A/n: Hello, all. This is a rough draft of a story I have been working on for quite some time. So, creative criticism will be greatly appreciated on this, so I can make it the best it can possibly be. Thanks in advance. Prologue
It smelled like blood. Everything, everywhere, smelled like blood. I was still half-asleep at this point, still dozing, and I couldn't tell where the scent was coming from. It seemed to be coming out of my very pores. I came out of the dream in degrees, settling back into my body.
I sat up finally in the semi-dark room, feeling a faint pounding in the back of my head, pounding in time to the fainter beat in my stomach, at my core.
I sat up, not quite awake yet, and pulled off my sheets. They came off with some little difficulty, sticking slightly to the lower half of my body. I turned on the light on my bed side table, the blue bulb revealing a black, vicious liquid covering the top half of my legs and the surrounding blankets.
The scent of blood was overpowering.
I gagged, somehow managing to scream at the same time. It came out as a strangled cry. This was an attack- I knew it. One of dad's enemies had gotten a hold of a hair or a fingernail and was using it to turn my organs into jelly and force them out through my pores, like some macabre form of Ebola. I was dead, my body just hadn't registered it yet.
My dad burst into the room, his hand glowing with a pale, unearthly light, staff in his other hand. His entire body was charged with energy, his short, dark brown hair moving ever so slightly in a wind-that-wasn't. My mom wasn't far behind him, her black hair mussed, her glasses hastily jammed onto the bridge of her nose. They were just as hastily dressed, my mother in a wrinkled nightshirt, my dad in the matching bottoms.
"Claire?" Dad asked, his voice tender. "Claire- what happened?" His eyes fell on my upper thighs, and a strangled gasp escaped him.
While he seemed confused, my mother took one look at me and knew exactly what it was. "Stand down, John." She said, placing her hand on his arm to reinforce her words. "She's alright."
"How can she be alright- she's covered in… oh." He shook his head, a blush coloring his sharp cheekbones as he extinguished the light in his hand. "I'll be in the bedroom if you two need me."
I let out a panicked cry as he left the room, and my mother clasped my hand. "It's alright, sweetheart." She said, a small reassuring smile spreading across her lips. "It's alright, it's just your period. You're not under attack."
How could she say that! I was bleeding and… my period. My first menses. Relief flooded through me followed by a tinge of excitement. My first menses. A magickally significant time. Bodily, I was an adult now, I could have children and, more importantly, my magicks would be unlocked. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. I was going to be a mage now, following in daddy's footsteps. We could go on adventures and right wrongs and triumph over evil. Just like I always wanted.
I allowed my mother to take me, gingerly of course, to the bathroom. Although, thankfully she stood outside the door as I cleaned myself up.
I emerged from the bathroom fifteen minutes later, the panic of earlier completely subsided into a haze of barely contained excitement.
My mother noticed, the astute woman that she was. Amusement shimmered in her blue-gray eyes, behind her thick, oval shaped glasses. A smiliar pair was jammed onto my aqualine nose. The only two features I had inherited from her. "Well, you're mood has certainly changed."
I grinned at her, feeling bold and powerful already. "Of course it has. I'm a woman now." I laughed deprecatingly, spreading my arms wide as if daring the world to try something. "And you know what that means." She raised her eyebrow like mothers do. I leaned in conspiratorially. "I'm gonna get my magick soon."
Surprise flashed across her features as she jerked back. I frowned up at her, watching her silently. She looked almost sad when she recovered herself. She shook her head, eyes closed. "You'd better come with me."
I watched her walk down the hall, towards the master bedroom and I hesitated for a second. I was confused out of the realm of possibility. She was acting weird. Really weird, even for her. I was no stranger to the peculiarities of parents, considering who my dad was, but this was weird. Mom was blunt- excruciatingly so at times with her scientific terms and her diagrams. What could possibly be so bad that she needed dad- the King of Euphemisms- to help her talk to me? And why was she acting so weird after I mentioned magick? I knew she wasn't a huge fan of it, knowing how harmful it could be if one let it get away from them- but she was married to the world's greatest mages, wizard, whatever you wanted to call it (or one of them). She couldn't have disapproved that much.
And I was already ready for my influx of magick to begin. Dad had already been teaching me the basics, meditation and the like. I was totally going to be able to handle this.
We reached the bedroom, my mom going to sit with my father on the bed. "John." She said, looking him straight in the eyes. Never before had I seen her look so uncomfortable. "We need to tell her, now."
He jerked back, mirroring my mother. "Why now? It can't wait until morning?"
She put her graceful hand onto his arm, firmly gripping his bicep. "We've waited too long as it is, John. She needs to know." Her voice was gentle with an undercurrent of iron, brooking no argument.
He sighed, more uncomfortable then even she was. "Fine." He turned to me. "Perhaps you had better sit down."
I frowned at them both, not understanding, but took a seat at the foot of the bed nevertheless. I cocked my head, waiting for them to continue. Somehow, I knew this wasn't going to be good news, but I couldn't fathom what it could be. I ignored the dread throbbing in my lower abdomen, like phantom cramps.
"Claire- we were hoping this wasn't the case, but it seems obvious now." Dad said, his eyes meeting mine. His face was totally serious. "You had just seemed so excited, and we didn't want to ruin this for you, but we know now…" he took a deep breath, and I geared myself up for something horrible. "You're not going to become a mage, Claire."
I blinked. What was he talking about- of course I was. I was his daughter after all- how could I not?
"You see- the ability is passed down from generation to generation," I nodded, I got this. I mean- it just proved that I would get powers because he was my father, "on the mother's side." He finished.
I swear I stopped breathing. Mom wasn't magickal, not in the least. But how…
"Scientifically speaking, it's hidden away in the mitochondria, and mitochondrial DNA only comes from the mother…" Mom said, using her best scientist voice. Any other time it would have been helpful, say for a school project. I let her voice fade into the background, Right now, winded as I was, knowing the specifics was only extinguishing whatever hope I had.
"I know you're disappointed…" She continued and I had to stop myself from scoffing. Disappointed? That wasn't the half of it. I was destroyed, racked, ruined. There was a gaping hole in my chest where all my hopes and dreams used to be. "But we want you to know that we love you- you're no different then you were before. You are still Claire McKinley, our daughter."
No I wasn't! I wanted to scream. I couldn't possibly be.
I felt like an impostor, a stranger. I didn't even know myself. Most of all, I felt betrayed. Betrayed by my own body, by a quirk in genetics I couldn't even control.
They stared at me for the longest time, surprised by my stony silence. I looked at my hands. Those worthless, human hands. They would never do anything important- limited to schoolwork and menial tasks. No tears fell from my eyes. I was empty, hollowed out by a toddler with a melon baller. My one purpose in life had been taken from me. However melodramatic and angsty that seemed.
I would never follow in my father's footsteps. I would never be the daughter he deserved. I was a mortal, a liability, damsel in distress. I would only get in the way.
There was a roaring in my ears, some far away nightmares awaking, coming to light. They were ready to start hunting, and I, of course, was prey. Their scales danced at the edges of my vision, red spots that seemed to multiply and take over. I had to move, to get out of there before they fully materialized and swallowed me whole.
I stood from the foot of the bed, not looking either of my parents in the eye.
A sudden horrible thought came to me- it was their fault. If Dad had only married a witch, another mage, I'd have my powers- I'd be… I'd be…
But I wouldn't be me.
It wasn't their fault. How could it be? They simply fell in love with each other- the most potent and powerful of magick out there. I couldn't be angry at them for that. And I wasn't.
I was furious with myself.
I walked to my room, each step sounding weak and defeated, the steps of one on the way to the guillotine. If only. I collapsed onto my bed, unable to get those ringing, somehow accusatory words out of my head. They taunted me with each reiteration. You'll never be a mage.
The worst possible punishment I could be sentenced to. To be normal.
I turned over on the bed, covering my head with a pillow to try and silence the voices screaming across my echoing cranium. I still couldn't fathom this- something I had wanted my entire life, forever out of my reach.
The tears came eventually, silently leaking from my eyes like a sweating glacier, melting in the relentless sun. I cried until I had no more tears to spare, until my eyes would have been as dry as unseeing stones if I had not stopped.
I felt exhausted- two major revelations in one night, wonderful. I rose from my bed, naked of any and all soaked sheets, and turned to the bookcase in the corner of my room, covered in any and all magickal paraphernalia. I had a sudden mental flash of it all burning, and I felt some satisfaction.
Unfortunately, I couldn't do that. Most of that stuff was protection against supernatural forces, and I needed those more than ever now that I wouldn't be able to protect myself.
Instead I took my journal, a little girl's dribble of dreams and hopes that would never come true, spells I would never get to try, possibilities that would never happen in a million years. I took my matches and carried the book over to my metal wastebasket, throwing it unceremoniously inside.
Lighting the matches was a little more difficult, the first few not even sparking. The next few lit, but burnt out just as quickly. Finally, the fire caught on one and I threw it at the bottom. Slowly the small book caught fire.
It crinkled the bottom of the pages first, charring them before they too ignited, the fire climbing slowly up the paper like ivy climbing up latticework. It moved up the cardboard cover slowly, taunting the picture of a faerie princess staring up at the moon and stars, consuming her inch by inch until she was just stinking ashes. It was a certain type of satisfaction, watching those pages burn, watching something I created become utterly obliterated.
I stood there for what felt like hours, watching the fire scourge clean my open wound, disinfecting it even as it burned.
Eventually I found myself collapsing onto my mattress, staring blankly at the pile of ashes in my wastebasket as if waiting it to pull a phoenix-act and resurrect itself. I don't remember falling asleep, but I guess I must have done. I almost wish I could have stayed that way.