A beautiful cycle. One that she’d mastered, fortunately: one that had kept her alive. Kind of.
So… why was she here? In a spotlight that flooded only the six square feet where she was suppressed to a hard metal chair with even crueler chains. The rest of the room was darkness- which she could feel was particularly strong. A nice, brooding darkness.
She tried to snap, but couldn’t, because… her fingers were tied together. Really tightly, actually. Which may have explained why she couldn’t feel them in the first place. She swore into the shadows.
Her heart shrank back into her chest when something answered.
“Frustrated?” the voice was gravely.
“Yes.” She spat.
“Hmm. Frustration can be so… imprisoning, no?”
“Look, I don’t know what you want, but whatever it is, I don’t have it.”
“Neither did the young woman selling jewelry in Eternalia, but we both know what fate she suffered.”
Jessica froze. “It was an accident.”
“Was it? We both know people don’t just fade. The light has to be manipulated.”
Whoever this person- this figment of the darkness was, they knew too much. So Jessica put on a fake smile as she spoke into the shadows once again, her voice like rich velvet. “Look, you don’t know me. You don’t understand me. You don’t understand why I did what I did. You don’t understand, because you have never known the big picture.”
The voice was silent for a while, and Jessica leaned back in her chair, waiting.
“Maybe.” It echoed. “Maybe, however, you’re missing the point. That woman had a child. You didn’t know that, did you? They didn’t tell you that part.”
“It… had to be done.” But Jess couldn’t stop the catch in her voice, the little quiver of doubt.
15 years earlier-
Jessica laughed as she ran through the hills of Dawnheath, her black hair flowing like glossy ribbons in the wind. The grass was slightly poky against her naked feet, the reeds freshly cut and tickly. And the sun shed down rays of warm. Warm and wonderful.
“Jessica Veronica Vacker! Get back here!” Even the shrill calls of her mother couldn’t shrink the smile that had pasted itself stubbornly across her face.
Manifesting was such a thrill. Especially when your ability was your mother’s. That way she could still train in private.
“You’ll have to catch me!” she shouted back.
Luzia speed-walked stiffly across the lawn, a look of pure stone etched into her eyes. “You know you aren’t allowed in the front!”
“Yes, but today is special!” Jessica told her indifferently. “After all, not every child manifests at twelve.” She did jazz-hands for special effect.
“Teach me?” Jess bit her lip in a smile, knowing that her mother couldn’t possibly resist a chance to show off…
“Fine. Ten minutes.”
“You know what’s a cool name? Y’know, if like, I pretended to be someone else so I could go to Atlantis with you?” Jessica lay on her stomach on the couch with her arms crossed on the armrest.
“Jessica, we have been over this.” Her mother was hastily arranging a bouquet of roses on the coffee table beside her.
“I know, but still. Glimmer. That’s the cool name.”
“Sounds like a stage name for a circus girl.” But there was a smile in Luzia’s eyes.
“Okay, but consider this: being in a circus would mean I’d get fresh air every once in a while. Plus, you’d make a perfect clown.” Jess wiggled her eyebrows.
“Rude.” Her mother mumbled, though it was clear that she was paying more attention to the florals at this point.
“Well, I’m off.” Luzia said, rummaging through her purse and heading toward the door. “I love you, and no practice until I get back.”
“I know.” Jess insisted, sitting up and blowing on a strand of hair that had flopped down into her face. “I know…”
Thrill: that was Jessica’s new favorite feeling. A perfect mix of fear and joy, like red and blue mixed together. Total opposites. Together they made purple, which was by far the best color in the world.
“Thrill is purple.” Jessica told her mother as she conjured a vibrant orb of magenta light.
“What makes you say that?” Luzia was watching from a few feet away, in the middle of expanding a huge sphere of brilliant yellow glow. Like a sun.
“Logic.” Jess informed her.
“Well then. What’s orange?”
Jess thought for a moment. “Orange is boredom.” Like the walls in her room: in other words, a beautified prison. Yuck.
This time, Luzia guessed what had been going on inside Jess’s head. “You know… I’ve been thinking about letting you come with me one of these days. Maybe on your birthday.”
Jess’s sphere of light burst in a spasm of heliotrope. “Wait, really?!”
“Maybe. But concentrate.”
But Jess didn’t want to concentrate. Not when every. Single. Thought in her head was just buzzing excitement about the prospect of going out there.
Jess was so busted. As much as her mother was livid about her going in the front yard, where she could be seen, she would be far more ferocious if she found out about Orem’s old room… which was restricted. Who could blame her for being interested in her older brother? Half-brother. Luzia hadn’t told her, but it was obvious.
He was out of the house at this point, and had been for like, a million years, or whatever. But his room one of the only things that was still interesting after 13 years living at Dawnheath. Jess knew that her half-brother had only lived there for two years before moving out- he’d lived at Everglen before this place.
The room was still full of him, though. Lime green walls, polished oak furniture, pictures on the dresser which were like a storybook. Almost revealing enough. Some of them had his father in them…
Jess just liked being in there. Pretending to talk to the old photos, laying on his old bed and staring at the ceiling- purely because it was forbidden.
“I’m bored.” she said to herself, a little shocked at her own voice popping out at her from the loneliness of the house.
A puppy. She wanted a puppy. Just to keep her company. Was that too much to ask of a mother who wouldn’t let her go outside, even at the age of 13?
Just another by-passer. That was all she was. Not a girl strictly forbidden to be seen in Eternalia. But hey, roleplay was fun.
Jess had taken one of her mother’s smaller dresses- a yellow one that almost fit her nicely- and a pair of bright green heels, the fanciest she could find. If she was going to pull this off, she needed to fake it good.
So as she walked through the streets of the glistening city, she held her chin up, and was careful not to let the pathfinder she had swiped from her mother drop from inside the tulle of her gown, where it was carefully hidden.
“Hello!” Jess said to a pretty girl walking across the street from her. Her heart was beating a tattoo into her chest. That elf… that elf was the first elf she’d seen besides Luzia.
She’d been in Atlantis at the time, window-shopping. Her eye had been caressing a particularly intricate necklace made of opal and gold. It was very goddy and very elaborate, what with the gems arranged to look like delicate purple feathers. It wasn’t something that Luzia would wear. Much too fancy and pompous.
Jess liked it for that very reason.
In fact, she’d liked it so much that she was about to go inside the shop and buy it, breaking the one rule that she’d set for herself on her secret outings. Never bring anything back.
Jess was about to enter the shop when she noticed his face reflected in the glass, alongside her own. He wasn’t looking at the jewelry, though.
She tore herself away from the window to look at him. “Sorry, am I in your way?”
He smiled. It was a crooked smile that made one dimple appear on his left cheek, and it was a beautiful smile. “Not at all.” he told her.
I should move, Jess thought to herself. It’s not good for people to talk to me.
But she couldn’t get her legs to cooperate. Which was… embarrassing. Especially when the stranger raised an eyebrow and said “Are you okay?”
“Good.” He smiled again, and his violet eyes smiled, too. He had violet eyes… and choppy auburn hair, but Jess was more obsessed with the eyes.
And then she realized that she was standing there, staring at him. She couldn’t tell weather she’d been smiling stupidly or deadpan. She couldn’t decide what was worse, either.
“Well I’m Concordius.” He held out his hand
Jess froze a bit. “That’s your name?”
“Nah, I was messing with you. My real name’s Troy. Troy Prikingson.”
“Oh, okay.” Jess tried not to sound too relieved. She realized that she hadn’t shaken his hand yet. How were you supposed to do it? She’d seen it once in a human movie…
Jess spat onto her hand and grasped his firmly, shaking it up and down violently. “I’m Jessica.” She beamed.
Troy smiled again… which made Jess melt again. But he was very nice about not making a big deal of wiping the spit off his hand.
“See you around?” he asked.
“Uh… yeah. I’d like that.” Jess found herself smiling that crooked smile of his as she left Atlantis- without the opal necklace.
Luzia always told Jess not to be vain. Her mother was constantly telling her to stop stealing her jewelry. Why would she want to wear it if no-one would see her?
And Jessica would just smile to herself, and go to her room. And she’d stare at herself.
It was an odd vanity. She hated fancy clothing, and preferred to leave her hair unbrushed. But she was absolutely obsessed with accessories. Luzia had often scolded her for wearing beige frocks and grey leggings with her arms covered in bracelets and her neck dangling with about ten necklaces. Not to mention the rings.
She loved pretty things. She loved seeing them on her. Jess did not, however, like to be the pretty thing.
And she was starting to worry that that was wrong.
Did Troy like simple girls? Probably not… he was too amazing to settle for simplicity.
So Jess stared at herself. At her long black hair, smooth and silky, looking like ink pouring from a bottle, so long she could sit on the end of it if she wanted to. He skin was a creamy brown, and usually was clean of any acne.
Through the silver of the mirror, Jess inspected herself. She had a roundish face, but also had a pointy chin. Was it too pointy? Did her ears stick out too much? Were her eyes too big? Too blue? Were her lips too thin? Was she pretty?
Jess really liked Troy. She’d run into him three times since they first met. And she was 15 now. Was that old enough to like someone?
She managed to calm herself by remembering that each time they’d met, he had seemed happy to see her. She even met his parents once- on accident, by clumsily bumping into them while she wasn’t looking- but still.
“Jessica, what did I tell you about staring at yourself?”
Jess jumped in her seat. She hadn’t seen Luzia standing in her doorway. “Sorry.” She quickly backed away from the mirror. Luzia stared at the floor, seemingly lost in though. She stared for a long time, until Jessica had the boldness to ask her,
“Am I pretty?”
Her mother cocked her head, maybe smiling, maybe snarling. “What has you so concerned?”
Jess shrugged, and then realized that that wouldn’t do. “I just… I want to be pretty.” She thought about adding ‘Like you’ at the end, but that would be taking it too far.
Luzia smiled coyly. “Yes, you are pretty-looking. But I don’t want you to think about that. I want you to think about what you look like,” she stepped closer, and put a finger in the center of Jess’s chest “In here.”
Okay… but. “Everything in the Lost Cities is focused on looks. Why does inside matter if no-one cares about it?”
“That’s exactly why it matters.” Luzia told her. “If you don’t open a closet for a long time, what happens? Dust. Spiders. Mothballs. Yet, no-one cares about the closet, because you never see inside. It has a door. It can be easily forgotten. Because of this, the dust and spiders and mothballs happen. One day when you need to fetch a broom, you have an even bigger mess to deal with.”
Jess didn’t know what to say. Partially because she hadn’t been paying too much attention. But Luzia wasn’t done.
“That’s the problem with our world. We forget about the closet. As long as everything is pretty on the outside, we are content. Ignorant.” She looked at Jess, her eyes calculating. “I do not wish you to be this way. I want you to make a difference.”
“But how can I when I’m stuck in this house?”
But Luzia was leaving the room. “Soon, Jessica. Be patient.”
dude, i love this more than i ship sokeefe. the theory is so great (i seriously can't think of any better ones than this), the story is amazing, and it goes along with the main series so. well. this should literally be the very definition of fanfiction.