Remember When (Suggestions?)
Author: Jewel Heart

Chapter 7
Chapter 7

“No,” I answered tediously to a student.

“Can I ask why?” The boy was cute in some form, with curly brown hair and soft brown eyes.

“I don’t plan on dating at all this year.”

“You could always make an exception for yours truly?”

“I said no.”

Indifferently, I pushed past the student and headed to the cafeteria. My usual table was in a shaded corner which had been abandoned upon my arrival. It’s good to know I’ve set a reputation for myself. Following the daily routine, I pulled out a sketch pad. Sad to see that my oil pastels had been left somewhere at home, I scavenged for a sharpened pencil.

My first drawing was started by light, curved strokes that ended in a sharp, angled line to the left. Soon that was identified as a rock—dozens of them around the bottom right side of the paper. From there, I worked with little specks—moss. Then rough, rounded lines that turned into a mountain. The completed drawing was a sketch of a rock slide. How it had come to be this was beyond me. No thought had been given—my mind had blanked, vision blacked and every brush my hand gave the paper was how I saw the work.

I stared at the paper. It became a crumpled ball in my hands. I threw it across the cafeteria. It just barely entered the trash can.

“Nice throw.” Not only did I turn, my defensive stance consisted of jumping onto the seat and grabbing the person by the neck. It took a moment to realize that it was Gavin. “Good to see you again, too.” His eyes were wide, the hazel swirling between honey and gold.

“Oh.” I released and took back my seat. Another look around brought eight other teenagers into focus. “Good evening,” I nodded towards Icy, Willow, Rain, Gabe, Autumn and three unfamiliar young adults.

“What, you’re not yelling at us today?” said Rain dryly. Rain Suarez was a lovely girl with emerald green eyes with soft flecks of brown, and diamond shaped face framed by soft waves of light caramel hair which brought out the soft pink splashed across her cheekbones.

“I apologize for having been rude,” I said. “You ask too many questions.” She took a seat across from me, followed by the rest of her friends. “Sure, take a seat.” Sarcasm was strong today. “Who are you people?”

They exchanged looks. Finally one with innocent blue eyes, chestnut hair and sharp features answered in a sincere voice, “I’m Leonard Foster. Lithia?” He offered an apologetic smile.

“Milo Watts,” said the young man on Willow’s left. Dark brown hair that fell in waves on either side of his face emptied his crow-like eyes and filled them with an endless coldness. His jaw was set and he looked around the room quickly—he was paranoid.

An eyebrow arched curiously as I scanned each of their faces. The last one was pale with a gray tint to his skin and dark circles under his chartreuse eyes; he looked as if he had not slept or eaten in weeks or as if he were recovering from an illness that left him restless. “And you?”

His eyes narrowed defiantly. He retaliates, was my first thought. “Billy—Billy Navarro.” The voice was deep and velvety and soothing, almost identical to Alan Rickman’s.

“Pleasure. Why have you all chosen to surround me this particular time of the day?” I politely leaned forward and crossed my legs, feeling a bit of pressure at my ankle from the strap of the high heels.

“You seemed lonely,” answered Gabriel. “You know I can't leave you.” I didn’t move.

“I didn’t know you were all friends,” I said instead.

“Childhood friends,” corrected Leonard. “Ever since we were seven, really—or at least with me.” He shrugged and I noticed a faint Scottish accent. I didn’t remember that.

“Brilliant,” I mumbled with false fascination. It seemed to have convinced him. “Now, is this the entire group or should I call to have someone pull the tables together?” My head cocked to the side insolently.

“You don’t have to sit here if you don’t want to, you know, Lithia?” retorted Willow.

“I must remind you that you were the ones who sat without permission.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes and took the sketchpad from underneath me. “What’s this? Class work?” He looked through each picture, dazzled.

“Wait, wait a minute, Gabe,” Icy paused. He glanced up at her and offered her the drawings which she swiftly snatched. “What’s this, Lithia?” She pointed to the drawing of a girl with creamy skin, electric blue eyes and lush blonde hair to her waist in the center of a forest.

“Just a girl. I don’t think when I draw,” was my response. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, how about we start with this question: Have you heard of the Snow Maiden?”

I frowned pensively. “The Snow Maiden? What is that?” The others wither shook their heads or stared curiously.

“A legend is all. This is her.” Icy indicated towards the girl.

“Tell us the story,” suggested Milo. “If you plan to speak gibberish, then you might as well fill us in on the details.” I grinned.

“Carry on,” I encouraged.

“It’s an old folk tale that my Mom used to tell me so I’d sleep—it’s Slavic so I highly doubt you’ve heard of it.” We nodded. “Well, there was once a daughter born to Fairy Spring and Father Frost—the most beautiful girl ever seen. She had skin as pale as the snow, eyes blue like the sky and thick blonde hair which hung down to her waist.” Icy glanced around the table to make sure we were paying attention. “That was the Snow Maiden.”

The correlation of the story and my drawing so far only seemed to be through the image of the maiden. I can comprehend why Icy would have mistaken the girl in my drawing to the Snow Maiden, but if this was a story from her childhood, how strange that she would remember it now.

Continuing, “Fairy Spring needed to hide her daughter from the Sun God because his rays could so easily destroy her daughter, So, for a long time, Snow Maiden and her mother lived deep in the woods. But, you see, it was very lonely there and one day Snow Maiden decided to go for a stroll.” Pause. “Nobody’s heard of this tale, right?” Shaking heads. “Oh, alright. Well, as she walked, she heard an enchanting sound which at first was far—very far away, but a sound which drew the girl closer and closer. For a long time, Snow Maiden searched for the cause of it until she reached an open field at the edge of the forest. There in an open field sat a farm boy—Lyel—playing his flute. From the edge of the forest, Snow Maiden watched and listened…and soon became enchanted with Lyel.”

“And everyone lives happily ever after at the end of the story, don’t they?” Billy muttered in annoyance.

Icy shook her head. “Not quite.” Returning to the plot, having enchanted everyone with her story, Icy was listened to intently. “Every day Snow Maiden would go listen to the farm boy play his instrument. Lyel would always ignore the beautiful girl that stood in the shades of the trees, and instead danced with the girls who sat by him in the sunlight. The Snow Maiden’s tender heart was shattered by the indifference. One day she decided to speak with her mother about the events. “Mother,” Snow Maiden said, “please let me feel real love.” Fairy Spring understood her daughter’s desire for the farm boy to love her, so she answered, “If you want real love, you must leave the protection of the forest and go into the open field where the boy plays his flute.” The next day, Snow Maiden once again followed the sweet melody of Lyel’s music to the edge of the woods.”

A chill trickled down my spine. The story so far had been vivid in my eyes, as if I was the maiden. Damn artistic minds won’t allow anyone to enjoy a story without living through it. Heat was building up in my body, small beads of sweat forming on the back of my neck.

“She stepped out of the trees and walked into the opening. Lyel turned to look at her, and thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen in his life. Just then, Snow Maiden stepped into a ray of sunshine, which illuminated her beauty to its fullest. But…” Icy was lost in thought for a moment. “But the Sun God’s rays were too strong for her…” She winced and shifted uncomfortably. “And she melted before Lyel’s eyes.”

The heat burst and wrapped me like a flame. Words and more words—no, thoughts—crushed my skull, almost cracking it open, or so it seemed. In the same flash it had appeared, the piercing of my skull dissolved into cool liquids. I blinked the feeling away.

“And all that came from my drawing?” I asked. Though, taking a second glance at the sketch I could see how everything had come to mind. Even after years of not having heard the tale, I would have remembered it in an instant when I saw this.

“It was a thought.” She shrugged.

“Hey, I really like this one,” said Autumn, changing the subject. It was a picture of the ocean and my old home in Hawaii. I remember Autumn from youth. She’s changed so much and so little. The baby fat was gone, her lips were fuller and her deep set slate gray eyes were lighter and bluer.

I was too busy pondering the Snow Maiden story to really interact with any of the people surrounding me. “Thanks,” I said.

“Where to today, Miss Redd?” Gabriel asked during our walk home. “Back to the storage to scavenge for treasures?”

“Actually, that sounds swell,” I responded. “The things Maxine hides in there are just so fascinating, you know? I don’t think she’s really visited the place for years—there’s so much dust.”

“Well, she does have Alzheimer’s, let’s not forget.”

“Yes, but she mentioned the key without hesitation upon my arrival.”

“Curious.”

I shrugged. “Oh, Gabe, I’ve been thinking that maybe this locket needs a key.”

A key?” he said in bewilderment. “Why would you think that that little thing would require a key?”

“Well, I don’t know. It seemed like a fairly logical idea at the time.” Gabriel simply laughed.

“Hey, come over for a few minutes,” Gabriel suggested after having dropped off my bag. “Mom made some cake yesterday. Just pray that it hasn’t been devoured.”

“Of course. The population of teenage males is what causes world hunger.” Gabriel snickered. “Let’s go. I think your mum likes me.”

“What?” He blinked, taken aback. “What do you mean?”

“I might have had a little chat with her.” He muttered something under his breath. “This will be fun.”

Gabriel exhaled sharply. “Win her over, Lithia. Or else we’re screwed.” He opened the front door to his home. “Mom? I’m home.”

“In the kitchen, dear,” the woman called back.

Three children passed us as they ran to the playroom, greeting Gabe on the way. It was a surprise that I recalled the house—or that it wasn’t affected by time. The kitchen was right next to the living room and the house’s layout was open. I could see Mrs. Kenward’s figure from the front door. Her charcoal hair was in a messy ponytail and she looked restless as she usually did.

“Mom, this is Lithia Redd, a friend from school,” Gabriel introduced me. “She also cares for Mrs. Knapp.”

“Good to see you again, Ma’am,” I tried to say with as little irony as possible. There was still unmistakably a small amount.

“Oh,” she said rudely. “Hi.”

Noticing the heavy atmosphere, Gabriel asked, “Uh, is there any cake left?”

“In the fridge.” Mrs. Kenward critically studied me from head to toe. Was I good enough for her son? Would I only be trouble? Her thoughts were easy to read. “There’s only one slice left.”

“We can share.” Gabriel took out the slice and handed me a fork. I nodded in silent thanks. “I’ll be out today. Love you.” He kissed her head and the cheek of the baby in her arms.

“Have a good day, Ma’am,” I said politely and smiled at the baby. “She hates me,” I laughed. “Oh, excuse me.” I apologized to the dark haired little girl I bumped into.

“Of course she does. She hates all the girls I bring home.” Attempting to hide my jealously, I glanced at a photograph. Tornado and Gabriel playing in the rain when they were four.

“You’ve had many girls over?”

“Just for projects, but she takes it so literal.” Gabe shrugged at the memories. “There was one girl she liked a lot, though.”

“Tornado?”

“Yes, actually.” He offered me cake. I enjoyed a bite of velvet cake. We took a seat in the living room.

“How many siblings do you have?” I asked when another kid ran past us.

He scoffed. “I’m one of fifteen, actually. Mom and dad have had many sets though.”

“I see. And do you have a twin walking around here somewhere?” I teased.

“No, no. Actually, if my parents had had one child per pregnancy I’d be one of seven.”

“That is still a large family,” I noted.

“Problem, miss?”

“No. It just seems nice,” I said. “I would love to be part of a big family.” Silence stretched. Gabe waited for me to continue. “My dad died when I was young and my mom deceased not long after. Mrs. Knapp was my only escape from the purgatory that was the orphanage.” This lie was a little too close to the truth. Hawaii had been a retreat but the five years were excruciating. I should have taken the therapy. It might have helped.

“I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault. I shouldn’t have said anything anyways.” Gabriel looked as if he wanted to hug me. I changed the scenario. “Shall we?” I stood and headed towards the porch with him.

“Gabriel!” Mrs. Kenward called, rushing to see her son. We turned, startled. “I don’t want you out too late. I’m afraid something’s happening in our poor little town.”

“Mom what are you talking about?” Gabriel seemed alert now, shaken up by his mother’s fright.

“The news—wait, you mean you haven’t heard yet?” She looked between the two of us, a slight hesitation each time her eyes drew towards me. Gabriel shook his head and I frowned. “For the past few weeks, there’s been a death rate increase here in Salem.”

“Only here, Ma’am?” I asked.

She shook her head. “All over Manhattan, actually—it’s spreading all over the United States of America.”

“Could it not be a simple virus going around? The same way smallpox hit in the sixteenth century?” I proposed. “There would be a cure.”

“No, no. The government is hiding something from us.” Mrs. Kenward’s voice was now shaking and her hands trembled. Gabe had to steal the baby girl from her arms. “I’m absolutely positive that from the research I’ve done and what I’ve noticed in the stories—these were all homicides.”


 

 

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