Malachi Amerson was many things: an average student, an ex-figure skater, a mediocre chess player. But he lacked something that most would call a necessity- punctuality. He was always late to every important event in his life. He was late for his first day of kindergarten, his first ice skating practice, his middle school graduation, even as a fetus he missed his due date by three days. Needles to say, it was no surprise that he missed his 3 alarms and woke up an hour late. As if that wasn't bad enough, the car keys were nowhere to be seen and his parents had started to panic.
"Did you check under the couch?" hid dad asked.
"Twice," his mom replied. "What about in the kitchen cabinets?"
His dad ran into the kitchen and rummaged through the cabinets to find the cursed keys. When he found nothing, he turned to his wife with a frown. "Not here. I could have sworn I saw them yesterday when Angie came over-" He stopped. He must have come across the same realization as his wife because his frown deepened. The two adults shared an exasperated sigh and his dad ran up the stairs to the guest room. None of them were surprised when he came back to the kitchen with the keys in hand.
Malachi's older sister, Angie, had never approved of his enduction to Grimm's Academy for the Extraordinary. She thought the school and the city where it was located were stealing children from their homes to brainwash them into obedient killing machines by the blood-stained hands of a cruel dictator. Ever since they were children, she tried to get rid of the golden medallion that served as a sort of acceptance letter. But no matter how far she threw it or how many times she sold it on Ebay, it always returned. Now, as a last attempt to keep him from going to the magical city of Mechem, she must have hidden the car keys in her old room.
"Honey, go get your bags we have to get going if we want to catch the plane," his mom said.
Malachi nodded and walked up the stairs to his room silently. When he walked in, the smile he had plastered on his face dropped, and he let his shoulders sag and sighed. He fell on his bed to try to enjoy his last minutes of freedom. He just laid there, relishing in the quiet stillness of his room. Time seemed to stop in the small room. If he closed his eyes, he might even trick himself into believing that he was just a normal 15 year old boy whose only worry was covering up the giant zit on his forehead. Unfortunately for him, he was one of the lucky few who were chosen to attend the prestigious Grimm's Academy for the Extraordinary in the magical town of Mechem. He, like the others chosen, would train to become vessels of fairy tale characters and live out their destinies. So, instead of skating after school or hanging out with friends on the weekends, Malachi would now be learning how to wield magic and how to swordfight. The whole prospect would be more exciting if he didn't have to leave his family and friends to start over in some alien city.
The screeching of the rusty family van's engine woke Malachi from his daydreaming. He got up from his bed with a sigh and grabbed the suitcase from under his bed. He placed them on top of the green blanket and opened the suitcase to double check its contents. Everything was packed and neatly folded in its designated spot, exactly where his mom had put them the night before. She had insisted on packing his suitcase, and he was grateful because if anybody could fit his whole closet in a suitcase, it was his mother.
He noticed that there was something green poking out from under his Star Wars sweatshirt and moved moved it to get a better look at the object. When he did, he came face to face with a framed picture of him and his family. Malachi had just won 1st place in the men's solo division, and he stood arm-and-arm with his coach and cousin, Amanda Collins. Angie was on his other side. He was a year younger in the photo, and his exhaustion was evident in the gleam of sweat on his forehead and in the numerous hairs that had escaped his short ponytail. Despite his fatigue, picture Malachi sported a large grin and proudly held up his medal. The competition had only been a state competition, not that important in the long-run, but to them it had been a great victory. Stuck to the bottom of the picture frame was a post-it note with a brief message: Remember who you are. There was no signature, but Malachi was familiar enough with the handwriting to know who the message was from. Angie must have sneaked the picture into his suitcase when she stopped by for a visit yesterday.
"Malachi!" his mom called from downstairs. "Hurry up we have to go!"
"I'll be down in a sec!" he called back. He placed the picture under his pillow and zipped his suitcase back up. He was going to Mechem to "start a new life" like the acceptance letter said. He didn't need a reminder of a life he couldn't go back to. He grabbed his suitcase and his carry-on backpack, and with one last glance around the room, he walked out the door. He got to the top of the staircase before he stopped and went back to his room. He grabbed the picture from under his pillow and hesitated for only a minute before putting it in his backpack and leaving for the last time. Maybe having a small reminder wouldn't be that bad. It was just a picture, what harm could it do?
Malachi grabbed the suitcase he left at the top of the stairs and made his way down the stairs and out the house. His dad was already waiting for him by the van and put his suitcase in trunk before ushering him in the car. His mom, who was sitting in the passenger's' seat, turned around and took a quick picture of him once he secured his seatbelt.
"Oh, look at you, so grown-up. It seems like just yesterday you were starting kindergarten, and now here you are, on the way to high school in Mechem of all places! Let me take one with the necklace showing," she insisted.
As he started to pull out a black chain from under his shirt, his mother spoke up again. "Not the locket, the one from Grimm's." Malachi took the necklace out from under his shirt and let it rest on his collarbone so the "G" engraved on the golden surface was visible.
"Now, say cheese!" his mom said with a bright smile.
He tried to match her smile, but it looked more like a grimace than a smile. Once she took a couple pictures and turned away, he hid the necklace under his shirt and let his smile drop.
"Wait till your Aunt Lucinda sees this." After a few taps on her phone, the pictures were sent to the Amerson family group chat, or the Amfam as his aunts and uncles called it. His mom had insisted upon it to keep tabs on everyone, but it eventually became a way to show off.
Before he could roll his eyes, the driver's door opened, and his dad climbed in. He looked at Malachi through the rearview mirror. "Ready?' he asked.
Malachi half smiled. Never. "Absolutely."
His dad nodded and started driving down the driveway. Malachi rested his head on the window and the house he had grown up in get farther and farther away. It wasn't till the house was out of sight that he allowed himself to close his eyes and whisper a soft goodbye under his breath.