Chapter 1 of a book I have written. It is a middle grade novel.
|In the forest of Avyron, the heart stone ignited, awakened by magic seeping into the land. A tingling awareness swept over plants and animals like a flood, covering everything in its path. Trees rippled in anticipation and a buzz began amongst the animals. A current of change pulsed through every living thing. Only a few of the older animals even remembered it. Hope. Hope that had long ago disappeared.
Inside a cave on the far eastern side of the forest, the rock barrier receded as it had each time the magic’s tendrils reached into the forest. This time, the intensity of the magic dissolved the barrier completely. Beyond the new opening, a quaint waterfall cascaded down the rocky cliff, showering the cave with a fine mist. The path between the two worlds remained open for the first time, as light trickled in, casting a soft glow across the cave walls.
For Jess, driving out to Grams’s house was always like entering another country. Tall grass waved in greeting as she passed the meadows lining the road. Leaves fluttered down, blanketing the pavement. Out here, the tree’s long, leafy limbs were a welcome replacement to the cold, hard buildings that towered above the city. As the road descended into the woods, a peaceful calm seeped in, held at bay by the torrential storm inside of her.
“We’re almost to your grandma’s house,” the cab driver said, breaking the silence. Under other circumstances Jess would’ve welcomed the idle conversation of a stranger. Though today, even opening her mouth to speak took monumental effort.
“Thank you.” she whispered, as the crunch of the tires on the gravel road shook her loose from the man made world, and carried her beneath the living, breathing canopy of the forest. Leaning out the window, she let the soft, warm breeze ripple over her, sweeping away the confines and stresses of day to day life. The fresh smell of nature settled on her, reminding her why she loved this place so much. This was the where she belonged. Jess had known this for as long as she could remember.
Today, nothing felt the same. Heavy gray clouds and drooping leaves echoed the heavy sadness felt by the newly orphaned 15 year old inside the taxi. Even the animals stared mournfully at them as they passed by. They, too sensed the change, watching in quiet reverence as the taxi approached.
Jess leaned back in her seat, sighed and crossed her arms. Today, she wished she were anywhere else but here. She still couldn’t believe her mom was gone. Forever. It wasn’t possible that only 5 days ago, Mom had been eating ice cream with her at the kitchen table. Five days seemed like an eternity ago.
As they rounded the final turn, the old-fashioned farmhouse came into view. The familiar baby blue trim and white peeling paint were exactly as she remembered from last year. She could barely make out her grandma’s small frame seated in the rocking chair on the porch. Jess took a deep breath as they pulled up. Grams shuffled to the edge of the porch, waiting. Of course, Grams, of all people, understood that Jess did not want to be treated as if she were suddenly helpless. So, she smiled sadly, standing on the porch as Jess got out and the cab driver unloaded her bags from the trunk.
“You live pretty far out here, ma’am.” the cab driver said to Grams. “Not much of a talker, that one.” he said, jerking his thumb toward Jess.
Grams couldn’t even manage a smile. “She’s had a rough few days. Thank you for getting her here safely.” she said earnestly.
The cab driver set the two bags next to Jess and walked up to Grams, awaiting payment. Grams handed him a wad of money to cover the fare, plus a generous tip, and turned to her granddaughter.
Everything belonged here, like a painting where everything fit. The only thing out of place was the bright yellow cab kicking up dust and rocks as it sped back up the dirt road. Jess’s gaze settled on the tough brown eyes nestled between layers of soft wrinkles on Grams’s face. They nodded at each other, saying more than words or tears ever could as Grams enveloped Jess in her strong embrace. Turning as one, they walked up the creaky steps into her new home.
Grams’s house had always been Jess’s second home, so she settled in quickly. Her room and Mom’s sat ready for them, like always. She had to remind herself that this time she was here to stay. Mom would never again drive up the road to pick her up. How was it possible that everything changed in such a short time?
The moment before everything changed, they had been laughing and talking, like any other day. Jess tried to remember what they had been talking about but it was like watching a movie with the sound turned off. She could still see Mom’s face lit up by the crooked smile smooshing her eyes into a sliver of ocean blue. But she couldn’t hear the voice she’d heard every day of her life. Her mind, in a mistaken attempt to protect her, had locked that memory away so all Jess could recall was silence.