Chapter 1: A Snowy Sanctuary

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 694

The day started like any other, completely usual day for her.  Same grey skies, same cold pavement, same faces passing by in a blur. Her morning was seemingly uneventful- like clockwork, her muscle memory carried her from class to class, on the same uniform bell tolls.

Lilith Stewart sulked through the same hallways she’d walked for years now- mostly devoid of color, old beaten up lockers lining the walls. She tugged her sleeves over her palms, and wrenched her beanie over her ears to conceal the earbuds she’d shoved into her ears to drown out the cacophony of teenagers. She stared down at her feet, her heels hitting the tiles to the beat of her music. She bobbed and weaved around the crowds of different cliques- the jocks/cheerleaders, the nerds, the stoners, the goths, the hipsters. Lily wasn’t one who fit in with any of them, truly, she preferred just to be on her own. She’d flash a half-cocked smile at who she made eye contact with, which was rarely anyone.

As she went to turn into the doorway to her sociology class, she abruptly hit a hardened mass, startling her. She looked up from her feet, meeting the eyes of a face she hadn’t seen before. His chocolate eyes caught her off guard, and she stood there staring- longer than she should have. He gave her a quick smirk before Lily snapped out of her daze, and shuffled to her seat, nearly tripping over her own shoelaces. She snagged the earbuds out of her ears, and looped them round her neck. The stranger leaned casually against the teacher’s desk as she blathered on about something or another, but Lily wasn’t paying much attention. She was too busy staring at the form-fitting pants he wore, the beaten-up leather jacket, the mud crusted shoes. She studied every curve, he had a rather petite figure. He looked far off and dreamy, rather distant.

He lazily rocked back and forth from his heels to his toes, becoming more and more impatient with the incessant babbling of the woman, Ms. Black. Truth be told, he wasn’t paying much attention anyways. He was trying to ward off the daggers the blue-eyed girl was staring into him. He truly didn’t like the way she was looking at him, it was too intense, too observant. So he just kept his eyes everywhere but on her, hoping she’d lose interest. Aaron Moore started to get more and more anxious as the blue-eyed girl continued to bore into him.

Lilith couldn’t help but be locked onto the brown-eyed boy, for a reason she couldn’t place. She noticed him get fidgety under her stare, which only drove her curiosity further. She eventually tore her eyes away and started doodling on the corner of her paper she had taken out for notes, but all she’d seemed to have written was “Lilith Stewart” at the top. Ms. Black kept droning on- about nothing which she’d heard. After what seemed like hours, she gestured widely to the class, indicating for the brown-eyed boy to take a seat wherever he liked. She perked up in her seat a bit, keeping her eyes on her paper, hoping he wouldn’t notice her nervousness. Naturally, he slinked across the room, and plopped in the corner, ducking his head behind the mass of other students, blocking him from her sight.

Aaron breathed a sigh of relief that he’d managed to duck out of the blue-eyed girl’s stare. Something about the way she looked at him set him on edge- it made his stomach churn, and he didn’t like it. He wiped away a bead of sweat that was running down his forehead, she truly made him nervous. He rested his chin against his palms, daydreaming until the sound of the bell woke him from his daze. He quickly grabbed his things and tried not to bolt to the door, in fear that he’d cross paths with the blue-eyed girl again. Aaron slipped through the crowd undetected, as far as he knew. He drew in a deep breath and hunted down his next class’ number, keeping his eyes low to the ground. He was never good with eye contact, let alone with eyes of that intensity.  The rest of the morning flew by uneventfully, he’d successfully dodged the blue-eyed girl thus far. The bell dinged, and the herds of students flocked to the lunchroom. He willingly followed, his stomach was rumbling rather excessively.

Lilith kept searching her classes for the brown-eyed boy, but to no avail. It seemed he eluded her. Was she dreaming? She shook her head and wondered if she needed to sleep more. She instinctively tugged the sleeves of her jacket back over her hands, yanking down her beanie over her ears, as per usual. She trudged down the hall towards the smell of meat and the rumble of hungry teenagers, coming up on the big glass doors leading into the lunchroom. She reached up to open them but a hand had brushed hers, and she wrenched it back, startled.

“Oh, I’m sorry-” a booming male voice said.

Lilith looked up from her feet, seeing the same melted chocolate eyes she’d met earlier. She saw them widen in shock, or fear- she couldn’t tell which. After a few moments in awkward silence, he pushed the door open and hurried inside, but held it open just long enough for her to slip in.

“My name’s Lilith,” she blurted out. She thrust her arm out awkwardly, hoping for a handshake.

“I’m Aaron,” he said, cooly. He stuck his hands in his pockets, ignoring her outstretched hand.

“Welcome to Frostford,” she said, letting her hand fall limp against her thigh with a slap.

Frostford, Canada, was a small, frozen town in the Nova Scotia province.

He gave her a half-hearted smile and hurried on, once again disappearing into the crowd. Lily shuddered, what had she just done? She stood there in astonishment that he’d left so abruptly, but she shrugged it off and trudged through the line to grab a questionable looking burger with soggy, saltless fries. She slammed her tray down into her little corner, her seat had a rut from where’s she sat all these years. She took out a small notebook from her bag that she’d been doodling in, and began to sketch, absentmindedly. She barely looked up, holding back tears that forced their way to the surface, causing her to aggressively wipe at her eyes with the backs of her sleeves. But she had no idea why she was so upset, she was used to being alone, so why care now? She shoved her mostly-tasteless food into her mouth, letting her pencil scratch across the old lined paper, until something began to finally form. It started out as a small etch of a figure standing over a pond, a few poorly-hacked out lily pads floating  there, some misshapen flowers scattering the foreground. She pulled the lead off the paper, admiring the little scene.

Aaron shuddered as he sat down with his rather bland looking burger, poking at it with one finger. His fries were too unappetizing to even look at, let alone eat. Shoving his tray away, he let his forehead rest against the corner of the table. He felt bad for being cold towards Lilith, but he was a little frightened of her. Her mannerisms were even more awkward than his, she was intense. He raised his head up slightly, barely catching sight of her old hoodie, her torn skinny jeans, her cosmetically-dirty converses with mismatching laces. Aaron watched her as she intensely scribbled down on a little notebook, and couldn’t help but just watch.  Her movements were fluid and unhitched, her hand glided across the paper like it was an extension of her, herself. He couldn’t see her face, her hood was pulled up enough it hid most of her form from view. He laid his head back down on the corner of the table, trying to drown out the humdrum of the herds of teenagers around him. He’d picked out a table relatively empty, and across the room from Lilith. He couldn’t risk voluntarily going near her, there was something that was just wrong. As the time passed by, he’d glance up at her. Eventually she stopped scribbling away, and he cocked his head in curiosity.

She was bent over the paper, completely frozen, her body rigid. She was seeing dancing images, imagining them, sparkling blues and greens and reds, and fluttering fabrics, smiling faces she’s never seen before, she could smell something sweet and intoxicating. It wasn’t long before she realized she was holding her breath, and drew in a sharp breath, making her lungs sting. Lilith sat there, gasping for air, as if she’d ran a marathon, but she never had moved. Her eyes darted rapidly back and forth, scanning to see if anyone had noticed her breaking out into a sweat. It beaded up on her forehead, streaming down her spine. She wiped furiously at her head with her sleeves, frantically scooping up her papers, leaving her half-eaten burger there, she bolted out the doors to the bathroom.

Aaron’s eyes followed her until she disappeared through the doors. But what was wrong with her? He shoved himself away from the table as casually as he could, slinking out after her.  He heard a locker slam and followed the commotion, what was her deal? She shot out around the corner, wide eyed and wild, huffing like she’d just ran a mile. She didn’t even look at him as she stormed past him. He let her walk down a ways before he lost sight of her around a corner, but her heavy footsteps and labored breathing were easy enough to follow. He watched her dart to and fro like a caged animal, before she made her way to the doors, and he watched her stumble down the steps. She bolted off for the wood line directly in front of the school, leaving him no choice but to take off sprinting behind her. Aaron almost lost sight of her after a few minutes of steady jogging, tripping over vines, small brush and tree branches snatching at his clothes, tearing at his skin, the frozen air whipping across his skin. He tripped over a protruding rock, sending him spiraling into an open clearing. He threw his arms in front of his eyes, almost blinded by the sunlight pouring through the trees.

Lilith stood there, completely exhausted, but every part of her humming and alive- practically singing with every stride she took. She stared into her reflection of the completely still pond, the lily pads not even disturbing the surface. She stared, but what was looking back at her didn’t seem like her own reflection at all. It was hungry, it was angry, it was scared. Her eyes stared back at her but they weren’t hers, that face wasn’t hers. She held her breath, afraid to disturb the surface.

Aaron stood there, watching Lilith. His breath puffed out like a freight train, his lungs stung, his ankles ached, his whole body was in a state of shock. But he was locked, watching her. He crept closer and closer, each step making small crunches on the half-frozen grass. She seemed completely unaware to his presence. He held his hands out cautiously.

“Lilith?” He called out cautiously. As soon as the words left his lips, a guttural scream ripped out of her throat and she fell forward onto her hands and knees, convulsing.

Aaron scrambled backwards, catching his heel on another rock, knocking him flat on his back. He pushed himself up in a panic, but when he looked back over to the pond, no one was standing there. Lilith was gone. The clearing was eerily silent, just the sound of his own wheezing in the frozen air. He turned tail to run, but as soon as he turned on his heel, he was slammed by a large mass of fur and claws, tearing at his jacket, through his shirt. He screamed, beating in vain against the mass that had ahold of his wrist, biting deeper and deeper.  He felt the warmth of his own blood seeping out, pouring over his hand. He kicked, screaming louder. He managed to wrench the jaws of the beast off just far enough he could yank his arm out, kicking its head, and clambered to get his feet under him. What stood pacing him, snapping, drooling, with his own skin still between its teeth, was a wolf. It heaved and growled, yellow eyes dilated, jumping forward again. Before Aaron could throw his arm in front of his face, there was a whirl of white and an awful, throaty scream, the slam and cracking of bones, and then whimpering.

Lilith was scared, more frightened than she’d ever been before, but she couldn’t let this thing hurt Aaron. She crouched on all fours, yowling, baring her teeth, bracing all four legs on the ground defensively. The wolf cackled, blood dripping from his jowls, licking his chops hungrily. She screamed again, a blood-curdling noise that ripped through the cold air. She swiped out with a massive white paw, catching the wolf’s shoulder, tearing off fur, cutting into the skin. The wolf howled in pain, but turned his anger back on Aaron. He smiled, lurching forward, mouth wide open, going in for another bite. Lilith leapt forward, slamming her bodyweight into the wolf, biting and tearing at any fur she could grab. After a swift kick to the chest and a snap, there was a whimper and the wolf went limp. He was still breathing, so she grabbed his throat in her mouth, doing the only humane thing she could, biting down forcefully to snap his neck. After a swift snap, his whimpering breathing ceased, and his last breath shuddered out of his body, and he lay completely limp.

Aaron stood there, bloody, broken, bruised- but couldn’t stop staring at awe at what he’d just witnessed. The big, white leopard stood, bloodstained, panting, over the dead wolf’s body. It looked up at him, and he couldn’t help but be entranced by it’s big, blue eyes. He lowered his arm and dropped to a knee, holding out his good arm with an outstretched palm towards the leopard.

“Lilith?” He asked. It sounded sillier out-loud than he thought.

Lilith dipped her great head in response, slowly approaching Aaron. She had no idea what was going on, who or what she was, or why now, why not before?

He could tell by the pleading look he was giving her, she understood about as much as he did. He reached out to pat her head, before getting woozy and vomiting over to the side, dizzy from the blood loss. He looked down at his mangled arm, a deep set of dental imprints was pouring blood, and he was already covered. He began to sway backwards as black ebbed at the edge of his vision, the black swimming in and out. His head lolled back, his body soon following pursuit. He hit the hard ground, body numb from blood loss. He could hear Lilith’s panicked screams, he reached out a hand to touch her side, leaving a bloody handprint. The black finally consumed his vision, and his head finally went completely limp. The frozen ground never felt so soft.

 


Submitted: February 13, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Alice Marie Bride. All rights reserved.

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