Soul of Flames

On the edge of the reality we know, there exists a pathway that conceals a realm far more extraordinary than any have dared to imagine. In this realm, a war is raging. And one girl is at the centre of it all. Yet, to fight the suffering, she must learn to accept a heritage that could send the life she knows up in flames. One way or another, she is about to discover that, sometimes, giving yourself to the flames can unlock your soul...

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3. Chapter 2-Robyn

'Take a seat, Robyn', Mr Brickdon says as he crosses the small, well furnished room to position himself behind his desk. I obey, sitting down on the hard chair opposite him. Looking at him, standing behind his sturdy wooden desk, I immediately realise why he has placed us like this.

I'm not a particularly tall person, but nor am I a dwarf. Mr Brickdon, on the other hand, is a giant, towering over everyone else with his 6'6" frame. By seating me in front of him and leaving himself standing, he dominates me, leaning over and casting a shadow across the room, chilling the sun and creating shivers that trickle up my spine.

My first instinct is to cower, to make myself small enough to be unimportant to this huge creature that looms over me. I find my eyes shifting downwards, my shoulders slumping, head bowing, attempting to hide from that cold, hard gaze.

Mentally, I shake myself. What the hell am I doing? Mr Brickdon stands there watching and I force myself to sit up straight and meet his eyes with a glare of my own. A brief moment passes before Mr Brickdon looks away, sighs, and seats himself behind the desk. I relax, glad I have passed this test.

'So Robyn, I hear you have been giving Miss Canelly some grief today'. I sit silently, waiting for him to continue. 'Her message says that you were daydreaming for most of her lesson and, when she asked you a question about the video that you were supposed to be watching, you replied with a rather sarcastic answer.' At this point, he is staring at me with a disapproving glare. Still, I don't reply.

Eventually, he gives in. 'What is wrong with you today Robyn? You are the best behaved student in the school, and one of the brightest at that. Your record is spotless, your attendance flawless, and your attitude towards learning is outstanding. Your classmates have informed me, and many other teachers, of your kind and caring nature.'

Mr Brickdon sighs and leans towards me. 'So I ask you Robyn, what is the matter? Are there problems at home? Or are you merely struggling to keep up with the demands of your school work? I need you to tell me what is troubling you, otherwise I can't help.'

And there's the lecture I knew was coming. I keep my eyes locked onto his as I answer. 'There's nothing wrong Sir.'

Mr Brickdon looks at me expectantly, seeming to know that I am hiding something. I try again. 'Sir, absolutely nothing is wrong with school.' He raises one eyebrow, still staring at me, but when I don't elaborate he leans back and closes his eyes for a second, exasperated.

'Robyn, I need the truth. I know you are not telling me everything, but I have to know-are there any worries from home, any at all, that may be affecting your school life?' I realise then that I am going to have to lie. I can't tell him the truth. No way. I am not going through that again. So I must pretend.

I suck in a deep breath, preparing myself for the inevitable. I feel as if I am perched on the edge of a diving board thirty feet in the air, about to dive off but not sure if I have the courage to do so. I teeter on the edge of oblivion, the brilliant blue water appearing as a small rectangle hovering below me.

In a way, it reminds me of my dream. There I was safe, knowing that I wasn't plummeting to my death, willingly smearing the pristine floor with my scarlet blood. I knew I would land safely, my body unscathed.

If I can jump off a cloud thousands of feet up in the air, I can tell one little lie. I take a deep breath in, savouring the feeling of cool air slipping down into my lungs, rejuvenating me. I empty my mind, then tip forward and take the plunge.

'I-I'm just not sleeping too well at the minute. Worried about my exams, I guess.' I shrug a shoulder casually, trying to act like it's no big deal when I’m shaking inside. Mr Brickdon looks levelly at me for a minute. I resist the urge to fidget.

Finally, he speaks. 'I believe you.' I let out my breath in a quick rush of air, relieved. 'This time at least. However, in the future, I expect you to be more aware of the amount of rest you need.'

'Yes Sir,' I reply.

'You are dismissed, Miss Oakbow.' I stand quickly and practically run to the door, eager to escape from this prison-like office. My hand closes over the cold metal handle of the wooden door, about to swing it wide, when Mr Brickdon speaks again. 'Oh, one more thing, Miss Oakbow.'

I pause, unwilling to remain behind for another second. Reluctantly, I drag my eyes away from the corridor that symbolises my freedom and turn towards Mr Brickdon. 'Yes, Sir?'

He regards me with an empty look. 'Make sure to remember what we have spoken about today. It is a lesson that should not be forgotten.'

'Of course Sir,' I say, then, before he can call me back, I slip out the door into the desolate corridor beyond.

I glance at the clock on the wall. 10:58. Break should be starting any minute now, students flooding the halls and passages with stomping feet and raucous yells. I don't know how they stand the noise, echoing thuds ricocheting off the empty walls. I certainly can't.

Which means I need to get out of here before the classroom doors burst open, spilling the chaos within into the calm that, for the moment, surrounds me. Just as I begin to walk towards the door at the far end, the bell rings, jarring my ears, and the hall is suddenly filled with a rush of people.

I hurry down the corridor, nearly tripping over my own feet in my haste to escape the stampede that threatens to crush me. I am so clumsy it's unbelievable, and my rather questionable co-ordination has been the source of many jokes at my expense. It never ceases to amaze me how much fun one person can get out of teasing a fellow classmate.

By now I have reached the end of the long corridor and I am safely through the wall of bodies that fills the hall. I reach out to pull open the door in front of me, my fingers just about to grip the cool metal, when something flits across the edge of my vision. I spin, determined to discover the source, when I hear a male voice down the corridor shout.

'Robyn!' I hear it call, in a sing song way. Oh no, not now. All thoughts of the streak across my vision vanish, replaced by one thing-get away. There is not even a smidgen of temptation to fight it. Without a single glance behind me, I throw open the door and barge my way out into the bright morning sunlight.

As I sprint across the patch of grass outside the brick building, something pulls at my memory. I stretch for it, trying to grasp it and pull it within reach. Something doesn't feel right about the atmosphere out here. It's too...calm. I feel as if there should be more energy, more something. The understanding is just there, at the edge of my conscience, taunting me.

I try in vain to pull it closer, but it eludes me, flitting away like a hummingbird flutters on a breeze. Eventually, I give in and continue towards the drama studio. The memory will have to wait until later. But still, I can't shake the feeling that something isn't quite right, and it haunts me as I stroll across the soil, leaving a trail of footprints in my wake.

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