Begin Again

Lilianne Sherzerade is the Carrier of the spark of Love. Destined to do this until she dies, Lilianne takes over her mother's job at age 18. Frozen at that age until she finds a partner, Lilianne is ready to be a teenager for a century or more if need be... but will it be necessary?
Named after and inspired by the Taylor Swift song.
This is going to be four chapters long (maybe more!); chapter one is already up!

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2. Thirteen

I was thirteen years old.

I sat at a classroom desk, staring intently at my test paper, fingers twitching. I tapped my pencil against my cheek, and shuffled in my seat.

To anyone else in the classroom, it would just look like I was stuck on a certain question, or perhaps I was just a noisy test taker.

But the questions were too simple for that. I watched my thirteen-year-old self closely.

My other self's eyes flickered from left to right. I was breathing perhaps a little harder than usual. My spine twitched, and in that moment, I saw a red spark flicker between my shoulder blades.

My spiritual self sank back into the air as if it was a squishy armchair. Oh. This memory.

I watched as, during the next ten minutes, my already laboured breathing intensified and I hunched over in the chair. Sparks were curling all around my fingertips, and I could see the effort it took to lift the pencil and answer the next question on the sheet.

Suddenly, my body began to convulse, and I began to choke. Twenty pairs of eyes turned on me in that instant.

"Lilianne?" my teacher asked, concerned. "Are you alright?"

My body shook with agony as I stood up, and I wrapped my arms around my torso to contain it, and gave a small shake of the head.

My spiritual self wanted badly to wrap my arms around this poor kid. I didn't remember it being this bad. But I stood back, simply because I knew it was going to get better.

"Could I..." my thirteen year old self choked out. "Could I... go and call... my mother? It's my... dust allergy..."

"Okay, okay. No problem. You can finish the test tomorrow, all right?"

I nodded. My fingers were clenched tightly, to hide the sparks, and it was all I could do not to leap out the window, screaming. Instead, I nodded to my teacher, straightened, walked shakily to the door and pulled it open.

As soon as it slammed closed, I took off, bolting towards the girls' bathroom, where I was sick in the toilet. Trembling with the effort of retching, I dropped to the floor and lay there weakly, my back propped up against the wall. I fumbled in my pocket for my mobile and dialled my mom's number.

"Hello?"

"Mom. It's me." I was shivering badly. "Look. I don't know what's happening to me." I gave a little choke, halfway between a sob and a cough. "Please. You have to come to school and pick me up--"

I dropped the phone to the floor as another wave of retching overtook me. I gripped the sides of the toilet and heaved, sobbing when it was over. "MOM!" I screamed. I could hear her disembodied voice floating up to me from where the phone lay on the floor, but I was so disoriented I could no longer make out the words. "Mom, Mom..."

Suddenly, the phone began to shimmer. I looked at it in amazement as my mother's torso emerged from what looked like a genie-in-the-bottle type cloud.

"Sweetie." I saw my mom reach out to me. "Come on. Take my hand." She reached out her hand and I, realizing I could actually touch my mother, clasped it in trembling fingers.

The world became dark around me, and, somewhere far away, I felt my body fall. The only spot of light was my mother, a pinpoint at the end of a long, long tunnel I had no reason to go through. Then that, too, was snuffed out, but I was too far gone to care.

***

Without opening my eyes, I could tell I was on my bed, and something cool was draped across my forehead. My entire body ached and felt hot. I coughed, and felt a shooting pain cross my chest. My breath shot back into my lungs in a choked gasp.

"Shhhh," whispered a voice. "Don't move. It's okay."

"Mom?" I croaked. I coughed again. "Ow. Mom? What's... happening?"

"It's okay," murmured my mother. "This is all normal. Simply... routine." Her tone of voice was strange. Was that... pride I was hearing?

I blinked open my sticky eyelids. "Routine? What-- nhhhh..." My mother swept the cool cloth over my eyelids, forcing me to close them.

Suddenly, I felt a jolt down my back. My spine tingled with electricity, the joints seeming to shift apart and grind together. My eyes flew open behind the cloth and I gave an "Uh!" of pain.

"Sweetheart?" my mother asked, concerned. "What's wrong?"

"My-- back," I grunted. "Uhh. UH!" I doubled over on the bed as my torso began to spasm weakly. The pain was worsening, going from a dull burn to a knife-sharp blaze. To make matters worse, it was also spreading to the sides of my back, heading for my stomach."Not again. Not again! PAIN, Mom! Do something! Please!"

I felt my mother's fingers tug at my shirt, and it slid upwards, allowing a cool breeze to touch my back. Of course, I could barely feel it, since the pain was getting stronger and stronger. I felt like my spine was going to shatter. My front was also in agony: it felt like I was immersed in freezing water, so cold it burned as hot as fire. "MOM!" I screamed.

I felt my mother's fingers leave my back as she touched them to her mouth in a wordless gesture of surprise. It felt very strange to my spiritual self. I could see my mother and the younger me writhing on the bed. I felt no pain, but I felt the breeze on my back and my mother's gentle touch. And, for the first time in my life, I saw what I had always wanted to see, one of the most important moments in a Carrier's life...

I watched the red sparks sear shapes into my body, watched my mother as she murmured things and passed her fingers over my arms, legs, back and forehead. I watched as my twitching ceased and my breathing evened out. I saw my younger self slacken my grip on the bedsheets and instead grab my mother's hand, and when my eyebrows furrowed, I closed my eyes and murmured the words I knew I was going to say next.

"I'm well again. What happened, Mom?"

I saw my mother sigh. "Lift up your T-shirt, Lilianne."

I did as she asked, and what I saw completely took the breath out of my mouth. I breathed shaky, wondering breaths, and my hands, shivering just as badly, traced wobbly shapes on the smooth, beautiful patterns twisting their way around my middle torso. Slightly below where my heart was was a breathtaking heart-like design, made up of other hearts. From it protruded swirls and a manner of other things. It was indescribable, exquisite, bewitching. It was love, and it was carved onto my chest.

I looked at my mother in awe. "These are like... the symbols you have."

My mother smiled. "The symbols I had." She lifted up her T-shirt, and I gaped at her skin. It was soft and pale, and gave no indication that, just moments before, it had borne designs similar to the one now swirling on my skin.

"Does this mean...?"

"Yes." My mother beamed, her pride no longer a secret from anybody. "Your Abilities have arrived. From now on, I am no longer the Carrier of Love.

"You are."

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