I turn seventeen today, and since I don’t have a job yet because up until now, my parents were a loving couple who didn’t want their “baby girl” out in the “cruel world.” But that all changed when dad found love letters from mom’s boss in her briefcase. Now that mom’s “secret love” is out in the open, my whole world is being ripped apart because of her, and now I’m living with my dad. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I liked it better when I had both of my parents.
Since it’s the middle of the summer, not many places are hiring. Although, there is this one that I pass by on my way to and from school that’s had a “help wanted” sign hanging in it for as long as I can remember. It’s called “Alcyone’s Magic Shop.” Maybe it’ll be a pretty easy job so I’ll have extra time to work on my summer homework…
Alcyone’s Magic Shop looks old, yet interesting, and full of the antiques that used to fill the house when my parents were still together. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to like working here if I get a job here. I look up at the swirly and slightly archaic handwriting on the sign, and the constellation behind the first few letters seems to get brighter and move across the sign as I walk up the old concrete steps. No, must just be a trick of the light.
I gently push open wooden door, and a small bell chimes as I walk through. Everything in this store looks like it must be at least two centuries old, at the youngest. I’m lost in the beautiful maze of everything the store sells when something cool and strong brushes up against my leg. I quickly look down and see a very large python slithering around the floor. I quickly take a step back and bump into an older woman.
She smiles as I try to apologize and bends down to pick up the snake. “Now Alcyone, what have I told you about slipping out of your habitat? The store is too cold for you right now.”
The snake seems to sigh as it slithers back to the old woman and affectionately wraps around her arms, with its head settled against her neck.
“Are you afraid of snakes?” asks the woman as she softly strokes Alcyone’s head.
“No. I just have a healthy respect for what they can do.”
The woman laughs, and Alcyone’s eyes seem to glimmer brighter. “She’s a smart girl, isn’t she, Alcyone?”
I take a step back. This woman’s got to be crazy.
“What’s your name?” she asks as she turns back to me, her grey eyes rooting me to the spot.
“Um…my name’s Halcyone.”
The woman smiles again, and I feel at ease again. “Hello Halcyone, I’m Katrina. And this is Alcyone.”
I nod uneasily as Alcyone’s tongue flickers out as he watches me with his bottomless eyes.
“So why have you come to my shop?” Katrina asks as she starts walking through the store.
“I’m looking for a job, and I noticed the ‘help wanted’ sign in the window,” I say as I follow Katrina. Her store is gorgeous.
“I see.” Katrina nods as she sets Alcyone back into what must be his habitat. The large snake slithers across dark red rocks and coils around a lightly colored castle.
“You may work here, Halcyone. But remember that we’re waiting for two more to come.”
“Two more?” I ask, confused.
Katrina walks behind a desk, acting like she hasn’t heard my question. “Do you know what you are named for?”
I nod. “A mythical bird that’s like a kingfisher.”
Katrina nods and pulls out a covered cage from under the desk. “Yes and no. The Halcyone isn’t quite as ‘mythical’ as some people might think, just extremely rare.”
Something in the covered cage makes a noise, sounding suspiciously like a bird.
“Halcyones are so rare because they nest on the ocean. But with all of the pollution and ships and such that now rule those mighty salt waters, Halcyones don’t have many undisturbed places to nest. There are only about ten of them left in the world, but that’s more like wishful thinking than reality.”
Whatever’s in the cage makes another sound.
“Katrina, what’s in the cage?”
The old woman smiles, her grey eyes sparkling. “I’m surprised you hadn’t guessed it. Halcyone, meet your namesake, a Halcyone.”
She pulls the canvas cover off the cage, revealing a small indigo-purple-turquoise bird with a golden yellow breast. It can’t be, but it is. It’s a Halcyone.