by 🐾GeminiGem 🐾
Elle finds herself surrounded by kids with natural magical ability. Can she fit in?
|The Reluctant Fortune Teller
11th Story in the "WITCHFUL THINKING" Series
by 🐾GeminiGem 🐾
featured in "Short Stories Newsletter (August 22, 2018)"
he homeroom teacher peered at the attendance list. She adjusted her glasses, and then called out, " Johnson? Tyrelle-Rex Johnson?"
Elle raised her hand to indicate that she was here. She waited for the teacher to acknowledge her or go on to the next student, knowing full well that it would never be that simple.
"I am taking attendance now, you can ask questions afterward, Miss...Miss..."
"Johnson. Tyrelle-Rex Johnson," Elle provided. The room broke out in snickers. She knew part of the reaction was from the fumble by the teacher, and some were about her name. It wasn't lost on her that people found a skinny, fair-skinned, red-headed girl with a name like hers amusing. "Elle for short," she added, with a one-shoulder shrug. She looked down at the notebook on her desk, letting her long hair drape down to mostly cover her face. She was done with being in the spotlight.
It wasn't long ago that she had thought that the most traumatic thing about her life was her name. The thing that her mom had about Elle having mystical powers had been a family secret, up until now. She could hear her mother's voice in her head. It runs in the family, Ellie. You come from a long line of talented mystics. Now here she was at a high school full of actual magical people, and she was the biggest fraud there was. She had begged her mother to put her in another high school, ANY other high school, but mom would not be swayed. You belong there, Ellie, with all the other magically-inclined kids. Elle had tried her best to convince mom that she had no magical or mystical abilities whatsoever, but mom would hear nothing of it. You predicted that Scruffy would run away, didn't you? You did everything to prevent it, and she ran away anyway. See? You have the Sight, you just don't want to admit it. Mom always brought up the day the family got their new puppy, a Cocker Spaniel named Scruffy, when Ellie tried to deny her fortune-telling abilities.
t lunchtime, she stood with her tray of food, looking for a place to sit. She heard a friendly male voice with an English accent call, "T-Rex! Hey, T-Rex! Hallooo!"
When she located the source of the voice, she saw two girls and a boy she recognized from her English class waving her over to their table. She headed their way, then pulled out a chair and sat down with them. She looked at the boy. "T-Rex?"
He grinned. "Yeah, sure! I thought the nickname would give you street cred."
Elle opened her eyes wide in disbelief. "Street cred? Seriously?"
The girl sitting next to him rolled her eyes. "I'm Jessica, were-llama." She indicated the boy to her left, "Eddie gets like this when he eats too many carrots."
The girl sitting next to Elle chimed in, giggling, " I'm Trudy, were-squirrel. I like the name T-Rex. It makes you sound fierce."
"Eddie, were-hare," the boy said, introducing himself.
"So, you guys are all were-animals. That's pretty cool," Elle said.
"What's your talent, T-Rex?" Eddie asked.
This was the moment she had been dreading. The moment when she should confess to her new friends that she was a big, fat fraud. That she didn't belong in a high school for the magically talented. That she had somehow got skipped over in the gene pool of powerful Seerers, Clairvoyants, and Divinators. That her biggest claim to fame was that her parents had displayed a twisted sense of humor when they named her.
"I, uh, I come from a long line of Seerers," Elle managed at last. That wasn't a lie or even a half-truth, even if it didn't really say much about her own talent. She wasted no time reaching inside her backpack to find something that her Aunt Shelly had given her as a gag gift. It should be just the thing to distract her friends from their line of questioning. She had brought it along thinking it might come in handy.
Elle plastered a serene look on her face and closed her eyes. "Ask me anything."
"Will I pass the first English test?" Trudy asked.
Elle withdrew her hand from her backpack, revealing her Magic 8 Ball. The classic toy was just the thing to distract her friends. She waved her right hand over it dramatically, then gave it a little shake before she flipped it over.
All three teens laughed, and Trudy shouted, "Woot, woot!" while doing a tiny victory dance in her chair.
"I recommend you study for it, though," Elle warned.
"I have another question," Jessica said. She cleared her throat and looked at Elle. "Will Eddie ever get around to asking Brittney out?"
Despite the suppressed giggles from the girls and the indignant, "Hey!" from Eddie, Elle closed her eyes and waved her hands over the Magic 8 Ball.
The girls laughed and Eddie looked relieved, Ellie noted. Relieved? Did he believe that she was doing a professional reading with a Magic 8 Ball toy?
As they picked up their trays to head to their lockers before their first afternoon class, Trudy said to Elle, "Hey, we hang out at the city park after school for a while. We might be in animal form, but you should join us."
Animals can't ask questions. It sounded like a winning plan to Elle.
t the park after school, Elle sat cross-legged in the thick grass under a huge oak tree. There was a pure white llama with a jaunty neck scarf grazing nearby. A frisky squirrel teased and chased a fluffy gray bunny. The rabbit sat up on his back haunches, and the squirrel stood her ground in front of it, chattering and flicking her tail.
"You guys argue even in your animal forms," Elle observed. Jessica the llama nodded her head, then blinked her big, beautiful eyes with the impossibly long eyelashes. There was a quiet breeze blowing, and sounds from the town drifted to them as if from very far away. Elle could see children playing on swings, slides, and other playground equipment at the other end of the park. Elle's first day at her new school had been draining, and she found she was a little sleepy. As she relaxed, she started to drift away.
With a jolt, Elle sat upright, looking around frantically. She felt a tiny paw on her knee and looked down to see Trudy the squirrel looking up at her with concern on her face.
"Danger," Elle said. "Danger comes. Get to safety!"
Without hesitation, Trudy scampered up the oak tree. Eddie zipped off and disappeared under some dense bushes. Jessica stood where she was. Elle was unsure what to do next. She felt embarrassed about her declaration of danger.
A few moments later, a white terrier came racing toward them. He spotted Trudy in the oak tree. He jumped and barked at the squirrel, and desperately tried to get to her. The squirrel scolded the dog and threw an acorn at him. Then she disappeared into the upper leafy canopy of the tree. The terrier decided to see what the llama was all about. He charged Jessica, but she opened her mouth and spit at him, much like camels do when they are displeased. The little dog swerved around her and kept ongoing. They could hear a man calling for the terrier and the dog raced off in that direction.
Crisis averted. Elle watched as the man slipped a leash on the dog and led it away. When she turned around, Eddie and Trudy were standing there in there human forms, looking at her.
"What?" Elle asked, feeling self-conscious.
"Thank you for that warning, T-Rex. We are usually more careful and stay alert for possible dangers," Eddie said.
"We got a little carried away with our disagreement, I guess. You kept us safe with your vision," Trudy said.
"Vision? No, no. I must have heard that dog coming. His tags jingled or something," Elle replied.
He didn't have his collar and tags on because he had just slipped out of them. That's how he got away from his owner," Trudy said.
"Well, I must have heard him somehow."
Jessica joined them in her human form. She was still having more trouble than the other two changing back and forth between her two forms when she wished it. "You don't think it was a vision? Sure looked like you were having one."
Elle looked at her friends. Could she tell them? Could she let them know that she didn't have visions? Would they still want to be friends when they found out?
Elle took a deep breath. "Look, guys, I don't really think I have visions. I don't have the Sight. I'm nothing like the rest of my family."
"Nonsense!" Eddie said. That was a vision, no doubt about it."
Elle looked doubtful.
"Wait a minute. Didn't you say your previous vision happened when you got your Cocker Spaniel puppy? Maybe having us in our animal forms amped up your talent. It probably is just there, lying dormant." Trudy thought for a moment, then snapped her fingers. "Hey, I know! You should come over to Sydney's and Maizy's place. They are two super cool witches who run a home for misfit Familiars. Maybe one of the Familiars can help you unlock your talent."
aturday morning, Elle joined Trudy, Jessica, and Eddie at Sydney and Maizy's home. Maizy had asked her best friend, Sydney, to move into the old Victorian that was owned and haunted by Maizy's ancestors. The two young witches had fixed the place up so that the purple-trimmed house looked inviting. As the group of teens trooped inside, Elle was amazed by all the animals they had in a perfectly clean house. These animals were all witches' Familiars that weren't currently with a witch, but they still needed to be around magic. A tiny pink and white pig came running in the room, heading straight to Jessica. Jess dropped on the floor and hugged him as he squealed with delight.
"Zappo! I've missed you, you little scamp."
A black cat trotted up to Elle, sniffed her shoes, and then barked. Elle looked at Trudy in confusion.
"That's Chica, Maizy's Familiar. She's actually a Chihuahua in a cat's body, so she presents in a...unique way." Trudy leaned down to stroke the cat's body and Chica licked her hand and wagged her tail.
Elle wandered around and greeted the various animals in the big living room. She wasn't exactly sure what she should do, but she figured this was a good way to start as any. When she walked by the cat tree, she was startled to see a tiny creature poke its head out of a soft bag that was hanging from one of the platforms. She was even more startled when the creature made a leap and landed on her shoulder, getting tangled in her long hair.
Maizy said, "Here, let me help you," as she attempted to untangle the tiny creature from Elle's hair. When Maizy got it out, she showed Elle what had jumped to her. "He's a sugar glider and his name is Zipper."
At that moment, Zipper jumped from Maizy's hand and landed back on Elle's shoulder. "I think he has chosen you. He has some special care needs, so I hope you'll be able to take care of him properly." Maizy gave Elle a cozy little bag she had made to wear so Zipper could travel in comfort. Zipper happily climbed into the bag, and the teens left in a group, calling their thanks and goodbyes to the two witches.
"Wow, I have a sugar glider Familiar! How cool is that?" Elle said. Zipper poked his little pink nose out of the bag.
"Let's go to the park for a while," Eddie said. The group, with Zipper in tow, headed in that direction.
The teens sat under their favorite oak tree and played with Zipper. He was a friendly little guy, but he clearly preferred Elle.
Looking around Trudy said, "Is that the same guy with the white terrier that was here the other day?"
"Yeah, it sure is," Jessica said. "I hope he keeps that dog under control this time."
"Lesson not learned, the danger now becomes the victim," Elle said, staring off in another direction entirely.
"Wait, what? What do you mean by that?" Trudy leaned toward Elle. "Did you just have another vision, T-Rex?"
Elle shook her head as if to clear it. "I, uh, I'm not sure. I thought I saw the terrier slip its collar again and run out into the road, getting hit by a car."
"Oh man, we need to warn that guy. I don't care if that dog chased you guys, he doesn't deserve to be hurt that way," Jessica said.
Elle slipped Zipper back in his pouch and the group headed over to the guy and the little terrier.
"Hi!" Trudy said the young guy. "Is this the dog that slipped his collar here the other day by any chance?"
The guy's face registered surprise. "Yes. He likes to run off and chase the squirrels, I'm afraid."
Trudy grimaced but pushed on. "Have you gotten him a different collar since then, or could he slip out again? There are always squirrels, rabbits and other small animals in this park. Aren't you afraid he will run out in the road and get hit by a car? I'm sure you want your little dog to stay safe. What if there are children in that car, imagine how they would feel if your little dog was injured by the car they are in. Plus, there are always kids here in the park to witness something like that, too."
"I hadn't thought...yeah, that would be bad," he said. "C'mon, Lucky, let's go to the pet store and get you a harness." The man scooped up his dog and headed to his car.
"Ha, you really laid it on him, Trudy! And I can't believe your little sugar glider is already working his magic with you!, T-Rex," Eddie said.
Elle didn't like to admit it, but her mom had been right. She did have the Sight. She had just needed friends who believed in her when she didn't believe in herself. Her friends had helped her find that something special to bring out her talent. Elle scratched her tiny Familiar behind the ear. "You are amazing, Zipper, and we're going to make a really good team."