Onodi maneuver with you spewing magic-kit lingo." Really, Kent's gibberish wasn't what set me off. I just couldn't seem to get him to outgrow the fact that we used to be friends.

While I tried my back-handspring again, he tapped his disappearing booth with one of those white-tipped cardboard wands, but the only thing that disappeared was his smile.

Steve's taunts crackled at Kent from inside the booth. "Still here, Sargon the Sorry-Case." Kent whisked back the curtain to reveal him, crammed into a space made for someone half his porky size. "Hey, Livi! Kent thinks he can make me disappear!"

"It's probably more of a wish." I made a perfect stuck landing, dismounting the balance beam with my legs in the challenging arabesque pose. "Maybe he should write a spell to vanquish your stink."

"Did you lift the panel?" Kent asked him, trying to push past.

"Of course I lifted it, Brain-freeze."

"The talent show's Wednesday. With everyone watching..."

Kent was inside the booth now, fumbling with something while Steve's eyes got lost in the folds of his smirk. "It's not gonna work on Wednesday or Thursday or next Arbor Day."

"We have to figure it out. Maybe I can increase the girth..."

"It's never gonna work," Steve belted at him. "I don't fit through."

Somehow, Steve had that way about him, always making things someone else's fault. It was someone else's fault that he didn't get scholarships and that his dad was fired; today, it was Kent's fault that Steve's gut was too girthy to squeeze through a secret exit. If Kent had still been my friend, I might have felt sorry for him.

I watched his magician's cape drape around his skeleton as he slunk from the gym after Steve. "I can face this." The mantra that helped Kent with his anxiety trailed out after him. "I'm more than my fear..."

'Anxiety'...what a joke. I was still holding the arabesque pose while they left. I felt like a crane, like a swan, like the dancer I wanted to be. I felt grace in the tightening muscles that held my back leg horizontal, and the contrast with Kent's and Steve's clumsiness made me proud. For a minute, I thought it might not be so bad spending my afternoon doing gymnastics.

But a stupid magic act can always ruin my mood.

Kent's booth leaked a blinding glow from behind the curtain, crawling queasy blue patches across my view of the gym. Numbness tingled through my body like a million ants. I found myself on my knees by the time I could see properly, but it was who I saw that really left me shook.

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