|It was just the beginning of another boring day. My alarm clock beeped in my ears and rain splashed against the dirty window, and I turned the alarm off. I shoved my pillow over my head and closed my eyes hoping that, for once in my life, my mother would have forgotten that today was Thursday, and that maybe, just maybe I would be able to sleep a little longer.|
Fate had other ideas.
“NATALIE! GET UP!” The screech rang in my ears, and I knew that if I didn’t get out of bed, I would be in big trouble. Reluctantly, I dragged myself out from underneath the warm blankets that I longed to be able to stay under and trudged down the hall to the tiny kitchen of our apartment.
Mom sat at the table, a glass of tea in her hand, looking through the job listings that were assembled in front of her. A bowl of cereal was placed in front of the creaky chair I always sat in. I shoveled the food into my mouth, because if I missed the bus, I would have to walk almost five miles to the junior high school I was enrolled in. I couldn’t be late!
Around thirty minutes later, I sat alone in the twenty-third leather seat of bus number 5-47, ignoring the dull buzz of conversation that surrounded me. It had always been like that—I never had any friends on the bus. My only friend walked home each day. My eyes stayed fixed in place, staring out the window. My fingers danced the way they always did, playing a pretend piano in my lap. Many people asked about that, but I never replied. They knew why. I was the freaky piano girl, supposedly obsessed with it. But I wasn’t.
The bus slid to a slow stop in front of the school, and kids flooded from the vehicle. As always, I was last to escape from the hunk of metal, and by then almost everyone was in the school. I walked up the path alone, when a monotonous buzzing sounded in my ears. I tried to ignore it—probably just a fly somewhere near my head, but instead of fading as the insect flew away, it steadily grew louder, soon becoming a thunderous growl, and a splitting headache erupted in my head. Any thoughts I had were lost in the pain, any sounds unheard over the roar. I dropped my books, sending them crashing to the cement, and clutched my head.
Suddenly, the ground came up to meet me. My cheek scraped the pavement, and I tasted a foul flavor in my mouth before a white haze clouded my vision and I was thrown into oblivion.
“A-ha! The spell is working…” A voice pierced the silence of my unconsciousness. “Look, Gamma, finally we have found her!”
“A young wizard. A student, perhaps, with enough potential to save Wizard City!” The voice sounded as if it came from an old man, but the other voice sounded strange, and inhuman. More like an owl.
“Oh really? Where is she from?” the owl-like one asked the old man.
“A very distant realm—by Bartleby, in a world that does not even believe in magic!” I must have been dreaming. Wizards? Magic? Impossible.
My eyes slowly opened, just to show myself that this was indeed a dream. But somehow, when I finally opened my eyes, an old man and an owl loomed over me. A circle with strange glyphs and runes surrounded my body on the wooden floor. It couldn’t be real. Books flew off the shelves, arranging and rearranging themselves, and instead of the electric lighting I was used to, wax candles lit the room. The old man was dressed in deep blue robes covered in golden stars and a crooked hat. His owl wore spectacles!
When I tried to speak, the only things that came out were gibberish. My mouth couldn’t even form a simple
“Where am I?”
“Look, she is waking!” the owl exclaimed. That was all it took for me to pass out again.
“Awaken, young Wizard!” Wizards…could it be real? My sense of logic screamed that it wasn’t, but my heart longed for it to be true. Magic…it was a wonderful thing, something that I yearned for.
This time, I wasn’t reluctant to wake up. I opened my eyes excitedly as the old wizard held a book toward me.
“My name is Merle Ambrose, and I will be your headmaster here at Ravenwood School,” he explained kindly. “Now, take this book and answer the question truthfully. They will determine your element of magic!” My element…my own element of magic. The thought filled me with anticipation.
I took the heavy book and the feather quill that Headmaster Ambrose offered me and slowly answered each question. Finally, after a very long time, Headmaster Ambrose instructed me to close the book. He waved his wand over it, and suddenly threw it open.
A bright light erupted from it, filling the room with its glow. I was momentarily blinded, but when I could see again, I had eyes only for the book. Burned into the pages and still a bright, hot red, was the lone word that would determine my element…
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