New Discovery

11 Sep

By Emily Harrison
8th Grade

Hasenda wanders. She walks about, feet echoing on a sunny tile floor. Step by step, avoiding shadows. Only feeling the cool of unwarranted hiding. She observes as her toes squish on the black and white ground, her flesh tromping through a mirror of leaked water, caressing the cold, hard tiles below.

Hasenda hated her house. She hated the leaky pools of water, the way that the shadows invaded. The shadows were full of unanswered questions: whether she would pay the rent in time, whether she would have enough food to eat for the remainder of her lifetime, whether or not she would have enough love to smooth over the fact that her best friend, Hagg, had left their friendship in anger. She hated the rent. She hated the location. She hated the way that her cot bent in the night, the way that the springs dug into her back. Yet there was a certain perk to this place, a feeling about it that had drawn her to the house, the cracked windows, the neighbors. And the only thing that emphasized these feelings was her love of the sunlight. Her house was full of windows, and light constantly spilled across every furniture item, every pizza box and bottle of cheap wine. The sunlight was her safety—an open, clear light in the chaotic world. And out of sunlight was shade. Free of hope, to Hasenda, shade was a pool of unknown.

The unknown was impossibly horrific, fearful, hair-raising. The unknown was a world unseen, unheard, and un-purposeful. The unknown was a question, not a sentence. In Hasenda’s experience, asking for something brought painful consequences.

Seven months past, Hasenda had thought he was her friend, her savior. Erik was supposed to care about her, yet no amount of hope or caring would change his heart. Her plea for safety was ignored. And Erik was not the only one. Her foster home slammed the door in her face. Her friends left her for others. And a tip—an anonymous tip—sent her pride out the door.

Abandoned. Lost by her family. Lost without a savior. Lost without a confidant. But most of all, lost without a friend.

The tip was the last straw.

She had biked to the university that morning, stopped in a cafe. Ordered and drank a blueberry-banana smoothie. Relaxed in monotonous removal from caring about Erik, pedal after pedal: left, right, left, right. They were no longer friends. And Hasenda didn’t care now. At least, she tried not to. And she pushed away the memory, she absorbed the sunlight and let it comfort her in its wholeness. She watched the clouds, she locked up her bike. She walked to class. She had opened the door to the literature building. She had trounced calmly to the entrance of security. She had held up her badge, started to walk through the security gate.

“Sorry, miss,” the guard apologized. “You can’t enter the building. You can’t come here.”

Hasenda was outraged. “WHAT?!”

Hasenda raged like she was at a 1963 dance party where a woman sang Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock off key. Like she was the only hardcore fan. Like the girl would be in trouble. About to summon a tantrum, she finally saw the looks of people about her. Four sophomores, watching warily out of the corners of their eyes as they faked conversation. A woman, walking towards her calmly, rubbing her palms together. And a senior eyeing her from an office door.

The woman pulled the then-sleepy Hasenda aside, asking her to calm down and prepare; the woman informed Hasenda, “Dean Andrews wants to talk to you about why you were expelled, so shut your yapper.”

Inside the dean’s office was not any better. The secretary shook her head in disgust. With one glance at her, the Dean’s Assistant strutted from the room. Hasenda sat down in an office chair, waited patiently, and got called inside.

Hasenda ran down her hallway, slipped out of the door from the tiled room to the garden, and recalled how the dean had cut her from the college. Called in on charges of “Cheating by Fraternization,” Hasenda was expelled from the school on grounds she still did not understand.

Black upon black, a shadow creeping up the wall, no noise. Quiet goes her mind, the mind of the victim. He opens the door, picking the lock, and creeping, slowly, across the tiles, the puddle-ridden tiles. Thinking, planning, making every move. Silence. As she sleeps, she lies still. No sound can wake her. She’s sleeping, reflecting on her old friends, remembering. Danger is not imminent, in her mind. This is her home, her lozenge for heartbreak, and she does not hear the cracking timbre of her glass panes of safety, of comfort, of love. He destroys every barrier the house provides for her mind. All the more the victim, Hasenda sleeps. Unknowing of the fate that will befall her: the capture, the travel, the new home. There are no guards to insure her safety. Only her soul, and body, and refrigerator, and mattress stand by, watching over her. Yet not. For she’s unknowing of the identity of this man. Unknowing of the true rating of her security system. Unknowing of the power that her home, the only home that made her feel safe, had to offer. Until now.

She’s carried away in the night, head upon the chest of a stranger, legs wrapped over an arm. She leaves her hoe. The garden, the tiles. The barefoot escapes from reality.

She is transported to the home of another.

We arrive at the safe house. I lay her down on the bed, tuck her in, lock the door behind me after I chain her hands together. She sleeps. Still.

I find a room, sleep, and awake only to a scream.

“WHERE AM I????” the woman yells. “Get me OUT of here!!!”

I pour myself a mug of coffee, courtesy of the automatic timer, yawn. Finally, I enter the room. She’s walking around, and when she sees me, she races toward me. She attempts to strangle me with the chain cuffs around her hands. She slept well. I calmly yank her cuffs back over her head, leaving her hands behind her back.

She asks, “Can’t I ask questions? Where am I? Why am I here? Who are you, exactly?”

I do not answer her. Instead, I hook her ankles together and tie her to a chair. She gives into the restraint of her chains, the rope pulling her towards the chair.

She sits. “Hello? Anyone in there?

“Man, come on! Why am I here?

“Quit drinking your COFFEE, and tell me why I’m here!”

I sputter at this one.

“Mind telling me where I am?”

Finally, she asks,”Who are you?”

I sigh. “Somebody that you used to know. In another life. We were friends, acquaintances.”

“Yeah, right. Like I’m supposed to believe that.”

“You asked.”

“Yeah, and you only answered one question…” she trails off.

“Well…”

Luckily, I am interrupted by the arrival of a mage through the girl Hasenda’s room. It’s Macon Thamestead.

“And who is this?”

I’m still not sure why I’m here. Somebody has walked through the door. I’m done with mystery. Who is the new man? Who is my captor?

New guy’s smile is gigantic. He embraces me. What the…? What is he doing? “Do I know you?” I mutter, receiving no reply. That’s what I thought. “Get off.”

“Hasenda, meet Macon Thamestead. He’s a mage,” Captain Captor says.

I stick my tongue out at him. Then I hear what he said. “What? A…”

“That’s right! A mage. And you, Hasenda Seshlein, are here because we believe that you’re a mage, too!”

You tap her on the shoulder, say, “Ready?”

“For what?” she says, hostility deeply engraved in each word.

What an impudent boor! A churl! A dragon-lady! You came here to teach, not be assaulted with anger.

You glare at her.

You sigh. “You’re a transformative mage.”

“Great. Yet another problem,” she says, fighting to hide her disbelief.

Hmph.

“It’s not a problem. Magic is real. If you touch your nose with your right index while tapping your left foot, you can transform into any living organism. You take up that organism’s soul and mind. Temporarily. You must imagine the specific creature in your mind. You can also be detected, but only by those holding fishnet stockings and blue tissue paper simultaneously before their eyes. You can avoid attention by eating 19 1/4 strawberries per day until the next month. Then blueberries, raspberries, walnuts. And the cycle repeats once more.”

Maximion unties her from the chair, eyes alert in case she tries to run away. But she doesn’t; she tries her magic out for size, surprised when something comes of her actions. She turns into a frog. Tentatively, she changes from organism to organism. From frog to unicorn, then mermaid, then hunched- over giraffe, straining to bend her neck in this stout room.

You can see it in her eyes, sparkling with magic and glowing with strength, that she no longer cares about escape; she cares about the magic.

They left at break of day, to find the Mages’ Guild. The building was castle-like, built with a stone covered in white clematis blooms. This tower was a building of heritage, and the journey was long and almost unbearable with the cool of old rains and new windstorms.

After announcing Hasenda’s arrival—as a new member of the Mages’ Guild—the trio was sent off to bed, free of cuffs and full of food. Hasenda took the opportunity to stretch her legs, in order to appreciate her freedom from that short time of chains. Through the hallways she tiptoed, art passing her by, well- dressed people glancing at her, flowers peeking through cracks in windows showcasing the world outside. Curiously enough, the windows did not show different viewpoints of the same view, but rather different views altogether, over what seemed like a whole world.

When stopping at a window observing fields of maize, Hasenda heard voices emanating from a room nearby. The door was oddly black, and the voices muffled. The room seemed out of place in the bleakness of its color, yet not.

“What can we do? Now you’re not the only one. The arrival of the girl changes everything. You must vie to keep your place at Zensha’s side. I can only keep your place safe for a fortnight longer. We may have to resort to drastic action, Lord Heisnen.”

“But Nestor…”

“Enough! Hush, one walks nearby.”

Hasenda swiftly returned to her wing and relayed the information to Macon, and only Macon. For her captor had left.

I have my orders. I hurry down the hallway, black cape trailing behind me. I am silent as the night, yet I do not wish to be so. In fact, I wish that I could warn her with a click of my heels. To run. Heisnen has my respect and my understanding that he is a mage, yet I am not sure that he has my loyalty.

I wake in the my bedroom, the king at my side. Few know of my kingdom, Thanaas, in the middle of the Indian ocean, yet we have much money, still. I dress in my morning silks, pale green with a deep purple lace lining my bosom. My maids wash my hair, working through knots, dirt, and rubbing soap into my scalp. They comb out my black hair, rub an apothecary’s lotion into my deep brown skin. Clips fly into my hair. And a little voice, a young girl page, peeps from the corner of my quarters.

“Queen Zensha, there’s a body,” the page says solemnly, quietly.

I gasp. I say, “Bring me to it.” Who could possibly be killed? For what reason could somebody do such a thing? What have I missed in court?

I come upon the body, ragged and impaled, stature on the floor of the great hall. A line, an incision, cuts across the mouth, drawn up in a smile, sewing needles at either end of the incision, in the middle of the cheeks. The rest of the body is iced, frozen, unmoving. Who would kill my transformative mage? Who did this to Lord Heisnen?

I leave Heisnen at the sound of his wife’s dissonance. Her crying is not quiet. I return to my quarters.

What will I do? I stand by my advisor, Maximion. I look out my window, gazing upon the horizon, the real view of the castle ground, the cliffs, the ocean, the gulls. “Who will be my magistrate now?” I ask, tears in my eyes, finally mourning for the lord.

“Her.”

I look at him. He observes the tips of the cliffs. The reds of the evening sun reflect in his eyes. I follow his gaze. And at the edge of the fall stands the new mage. The woman, Hasenda, stands, a vision of blinding blonde hair, shuttering black cape, and windy blue eyes.

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