A pair of menacing eyes glared persistantly at her through the grimey window, watching her every move. I wish he'd leave off. Willow thought sulkily as she swung persistantly back and forth watching a worm try to work his way back into a patch of ant infested soil. She could almost hear her father now, "There's something wrong with that girl Maria, something very wrong. I've tried everything and she won't pass a single test, and she's hardly an athlete is she?" He could rant on like this for ever while she sat in the corner, using the dingy, midday light to pretend to read. It wasn't her fault she was unlucky. And telling her she was useless was hardly going to help, was it?
But deep down she knew she wasn't normal, surely anyone tutored with GSCE level stuff since she was six would be some kind of genius by now yet here she was, at the bottom of her class in every subject with no visible talents. It must be the bad luck! Yet whenever she told her father that (if she could yet a word in) he would start a new consistant speech of angry babble, her and her mother would exchange a knowing glance and carry on. You had to admit though, she'd had more bad luck signs in a day than in someone else's whole life time. It was only yesterday that (in the middle of the day-time) an owl swooped into her bedroom and started ripping up her homework, and yesterday, the local sooth--sayer had a heart attack and died after looking at her hand. She was only fourty-two. It was just a bit more than coincidence...
That's when it happened.
She'd just flitted into a re-acurring day-dream about running away when a huge magpie fluttered down from next doors fence and landed right in front of her. She groaned inwardly. One magpie was supposedly bad luck... Surely it could happen to anyone? It hopped a few paces away and started tugging on the worm, which was now half concealed by damp soil. So close and yet so far. In fact, she was about to scare away her feathered bad luck when words started to flow out of her mouth, as if of their own accord. "One for sorrow," Her voice echoed sharply over the gloomy morning fog. Self-consiously she glanced over to see if her father had heard, the last thing she wanted was him to come out.
One for sorrow, the nursery rhyme her mother taught her a long, long time ago. Her dear, dear mother. There was yet another fluttering of wings and the second bird eyed her warily before squabbling over the find. "Two for joy," Her voice rang again over the shaded garden like faint tinkling bells. As if by magic, yet some more magpies joined and started pecking at the small, small ants running around on the ground below. She stopped swinging. Every instinct told her to run but for some strange reason, she stayed put. And still those eyes didn't appear at the window. "Three for a girl," she paused hesitating, relishing the cool breeze on her face and the eerie silence only shattered by her voice. Alone in the cool mist, in control. Alone. How she liked it.
"And four for a boy."
She waited expectantly, unsuprised, for the next few, almot enjoying herself. And sure enough another two fluttered down to join the others. "Five for silver, six for gold." Silently, she prayed that it would stop, that she'd have good luck just this once, just this once. For a while it seemed like nothing was going to happen. Then, out of the blue, a huge, majestic magpie, the grandest she'd ever layed eyes on, scattered the others and, for his size landed, quite elegantly, on the dank ground before her. Run! Her body screamed as his dark beady eyes fell expectantly on her. But it was too late.
"Seven for a secret..."
Her voice trailed off, and she waited. Waited for the unknown. Then, quite suddenly, the world seemed to go in slow motion. The final magpie opened his glossy beak. "Never to be told." The gravelly voice echoed through the garden. Surely she'd been mistaken... She wanted quite badly to scream but she held back and watched for a while as the row of magpies eyed her and seemed to make to speak, opening their beaks ready to tell her something that would change her life forever. Just then, at that crucial moment, Willow felt herself toppling backwards with shock. It's true, what with the whole bad luck thing that not a lot could suprise her but this was just, weird. She completely blacked out.
Long story short, she fell off the swing.
Yes. Willow was very, very different.