A Certain Kind Of Magic: Part One
I always grew up in a big family, five other older girls before me. There were never any boys in our family; it just didn’t happen. Julie, our owner, was perfectly lovely. She took marvellous care of us all and we were always happy.
In descending order, my sisters are: Cassandra, Alanna, Vanessa, Tamara, Larissa and me, Breanna. Cassandra liked to be called Sandy and Tamara, Tammy. Over the years we’ve grown up together but as we grew older, my sisters left home to study and to have lives of their own.
I’ve long witnessed and endured the forever smouldering pain of losing my sisters, one by one, and now, only Larissa remains at home. Greg, Julie’s friend, also lives with us. We call Julie Mum and Greg Dad. Recently Dad hurt his ankle and now is confined to walking at only a minimum and Larissa and I are always wary of his grouchy temper.
Sandy has two petpets of her own, Jasmine and Caleb. Alanna is at Mystery Island school, studying to be doctor, Vanessa is working as a receptionist for the Neolodge and Tammy is currently kicking back with her friends. Everyone is happy, ready for Christmas to come and barrel us over.
Christmas is always spent together; day after day of lovely family-time. Sometimes quarrels break out but usually we are very happy together. Getting presents, setting up Christmas trees, eating bonbons, painting each other; it’s all good.
It was December 4th, nearly time for Christmas. We were eating a chocolate for every day of December to count down. There were twenty-four chocolates for each of us. I was sitting at my desk in my room upstairs, getting ready to send a neomail to Vanessa. She was coming down on the twentieth with her friend, Jesse. He was a blue Kougra and full to bursting with energy. I was always wary of him because he liked to steal my chocolate. Unfortunately, Alanna couldn’t make it to our Christmas bash because of her exams and her friend said that she could have Christmas with his family.
“Breanna, come downstairs, would you?” Mum called.
“Coming,” I murmured.
“Breanna!” a scream came from downstairs. Of course, it was Larissa.
“I’m coming, I’m coming!”
I raced down the stairs to where my sister was standing. She’d gotten Tammy to paint her red, her hair was spiked, and she wore a vintage dress of white and black lace. She looked magnificent.
“Come on, come on, we’ve got to go!” she yelled.
Tammy was brushing her teeth and Mum was ready to leap on the Eyrie at the slightest notice. I gave Larissa a quick peck on the cheek and watched as they raced onto the Eyrie cab and up, up and away to Larissa’s school. It was her last day of Neopian School and they were having a party; Larissa had to be on time or she’d die of embarrassment.
I went back to my room and looked at the piece of paper which was my story. After long moments of staring, I didn’t feel anything. No excitement, no love for my characters, just nothing. I sighed and crumpled the paper, tossing it into the bin.
‘A great wind swept the leaves back from the trees, like a giant pulling the hair out of her little girl’s eyes. I blinked and listened to the whispering of the trees. I wasn’t scared of ghosts but if I had been, I’d be shaking in my boots right now. Now was the time for ghosts.’
I smiled. I liked what I’d written. The words were powerful, the sentences short. I sighed and closed my eyes, putting myself in my character’s shoes. What would I do on a night of ghosts—even if I didn’t believe in them?
‘My baby sister whimpered by my side; ghosts were very, very scary to her.
‘“Can we go home now, Marie?” she asked, frightened. “I don’t like this place.”
‘“It’s fine, baby, we just have to wait for Mummy to come and pick us up, then everything will be fine, everything will be fine.”
‘I was feeling more like ghosts existed every moment. My frightened sister wasn’t doing anything to help that. I shuddered and a cold finger stroked my back. I whirled around. There was a zombie Blumaroo, smiling evilly. His bony arms reached for us and his eye popped out.
‘“Come here, my precious darlings!”’
I shuddered as I wrote the words in my fast, neat handwriting. I wished that this wasn’t so real to me, like it was happening right now.
“Dad?” I called from my room. “Are you here, Dad?”
“What, Breannie?” he asked from his study.
“Don’t worry, I found it!” It was a good thing my dad was quite ignorant; otherwise, he might have persisted in what I was doing. He was nice that way, never questioning what I did.
There was a knock at the door and I kept writing as I heard Dad get up and open the door.
“Breanna, it’s for you!” he called.
It was probably one of my friends, come over to say hi and lounge on my bed while they told me the latest gossip.
I walked down the stairs and when I saw who it was, I stopped. I didn’t know who it was. It was a blue Nimmo and he looked very business-like.
“Hello, Breanna, we’ve been hearing some good things about you lately.” He held out his hand to shake.
“Hello, Mr. Jenkins, how do you do?” I shook hands with him and asked him to sit down.
“Breanna, we’ve seen the article which you published in the Neopian Times a few days ago and we knew as soon as we saw it that you should have a place on our team. Our team is getting ready to open up a new newspaper, unlike the old Neopian Times. What do you say?”
I didn’t like the way he said it, like it was guaranteed I’d accept, that I was only in it for the money or something.
“I’ll have to think about it,” I said uncertainly.
“Breanna, you must understand, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity; no one else will ever get this chance. Especially someone as inexperienced as you,” he said disdainfully, looking down his flat face at me.
“You know, I never really wanted to work for a newspaper, I wanted to write novels, so thank you but goodbye.” I pushed him out the door.
“You’ll live to regret this, Breanna! You will!” he called as he walked towards his Eyrie cab.
I snorted. “And Snorkles might fly.”
“Faerie ones do, Breanna!”
I gulped and turned away, closing the door behind me.
“What was that all about, Breanna? Why didn’t you accept?” my dad asked.
“I didn’t like his tone.”
* * * * *
Dad had to tell Mum, Tammy and Larissa all about it, didn’t he? He couldn’t have kept his mouth shut and just let it be? Now Mum was all over me; why didn’t I take it? It would have been such a good opportunity. Well, I didn’t think so.
I shut my eyes and took a deep breath, wondering if somehow I could just disappear. Maybe I’d save up and paint myself invisible. Sandy was a yellow Acara; Alanna was a green Gelert; Vanessa was a Christmas Cybunny; Tammy was a yellow Xweetok; Larissa was a green Ogrin and I was a blue Zafara.
I thought again about the man who’d come requesting for me to work for his newspaper. Why had I said no? I would usually have jumped at the chance of getting still future published. I was very inexperienced, I knew, but why?
I’d always been the writer in the family. Sandy had once thought about it, but it had been overshadowed by her love for petpets. She was so obsessed with them, she hadn’t had any time for writing. So I’d taken her place—unknowingly—of the writer in the family.
So why hadn’t I taken the job? Why hadn’t I taken perhaps my only chance at being a “real” author? An author who wrote novels, perhaps? For who knew who might read the new newspaper? A book publisher might have picked me up, might have said I had the talent to write and I should go for it, be a professional writer of novels. But I didn’t. Why? Most importantly: why? I was vulnerable, I was young, I had my life ahead of me, I needed an agent, I needed people to recognise me; so why hadn’t I taken the position? Was it really that Nimmo’s attitude problem? His smirk—perhaps the way he eyed me, like an investment, a pile of neocash, just waiting for someone to pick it up? No matter what, I hadn’t said yes, I hadn’t taken the position and perhaps given myself an assured road to success and neopoints galore. But why I had done it, well...
It was a mystery yet to be solved.
To be continued...