[Author's Note: Quick shout out to those who left comments on my Prologue. I hope the following chapters do not disappoint. This story is still in the process of being solidified in my mind and I'm just running with it right now. Also, apologies for typos. I try and catch them but most of this is written while on break at work and the keyboard I'm using is a Japanese one and the keys are a little different.]
Chapter 1 – The Schoolgirl
Lalia Greenfield was, by most considerations, an average teenager. Though average was not a great descriptor of any individual beyond physical characteristics. She certainly appeared average. She had brown hair, as most of the world had a variation of brown or black hair. Her hair fell into the darker end of the spectrum as well. It was long, going past her shoulders and to the middle of her chest, a length that most girls her age had. She wore glasses at times, contact lenses at others. Another commonality with over 70% of the world's population. She was of average height at 164 centimeters. All the face values might have put her in the 'just an average 17 year old girl'…but that would be to take things at face value.
No one was truly like anyone else. There were common interests, shared experiences and limits to appearances. However, deep down everyone was unique. There were always little quirks that kept them unique. Physically there were things to set her apart. Most of the time she could pass as Caucasian but her ethnicity was a mixture. Her mother was half-Japanese and half-Italian. Her father was from Britain originally but he had a mixture to him as well, his own parents a Welsh mother and a French man who had been of mixed African descent. She had a family history full of different cultures and most of the time she tried to avoid any projects at school that revolved around her cultural background. Her eyes were a bewitching shade of hazel that sparkled under the right light with a center of gold and an outer ring of green. Her feet were above average in size which made shoe shopping a tiring experience. She had rather long fingers which had left her adept at playing certain musical instruments. However it also led to poor circulation and in winter she wore gloves almost constantly.
She had her favourite hairstyles, specifically a braid across the front of her hair to keep her growing fringe out of her eyes and then all of her hair swooped back into a ponytail. She enjoyed wearing clothing with animals on it, oversized sweaters and leggings. She hated wearing jeans. She always wore the same necklace every day, an opal pendant on a silver chain.
She enjoyed watching animated children's movies, despised horror films. She loved to eat peanut butter with dill pickle in sandwiches. She hated bolognaise sauce on pasta. She didn't drink enough water but she'd started enjoying coffee early. Specifically she enjoyed lattes, made with whole milk if she wanted to treat herself or soy every other time. She'd gotten an espresso machine for Christmas one year and she bought her own milk-frother so she could make them from the comfort of home. There were a great many things that made her unique as opposed to her classmates. She talked to herself when she was alone. She documented her dreams in a journal she left beside her bed. She loved to flatten out her garbage when she was done with a snack.
And she had magic powers.
Categorizing someone at first glance as average…would certainly not be advised with someone like Lalia Greenfield.
Lalia had been possessing of odd abilities since she was a child. The first memory she had of it had been when she was a young child, though the exact age had been left out from the memory. She had been at the supermarket with her mother and there had been something she wanted. A walnut. It had just been a walnut. She'd wanted it, wanted to try breaking it open. Her mother had thought this small childlike desire for a nut was, by all definition, ridiculous and had rejected it. Lalia had wanted it though, so badly that her thoughts could not stray from it. She wanted it so badly. She wished it could just appear in her pocket and be hers. Then it had. Quite suddenly. One moment her hands were in her pockets, clenched into fists, and the next there was a walnut there. Nestled beside her hand.
She had waited until the car ride home to remove it from her pocket and quietly peek at it out of the line of vision of her mother. A walnut had appeared in her pocket. She felt incredibly guilty as she knew the walnut had been the exact one she wanted. It wasn't that she recognized it but as a child she knew. She'd wished for that walnut and it had appeared. She'd essentially stolen it, magic or not.
Over the next few years she'd tried a few other things and they'd come true. She could lift something off the floor, make things lighter. Sometimes she could run a little bit faster. Other times she'd eased the pain of an injury. She'd made things warm and cool. Nothing fantastic. It took a lot of effort and sometimes the weariness that followed made it not worth the trouble.
On top of that she could see things. Little magical things that others couldn't seem to see. She wasn't sure if they were invisible, exactly, or if they simply had a veil upon them that normal people couldn't perceive. It was mostly fairies in the forests and little animals here and there. Sometimes there were spirits of the deceased and there were the few times she'd spotted demons…though always small. She was quite grateful for that.
There had never been anything big though. She'd been able to live her daily life without incident and without really questioning it. Her abilities were so small that she really didn't think on it much.
Average. Yeah, that was her. Average.
"Hey Lily! Any plans for the weekend?" The girl who had the locker next to her asked. Her name was Eshe and her and Lalia had shared a few different classes during their time in high school.
"Uh…I was thinking of getting some studying in," she replied as she plopped her bag down and started selecting the textbooks she wanted to take home. "Also...it's Thursday. Planning ahead?"
"Friday is a joke. Anyway, it's December…" Eshe said, her face bluntly disappointed, "Finals aren't until January. What do you have to study for?"
Lalia paused before flicking her eyes up to Eshe and shrugging, "…just finals."
"Girl! You have got to be one of the blandest goody-two-shoes I have ever encountered," Eshe rolled her eyes. "You always get good marks-"
"Because I study," Lalia pointed out, she straightened her back with a stretch. "That's not all I'm doing. There's a new show out on Netflix and I think I might binge watch it on Saturday night."
"That a'girl!" Eshe complimented her happily.
"Also," Lalia said, "Some of us can't pull off last minute studying. I'm jealous of you. You get pretty good marks too and you do everything the night before."
Eshe shrugged, "I know what works for me. Only problem is if I forget we're having a test. It's either an A or an F. There is no in between for Eshe." She plopped only a single textbook into her bag and turned her head to talk again but then stopped, mouth open like a fish before she began to rapidly smack Lalia's arm.
"Hey! Ow-ow-ow!" Lalia hissed back.
"He's coming!" Eshe whispered anxiously.
Lalia turned her head and there he was. The group of young men currently walking through the halls were generally seen to be the most attractive group in the school. Five boys who all excelled at their given fields: Sami the soccer captain, Jian the student body president, Farid who was one of the strongest members of the debate team, Jacob the star basketball player and Salvador who had played every major role in every dramatic performance that had happened at the school. They were a well rounded group of friends who had so many excellent qualities that most of the girls in the school swooned at the mention of their names. 'Gorgeous' was a word thrown around a lot.
Lalia didn't really care. Well, not in the way most girls cared.
Eshe watched as they went by, transfixed. Lalia watched as well but only so that she could see if she could catch Salvador's eyes. Back when they were younger they'd been friends. Secret friends. They'd never acknowledged each other within school but after school they'd met in the forest and discussed magic. Though as time had gone on Salvador had become less and less welcoming of it. He'd told her to hide it more. It became risky to even talk about it. Finally…he'd stopped coming to the forest altogether. Something had frightened him about it, for some reason he'd come to hate her. They'd never interacted within school so that had simply continued. But every so often she'd catch him staring. She had to admit she stared as well when he wasn't looking.
"God they are just gorgeous!" Eshe gushed, "They're like a variety sampler pack of deliciousness. A bit of athletics, a bit of bookish smarts, a bit of leadership. Plus," she looked over at Lalia with a smirk, "You have to admit that a friend group is always better when it embraces the rainbow."
"Right," Lalia nodded with an amused smile.
Eshe groaned, "Come on, you can't tell me that not a single one does anything for you."
Lalia shrugged, "I don't really know any of them." Her heart was beating in her chest now. She hated it when conversations came to this. When people started talking about their crushes. Demanding to know her own feelings about others. They never believed her when she said she felt nothing. Sometimes she wanted to scream…but she kept it to herself.
"They look like angels on earth," Eshe jabbed, "You don't have to know their characters. They. Are. Beautiful. Talented. Smart. Built like...god...I don't even know."
Lalia zipped her bag shut and shouldered it, "Sorry Eshe, I've got nothing. I'll see you on Monday."
"Girl you sound broken!" Eshe called after her jovially, "I'll find you a man yet!"
Those words stung most of all. Why was this the pinnacle of teenage existence? Dating, romance, sex…why was that it? Why was that always what it came down to? She felt nothing. She wasn't broken. She knew she wasn't broken….now. Things had been different when she was a teenager. The start of puberty had been her first indication. The first crushes and she'd felt nothing. She'd felt broken. Absolutely and utterly broken. Until she'd done some sleuthing on the internet and found the words to describe herself. God…not everyone was straight.
To this day she had never outed herself to anyone. It was none of their business. She knew who she was and that was enough. But that didn't stop jokes like that from hurting. She wiped at her eyes quickly before exiting the school building and beginning her walk home. She'd walk today. It was a crisp December day but the sun was out. The walk would help clear her head. It would make her feel better.