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Ten year old Olivia learns she is the next generation of Chosen Ones from a fairy named Meera. Meera was sent to Olivia to teach her the importance of being a Chosen One. The next generation of Chosen Ones were sent with powers from the stars after Nature predicted that to much evil was coming for good to handle alone. A balance of good and evil must be kept, in order for the world to continue in all it's greatness. In one of evils attempts to take power away from good so that it may rule one day, Olivia along ...
Ten year old Olivia learns she is the next generation of Chosen Ones from a fairy named Meera. Meera was sent to Olivia to teach her the importance of being a Chosen One. The next generation of Chosen Ones were sent with powers from the stars after Nature predicted that to much evil was coming for good to handle alone. A balance of good and evil must be kept, in order for the world to continue in all it's greatness. In one of evils attempts to take power away from good so that it may rule one day, Olivia along with Meera, her cat Music and her dog Ralph, must go face to face with that evil after it steals her mother away.
In a small town named Laurel, outside the big city of Hazelton, lived a young girl. That would be me. My full name is Olivia Anne Maitland, and I am all grown up now, but I was only ten years old in the story I am about to tell you. I have had many story adventures since I was ten, but this first story was a special one.
It was the beginning of when I learned the truth about who I was and who I would become. I would learn the truth about my family and the farm on which I still live today. I would learn what it means to be a Chosen One. I would be the next generation. However, I do not want to get ahead of my story, so let us start at the very beginning.
I had green eyes, red hair that hung down my back just like my mother's, and as I said, I was only ten years old. I had across my nose and cheeks a spray of soft freckles that I tried to scrub off whenever I washed my face. I really did not much care for them. Funny thing was, the harder I scrubbed my face, the faster they seemed to populate.
I was born the third daughter, of a third daughter, on the third day, of the third month, on this very farm. My mother did not make it to the hospital to have me as she did with my twin sisters. My mother would tell me the story of my birth before bed. She would always start the story with, "Only unique little girls were born at home with such perfect dates for their birthday." Each time she told the story, I loved it even more.
The Big Woods that surrounded us went on for miles. It also surrounded part of the town. Nearly everyone in Laurel was afraid of the Big Woods. They believed evil lived there because of the time, many years earlier, when a young boy named Kevin Tyler wandered into the Woods and became lost. People searched and searched but could not find a single clue to his whereabouts. Then a few weeks later, he turned up in town, all by himself. He talked of strange things that had happened to him. He told of how some wood creatures had taught him different skills to keep himself safe from anything bad that might occur. When the wood creatures felt they had finished teaching Kevin everything he needed to learn, they helped him find his way back to town.
After that incident, the people of Laurel never dared to go into the Woods or even near them for fear that they, too, would end up "not right in the head" like Kevin. My parents as well as the parents of every other child in Laurel told that story so we would stay away from the Woods.
I always felt really sorry for Kevin when they spoke of his stories because it must have been awful when nobody, not even your parents, believed what you tried to explain to them: the things that you saw and the things that happened to you in the Woods.
It was the biggest story to ever come out of Laurel which was why every time we went to town, there were always one or two old-timers who would stop my mother or father to warn them to keep their daughters well away from the Woods, to keep them safe. My mother and father always smiled and answered politely that they were very much aware of the Woods and the stories about the Woods. The whole story about Kevin Tyler gave me the creeps because I was the same age as Kevin Tyler was when it happened to him.
The family farm, as it was called, had been handed down from generation to generation on my mother's side. Our stone house was built from stones taken right from the fields on the property. Looking at the front of the house, the first things you would notice were the beautiful white carved shutters on either side of the two big windows. The carvings were very unusual, and yet the design was very familiar to me. It looked like a skeleton leaf: a leaf you would find in the fall with no green or brown on it, just the stem with the veins. Or maybe the carving was of a feather. Whatever it was, it had what looked like a funny-shaped stem.
I would stare at the shutters when I sat on the big bench out front. The bench was one of many spots where I would sit alone to figure things out. Sometimes I would just sit and try to imagine what the person saw when they carved the shutters. I loved sitting on the bench when I needed time to myself.
Inside the house was a large kitchen where the family usually gathered. A big table with a bench on each side and an additional chair at each end was placed in the center of the room. Smaller stones gathered from the property made up the beautiful floor of the kitchen. They must have spent a lot of time choosing only the prettiest stones because the stones sparkled so brightly when my mother washed the floor. My sisters and I liked lying on the benches and pointing out our favorite ones. It was hard to choose just one favorite because they all were so beautiful.
Sweet flowers and herbs hung drying from the large beams on the ceiling. Another small table was pushed against the wall in the corner where often you could find my mother working on boxing and stringing her herbs and flowers to sell. Next to the herb table was the doorway that led to the dining room and the staircase to the three bedrooms upstairs. At the top of the stairs was the biggest room, and it belonged to my parents. Next to my parents' bedroom was the twins', Sydney and Sarah's, room. Across the hall and next to the bathroom was my room. I used to be scared in my bedroom all alone, but by this time, I was just glad that I did not have to share a room with my bratty sisters.
Outside, the chickens would run around in the yard chasing bugs all day, and there would be birds, bees, butterflies, and rabbits. Many sweet-smelling flowers, bushes, and herbs filled the side yard, all in perfect rows. My mother was what you would call an herbalist, so her flowerbeds were her life, and she was very meticulous in caring for her beds. My mother was beautiful with long wavy red hair that was especially lovely when a small breeze tossed it about in the sunlight of the flowerbeds. She had a beautiful singing voice too, and sometimes you could hear her softly singing from among the flowers.
Behind the house there was a big red barn with a couple of smaller outbuildings near it. Further back, next to the big red barn, was a large meadow where the cows grazed, feasting on the lush grasses of an early summer. An early summer that would be full of adventure.
I, Olivia Anne Maitland, woke up to the smell of bacon cooking in the big kitchen downstairs beneath my bedroom. I could hear the murmur of voices laughing. I thought it somewhat strange that my sisters had not come in to wake me and help me get dressed on a Monday morning. During the school year, it was Sydney and Sarah's job to make sure I got up and washed, and was ready for school on time. Their methods at times were a little cruel, like a pillow abruptly landing on my head or the time in the winter, when they pulled my covers off and put fresh snow on my bare feet. I never thought it was too funny, but they did.
As I lay there in bed, remembering some of their other nasty methods, it came to me that this was the first day of summer vacation, and I was wasting it in bed! I jumped up and yelled, "Yippee," because this was not only summer vacation from school, but it was going to be a vacation from my sisters, too. You see, both my sisters received an invitation to go to camp all summer long with Allison Adler, a good friend of theirs from school, and my parents agreed to it.
I ran for the bathroom to wash my face, something I never understood having to do after just getting up from sleeping. I mean, I went to bed clean; how dirty could a girl get while sleeping? Maybe little elves come in my room at night to throw dirt on me while I am sleeping. Well, at least that would make sense. In the bathroom, I grabbed the soap and washcloth while turning on the water. Sometimes I soaped my face up so much I pretended I had a white beard and made "ho, ho" sounds like Santa Claus. I loved Christmas — but this was summer with the gift of no sisters for two whole months. I considered it the best gift I ever would get, although since I was only ten years old, I thought there might still be time to get something better. Or maybe not. I had planned to have more fun this summer than any other I could remember. I rinsed my face, brushed my hair and my teeth, looked in the mirror and blew myself a kiss. After getting dressed, I skipped downstairs with the happiest of footsteps as never before.
As I reached the bottom of the stairs, Music was there like every other morning, waiting for his morning pat. Music was my big white and grey fluffy cat. He was very fussy about how his fur looked. He really disliked his fur being out of place or even worse having something stuck on it. He was white all over, except his grey tail and ears. I gave him the name Music because his meow sounded more like singing than meowing.
He did not care too much for my sisters because they were nasty to him. I think that is one way we were connected to each other. They called him names like the "big white hair dispenser," or they would see him napping and sneak over right next to his head and hiss to scare him awake. When Music had enough of the two of them, he would find a scary looking bug, drop it into one of their shoes, and then just sit back and wait for the screaming to begin. It was his way of getting even.
However, this morning, instead of just his pat on the head, I picked him up much to his surprise and gave him a big hug and kiss. As I put him back down and skipped off to the kitchen, he quickly began to clean himself where I had touched him. As he was cleaning himself, Music began to wonder what that was all about: me picking him up. He sat up stunned, shocked, and said, "Olivia picking me up, when she knows I dislike that?" Then in a much more annoyed voice, he added, "Oh dear! I hope she won't be doing this to me very often. I won't stand for this kind of disarrangement of my fur." Music cleared his thoughts, shook his head, and continued his cleaning.
I arrived in the kitchen just as Father was kissing Mother goodbye and leaving for work. My father was tall and slender with ice blue eyes. He had mounds of very dark hair that, no matter how hard he tried to keep it smoothed down, always seemed to look like the wind had rearranged it. Mother and Father were walking toward the door, when Father stopped and pointed at me to remind me to behave myself today. I told him I would, and he raised one eyebrow while speaking a muffled, "Uh hum."
While Father was giving the same finger-pointing lecture to the twins, Mother leaned over, kissed my forehead, and said, "Good morning, sleepyhead."
I smiled and said, "Good morning" back. Mother ran her finger down my nose and gave me a wink. Then I watched as they both turned to walk out the side door together, where mother would say one more goodbye to Father.
I sat down at the kitchen table to eat my breakfast while listening to my sisters chatter about the trip they were to leave on tomorrow. I started thinking of all the things I would do while they were away, and it became hard to eat my eggs and bacon because I just could not control the smile on my face. No matter how hard I tried to not smile, it just came right back from all the happy thoughts.
Sydney elbowed Sarah and then asked me why I was so happy?
I tried not to look at her when I answered, "I don't know. I just am." Now, I knew it was because they were going away for the summer, but I did not want to start any kind of argument that might cause mother to keep them home because they did not know how to behave.
Sarah, now looking at me, asked, "What are you going to do without us here to bug?"
I looked back at her and bit my tongue to keep from saying, "Probably have the best time ever." I just could not take the risk of a fight, so I played it safe and squeaked out, "Not sure. Guess I'll have to find something else to bug."
Sydney stood up from the table and returned a sharp reply of, "Good, then you just keep bugging whatever it is you find, and leave us alone when we return."
Sarah then got up too and added while laughing, "Yea, just remember little stuff: bug it not us."
Sydney and Sarah together turned to leave the room and headed back upstairs to finish packing, but not before, they took the time to stick out their tongues at me as they left the room. I stuck my tongue out back at them, and even though they did not see it, it felt good to do it.
Sydney and Sarah were identical twins to everyone but our family. It was easy for me to tell the difference: Sarah was the mean one, and Sydney was the even meaner one. They had both Dad's eyes and his hair, and across both their noses were just a few freckles, which I found very unfair since my nose was covered. They both were very talented and could sing and dance which they did for special occasions at school, church, or any other event in town that might occur.
On the other hand, I was not so talented which we found out at the County Fair talent show last year With my parents' pushing, I tried to dance with the twins during their routine. All was going well until I got my legs all tangled up and fell, pushing my sisters right off and into the pen next to the stage, where the pig-chasing contest was getting ready to begin. Sydney and Sarah together went sailing "splat" into the mud, where they preceded to squeal louder than the little pig running around. I just stood on the stage with my eyes very wide, not believing what had just happened. I could only see two sets of ice-blue eyes looking out from beneath all the mud. I did not know what to do at first except to start giggling at the sight of them.
Mother and Father pulled Sydney and Sarah from out of the mud with much laughter coming from the crowd that had formed. I never did dance again.
Mother came back into the house after seeing Father off and sat at the table with me while I ate the last of my breakfast. She leaned toward me with her elbow on the table and her chin in her hand and said, "Tomorrow I take your sisters into town to drop them off at Allison's, and I have to make some flower deliveries to a couple of stores. How would you like to help me with those orders?"
I said, "I would like that very much."
Mother smiled and said, "Well, we have to get the entire order picked and packaged today for early tomorrow. Are you sure?"
I smiled even bigger and said, "Yes!" I loved working in the flowerbeds with Mother.
Mother stood up and said, "Alright then, let me get these few dishes done, and then we can get started."
As I got up to go outside to play, I said, "Okay," and told her I would meet her at the beds in a little while. Mother nodded, and I ran out the door with Music at my heels. The summer screen slammed behind me, which is one of the summer sounds that I loved.
I dashed for the gardens, and Ralph came running towards me from around the corner of the big red barn. Ralph is a black Rottweiler that someone left at our side door when he was a very small puppy. He was very ill, and most people were aware that my mother knew how to use herbs to heal; we figured that was why he came to rest at our doorstep.
Within a short time Mother nursed him back to health, and Ralph became my best friend — along with Music of course.
It was both Music and Ralph who helped me to understand that I must not let anyone know that not only could I speak to the animals, but I also could understand what they said back to me. They explained that if people knew I talked to animals, they might think I was kooky, and it could lead to my parents removing all the animals from the farm, thinking this was the only way to help me. I would be so lost without Music, Ralph, and all my farm friends, so I listened to what they said and promised I would never tell a single soul.
While I was giving Ralph a big scratch and his back leg was starting to go up and down from the scratch, he began telling me the barnyard news of the day. Music sat next to my legs and just swatted at the bugs that tried to land on him.
Excerpted from The Skeleton Leaf Stories by Jane Boatwright-Cook Copyright © 2010 by Jane Boatwright-Cook. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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