Opulence This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

May 1, 2008
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I’ve been watching him for days now. When he leaves his house to go to school, I’m the one carefully tailing him, switching cars every day to make myself look less suspicious. If he ever sneaks out of his second-story room, I’ll be the one silently watching from a nearby tree. In class when he turns, feeling eyes on the back of his head, I’m the one who sent the hair on the back of his neck up on end. I am the girl whose shadow is always slightly overlapping his.

Being assigned to watch him almost makes me
feel like I’m not a stalker. Though I’m only 17, I’m a full-fledged member of the organization known as O.P.U.L.E.N.C.E. I’ve been with them since the ­tender age of five. It’s my home. Being an orphan, my office is also my permanent residence, the couch a fold-out bed. There are many others like me: no family. A lot of us are loners and haven’t chosen this route for ourselves.

I’m a tracker. I have been for years and some might say that I am the best at not being the best. In other words, I’m great at being invisible. Or at not being noticed. It’s not as hard as the others in the organization think. Being young and female is good, since most we track are young. Seeing me around younger people – my age, actually – doesn’t raise alarm bells. It helps that I’m cute. With a small frame, light hazel eyes, and short blond hair that curls under my chin, I don’t appear threatening. Of course, my ­organization-funded training doesn’t back that theory.

Soon I won’t be tracking down others with the power. They are finally going to give me an apprentice. After years of mastering everything I’ve been taught, they see my potential. That’s not to say I know everything. Even with my extended life I won’t be able to learn all the things I want to. If only this annoying boy would show the signs. It’s been almost a week. If he doesn’t show soon, they’ll reassign me. That much longer until I get my apprentice.

So here I am, sipping a latté and waiting for the Target to leave for school. I have been put in all of his classes in case something happens there, though I graduated high school years ago. Private tutors sped things up. With no family or personal ties, I had lots of time to devote to my studies. Martial arts black belts. Twelve languages, not including English. Everything a girl needs for a serious career in the agency. Such positions of power are not handed out easily. You must prove yourself many times over.

The Target and I have never spoken, but I know a lot about him. His file told me some, but after watching him for only a few days, I feel confident in saying that I know things no one else does. Not just the obvious, either. He resents his father and is protective of his mother, which makes me suspect the father is less than faithful. He smiles often but doesn’t make a lot of eye contact. He usually only speaks when spoken to. Although he has many friends, he isn’t close with any of them. The Target is observant, a watcher. This leads me to believe we would get along if he shows any promise.

I look down at my watch, then back at his house a few blocks away. The Target is late, which means I’ll be late too. Today my ride is a shiny black sports car, not out of place in this suburb full of midlife-crisis men. I turn on the engine impatiently. I’m fiddling with the radio when I hear something. I don’t feel any immediate danger, and I know to trust those feelings. But I ­also know that something is off.

Just as I am about to get out of the car and pretend to look in the trunk, the passenger door opens. I look up in surprise as the Target slides into the seat next to me. I grin, quite pleased by this turn of events. This is definitely a good sign. Perhaps intuition is strong in him. That would be good for my apprentice to have, complementary. I could handle having to deal with that.

“Hello, Lenna. Why have you been following me for a week now?” the Target asks lightly, conversationally, his first words ever said in my direction.

Ah, one of my many aliases. The organization set it up so that whenever I’m on a case, I get a new name, past, and present. It’s very powerful. The organization can basically do anything it needs; it has people everywhere imaginable. I’m just one of many, though there aren’t that many at the top, as I am. They don’t trust many to be trackers. Or to be apprentices. All of the full members have the power, though we control others to get things done.

My smile deepens as I say in my authoritative, professional voice, “My real name is Jade. I am a witch of the moon and a tracker for the organization known as O.P.U.L.E.N.C.E. You are also a witch. We would like to formally welcome you into the organization as my apprentice. Here is my card for verification.”

Jade Wordsworth
Tracker for O.P.U.L.E.N.C.E
Official Political Understanding Lending ­Everyone ­Navigation for Co-Existing Ethereals
Office hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon-Sat
Phone: 555-5555
Proud league of witches of the sun and moon.

“What do you mean ‘moon and sun’? Or ‘tracker’?” he asks, still looking at my card like it’s going to ­disappear.

“Types of magic. Moon is all about spells, the sun is more potion-based, though each type of witchcraft involves the other somehow. As a tracker, I find people like you and I bring them to O.P.U.L.E.N.C.E. Every witch must register, train, and become a member by law. In fact, the organization is like a government targeted toward witches,” I explain with a smile, loving the fact that this time I get to teach the newbie.

“Magic? Seriously?” he asks, eyes wide, meeting mine. They are large, yellow, and catlike.

I click a button on my left, automatically locking the doors. I put the car into drive, pulling out onto the road. As an afterthought I add as a courtesy, “I think you had better come with me.” .

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 875 comments. Post your own now!

audralane10 said...
Jan. 25, 2009 at 10:02 pm
WoW! Very creative, I wish there was more.....
fabi123 said...
Jan. 23, 2009 at 3:18 pm
DinoRawr3 said...
Jan. 23, 2009 at 1:38 am
That was awsome!! Definite rising author...
WonderfullyWicked said...
Jan. 22, 2009 at 10:28 pm
I will agree that the beginning is very good. I will also agree, however, that it does need work. I think your character is what I know to be a "Mary-Sue." She is flawless, being cute, smart, etc. Some readers won't want to read about a flawless character--it's not relatable.

Some of the sentence structures, especially in the style of speaking, seemed a bit awkward. It would really work, it's just that you described her to be smart and professional, and I don't think her... (more »)
little*miss*black*heart said...
Jan. 22, 2009 at 1:03 am
I loved it! Don't listen to what anyone else says because this would definitely be a hit!
intheknow said...
Jan. 21, 2009 at 6:10 am
Ignore the comparisons to TWILIGHT. Right now the paranormal YA market is hot and there's a lot of room for these books. Your plot is original and fascinating. I saw no problems with the pacing--you hooked the reader and continued at a good clip. It promises to be a real page turner. Keep up the good work for I hope to see this one on a bookshelf soon!
ichithekiller said...
Jan. 20, 2009 at 3:11 am
"I didn't like it. The writing is choppy and it gives me too much of a Twilight vibe."
lunarmoon32 said...
Jan. 18, 2009 at 1:21 am
i am also the witch of the moon my nickname is luna or lunarmoon and i am only an apprentice at 11 years old in Manchester
clyn12 said...
Jan. 17, 2009 at 6:18 pm
I didn't like it. The writing is choppy and it gives me too much of a Twilight vibe.

It has potential, though.
Iwannaread said...
Jan. 17, 2009 at 4:06 am
I think you should write another one, it was good.
Ian S. said...
Jan. 16, 2009 at 8:29 pm
It was great but it sounded like your character was flawless. You may love your character that way but your audience will get more satisfaction with a external and internal struggle...
Loved it!
Someneedtoknowadvice said...
Jan. 16, 2009 at 8:26 pm
You've got the talent. You've got the creativity. You've got the ability. I'm not sure you have the experience. It is a fantastic book but if you want to hit "Bestseller" you need to slow your story down. For now write a fast story and then add on to it!
YoungAuthor said...
Jan. 15, 2009 at 12:00 am
I felt as though the story fell in between "Harry Potter" and an inventive spy game. It's good that you enjoy writing, but "write what you know"...what you feel. It seems like an exaggerated genre(sci-fi), and a bit unfocused and quick. I believe your characters need work as well...it didn't draw me in. Unless your audience ranges from 10-13 years of age, I say its not a bestseller. But good luck on that rough road of literature! Keep writing, and congratulations on your fans... (more »)
deepideasNickie said...
Jan. 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm
this story has a great idea and is a good story that makes me wont to keep reading
Notafan said...
Jan. 13, 2009 at 10:35 pm
The story had promise at the beginning, but eventually it began to decline. At the paragraph where Jade explains "OPULENCE" to the boy, I almost rolled my eyes. If it hadn't been before, everything was bad from there. The way you painted Jade - as absolutely perfect - was ridiculous. And the sentence, "As an afterthought I add as a courtesy..." was awful. I don't see this going anywhere, but, unfortunately, we live in the era of "Twilight", as "Critic" sai... (more »)
Critic said...
Jan. 13, 2009 at 10:28 pm
The writing and initial idea were so-so and it definitely pulls people in. However, I can't help being reminded of "Twilight", which frustrates the heck out of me. Your story has the makings of a book like that, and though I know that most people will find that positive, for me it's one of the worst things a story can be. The way you pull people in is almost deceptive (hey, this might be good...) and overall it's extremely shallow. You seem to be a bit obsessed with wacky, pointless ad... (more »)
smgshorewood said...
Jan. 11, 2009 at 9:40 pm
This is great- it pulled me in! Definitely a better use of five minutes than doing my history homework. If you publish this I'll buy it =)
melinda13 said...
Jan. 10, 2009 at 4:27 am
That was so cool! I loved it. great job!
TLKxx3 said...
Jan. 10, 2009 at 1:05 am
but the context is a little hard to understand.
great job, though.
abbystrub said...
Jan. 9, 2009 at 1:12 am
What a great story! The entire piece left out just enough to make me want to keep reading, but there were enough details, subtle or not, that it wasn't frustrating at all. If that wasn't enough - a Michigander! I can never find any. Proud to live in the same stare, Victoria. Excellent job.
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