She stood above me, hand glowing red, and the only thoughts in my head were for my friends, my mom, I don't think I'm going home for the summer. She reached her arm out, putting her palm in my face, and the light began to brighten as her power charged up.
You don't know me, and most likely, you never will. My name is Scarlet, Scarlet Flame, and if you're smart, you'll stay far away if you ever meet me. Ever since I was a kid I've been a magnet for bad luck, and it started with my dad. I don't know him, you see, he left when I was only a year old, leaving my mom to support the two of us. We had to move out of our house in the suburbs and into an apartment complex on the other side of Jacksonville, Florida where we have lived since. And while Mom won't say it, I always knew that Dad left because of me.
That's beside the point, the real point of me telling you all of that is to help me better tell you how I came to face such an odd death. My story truly begins in my kitchen, yes really. It was sunny from what I could see outside the kitchen window, and I was washing dishes. Mom had just left for her second job at a factory, she works two jobs so that we can afford everything we need. I was, admittedly, a bit distracted thinking about what I was going to make mom for her birthday tomorrow, and I didn't see that I had spilled some water on the ground. I stepped to the side to place a pot into the dishwasher, and right at that moment, I slipped.
Falling isn't normally bad, but I was falling straight towards the dishwasher that had multiple sharp knives pointed towards me. I was going to die via dishwasher, wouldn't that be embarrassing. I instinctively stuck my arms out in front of me, covering my face and bracing for impact, an impact that never came. When I opened my eyes, the knives were right in my face, and there was a sparkling purple glow surrounding my body. I was flying! After the initial excitement, I realized I was still hovering over the knives, quickly I pushed far enough away from the dishwasher to not touch it at all. Just as I had gotten far enough away, the glowing disappeared and I fell directly on my face.
"Ouch," I mumble to myself, rubbing my now sore nose as I push myself into a sitting position. "Note to self, next time have a cushion nearby."
A knock on the door startled me out of my thoughts, I scrambled to my feet and headed over to the front door. I looked through the peephole expecting to see Mom, only to see a woman in a grey pencil skirt and a black dress shirt with her grey hair up in a tight bun on her head standing outside with a briefcase. I unlock the door, leaving the chain lock in place, and open the door slightly.
"I'm sorry, we're not looking to buy anything," I say politely, and the woman looked slightly confused.
"I'm not here to sell anything. Are you Scarlet Flame perhaps?" I tense up immediately, how did this woman know my name.
"Depends, who's asking?" My voice is tight, defensive, and the woman looked startled for a second.
"My name is Amaia Stein, may I come inside Scarlet?" The name Amaia means the end, that can't be a coincidence, and besides, Mom doesn't want me to let strangers inside.
"No you may not, I don't know you, and my mom's not home." Ms. Stein seemed to think for a moment before speaking again.
"Just tell your father I'm here, I'm sure he'll want to see me again." I felt my jaw tighten slightly.
"My dad left us. Now, who are you?" I ask through gritted teeth. She seemed shocked by my statement and began pacing slightly in the hallway.
"No, no, that can't be. Branton Flame would never leave his family."
"Well, he did, sucks to be wrong, I guess." I go to close the door, which I regret opening in the first place when Ms. Stein reached her hand out real quick.
"Wait! If you won't let me in, at least take this letter. I'll come back when your mother is here. Please tell Alina I said hello." She held out an envelope towards me, I eyed it cautiously before carefully reaching out a hand to take it through the door.
"How did you know where I live?" I ask finally, and she looks at me.
"We've been awaiting the day you gained your powers, Scarlet. Have a good rest or your day." Ms. Stein turned, and without another word walked away. What a strange woman. I close the door, making sure to lock it again, before walking over to the couch with the envelope. I should really wait for Mom to get home before I open this. I quickly tear open the envelope.
Inside, there was a thick stack of paper being held together by one staple. On the first page of the packet it was stated in big letters:
MÍMIR ACADEMY: PRIVATE SCHOOL FOR MAGIC
Magic isn't real, was that lady just lying to me the entire time? She did know Dad’s name, and Mom and I haven’t mentioned him in years. I don’t know what to think. I sigh as I start flipping through the pages. There was a calendar, uniform information, dress code for being outside of your uniform, school hours, even a map of the school. While it does look a little stuck up, this school doesn’t actually seem half bad, it almost seemed too good to be true. That is until I got to the last page. On the final page of the packet was the cost of going to this school twelve thousand dollars a year! That’s insane, and there’s no way we could afford it! We can barely afford our apartment, and Mom already works two jobs! I toss the packet onto the coffee table and walk back into the kitchen to clean up the mess before mom gets home. It doesn’t matter what some weird sales lady says anyways, that school is just impossible.
I spend hours doing meaningless chores to make the house look nice for when Mom gets home. I’m obviously not avoiding the packet of information about a school for magic that I can’t attend because we can’t afford it. That’s only. . . exactly what I’m doing. As I cleaned and organized the house, my eyes kept straying to the packet that’s still sitting on the corner of the coffee table where I set it down earlier. I knew that if I moved it, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from reading through it, hoping that I could somehow find a way to pay for the stupid school. I don’t even know for a fact that Mom would let me go if we could afford it, I’m all she has anymore, I don’t need to be leaving her for some private school.
I’m busy making dinner when Mom finally comes home, and when she wanders her way into the kitchen, I look over at her with a small smile that drops when I see the packet in her hands.
“Scarlet, honey, did something happen today?” She asks, and I turn back to the pasta I was cooking.
“I may, or may not, have stopped myself from death by a face full of kitchen knives by using what I believe is magic,” I say nonchalantly with a shrug. I almost drop the spoon I was holding when Mom lets out a very high-pitched screech.
“My baby’s magical! I knew you would be! I just knew it!”
“Mom? What are you talking about? How could you possibly have known this would happen?” I turn off the stove so I don’t burn the pasta before turning towards Mom. She had the widest grin on her face despite the exhaustion in her eyes. She was still in her uniform, a grey jumpsuit with orange accents that has her company logo on the back for some manufacturing company. She had left her work boots at the front door like always, so I could see her tall red socks covered in cats.
“Didn’t I ever tell you? Your dad was a sorcerer, of course, I didn’t know that until after we were married. Your dad apologized for weeks after he told me for keeping it a secret for so long, didn’t even realize that I already had begun to suspect he wasn’t normal. We never did tell your grandpa though, he was still upset that I married ‘some white boy’ instead of another brown boy like he had wanted me to.” Mom had so much energy as she talked that it took me an extra minute to realize that this was the happiest she’s ever sounded while talking about Dad, typically when I ask about him she just sounds sad.
“Well, as surprising as all of that is, I can’t go anyways. It costs way too much, and I can’t just leave you on your own.” Mom’s smile quickly slips from her face and gets set into a straight line.
“You are going to that school. Don’t worry about the cost. Besides,” she grows a teasing smile, “You’re old mom can take care of herself. You just grew up too fast.”
I was about to reply when there was a knock on the door. Mom walked over to answer it while I turned the heat back on to finish cooking the pasta. After I drain the pasta, I mixed the noodles and the mushroom alfredo sauce I had made when Mom walked back in.
“Scarlet, I want to introduce you to someone. This woman taught your dad everything he knew about magic when he was your age.” She pulled me out into the living room, where on the couch I see the woman from earlier. “This is Ms. Amaia Stein She teaches the Magical Gardening classes at Mímir Academy.”
“Yeah Mom, she came by earlier today. How do you think I got that packet?” Ms. Stein stands up and reaches her hand out towards me, which I hesitantly shake.
“Scarlet, it’s good seeing you again so soon. What do you think about Mímir? We would be so happy to have you attend.”
“The school honestly sounds great, but I can’t attend. There’s no way for Mom and me to get that sort of money together.” Mom put her hand on my shoulder, causing me to look back at her.
“Before your dad left he told me that if you ever got an invitation for this school that he had a savings account with enough money in it to cover all four years. No matter how hard things got, I never touched those savings.” I stare at Mom, I can go? I can learn magic like Dad?
“But, I wouldn’t be able to see you outside of holidays and summer break.” She hugs me.
“It’ll be okay Scarlet, at least I’ll always get to see you on your birthday.”
“So does this mean you will be enrolling at Mímir Academy?” Ms. Stein asks, and I nod at her.
“I’ll fill the information out tonight after dinner,” Mom smiled.
“Perfect,” Ms. Stein clapped her hands together, “I’ll come personally to pick you up on Saturday at noon.”
With that, Ms. Stein turned to leave with Mom trailing behind to bid her goodbye. It’s Wednesday, I leave in three days. I only have three days to say goodbye to my Mom, to pack up my life and leave for the school year. I don’t really know how to feel about this. I turn and head back into the kitchen to serve the food for Mom and I. I have to focus right now.
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