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Forever Without

Focus. Breathe. Relax.

I hate it. It is dull, boring. It’s supposed to teach patience, control. It’s supposed to help me find my inner power, find tranquility and peace. But I am not patient, and I don’t have control. I can’t find peace because the sound of silence annoys me so much, and the smell of incense makes me want to gag. Except I have to be perfectly still, immobile as a statue. One that isn’t enchanted, that is.

Focus. Breathe. Relax.

How can I relax? It’s too warm. I’m sweating through my shirt. My hair is plastered uncomfortably to my neck and shoulders, but I can’t brush it away. Immobile. I can’t concentrate hard enough. I’m going to fail-again. I am losing my focus, I can feel it. I can feel the hold loosening, slipping, gone.

CRASH!

The crystals I was floating crash into the water, drenching me with the hot stuff and already sinking to the bottom of the pool. I relax my shoulders and hang my head, brushing my hair off my sweaty skin. I hear the silence broken by my grandmother’s heels tapping their way over to me.

“Kiran, you need to concentrate. Try again,” she calls. I groan and open my eyes. The chamber is made of rough stone, a natural creation. It’s a cave deep inside a mountain. It has spiritual and magical energy, helps me connect with myself, on and on like that. Really, it’s a big cave with a pool that is heated by the supposedly dormant volcano.

“I can’t concentrate. It’s too hot,” I complain, reaching for the three crystals. My stone. My grandmother’s is rubies and I’ve been told my mother’s was sapphires. I can channel my energy through crystals better, can use them better, than any other stone. My grandmother bought me flawless crystals for this practice, the size of my fist.

“It needs to be hot. The heat-”

“Tests my strength and mental preparedness,” I recite in a dull monotone. My grandmother glares at me with her brilliant blue eyes. I’ve been told my mother had eyes just like my grandmother, but that I have my father’s chocolate eyes. It makes me a little disappointed, not having something of my mother’s in appearance. People tell me I look just like my father. “I know, I know. I just can’t do it.”

“I am trying to help you all that I can. You could focus if you tried harder. Stop thinking about how uncomfortable it is and think only of the crystals.”

“I’m not good enough,” I declare, smoothing my thumb over a crystal’s clear surface. “I’m simply not a good enough witch.”

“Yes you are,” she argues, lighting more incense. I scrunch up my nose and dramatically gag. “Knock it off,” she says without turning around. “You are just ridiculously lazy and lack any kind of attention span, except with that Yasit boy.”

I blush. Aron Yasit is a boy in my class at school. My crush on him is well hidden, only my grandmother knows all about it. Of course, being the supreme witch she is, she can read my mind any time she likes. She also taps into it during our training sessions, like now.

“See? I mention his name and you don’t even remember what we are here for. Focus, Kiran.” Grandmother sits in front of me, across the little pool. In the center of the water is a small island, just big enough for me to sit on. “I’ll be closer, see if I can help any. Now…”

Focus. Breathe. Relax.

I sigh and close my eyes, taking a deep breath. I can feel the crystals, bodies for my power to flow into. My power lights them up, makes them float. They float in pointless circles around my head, three bobbing lights, steadying quickly. Now I’m bored again. Now it’s too hot again, especially with the heat rolling off my grandmother. I tighten my hands. No, I tell myself. Just the crystals.

Yasit. My mind wanders when I remember that word. I see his pale face, framed by feathery brown hair. Those lovely blue eyes, the long and delicate lashes…

“KIRAN!” Grandmother screeches as the crystals again fall out of the air, splashing us both. “That is not concentrating!”

“Yes, it is!” I argue, opening my eyes to stare at her. I laugh at the sight-her hair is sopping from sweat and water, her face and clothes slick with the liquids. She looks like a raccoon out of water. She glares at me, then joins in with the laughter. I must look just as horrible. “Just not concentrating on crystals,” I add.

“What am I going to do with you?” Grandmother sighs and pushes herself up heavily. “Practice is done for today. Run along.”

“Really?” I ask, already springing up in excitement.

“Yes, really. I’ll clean up, you go have some fun.”

“Oh, yes! Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I bound across the pool to her, kissing her cheek and running for the exit. Her chuckle echoes around the cavern as I escape into the cool air of the outside world. I comb my fingers through my blood red hair, wincing as I tug on some tangles. I pull out a hair tie and pull my hair into a sloppy bun, giving up on the tangles. I jog away from the small volcano towards the town.

Actually, the graveyard.

My small town is call Darkinst, which is a spell for fortune. Of its 84 population, I am by far the scariest. I have died my head a number of colors including navy blue, camouflage green, black, and now blood red. I have three tattoos, one of a black dragon on my right arm, black vines on my left, and a series of letters in a circle from my collarbone down my chest and back up. Runes, spells to remind me of my power, my destiny. I have one other tattoo, though. No one knows about it. On my thigh is my mother and father’s name inside a circle.
They are always with me a long as I have that.

I run past the many tombstones in the graveyard. In the center are the two smallest, side by side. Together even in death.

Mara Ally Hoka-???-2384

Daniel Kemp Hoka-???-2384

My parents’ tombstones. I don’t know when they were born, how they met, if anyone had cared about them, or how they died. I only have their names and the year they died. 2384. The year I was born. I touch my mother’s name. My teachers at school remember them. My grandmother never talks about them. No one says how they died. It’s as if everyone is afraid to tell me. As if I can’t handle it. As if I am surrounded by webs of lies and half-truths, to protect me from the full truth of them.

Except I sixteen. I’m old enough to know what happened. I’m old enough to know more about them then they’re names and how they looked. I’m old enough to cut through the webs. Every time I decide to demand my grandmother tell me, I chicken out. I want to know so bad, but I’m not brave enough to ask. Last time I failed to ask her, I got the dragon tattoo. To give me strength and bravery.

“I’ll find out what happened to you,” I promise them. I drop my hand from my mother’s name. I wonder briefly what it would be like if my mother were still alive. If she was training me like normal witches, if she was the one who lived with me, took care of me. I wonder briefly if I would be happier if there was no reason for me to come to this graveyard every day, if there was no one I know in the ground. If I weren't forever without them? Would I be happier?

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”




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