Painting Pictures

Malrick has an overactive imagination. His mind involuntarily turns ordinary walks into treks through a mystical forest and boring classrooms into ancient chambers and caverns. He spends his time hiding from others. But then Malrick meets a girl named Rule who teaches him that what he sees isn't delusions, but a gift that he can learn to harness. But Rule isn't all she claims to be, and with his parents convinced Malrick is nuts, Malrick will need to unravel the truth of wether he has a wild imagination, a rare mental disorder or a magic gift. And doing so just might mean he will need to stop hiding and trust a girl he barely knows.


20. Rule

Chapter 20




When Rule walks into class, the teacher promptly declares her as late. She mumbles her excuse, before slinking to her desk smack-dab in the middle of the classroom. Her teacher frowns. She’s an old woman with kind blue eyes and a powerful set of lungs. Despite her sixty or more years, she is still passionate and plenty of able to yell. Thankfully she’s after taking a liking to Rule, who gets away with being late with little more than a stern glare. 

“Open your books, turn to page...” she begins. Rule doesn’t hear much after that. She skims over the text before sinking inward to daydream, wishing she had some gum to chew and instead gnawing on the inside of her cheek. 

Tearing a piece of paper out of her notebook, she begins to write. She doesn’t plan what she wants to say, simply touches the tip of her pen to the paper and lets the words fly out of her. Frustration and sadness bubble up, along with a riot of other emotions, and the turmoil quickly forms a poem. 

The ink bleeds across the page, her hand flying up and down as she forms jagged letters. Her print is neither tidy nor elegant, the letters slanted and sloppy as she scrawls. 

Once everything she needed to say is out, she sits back to reread her work. She reads it several times over, charging certain words and fixing small mistakes, before finally pronouncing the piece as good as she can get it. She taps her pen against the edge of her desk, staring at the paper without really seeing any of the words before finally deciding to read the poem one last time. 

She sighs, crumpling up the paper and groaning in frustration. It was either write bad poetry or do the questions her teacher had assigned, so Rule tears off another piece of paper and sets to work on another, hopefully better, poem. 

She sighs again, tucking away the paper and returning a small sliver of her attention to the teacher, who continues to ramble, completely unaware that at least half the class is after falling asleep.

Rule contemplates joining her classmates in slumber, though ultimately decides not to. In case the teacher decided to call on her, she’d rather save herself the humiliation of not knowing what’s going on. So she sits slumped in her chair, drumming her pencil against her leg. She stares off into space, thinking about a little bit of everything. 

When the bell finally rings, she lets out a sigh of relief. On to the next class, now. Hopefully this one will be at least a little bit interesting. 

The normal teacher for second period, Mrs. Amsay, is for some reason out. The substitute teacher provides no details about the whereabouts of Mrs. Amsay or any clues as to when she’ll be coming back. 

“Well class, I’m you substitute for this subject. Now what are we doing... aw, history. Okay, let’s begin.” He lays his book down, bending over and rummaging through the teacher’s storage until finally coming up with one of the extra history textbooks. He flips through the pages, before suddenly pausing and looking up at everyone. “Oh, and by the way, my name is Mr. Hilleye.” 

The class laugh, and I can immediately tell Mr. Hilleye is one of those teachers you can’t help from liking. He’s scatterbrained and not too serious, but focused enough to actually get the work done. 

He’s a tall, thin man looking to be in his mid-thirties. His russet hair is longer than what you’d typically see on a neatly groomed professor, falling to his chin in slight waves. He wears glasses, with thick, black frames that lend themselves to his young appearance. On top of it all, instead of being dressed in a suit he’s dressed in a black t-shirt and charcoal denim pants. 

“So, what do you guys know about the Confederation?” He asks, looking up from the textbook. 

“Basically everything,” a guy sitting near Rule mutters under his breath. A few hands shoot up, but his gaze falls on Rule. His eyes are the strangest hue, somewhere between silver and gold with a mesmerizing vortex of dark blue and yellowish-green streaks. 

“You. Tell me what you know.” 

“Well,” Rule takes a shaky gasp. “Uh, it was signed in 1867 between the provinces Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec.” 

“Good, good.” He affirms distractedly, flipping through the book and coming to rest a few pages ahead, before beginning the lesson. 

At the end of the class, Mr. Hilleye announces he’s assigning homework. It’s unusual for teachers to assign homework at Woodpaige, most teachers don’t assign anything unless absolutely necessary, especially in Excelled classes when the students spend most of their time when they’re not in school either practicing or doing missions. 

The students let out a collective sigh of relief when he announces we need to read a couple of pages in our text book, because he hadn’t had the time to cover them during the class. 

The bell chimes, startling Mr. Hilleye. He gathers up his few belongings, an agenda, a travel mug with unknown contents and a ring of keys. Then he’s gone, and it’s on to the next class. Health. Rule finds it particularly hard to stay awake, the teacher even looks bored as he recites a tired spiel about the importance healthy eating and exercise.

When the lunch bell finally rings, almost all the students immediately jump up from their texts. Rule isn’t one of them, instead she lazily drags herself to her feet and ambles slowly to the cafeteria. All around her people chatter, the constant noise hurting her head as usual. 

“Hey, Rule!” Malrick suddenly thrusts himself into her line of sight, looking like a lost puppy as he weaves amongst the crowd. She walks towards him and he walks towards her, in a matter of heartbeats the two of the, are together. 

“How was your first morning at Woodpaige?” Rule asks, trying to hide how her lips twist upwards in a smile at seeing him. 

“Pretty good,” he replies noncommittally. “Definitely going to take some getting used to.”

“Oh, I forgot to mention. The Illusionists go to the gym first while the Visionaries work with their Visions, then we switch. Just follow your classmates once the bell rings and you should be alright.” 

“Oh, okay.” He purses his lips, clearly trying to keep from frowning. “So we won’t get to see each other at all except for during lunch?”

“Not until you get moved up to an Excelled class,” Rule responds lightly, trying to cheer him up. It’s completely alien to her to see someone disappointed because they don’t get to spend a lot of time with her. “Which you will, by the way. All you need to do is wait for your first Test, which shouldn’t be too far in the future. I’m not sure the exact date, but it’s definitely within the month.” 

“Okay. Well, let’s go eat.” She hardly hears him as she absentmindedly follows his lead to an empty table. There isn’t a lot of students at Woodpaige, less than a normal school in Sannail because there’s fewer Visionaries and Illusionists than there is normal people. 

Her thoughts are troubled, her own words coming back to haunt her when she thinks about having to create Illusions in only an hour or so. On top of that, what if her powers aren’t back by the time of the Test?  

She tries to form a weak Illusion, barely managing to call up a wisp of colour. Sick to her stomach from fear, she offers a weak excuse to Malrick and races away to the bathroom, where she locks herself in a stall and descends into pure panic and hopelessness. 




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