The Burning of Innocence

She reminded him of the sun. She moved as if her body was in tune with everything around her, and she listened as if the fire was telling her secrets. There was nothing unnatural about this girl, and yet it felt wrong for her to be inside these caves. Away from the sun, of which she reminded him so.

His overlong robe swept the dirty ground behind him without sprouting any stains or cuts. It just flowed as effortlessly as its owner. I caught a glimpse of his medallion, hanging heavy on his neck. It was as round and big as the full moon on a clear night. It bore two letters, twining into a mouth-like symbol with jagged teeth. M & W. Magica Wydoma, the symbol of the Olden Circle. Meanwhile, everybody else was making way for him to reach me. With a swift motion, he outstretched his hand to help me stand up. It struck me that I was still sitting on my butt. Grudgingly, I accepted his help.

Then he walked over to the frozen pond and undid whatever trick he’d pulled out of his rabbit hat. Though, of course, he did not have a hat as it would definitely sit funny on a Hopeful’s head. As soon as the pond regained its previous liquid form, it started to boil, emitting a horrid smell and a likewise sickening sound of rattling liquid. It sounded as if the slime wanted to splash all over the place and be put out of its misery. Meanwhile, I felt my skin prickle where it had hit the ‘ground’ hard. I tugged at my sleeve without thinking; I was so transfixed by his skill.

I did not know how Wisdom worked. After all, I’d probably never be allowed into the walls of the High Courts. But the ease of his words spilling like a gentle waterfall, the way his eyes had flickered when he saw me, and every movement he made were the complete opposite of my own jerky, inadequate, and moronic speech patterns and limb movements. How I wished I could be like him.

Meanwhile, as if having an audience did not bother him at all, he proceeded to crouch next to the boiling pond and mutter some kind of incantation or prayer. I wondered why his nose hadn’t imploded under the smell of rotting Nature. But he kept his ground and, soon enough, an oval shape started emerging, eventually landing into his outstretched hand. When it did, the pond stopped boiling over and he turned around, handing me my Oculus back. My response was lost in my hanging chasm of a mouth. I just silently took my talisman back and remained silent.

Everyone else was as shocked as I was, so nobody moved a muscle.

‘Hello, Rya. I believe we almost met at your brother’s Burning,’ he said, eyes flickering with humour. It started me out of my stupor. The situation was growing more and more unlikely. A Hopeful was talking to me. Directly! For all to see.

‘Yes, we almost did,’ I said, trying to sound grateful. Instead, the words came out creepy, like they almost always did. I hoped it would at least freak the other kids out, but I need not have worried. They had all gone, leaving me and my stalker alone.