The vast, infinite field reverberates with the most pure sound this world has ever known: Children’s laughter. A girl, around the age of seven, twirls around amongst the sunflowers with her bright hair twisting and tangling in the sunlight’s kiss. Her brilliant amber eyes shine and her smile is unrestrained; free.
“Hurry up, you slowskye!”
With that, her pigtails disappear as she runs into the protection of the flowers, taunting and teasing along the way.
Another child, slightly older, hurries through the fields chasing after her until he knocks her down into the earthy soil underneath the flowers. He pins the surprised girl into the underbrush, and grins triumphantly. His cheeks flushed, golden eyes flashing, and windswept golden hair tickling her face, he challenges her with the wide smirk on his face.
The girl… no, the girl is me. I look up into his childish, easy-going face, squinting… I know this boy. I have been with him all my life. He has called me numerous nicknames including “poopy-face”, “booger”, and many others I would rather not say out loud. He is fierce, competitive, and someone out of reach. He is someone I look up to, although I would rather hit myself over the head with my father’s flame sword than admit that to him directly. He is my competition, my enemy, and the most frustrating being on the face of this planet because: He can keep up with me and my abilities. He was my friend. He is…
I woke with a start, gasping and panting for breath, still winded from my “run” through the sunflower field. A warm, soft hand touches my face. I jump and slap the hand away, my body already twisting into its automatic defense stance with my mind racing miles per second about offensive tactics, attack moves, and escape maneuvers. Lowering her now-bruised hand, my mother sits at the edge of my bed, face contorted with pain and apprehension. Immediately, I regret my previous actions and relax my body, but I don’t apologize. Worry lines are already deeply etched into the area between her eyebrows and around her delicate lips. Her wispy auburn hair hangs limply down her back with traces of gray already in them. With purple-black shadows underneath her forlorn auburn eyes, she looks tired; tired of her commanding husband and children and duties of the household… Tired of life.
“What’s wrong, Cassia?”
My answer comes out harsh, grated, and unforgiving. I avert my eyes away from those defeated auburn eyes that I can’t stand seeing. This was all her fault. It was all her fault that I could never lead a normal life. If she had the confidence in herself to stand up to my father, then I would never be in this position. Always standing on the sidelines while my father continuously beat me and drilled fighting techniques into the child that I once was, I began to hate her; Hate her for how she never helped, even when I screamed and begged for her to save me, hate her for how those same auburn eyes that looked at me lovingly just a few hours ago turn distant and cold throughout the blows and slaps, hate her for how she never cared about me, her child. Heart filled with malevolent thoughts once more, my auburn eyes steel and my back stiffens. I glare at her nastily.
“You don’t need to pretend like you love me. Nobody’s watching.”
My mother’s auburn eyes widen. Then harden into solid amber shards. Then melt a little until a river of tears flows down from those startlingly fragile eyes. She turns away, head bowed low. Without a word, she picks herself up from my bed and glides out the door, never looking back. Her trail leaves a reminiscing scent of jasmine and roses, but soon dissipates into the emptiness of my room.
My room. Other girls usually have pictures of themselves and their friends doing “kissy-faces”, pink hearts around their life-size posters of their favorite celebrities of the month, inspiring quotes, flashes of color here and there, teddy bears, jewelry cases with delicate necklaces spilling out of the container, phone already ringing with a text from a girlfriend, and disoriented, messy beds with the covers flung back because they forgot to set their alarm for school and had to rush to get to class on time. On the other hand, my room is gray, barren, and utterly empty of love and care. I have no friends to take pictures with, no celebrity idols that I dote on in my free time because I have none, no toys or teddy bears because my father threw them all away at the age of 9 because they were “too childish” and it was “time for me to grow up”, and no jewelry cases, because who needs jewelry when your life revolves around fighting and competition?
My head falls wearily onto the hard surface of my pillow with tendrils of my hair framing my face. When did things get so complicated? I think back to my wonderful dream, when Skye and I were still friends and everything was right in the world; when my parents were in love and there was no animosity between the Phoenix and Raindrop clans; when world peace seemed possible and the sun rose within the valley of peace. Overcome with feelings of remorse and loss, I turn my head face-first onto my pillow and scream the words that I could never say out loud; the words that are now lost in the atmosphere as distant thoughts floating away into the infinite expanse of clouds.
When my hitched breathing finally slows down to its normal speed, I wipe away the stain of tears on my face and haul myself up. Today is a new day. Another day when the sun rises and I must rise as well in order to fight for my future, because you can only depend on yourself in this world. With these thoughts in mind, I slap myself on the face two times before I head out the door.
“Everyone is competition. Everything exists for you to reach the top.” I repeat the mantra inside my head. Walking out, I hold my head high into the opened door filled with light and opportunities ahead.
“Ms. Phoenix, good morning.”
“Ms. Phoenix, what would you like for breakfast?”
“Would you like the usual tea today?”
“Ms. Phoenix, it is an honor being in your presence today.”
Annoying… I keep my eyes straight ahead, never losing sight of my goal, and tune out the incessant disturbances and chatter of the maids around me, acknowledging their presence with only a slight nod in their direction. I walk with what I hope is a graceful glide, emanating the regal and proud status of my family name. My chin turns up slightly with my blanket of glowing hair on my back, while my fiery eyes dare anybody to approach me. The chatter dies down, and the maids respectfully hold the silence.
“That’s better.” I thought to myself. With a proud turn, I reach the entrance to my father’s room. Deferentially, I lower myself to the floor onto my knees. Rapping primly on the door three times, I call out clearly, “Father, please wake up. It is time for breakfast.” Lowering my head in a submissive manner, I wait for my father to answer.
In a deep, gravelly voice that resonates with authority and conviction, the shadowy figure behind the screen door answers with a single syllable.
As usual, his voice strikes a nerve. With carefully trained eyes dutifully trained on the floor, I rise in a single, effortless movement. “Good morning to you too, Dad.” I mutter as I walk outside. I pick up my designer bag and throw on my heels.
“I’m off to school.”
As if anyone would answer.
— This is just an idea for a novel that I want to write. I know that there are many mistakes and many holes to the background of the story. But I would really appreciate it if you could give me constructive criticism as a new reader reading this for the first time! :)) Thank you!
— Setting: An alternate dimension of Earth, where elemental magic exists. Instead of disrespecting Mother Nature like we do in today’s society, they have instead drawn upon nature’s energy to create elemental magic.
— Conflict: There are two clans: Raindrop and Phoenix. These two clans obviously draw upon different types of magic: water and fire. Each clan has a competition for the chief leader of the lands that will keep the peace between the two clans and regulate the balance of the magic. Cassia is the successor to the Phoenix clan. Skye is the successor to the Raindrop clan. This is difficult for Cassia, because Skye and her used to be close friends when they were young, but as they grew older, their parents drove them apart as the competition became more important.
Cassia- successor to the Phoenix clan. Temperamental, impulsive, has an abusive father that beats magical techniques into her in order to ensure victory in the competition, a spectator mother who loves her daughter but is too afraid to stand up for her, two younger twin brothers (which gives Cassia a burst of morale to win the competition; she doesn’t want her innocent brothers to go on the same, abused path that she did), favors the underdogs, loud and bossy leader that gets things done, always focused on victory; competitive.
Skye- successor to the Raindrop clan. Calm, analyzing, has a beautiful family with kind personalities (Cassia is jealous of this), one younger sister who has a brother-complex and foresees the future that Skye will have with Cassia, a leader that calms people instead of fires them up, wants victory, but does not want to go through immoral means to get there.
I’ve sort of explained the other characters of each family, so I’ll skip that…
Rose: Cassia’s best friend. A quiet, timid girl that follows her lead at all times and supports her through whatever she does. Cassia values her greatly. They first met when Cassia burned (literally) a bully that was picking on Rose, because of her incredible beauty. Rose is a natural beauty with rosy (HAHA) red cheeks, silky black hair down her back, and hazel eyes that shine in the sun. She is the object of affection of most of the boy population, but she has yet to know it. Later, this becomes a problem for Cassia when jealousy hits her as she thinks Skye likes Rose too.
Noah: Skye’s best friend. Handsome and definitely on the upper half of the cool scale. He has a crush on Cassia. His “class-clown” personality also makes him an object of affection of the female population, but he knows it, and revels in it, only hoping that Cassia will soon notice him.