book one of THE LOST MAGIC
By Suzi Davis
ireadiwrite Publishing Copyright © 2010 Suzi Davis
All rights reserved.
My pen carefully moved across the paper, twisting, flowing, black ink streaking in its wake across the virgin white surface. The contrast was bold and oddly satisfying. I surrendered to my instincts, allowing my subconscious to control my movements. I watched as if from a distance as the intricate swirls untangled into a detailed pattern, my pen dancing across the page. It was a strange sensation, to be so absorbed in my drawing but to feel so detached from my actions at the same time. This was one of the rare times I didn't overanalyze. There were no rules that bound me here; I was free to express myself, to escape.
It was one of the reasons why I often chose to work in the art room during my free periods. I found a strange kind of peace beneath the high ceilings and under the glaring fluorescent lights. I sat at my usual place, the desk that was always left empty at the side of the room. My seat was facing the tall windows at the back of the art room that looked out over the school courtyard. On sunny days I would gaze out at the bright blue sky and watch wispy, white clouds drift by. Lately, I'd been watching the late autumn rains fall, washing away the last traces of summer as the seasons turned and changed.
I felt safe in the art room. No one knew me here — no, that wasn't true. Everyone knew me everywhere. But no one spoke to me here and no one expected me to speak to them. I didn't have to try so hard. I could afford the luxury of letting myself go — a little. I was free to doodle, to daydream and to work through my increasingly complex thoughts. Life never used to be this complicated but lately ... lately something was wrong. I'd become aware that there was something missing in my life, something I couldn't quite put my finger on.
I continued to draw, spiraling deeper within myself with each precise and impulsively placed line.
My life was all about order, all about rules. It started with my parents, their strict ideas about how an eighteen year-old girl should behave, all the things I must accomplish, everything I should want, all that I should strive for. I tried my best to please them, to be the daughter that they wanted me to be. Each day I dressed myself in the expensive and fashionable clothes my mother bought for me. I paid meticulous attention to my appearance, knowing that my mother expected me to appear flawless and composed at all times. My parents had many expectations for me — good grades, extra-curricular activities, to be friendly, polite and bubbly no matter how I truly felt. It didn't feel like their standards were too high; I knew they just wanted me to be happy in the way they thought I should be. I never disappointed them.
I was fairly certain my parents were happy or at least pleased with themselves; all of their dreams and desires were coming true but they had expected no less from life. They weren't satisfied; what we had was never enough and they constantly strove for more. My father had recently been promoted to a partner at the law-firm where he had worked for the past three years. This had meant more prestige for our family and almost as importantly, more money. We'd moved into the city of Victoria, closer to my father's office and into a significantly larger house. My mother had been able to buy more expensive things to fill our bigger, fancier home and I'd been enrolled into a better school, the prestigious Craigflower Academy.
We lived on Vancouver Island, on the West Coast of Canada. Craigflower Academy was in Victoria, British Columbia's quaint and touristy capital city. It was where we'd relocated to from our previous smaller, rural home outside of the city. I missed our old neighborhood, the fields, the forests, the nearby lake, but I didn't complain, I never complained. I forced out a smile as we said goodbye to the house I'd lived in for most of my life. I didn't shed a single tear as I left the private school that I'd attended for the past sixteen years and all my old friends behind. The future held bigger and better things for me than them or so I'd been told. There was no reason to feel sad.
I knew I was lucky to be going to such a prestigious private school. I knew I should be impressed by Craigflower's beautifully manicured campus grounds, historic-looking, statuesque buildings, state of the art equipment and world-renowned teaching staff. And I should have been thrilled to move into such a huge, beautiful, new house with so many windows, balconies and pillars. There may have been no fields and forests in my new neighborhood but we now lived right along the waterfront on the exclusive Beach Drive, minutes from the ocean and just a short drive to Victoria's busy downtown area. I should be proud of our beautiful gardens, tall oak trees and high, iron gates. Yet often, I would wistfully gaze out my third story bedroom window to the snow peaked mountains on the horizon and the forests and mountains that bordered the city. I had to remind myself that we were now in the right neighborhood, socializing with the right people and I was finally attending the right school. I knew I should be grateful. I knew I should try harder.
My pen began weaving and looping, tracing lines faster, harder, darker. The pattern that had started out so neat and precise was exploding outwards across the page, the lines tangling out into a dark and detailed nest that overwhelmed the pristine white in twisted shadows. I watched myself curiously, vaguely surprised by the darkness of the image I was creating.
My life was nothing like this drawing. My life was ordered, carefully contained, perfect. I had everything I'd ever been told I wanted. I was aware that most of the girls at my new school envied me. I'd been told many times I was beautiful, so I supposed it was true. The compliments held little value or interest to me. I was slightly taller than average and had a slim yet toned figure; I followed a strictly regimented exercise routine and always watched what I ate. My hair flowed in thick waves almost to my waist and was a warm shade of golden, chestnut-brown. My skin was flawless and smooth, my eyes were a sapphire ocean blue, my lashes dark, long and curled, my brows and lips perfectly shaped, my nose and teeth perfectly straight. I always appeared to be perfect, not a hair out of place due to considerable effort on my part. Sometimes it was tedious being me but it was a responsibility I was expected to fill.
I knew it wasn't just my looks that the girls at school were jealous of; it was also my boyfriend, Clarke Simons, who they envied. He was tall, dark and handsome, great smile, athletic, track and field star, good student and without a doubt the most popular boy in school. He'd asked me out only a week after I started at Craigflower and of course I said yes. He was obviously the right kind of person for me to date. Our relationship brought me into his tightly knit fold of popular students, ensuring I associated with the right people at my new school. He also came from the right kind of family; the Simons were well known in Victoria and my parents were thrilled to hear I was dating their only son. The Simons soon began inviting my family out to various prestigious events and functions in and around the city — my parents couldn't be happier. And, of course, Clarke was far better to me than I deserved. He was proud of me and loved to flaunt me around school on his arm. He took me to fancy restaurants and bought me expensive things, and constantly told me how beautiful I was. What more could I want or ask from life?
I sighed. My pen stopped moving as I emerged from my trance, curiously studying the drawing before me. At first glance it was a mess, like a child's random and angry scribbling. Upon closer examination though, a pattern was revealed. The lines flowed smoothly in and out of one another in a detailed and complex design that spoke of rigid, meticulous order hidden within the chaos. The drawing was angry and raw. It was the emptiness that was inside of me; the carefully contained, intricate darkness. Most girls would trade lives with me in a split second. I was young, smart, attractive and popular. I was quickly climbing the social ladder at school, already one of the most popular girls after only attending Craigflower for a couple months. Yet why was I so unhappy with all the wonderful things that I had? Why did I feel so hollow, like the core of my life, my being, was missing?
I glared down at the beautiful, black, twisted drawing. What was wrong with me? I knew I was going to have to throw the drawing out. No one would understand it — how could they when I barely understood it myself? The abstract, black pattern didn't seem like it could possibly have come from my hand. I felt relieved that none of my new, popular friends were taking art; there was no one important there to bear witness to my strange creation, this raw, naked exposure of my soul. I'd never drawn anything like this before, I wasn't even sure where the impulse had come from to draw it just now but I knew that the time for daydreaming and escapism was over.
I sat up straighter, blinking rapidly as if waking from a dream. I refocused my eyes, refocused my attention and I came back to the present, back to reality.
And that's when I noticed him.
I became aware of his presence before I actually saw him standing there, leaning against the side of my desk. Though I hadn't noticed him until that moment, I had a strange sense that he had been standing there for some time. He stood right beside me but unexpectedly, he wasn't looking my way. His dark, clouded eyes were focused on my strange drawing, a slight frown on his face. His attention was trapped within the web of dark, coiled lines, and so I felt safe looking him over, examining his strange and striking features.
I had no idea who he was. This in itself was another surprise. In the past two months I thought I had learnt the names of everyone at my new school but I had never noticed this tall, dark-haired boy before. I certainly would have remembered him; he was completely unique, like no one else I'd ever seen. Though I was certain that we'd never met, there was something unexpectedly compelling and familiar about him. I looked him over curiously, trying to pinpoint the source of my déjà-vu.
His hair was short and jet-black, styled in messy spikes with a strange tint to it that made me think of a raven's feathers. His dark eyes were large and very slightly slanted, his lashes were thick black fans shadowing them. He was very good-looking but not in a traditional way. His features were so perfect, so stunning that there was almost a feminine edge to them. His lips were curved, smooth and pink, his face was heart-shaped, his jaw smooth. His body was definitely masculine. He stood nearly a foot taller than I, his shoulders broad, his physique lean yet obviously muscled. He looked unexpectedly unique in his school uniform with his shirt untucked and the top button of his collar left undone. I realized his tie was missing too, and his pants (though black) looked a lot more comfortable and casual than the dress pants the boys at Craigflower were supposed to wear.
I studied him unabashed, completely forgetting myself and the commonly accepted social norms. I stared in fascination at this curious and interesting stranger while he stared just as intensely at my drawing. My eyes lingered on the piercings in his ears and the small, dark hoops that hung from them. I wondered how he got away with such obvious violations of the school's strict dress code.
I was drawn out from my thoughts by his sudden movement. He reached out with one hand to slowly trace the path of one of the thicker lines in my drawing. I was captivated by the gesture, so elegant and precise, like a familiar caress. I noticed the skin of his hands looked creamy and smooth, an almost feminine contradiction to their masculine shape. Several heavy yet simple rings also decorated his fingers, the metal of them faded to a dull and tarnished gray. They were obviously very old and definitely unfashionable; I wondered why he wore them.
His hand suddenly froze, hovering over my drawing as he turned to me with eyes just as curious as I felt mine must certainly be. Our gazes locked together and I felt my mouth pop open in surprise. His eyes were ... beautiful. They seemed to shift colors as I stared deep into them, fading from a deep and clouded, dark bluish-gray to almost black, changing so quickly that I couldn't quite say what color they really were. Something unidentifiable flickered within their depths, akin to what I briefly felt stir in my soul. I quickly dropped my gaze, surprised and suddenly embarrassed as I realized how long I had been silently staring at this strange boy.
"You, your drawing ..." he murmured, his eyes darting to my face in confusion. He hesitated before continuing and I had the distinct impression he had changed what he had been about to say. "I must admit, I'm surprised. I've never seen you produce anything like this before. Your artwork is usually so ... generic," he commented, sounding amused. His voice was smooth and flowing, and instantly appealing. There was a slight lilt to the way he spoke too, an accent that I couldn't quite place — British perhaps?
"Thank you," I responded politely, automatically, though I felt confused. I wondered if I should be offended. What did he know about my usual style of artwork? "I'm sorry, I've forgotten your name," I lied.
He smirked. "No, you haven't," he denied, still looking and sounding amused. "You don't know me. We've never met."
"Are you new?" I asked, still feeling puzzled.
"No." He turned away to study my drawing some more.
"Oh." I didn't know what else to say. I frowned. This boy was strange, whoever he was. And I didn't like the way he was looking at my drawing. It felt like a violation of my privacy, making me feel strangely vulnerable and exposed. I had never intended for anyone to see this. I had, in fact, been about to throw the dark and abstract design away. "Why haven't I seen you before?" I questioned, pulling his attention away from my paper. I tried to discreetly slide my arm over the design, protectively covering it up. He reluctantly turned back to me.
"You probably just never noticed me. I've noticed you though but of course, who hasn't? Doesn't everyone know and admire Grace Lynn Stevenson?" A smile tugged at his lips. Though his words were mocking his manner was friendly enough. "My name that you never knew but seemed to forget is Sebastian, by the way," he added. "Sebastian Mattias Caldwood."
Yup, definitely strange. I didn't like how he knew my full name — it was creepy. I realized he definitely wasn't the kind of person I should be talking to, not someone my friends would approve of. He wasn't like us.
"Well, Sebastian, perhaps you should go sit down and focus on your own work before you get us both in trouble," I suggested, forcing a cold edge to my tone. For some reason, no matter how strange and mocking he was, I felt reluctant to be rude to him. I knew it was necessary though; it was what I should do. He smiled back at me, a dimple appearing in his cheek.
"We won't get in trouble," he replied, dismissing my concerns with a grin. I noticed his teeth were quite straight and white. "Do you want to know what caught my attention about your drawing, besides the unique and creative expression of teenage angst and depression?"
"I'm not depressed," I quickly denied with a scowl. "I was just doodling — it's garbage really." I started to scrunch up the paper but he put his hand down, firmly holding the drawing in place.
"See?" he said as he pushed up the sleeve of his white school shirt. A black tattoo that appeared to start at his hand snaked up the length of his arm, curving around his forearm and disappearing beneath his shirtsleeve. The lines of it were thick and black, twisting into an intricate pattern of spirals around the shape of his lean muscles. It was very similar to my drawing, as if it had been formed by the same hand. Some of the lines and pattern seemed to be of exactly the same design. A small gasp escaped my lips while goose bumps popped up all over my arms. It wasn't just similar — it was the same, I realized. I stared up at him in confusion. His eyes twinkled back at me mysteriously.
"That's so weird," I blurted out, my voice hushed and shocked.
He laughed, a light and musical sound. "You have no idea," he answered. His eyes bore down into mine, the color so dark it was completely unidentifiable now. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Amber Frost by Suzi Davis. Copyright © 2010 Suzi Davis. Excerpted by permission of ireadiwrite Publishing.
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