Thursday, April 11, 2013
Know your enemy
Sara looked at Lavinia’s perfect shoes and pleated skirt and knew she’d never live in a trailer like her. Then she noticed her feet.
“Hey, your socks are gone,” Sara stated.
“It’s my…” for a moment Lavinia wanted to tell someone, to share her secrets with the one person who might understand, to make friends. Then she snapped out of it. Lavinia wasn’t even sure the formula worked or how far it would go.
“Never mind,” Lavinia turned around and pretended to walk in the opposite direction.
It didn’t work.
The day had to be overcast and the weather conditions perfect. She took a second swig of her potion. Finally, she had the perfect reason to use it; researching Sara Bright with her braided hair, pert nose and smart girl glasses. Lavinia had wondered why Sara got to school early and walked home in the opposite direction. In any case, Lavinia knew because she’d stolen her chemical romance notes, that Sara was the keeper of secrets. Sara was the only girl in school whose powers came anywhere close to her own. To be smart and gifted wasn’t enough to get into Sloan Select on a scholarship. You had to be more than special.
It was really weird. Lavinia had been working on her chemistry skills since she was in preschool but it had taken until now to get her most prized formula right. She’d mixed three of Sara’s to come up with it and also taken note of, the equations to make someone love you (warning: never to be properly used). They had been written in Sara’s strong handwriting.
Lavinia knew she was not a natural conjurer. Her inclinations always lay in the direction of mischief; she had to rely on technology and potions; Sara had gifts that went way beyond what was considered powerful. They were natural, innate, whereas Lavinia’s powers were not. They relied on basics she’d been learning since she could breathe. Even her trusty cell phone had been gifted to her by the previous queen bee of Sloan when she left; there was no way she could compete without access to Sara’s notes. Why weren’t they working?
Sara shrugged, turned her back on Lavinia and walked on.
There was no point in trying to strike up a conversation with someone like Lavinia. For some reason, second sight rarely worked with her. Sara could only occasionally see her deeds, thoughts or intentions. Lavinia was dark inside, Sara could sense it. The last thing she wanted to do was compete with her. It just made her the centre of attention – unwanted attention. At the children’s home, she’d been thrown out of class for opening windows when she wanted to feel the sun shine in and not just through glass. The trouble was, she’d opened the windows without a touch.
Her own gifts and talents, which were considerable, had been the source of way too much trouble. Her foster mom forced her to live in a trailer in their backyard, away from her six foster brothers, when she noticed Sara moving objects around the kitchen with barely a glance.
“I don’t want you influencing the younger children,” her foster mom told her.
Sara didn’t mind living in the trailer; she just didn’t want others to hear about her gifts. Her foster mom agreed not to tell. After all, Sara had won a scholarship to Sloane and that was all the younger children needed to know. Sara liked her foster brothers. Even though they freaked out when she changed the weather or merged them quickly through time to get to school faster. They thought time travel was like a fair ride but Sara received disciplinary action at Sloan for ‘not using her gifts wisely’.
Sara couldn’t wait until she turned eighteen and could leave ‘home’ and Sloane Select forever. She wasn’t entirely sure why she’d been born different but there was a kind of joy in knowing there were others like her; Jack Hunter for one.
Meanwhile, as Sara reached her home, Lavinia was near.
She’d pretended to retreat, knowing that moment when she was about to give up made it perfect timing to push on. But she had paused, wondering when the formula would take and make her invisible.
As Sara walked away from her, flowers grew out of the concrete pavement behind her steps and the overcast sky changed to a perfect sunset.
In that same moment, Lavinia was as clear as air.
The queen bee looked at the sky and changed the sun to a thunder clap.
Know your enemy, Lavinia thought. So she followed her.
After half an hour, it was getting dark. Lavinia was invisible but she was also lost in this part of Los Angeles. She’d taken the bus practically to the other side of the world – her parents would be horrified – and she wasn’t sure how long this invisibility potion would last. It was due to wear off, and she knew she’d be tired when it did. How could it be safe to sleep on some park bench, here?
Finally, Lavinia and Sara had reached a group of homes at the foot of some hills on the outskirts of the city and on the edge of a vacant lot. This was not a nice place to live; at least it didn’t seem nice until Lavinia noticed Sara walking into a ramshackle house, through the back door and down the stairs towards a trailer.
The van was old and a bit rusty looking. The night was folding in; but something strange happened. The minute Sara entered the trailer it lit up with fairy lights. It looked like a tiny, mobile palace. Lavinia wondered if, apart from Sara, only other gifted people could see this.
Lavinia walked closer to the van. All you could hear was the crunching of her feet and the slight shiver of her shoulders in the breeze. The closer she got, the more tentative she became. Through the window, Lavinia could see Sara talking on her cell and singing along to a song when she started doing the dishes. But even the dishes seemed like an easy chore; they literally started doing themselves and Sara settled on the couch and flicked on the television. Her life was not as bad as Lavinia had imagined it to be. In fact, it was magical.
Lavinia thought she should go – it was obvious Sara was a conjurer – she could manifest and move objects, one of the most powerful gifts of all. She made Lavinia feel like a fraud. After all, without her cell, what did she really have? Perhaps this girl could do other things that would make her a match for Lavinia. Lavinia’s envy grew.
Sara seemed settled in her perfectly lit luxury trailer and Lavinia knew her own parents would be worried about her.
Just as she turned, a leopard started running towards her in the distance, not really running – he was moving so fast, it was like he was merging; his paws barely touched the ground. Then he merged into a boy and the boy became Jack Hunter. He was a shifter, of course. The leopard part of him must have picked up her scent.
I should never have worn that perfume, Lavinia thought as she stood her ground. Then, just as Lavinia was about to run, the teenage boy walked confidently towards her, pulling on his shirt.
As he moved closer, Lavinia noticed he was smiling.
“Don’t worry, whoever you are. Your perfume put me off.”
Lavinia froze, knowing if she ran, the ground would crunch beneath her feet.
During basketball practise, Jack could run faster than anybody else. Lavinia had never seen him actually merge. She knew he only did it when other people weren’t around. It was a pretty freaky condition. He looked so normal. Sara wondered what he was doing all the way out here in the dark; it made sense that he liked to run in the hills at night, just being a wild animal, unless… He started walking away from her towards Sara’s van in the distance.
Then Lavinia knew.
Sara and Jack were meeting up with each other.
The boy knocked on Sara’s door as Lavinia could feel her body re-emerging slightly in the dark; she felt woozy, sleepy and angry. She wanted revenge; Jack was hers. Lavinia was sure he’d invite her to homecoming dance but if he didn’t, she was going to use all the power she could to make him take her.
Lavinia saw her fingernails emerge first. The color chipped from the trauma of invisibility. She knew she’d have to hurry home before she fell into a deep, trancelike sleep, which gave her an idea.
Reluctantly, jealously, she left.
“Did you bring it?” Sara asked Jack excitedly.
Jack handed Sara the powerful stone she’d asked for, one that could only be found at the foot of the mountains. It was a good excuse to become a tiger but the changing process was uncomfortable, verging on excruciating. He needed a special reason, or a special person, to go through it to say the least. Jack suddenly felt faint and headed outside. After he threw up, he guzzled some extra water.
“Gross,” Sara said when Jack returned.
I did it all for you, Jack thought, as if you’d even notice. Sara had her hair pinned up in braids and her glasses firmly on. She was ready to work. Her formula notes cluttered the small table in the van.
“I don’t understand it, half of them are missing. I wonder if…” It occurred to her that Lavinia might have them but she couldn’t worry about that now. “We have to find a way for you to change easily, without any pain.”
“Yeah, that would be good,” was all Jack said. It had never occurred to the teenagers that they might be able to stop changing altogether.
Jack had met Sara at the East LA children’s home when they were very young. No one knew how they got there. At the home, they’d been constantly ostracized for being different. But they were both smart; Sara excelled at Chemistry and played piano and Jack was great at Math and sports which is how they got out of the home and ended up at Sloan on full scholarships. They both hated the social snobbery at the school, were bored with the cliques, and that made them bond instantly.
“Thanks,” Sara said. She had over a dozen formulas in her head but they needed this special stone - only found at the foot of the mountains - to practise on. She was very glad she hadn’t written everything down, just her alterations to those ridiculous romance formulas Reddie Hood was begging her to fix. Sara had told Red they were only for fun and not long lasting, but this didn’t appear to bother Red.
Together, Sarah and Jack spent the night – or until the early hours of the morning – testing Sara’s merge formulas and finally changing the stone to soda to fire and back again. It was an amazing new trick, even Sara was impressed. They had never pulled it off so quickly and seamlessly before. They took turns doing the shifting and moving of the objects in the van; practise made perfect. Soon they might even be powerful enough to change each other and to merge quickly. They both knew, anything amazing, any mad skills, took real effort. It was just like putting a ball in the hoop, Jack thought, you had to practice.
He and Sara had been working on a shifting move that would allow Sara to shift and Jack to move objects (the skill each of them lacked), making them the most powerful duo at Sloan, protecting them against people like Lavinia.
It had occurred to Sara that Jack had been quite enthusiastic about hanging out with her after school, but she figured he was just as interested as her to learn more about their combined powers. She had no idea he liked her. Not yet.
Of course it had never occurred to Lavinia when she arrived home, partially invisible, out of breath and tired, that Jack was also a foster child. Both he and Sara had shared the children’s home and had a common bond that would not be broken.
As Lavinia plunged into a hot bubble bath and flicked her cell to silent, she knew just two things, one: Sara had befriended Jack, two: Jack was hers. Hadn’t she scrawled Mrs Lavinia Hunter all over her English Literature notes?
After Lavinia was dressed in her pajamas and robe, her cell charged, she texted:
Ring ring in my phone how can I find Sara Bright a new home?
Lavinia, you already have; look around you, work your magic. Jack could like you more than her. All it would take is something fan-tas-tic!
The next day at school, Jack couldn’t help but notice Lavinia at basketball practise. Lavinia made sure of it. She prettied herself up and used her most powerful, forceful potion. It could take hours… or days to work. She’d keep offering him drinks any chance she got. Lavinia also manipulated the basketball which was totally against school rules. Every shot of Jack’s went through the net. He was the highest scorer; the hero of the hour.
Lavinia dreamed of the perfect dress for homecoming dance. She drew it in her mind and knew it would magically appear in her wardrobe by tomorrow night. When Lavinia had her moment, at the dance, Sara would be standing alone, like a stalker and the whole school would turn against her.
Lavinia smiled at Jack through her pom poms which he thought was funny. She never smiled at anyone else. Her nose was so far up in the air, it was hard not to laugh. Lavinia misinterpreted Jack’s smile in return. He was just being polite but she determined to get Jack to like her, more than like her. To that end, she texted:
Ring ring on my cell how do I make Jack my dance partner do tell?
Lavinia dear, it’s not as easy as you think. You’ll have to make him another drink. Oh, and get Sara Bright out of the picture… if you know what I mean.
I don’t, not really Lavinia texted back. It was all becoming slightly confusing.
Then use your imagination. Sara Bright is your only rival; make sun into snow, turn a wave tidal.
How would she ever convince him to drink a new potion? Especially a love potion like the one she’d devised? And how could she make it last through homecoming? Of course, it never occurred to Lavinia that love bought was not love at all. Lavinia didn’t care.
Jack was a shifter, who knew what her skills could make him do? Shifters were unpredictable.
Lavinia knew she was a girl who waltzed by using technology to replace real ability. She wore her skirts short and hung around with other mean girls who pretended to be nice and weren’t. She aced chemical romance class but deep down, she knew Jack would avoid her if he could. It was obvious he only had eyes for Sara freaking Bright.
Jack Hunter waved at Sara in the crowd. He was going to ask Sara to come to homecoming dance with him, Lavinia could see it. He was determined. It was time for them to get real – start acting like normal teenagers, less like freaks, at least for one night. Those were Jack’s exact thoughts.
Lavinia fumed inside.
What a stalker, Jack thought as he glanced at her. He didn’t like mean little rich girls who’d been gifted with everything including mediocre talent.
The cell phone never lies
Lavinia dropped her pom poms and raced to the chemical romance classroom. Quickly she mixed various formulas and came up with an extra potion that was sure to have a longer effect. She texted:
Ring ring on my phone, is this the formula? Please intone.
Yes Lavinia, you are all politeness when you want something.
Raising her eyebrow, Lavinia texted: sorry for dropping you.
Lavinia spent at least ten minutes mixing the formula. She literally ran out of the classroom and caught Jack leaving when her phone rang a red alert.
The first person Jack loves is the person who wears your winter gloves.
Cryptically, that’s all the text said.
Quickly, Lavinia raided her locker to collect her cream angora woolen gloves. She pulled them onto her hands along with her coat. She hoped she’d got it right this time, finally.
Lavinia wielded her power in the hallway as she chased after Jack. She only had to flick her winter scarf in the air for her minions to part and empty the hall. Lavinia needed this moment, alone with Jack. Her phone kept mocking her texting her the question and answer over and over:
Ring ring, that boy’s no tool. Who is the fairest in the school?
Well, you used to be Lavinia, but now you are yesterday’s news. Today it’s Sara Bright.
Lavinia nearly lost it, throwing her phone at the wall in anger. She smashed a few of the pink rhinestones but realized how foolish it was to take her frustrations out on her trusty smart phone, and gathered the pieces into her purse to stick back onto her phone cover – later. She switched off her cell, never one to let the truth halt her ambition.
Jack was nowhere to be found.
Lavinia stormed out of the school and marched up to Jack Hunter who was practicing shots through the hoop, waiting for Sara.
“You look hot. Here I have some water. It hasn’t been used.”
Lavinia reached out and handed him a flask.
He’d never been challenged by a girl before but he was thirsty. He opened the lid.
“By the way, I know your little secret and I think it’s hot. We might have comparable skills. You should come with me this afternoon. We could all hang out.”
Jack rolled his eyes and took a sip. It tasted good, refreshing, better than water. He looked up. Lavinia smiled.
Jack wasn’t sure what was holding Sara up. They were supposed to be practicing object merging again tonight. It couldn’t hurt to check out the queen bee’s skill set.
“Drink up,” Lavinia said as they waited in the parking lot, “you played a great game.”
“Thanks,” Jack said. Lavinia was starting to look much prettier than usual; her personality seemed nicer, her hair blonder, her smile… sweeter.
A chemical romance
Reason took over just before Jack was about to take another sip.
“Stop,” Sara said.
Jack turned around and saw Sara running out of the building.
“Don’t drink it, she’s added a chemical or something; I’m not sure. Something to make you do whatever she tells you. It’s the part of my notes that’s missing.”
“Hello?” Lavinia said, as if she had no idea who Sara was. “And who are you to accuse me of that?”
“Let’s just say I have good instincts.”
“But you can’t be sure, right? I know you can’t read my mind.”
“That’s true,” Sara said, “but I know your type.”
“Really. Oh, that’s right. You have very… peculiar talents.”
The trio walked towards the car park.
“Yes, and all you know is potions and how to listen to your cell phone.”
“Well, I challenge you to a competition. Winner gets to take Jack to homecoming.”
“Hey, wait a minute, I’m not for sale.”
“You should be so lucky,” Lavinia said. This wasn’t the Lavinia Jack had seen a minute ago.
“Sure, but no… props,” Sara said, “ ‘cos there’s no way you’ll win once we take your cell off you.”
“Okay. But I get to choose the place – my place. Now. Game on. Race you both there.”
“Wait, what’s your address?”
“Since you’re so clever, you work it out.”
And almost instantaneously, Lavinia disappeared. Whether she moved so quickly, or she could actually become invisible, Sara wasn’t too sure.
“I think she has an invisibility potion,” Sara said. She could see it quite clearly. “And a love potion… she’s more powerful than we thought.”
“I’m going to trace her.”
Jack merged into a tiger and followed Lavinia to her home. When he arrived he merged into human form and texted Sara the address.
Lavinia insisted on bringing Jack a drink which he declined.
“Hey, I don’t want any part of this stupid competition and I don’t trust your drinks.”
“Pity, it could be fun. I think we’d be great together.”
“I doubt that.” The sip of potion he’d already taken had clearly worn off as they waited for Sara to arrive on the deck of Lavinia’s luxury beachfront mansion.
“Maybe she’s not coming.”
“Oh, she’s coming,” Jack said. “Sara likes a challenge.”
“Mmm… I don’t know what you see in her.”
“Who told you I like her?”
Lavinia waved her phone at Jack.
“I know everything.”
“Gimme that. No props, remember.”
“Sure.” Lavinia handed Jack her cell.
“I trust it’s in safe hands.”
“You must be thirsty from all of your… exertions.”
“I’m fine,” Jack said, even though he was starting to look enviously at Lavinia’s infinity pool. The house itself had dark, ornate decorations inside.
Moments later, there was a knock on the door. Lavinia opened it.
“Hi,” Sara said.
“Hi, I didn’t think you’d show,” Lavinia sniped.
“Well, that was your first mistake.”
Sara had taken longer; she’d stopped by her desk in chemical romance class to pick up a few tonics. Without her phone, Lavinia would never know. Sara expected her powers to be severely impeded on her rival’s turf. She knew a few antidotes to whatever the meanest girl in school had planned might be necessary.
“So, why did we have to meet here again?” Sara handed Jack a drink from the vending machine at school.
“Thanks,” Jack said, gulping the soda. Shifting made him seriously thirsty.
“My place has the view.”
The trio looked out at the sparkling ocean in the afternoon sunlight. Suddenly, the sky turned cloudy and lightening rang out. Lavinia paused for a moment.
“Wait, I didn’t know we’d already started,” Sara said.
Lavinia smiled just as the sun began to shine brightly again.
Suddenly, the soft waves lapping to shore turned from mid to large then almost tidal. One enormous wave seemed to gather all of the others and form a huge tsunami-like wave of water.
“Stop!” Jack shouted. “Killing surfers is not part of the game.”
“You’re right, as always. That’s what I like about you, Jack. You are such a humanitarian. It’s wonderful to have the voice of reason.”
Sara was impressed that Lavinia’s skills had developed with the help of her notes. With or without her phone she was now a force to be reckoned with.
“Here’s what I suggest,” Lavinia said. “A truce. We should all be friends and work together to make homecoming dance, perfect. To make everything at school, perfect. I’ve decided to become… good. I want to be part of the ‘in’ crowd. I want to be part of this crowd. We three have the most powerful skills in the school. I suggest we friend. What do you think?”
Sara shrugged, she often drew blank where Lavinia was concerned. “Let’s make a toast with soda – that’s all I have. But I promise there are no potions in the bubbles!”
Jack turned to Sara, unsure. Lavinia seemed friendly but he knew she was dangerous.
“If I can’t see any danger, it might be because there isn’t any,” Sara whispered.
The maid arrived with drinks, sandwiches and a bowl of fruit.
The maid tasted the drinks and food for them, to prove it was safe.
“Perfectly fine,” she smiled.
Jack tucked into the food hungrily. Lavinia handed Sara a juicy, red apple.
Suddenly, Sara had never been so hungry, so keen to take a bite.
And she did.
Almost immediately, she collapsed.
Her apple was poisoned, Jack’s sandwich was laced with love potion – a love potion that made him like Lavinia – so, at first, he barely cared that Sara was lying motionless on the ground. Moments later, he was moved to place a cushion under Sara’s head. Lavinia had used a powerful potion to remove doubt and fear. She had filtered it through the heating system.
Lavinia’s love potion had also been filtering through the air all afternoon and Jack had arrived earlier than Sara. (Even so, the potion only worked on boys!)
Lavinia rubbed her palms together. She was thrilled that her plans were in process. Her maid just shook her head.
“I hope you are right and these childish potions are only temporary. You promised you’d never do this again…”
“I lied,” Lavinia said, laughing.
After Jack collapsed on the couch from too much of the formula, Lavinia had the maid turn off the air filter.
Sara fell into a trance like sleep that only love’s true kiss could wake her from.
Jack woke first and Lavinia told him to carry Sara home then return to take her to homecoming dance.
Jack did exactly what Lavinia told him to. He found himself unable to resist and was soon driving towards the vacant lot near Sara’s van. He stopped the car. Homecoming dance was a distant memory away and Jack was delusional. All he could say was Lavinia’s name. All he could taste was the sweet sticky juice of the colorful potion. Strangely, it tasted of all the most amazing things in the world: oranges mixed with berries and the flavor of honey. It tasted, good.
In a split second, Jack found himself seated beside Sara who was lying on the couch in her van. Eyes closed, seemingly fast asleep, Jack’s cell was in his hand. He’d been fielding texts from Lavinia.
It was almost evening, Jack reasoned. He had no memory of the afternoon that had preceded the darkness. All he remembered was Lavinia and her concerned face. Lavinia was their friend, wasn’t she? He and she were going to homecoming dance together, weren’t they? That was all he knew.
Sara breathed deeply on the couch in her trailer. He thought he better let her sleep.
It was strange that there were no lights on in her van, the dirty dishes were stacked in the sink, the bed had been left unmade. The place was a mess. Sara’s magic was far stronger than that. He wondered what had happened. Then he realized it was late. He had to get dressed and drive to Lavinia’s house. They had a date to go to homecoming dance, didn’t they?
That was when he heard a rap on the wall of the van.
He opened the door and six boys, all between the ages of eight and twelve, all staring up at him, stood outside.
“We’re Hughey, Dewey, Henry, Matty, Donny and Lonny. We’re Sara’s foster brothers. We have to be quick or our foster mom will notice we’re not in our rooms. Sara sent us a text before she went to that wicked Lavinia’s house. You must be Jack.”
Dewey continued, “We know all about Lavinia.”
Henry added, “She’s pretty powerful.”
Matty said, “She used to be our student adviser in elementary school when we were only six years old.”
“Lavinia blamed us for all her wicked schemes,” Donny added.
“She causes trouble wherever she goes,” Lonny confirmed.
Then, the boys added in unison: “She’s mean.”
Jack’s skin itched, his memory was returning. Lavinia was wicked but she wasn’t as good at chemical romance as Sara. She couldn’t, for example, stop the formula properly. It was wearing off. Jack was returning to his senses. He had an idea. He couldn’t remember that afternoon, but he could remember he knew how to merge, back in time, back to yesterday. So he did.
Instantly, he was back in chemical romance class, after it had ended. He got up from his desk, walked past Lavinia who smiled at him. Strangely, he ignored her. He felt himself doing this and couldn’t stop. It was weird because they were in love, he was sure of it. They were going to homecoming dance, weren’t they?
This time, when class ended and Lavinia grabbed his hand for lunch, he made an excuse and ran back to the empty classroom.
He searched Lavinia’s desk and found Sara’s chemical romance notes. There were trance formulas and love formulas and forever potions all written over Sara’s handwriting in Lavinia’s scrawly hand. Lavinia’s wicked formulas were scrawled over Sara’s initial equations; all things that were too advanced and banned in school.
It occurred to Jack: Lavinia was a hot mess. Her ‘love’ was trickery. He’d been played. Sara was the girl he really loved. Sara was under a spell that only… it said here in Lavinia’s handwriting… true love’s kiss could break.
True love’s kiss
Jack needed to summon every ounce of energy to go against the spell, to do what his heart intended.
He’d dressed for homecoming dance, determined to ‘act normal’ as his foster dad would have advised. He’d saved to buy a real car so instead of merging into various animals in order to arrive at a destination quickly, he could drive.
But time was important tonight. He knew, according to Sara’s own notes, he only had thirty-six hours to release Sara and he’d already wasted most of them. It was hard, going against everything the voice inside told him – go to Lavinia, Lavinia needs you… He knew it was a lie, all of it. He could feel it inside, in the place where love and memories meet. He could feel it in his heart.
When he arrived on the road that took him to Sara’s place, he realized there was only about twenty minutes until Sara would be in a trance forever. There was no release from that, at least none that Sara had written in her chemical romance notes.
It wasn’t fun, but he did it; he merged. He became a cheetah, the fastest running land animal on the planet and got to Sara’s van in double quick time. He tied his dinner suit around his collar in a packet. When he merged behind the trailer back into human form, he was dressed in the suit he intended to wear to homecoming.
Dewey and Henry were sitting on the steps of the trailer playing computer games. The boys were taking it in turns to protect their sleeping foster sister which was kind of cool.
“Okay boys, I have the antidote, it might be better if you guys go inside now. Your foster mom is looking for you.”
“Is she going to be okay?” Dewey asked.
“Okay,” Henry said.
“Yeah, I was getting bored with this anyway.”
It was hard for Jack to walk inside the trailer. He didn’t really want to kiss her. His mind told him not to. Fact is, he couldn’t stop thinking about Lavinia with her Barbie princess looks and perfectly wicked smile. But he told himself, it’s just a hoax, eyes on the prize.
Sara was lying on the cabin couch. Jack noticed the hem of her blue jeans had water from the ocean, still damp. He thought that was weird, as if nothing had changed from this afternoon, apart from the fact that Sara was still breathing.
He looked it up.
“A short kiss… must be on the lips.”
He looked around. This was going to be weird. He leant forward and kissed her lips. Jack sat back, feeling nothing… almost.
Overcome with a feeling of wellbeing, he sat back in the couch on the other side of the van. Outside, the night sky seemed to shine with stars and the familiar feeling crept over him again, the one he’d been feeling for a while now. It went beyond friendship and towards a more lasting connection.
Sara opened her bright blue eyes.
“It’s me… Jack.”
“Why are you dressed like that… did you?”
Jack put his hands in the air.
“It’s a long story. Not exactly a fairy tale but the next closest thing. You must have been studying trance formulas in chemical romance. Of course, Lavinia…”
“Now I remember. Lavinia is wicked. She hates us…”
“Well, not exactly us…”
“I mean she likes you… did you?” Sara felt her lips with her perfectly unmanicured fingers.
“Before you freak out, it’s here. You should know, when I kissed you I totally didn’t want to…”
“I’m not finished… before Lavinia put a spell on us? It wasn’t just friendship I felt for you. It says here, true love’s kiss is the only thing that would wake you.”
“Oh… right. I felt something too.”
“I have a surprise for you. My car’s outside. I thought you might like to come to homecoming dance. We have… an appointment to meet Lavinia there.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“The school dance might be perfect, neutral territory to put an end to our challenge.”
It was a cold winter night when Jack and Sara arrived in the entrance hall of Sloane Select. The auditorium was lit up with winter Christmas lights for the dance.
Jack and Sara walked in holding hands. There was no use pretending they were just like everyone else. They were different, stronger, more than just some fairy tale teens in school. Sara stopped wanting to pretend they were just like everyone else, especially tonight. They couldn’t pretend Lavinia was just your average mean teen girl any longer, could they?
Sara wore a gorgeous blue dress and her hair was in a braided up do. The clasps in her hair changed color with the temperature, from gold to glass to pink and shining. Jack had even remembered the corsage, which also changed flowers with the change in music. They designed the corsage in the car on the way to school. It was really quite easy to conjure with the help of the magical notes. Lavinia’s hands had been all over them, of course, even though they’d managed to retrieve most of the pages. Somehow Jack had Lavinia’s gloves in his pockets.
Sara was freezing and wore them. It was time for Lavinia to pay for everything she’d done. Jack and Sara wanted her disempowered, out of their chemical romance class, maybe even out of the school for abusing and stealing the formulas of others. There were rules against that, after all. They’d never be able to prove the trance stuff; that would be too far-fetched even for Principal Ross.
When Lavinia arrived, Jack and Sara were waiting for her in the hallway.
“Jack, I waited in my limo for ages, then we drove by your house but no show! What happened?”
“Let’s just say, I came to my senses.”
Sara stepped out from the shadows, “The love potion you stole from me wore off.”
“But you’re supposed to be…”
“Sleeping? Jack came up with an antidote – you forgot to put the correct fixer with the formula, Lavinia.”
“What’s the matter, didn’t your cell phone remind you?” Jack asked.
A crowd of Lavinia’s chemical romance contemporaries gathered; all girls in her class she’d previously bullied.
“What? I Uh…”
Instantly, Lavinia stood in her perfect off the shoulder dress and placed a mote around herself, creating a gap between her and everyone else.
“You’ll need more than that to impress us,” someone in the group said.
With one glance, Lavinia froze the mote to ice.
“Is that all you’ve got?” Sara asked. The music had stopped. They merged to the dance floor.
Sara quickly melted the ice into bundles of snow which then gathered in the roof and came down upon Lavinia with a thud. Suddenly, the ice princess resembled a snow man.
Lavinia summoned all her wicked power to detach the snow from her clothes and blast it towards the students gathered in a mob near her. In retaliation, Sara turned the snow to rays of sun, beaming down from the dark windows. Moments later, the afternoon sun shone low in the sky before turning to night.
Lavinia was exhausted, worn out.
Principal Ross moved towards her.
“You have to come with me now, Lavinia. We have to talk. It has come to my attention that you’ve been stealing formulas and using them to harm others; you’re looking at suspension or worse…”
Lavinia’s powers were weak compared to Principal Ross’s. There was no way she could go against him so soon after her exertions.
And that was how Lavinia, the terrifying princess came to be suspended from Sloane Select High School.
She was allowed back eventually because no one could prove that she’d truly intended to harm Sara and Jack. But Sara and Jack knew, as they danced their first dance together, that Sara would need more than a suspension to stop her from becoming a wicked little queen.
Sara smiled at Jack who smiled in return.
“It’s going to be a good night.”
“Our first dance.”
Sara leaned in and whispered.
“Did you get it?”
“Does it work?”
“I don’t know.”
The phone buzzed as the song finished.
“Pick it up,” Sara said.
“What does it want?” Jack asked bemusedly.
The tone was blank. Jack shrugged. Then he checked messages: Just to let you know, Lavinia Price says hello.
“Huh?” Jack looked at Sara.
Tell her, we’re busy. It’s called happily ever after.
Sure, read the reply text, good luck with that.
On their way to Jack’s car, Sara threw the cell in the school dumpster.
That night, it didn’t stop ringing and in the morning an unwary freshman by the name of Rapunzel Jones picked it up just before the garbage collectors arrived.
Rapunzel recognized the pink rhinestones and knew it belonged to Lavinia Price.
Everyone said Lavinia was a mean girl, a wicked girl, but Rapunzel thought she was nice. Rapunzel smiled as she texted Lavinia and they made plans to meet after school at a new amusement park called, Happily Ever After. Rapunzel had always wanted to be Lavinia Price’s helper, part of the ‘in’ crowd. Lavinia promised her if she returned her cell phone, she’d teach her everything she knew.
Summer Day is the author of Pride & Princesses, Wuthering Nights, Anne Eyre and Truly - teen novels inspired by classics. Snow Bright and Bella Cinderella are novellas inspired by classic fairy tales. All are available on Amazon.
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Twitter: http://twitter.com/summerdaylight @summerdaylight