Quintessence

Quin Davies is somebody who can see the souls of those around her.
Quickly realising others don't see the world the same way as her, Quinn settles into a life spent trying to ignore swirling souls in school corridors and crowded areas and concentrating on her work. She is largely successful in this endeavour, right up until she realises there's no soul trailing after the new girl in her year.

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2. Lucienne

"Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice"

Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3 - Shakespeare

***

The sound of my alarm wakes me up at seven the next morning, and I take a moment to look around my room after turning it off. It's become my custom in the morning, seeing as my room is somewhat of a safe haven to me, with very few souls lingering here other than my dads occasionally and the tiny auras of bugs. If there's one type of soul I don't mind having around, or at least don't find as overwhelming, it's that of animals and bugs. Their emotions are on a much simpler spectrum than any humans is, and for that reason I never find myself minding so much when I spot a spider creeping up my wall, or a moth attaching itself to my lamp. In many ways the simplicity of their auras is a wonderful antidote to the bustle of everyday life. Today there's just one spider in the corner of my room, high on the ceiling. He's been there for about a week now, and I've gone as far as to christen him Arnold. He doesn't really feel too much, just the occasional bout of excitement when a fly buzzes near his web, so we get on fairly well. That is to say we co-exist without interaction which is about the best one can do with the likes of us. 

Having completed my assessment of the room around me I get out of bed, running a hand through my hair as I do so in a vain attempt to remove some of the tangles from it before I attempt to brush it in a while. Aside from her fondness for reading and copy of Hamlet my wild unmanageable hair is one of the few things my mother left with me. One day I was hiding in the attic, because dad had guests over for dinner and I couldn't stand to look at the sickly pink aura of the woman from his work whenever she looked his way. Trying to ignore the hum of conversation and laughter from downstairs and wanting to have something to do I found myself looking through old photo albums of their uni days. There was one I really liked, so I brought it back downstairs with me, keeping it in my drawer with my tampons to deter my dad. It's a picture of them both at some party together, at least I guess that's where they are judging from their outfits, and my mum is pulling this funny face at the camera, making herself go cross-eyed and sticking out her tongue. Her hair is a flaming red wild mess framing her pale heart shaped face. Beside her my dad is laughing, his arm draped over her shoulders and eyes focused solely on her and her alone. In my general appearance I'm decidedly more like my dad, inheriting his eyes and hair colour (a light brown), but the wildness of my hair is definitely all on my mum. 

Making my way into the bathroom I look into the mirror once there and attempt to tug a brush through said hair, wincing the whole way through the painful process. I don't really take long to get ready, never understanding the point of undertaking any extreme beauty regime for school when nobody takes any notice of me anyway.

I'm probably one of the few teenagers who methodically arranges her school books the night before and has them laid out ready on my desk. It's not because I'm one of those amazing grade A students that is determined to do well in school. I'm just determined to survive each day without freaking out, and the routine of sorting through everything I could possibly need helps with that. I should point out that one of the main parts of my routine is keeping occupied and avoiding leaving my room.

Breakfast is a quiet affair, which it normally is, given that my dad is usually doing a last minute check over one of his lectures whilst trying to navigate pieces of toast into his mouth from without taking his eyes off a sheaf of notes and a power point presentation. Today is no exception, and he pauses his reading only to quickly inquire how I slept. I give him the same answer I give all the time "Fine, you?" to which he typically grunts out some reply then returns to his work. I survey my dad over my breakfast (cornflakes as per usual) and take in his neatly parted hair held in place due to the combined effort of combing and hair gel. If I had to describe his style I'd say it's somebody who clings to routine and regularity. He handles his personal life the same way he handles the complex equations he teaches his students: that is, one step at a time and following a method. As I watch him I wonder, not for the first time, whether he was like this when he was with my mum, or if he just swore off spontaneity after my mum spontaneously left. 

I walk to school most days, apart from the odd occasion dad overhears somebody talking about the importance of parent and child bonding and decides we need the bonding time that him driving me to school provides, even if we travel the way we eat together- in silence. Today is obviously not one of those days, and so I slip my feet into their well worn shoes and head out the front door. It's a cold day today, and I pull my coat tighter around myself before selecting a song to listen to on my way. I'm always glad of the cold weather when it comes, because in times of warmer weather everyone decides to walk to school, whereas at times like this the walkers are down to a skeleton crew. Made up of those of us whose parents either can't or won't take us to school in the car. I take deep breaths as I start walking, and focus on looking down at the ground so as to not get distracted by any auras which might be nearby. 

Mercifully I make it to school without running into too many people, and the ones I do walk past are in such a hurry to be inside wherever they are headed, that they don't linger too long and their auras feature soothing neutral tones with only tinges of irritation at the cold. 

Form passes without incident, and I quickly fall into my usual role of offering to take the register to the main office, which my teacher graciously accepts. Once out of the room I let go of the breath I've been holding and set off for the office, savouring the empty halls which are of course the reason I offer my services. Of course I'll have to brave the corridors later when they are full of students heading to class. Timid younger students nervously hunched over their books, and bold year elevens obnoxiously pushing into them as if to assert some kind of primal authority. The flashing auras of irritation, fear and intimidation are so intense in between classes that I struggle to even see the people they belong to. 

My first class of the day is English, which I enjoy more than other subjects, not that I contribute much in class. I love books and reading, but sharing my books and reading is not something I particularly enjoy. I hate it when teachers ask what we thought of a book, since for me reading is an exercise in not thinking. Usually I sit on a table by myself, which just so happens to be near the front, and mostly try to blend into my surroundings and read along with the class.

Today when I walk in, a short while before the rest of the class arrives, I move straight to my seat and take out my books. We're currently studying Blood Brothers in preparation for our GCSE exam, and the presentation title which is up on the board ready for us to look at announces we will be considering the idea of superstition within the text. 

"Morning Quin!" Mrs Daniels beams, entering the room carrying a stack of papers. It's a running joke in our class that the English department is single-handedly responsible for deforestation, and the supposed main perpetrator of this is Mrs Daniels and her adoration for handing out huge piles of extra context and information that I'm doubtful anybody reads.

Over time the class slowly starts to file into the class, and as each of them pass me on their way to their seats I feel their emotion wash over me. The majority of them are leaning towards boredom and sleepiness, but every now and then a burst of excitement is thrown into the mix. My guess would be that belongs to students who not only enjoy reading as an activity, but who love to dissect and analyse texts in order to extract potential and implied meanings.

Keeping my head down I open my book, and flip through the pages until I find a likely candidate for where we'll be reading from today. It's the scene where Mrs Lyons threatens Mrs Johnstone with the superstition of twins secretly parted at birth. Reading over the scene I picture the music in my head along with it. It's not quite as good for blocking out all this noise as my music would be, but it's the next best thing when you're in class. I've learnt by now that teachers in general don't take kindly to students listening to music during class, and I've seen Mrs Daniels chew the boys in our class out frequently enough to know she is no exception. 

"Right everybody take a seat!" as if summoned by my thoughts of her Mrs Daniels calls the class to order, before introducing some new girl to our class. "This is Lucienne, and I hope you'll all help her settle in." I'm still looking down at my book, trying to keep calm but inside I'm freaking out. Throughout my time in high school I've got away with always sitting by myself, a miracle only possible in small town schools. Part of my routine to allow me to cope with seeing everyone's aura and feeling their emotion is by staying as far away from others as possible. Being so hyper aware to every thing in the room around me has caused me to do the math so to speak on the number of seats and the number of people here. There's only one available space in this room. Next to me. I've not sat directly next to anybody in class for so long, I don't know how to handle this. I didn't even know we had a new student starting today, let alone sitting next to me. 

I brace myself for what I'm sure will be an uncomfortable hour, seeing as I'll be experiencing first day nerves alongside this Lucienne. I'm so busy mentally preparing myself that I'm only dimly aware of Mrs Daniels directing Lucienne to the seat beside me. I hear the footsteps approach my table, and the sound of the chair scrape back against the floor even though it's muffled thanks to the carpet. I wait for the feelings of nerves to wash over me, and clench my teeth...But they don't come. 

Chancing a glance at the girl beside me I register several things at once. Only two things stand out to me.

1) She's breathtakingly beautiful.

2) There's no soul or aura hanging above her.

 

 

 

 

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