Living life on the run is never fun. Running in order to save your life, makes it even harder. Growing up with a secret so large creates a wall between yourself and the rest of the world. A lesson that Penelope knows too well. Now, once again its time to pack up and move on, but this time there will be a dramatic event that will change lives forever.
I heard my cell go off, I keep my eyes closed hoping to avoid the whole situation. Moving day... again. I feel the familiar harshness of Merlin’s tongue caressing my cheek greeting me with the warm sun. I can't help but smile, how could I not when I open my eyes and see his black furry face with piercing green eyes. I remember my aunt telling me one day while I was a little girl, that there eyes were a connection with the underworld. How they could connect you to a dark place, new realm.
I sit up on my make-shift bed surrounded by boxes. I pick Merlin up and pet him as I walk over to my bare window. I was going to miss this place. It always smelled to damp earth and crushed leaves. But of course, when my aunt gets into one to many things. We are forced to up and leave, otherwise the village comes running with torches and pitchforks. Well, not exactly but its still not pleasant. We get glares, threatening mail. And of course dog shit lit on fire on our doorstep.
Reason being, were witches. She owns her own botanical shop with all natural shampoos, soaps, and incense. But, what got us in trouble was her side business. Casting spells, making potions. I suppose its natural to be afraid of something you don't know. But it really isn't all that scary. Its about taking care of the world, doing what you can to make it a better place. Then again, I'm just a kitchen witch. What do I know?
"Penelope! Wake up, we gotta get moving!"
I kiss Merlin on his head and put him down, "I'll be back for you later." I grab my phone and put it in my hoodie pocket and go downstairs and find her in the kitchen drinking tea. "I'm up." I yawn.
"We have to get moving. The packing boys are here to load the truck."
I see her sitting there, with her long red hair and her black glasses as she glances at the paper. Around her neck she wore charms and amulets for everything. If only they could protect you from the important things. Like falling in love, only to become heartbroken at one point or another.
"So where is it exactly that were moving too?"
"A small town. Where no one will know us. We can run the botanical shop and just live regular lives. A new start in Willow Creek."
An hour later we were in the crappy black van heading towards Willow Creek. Merlin passed out in the cat carrier in the back seat. I only hoped...I could believe her this time.
"It'll be great Penny. New school, new environment. A new beginning. I think it can work this time." Aunt Eden spoke.
I sigh and curl up in my seat, "I just wanna get through high school as quick and painless as possible. My goal is to be invisible. I don't mind working at the shop, just please be more careful. I dont wanna move again. I'd like to stay at a school and be able to finish a semester."
She pulls over and looks at me, leaning again the wheel. "I know things have been hard. But I'll make a deal with you. If you do your part at the shop, do well in school. I promise we can stay till you finish school. So I want you to try and have fun this year. Your only eighteen once." She replies and strokes my hair.
I sit up, "Really? Do you mean that?"
She smiles and tugs on a piece of hair, "I do. I've seen you grow up to become a beautiful person. Your parents would have been proud of you. You're such a special person Penelope. Don't ever forget that." She replies and hugs me.
For the first time in a long time, I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. Whenever we move, at first its fine. People are friendly, chat me up. But then they find out about my aunt, and its guilty by association. Girls would blame me for break-ups, bad grades, even go as low as saying I give them pimples.
"Thanks Aunt Eden." I reply as she starts driving again.
I turn over and plug myself into my Zune and lets myself be carried away by the music. The one thing I remember, is whenever I use to get upset, my mom would sing to me till I felt better. Her soft voice could make any song into a lullaby. She use to smell like soap and lotion. Like a new born baby.
I felt myself fall into the haze, dreams blurred with memories. Today's, one of my favourite. I was only six when I ran across a large lawn into a green house. My mother watering plants, tending to them as if they were children.
"Mommy, what is so important about plants? My daycare has them but there not as watered." I mumbled.
She smiles and picks me up and places me on a table, "Well sweetie, these plants are special. All plants have magical powers. But, the secret is... only if tended to and cared for. "
"Really?" I asked with glitter in my eyes.
She nods, "One day, me and your Aunt Eden will show you how to take care of them. Then you can make your own potions and such."
I giggle, "Don't be silly mommy."
"Oh, being silly am I?" She laughs.
I hugged her tightly as she picked me up and carried me out of the greenhouse. To bad its the only memory I really have left. About a month after that, the house and garden were burnt down.
I feel myself being nudged, "Penny...wake up. Peeennnyyyy, were here..."
I open my eyes and see a large grey house. I sit up and rub my eyes to make sure it isn't a dream.
"Is this really our place Aunt Eden?" I gasp.
"Yes it is." She smiles and opens her door and gets out.
"Bu---but its HUGE!" I smile and get out of the van.
"It was dirt cheap. It needs a little tender loving care, but we have the rest of the summer to take care of that."
I looked at the house and saw a glimmer of hope. The porch would be great for house plants, for Merlin to lay on. The large windows will let the sun in, giving it a warm feeling of home. I couldn't help it, as soon as the door was unlocked I ran inside and up the stairs. I got the room with the larger windows. I love looking at the moon.
Merlin came hopping in and jumped up on the windowsill with me. I watched all the hustle and bustle as the movers took out and organized the boxes. One the house was done, they moved on into town where the store was to unpack the trailer which was full of product for the shop.
I got to work on my room while Merlin slept. Bit by bit it came together. First to be done was move the furniture to where I wanted it. I put my tall dresser next to my window and my bed coming down from the west wall. My long dresser and mirror I put against the north wall, a foot or two from the door. I unpacked my clothes, but that’s all. After the movers finished, I hopped in the shower. My body was all achy from the day.
I hear the door open and the rustling sounds of bags, "Grabbed the groceries." She huffs walking over into the kitchen.
I get up and walk over to help her put them away in the new kitchen, there were tons of bags.
"How did the unpacking go?"
She puts the veggies in the drawers, "Great. The Ivy is just about ready to go. Just needs a good cleaning and some decorating."
"I suppose the move was a complete success then." I reply putting the canned goods in the cupboards.
She laughs slightly, "For once. But after this we should go to the grill and grab some dinner."
"Kay. I'm just gonna put the dishware away." I reply opening the dish boxes.
While I did that, she hopped into the shower. We had plain white dishes, and plain cutlery. The cups though, I made fun and splashed with colour. All the coffee mugs were Disney mugs, which meant they were puking colour. And the glasses themselves have random colourful swirls. I refuse to live in a colourless environment.
It only take a few minutes to put the dishware away, then we hopped back into the van and headed into town. It was like no place I haven't seen before. Small town, old buildings. Where everyone knows everyone. For a moment I couldn't tell if Aunt Eden was smart, or just plaid stupid.
We pull up to the 'Willow Creek Grill' and park at the end of the parking lot. I just had a pair of shorts on with a black tabk top and my hoodie. I left the hoodie unzipped so I could have my hair down as we walked. I could hear all the teens talking about us as we walked in. Its like we were the shiny new toys. Hopefully it would be over by the time I get to school.
"Nice town huh?" Aunt Eden asks as she opens the door.
I saw a couple teens mocking us behind her, "Yes Aunt Eden. Nice town." I force a smile and step inside.
It looked simple enough, booths and tables to eat at, and some billiards and darts in the back. It was an easy going place.
"Welcome to the Willow Creek Grill, my name is Lucy and I will be your server today. What can I get for you?"
I glance over the menu, "Hmmm. I honestly have no clue. What would you recommend?" I ask.
"To be honest, the best here is the fries, double decker cheeseburger meal with added bacon and the club sandwich. Those are my favs."
"Sounds great. We'll have those then." Aunt Eden replies.
Lucy scribbles it down on her notepad, "And to drink? Soda?" She asks.
"Soda is fine with me."
"Great. I'll have your order shortly." She smiles and goes to place the order.
Aunt Eden leans forward, "She was nice. Maybe you'll have a few classes with her."
I play with a napkin, "Maybe."
Music faded into the background, it was low enough to hear that it was playing. But I couldn't tell what it was. Another waiter brought us our soda's. All the while I could hear the group of kids going on in the back about the upcoming parties.
"Here you go. Best food in town." Lucy smiles as she places the plates infront of us.
"Tell me Lucy, you go to the local high school. Correct?"
She nods, "Indeed I do. Everyone does. Its either that or home school." She smiles.
"Well, you see, Penelope is new and doesn't know where anything is. Mind showing her around one day?" Aunt Eden asks.
I facepalm, "I can find my way just fine Aunt Eden." I look to Lucy, "Sorry, she is just scared I will become a social lepre again."
Lucy jots down on her notepad and rips a piece off and hands it to me, "My cell number and email. I'd be glad to show you around. But I gotta get back to work." She smiles and wanders off.
Aunt Eden leans forward, "See. That wasn't so hard." She smiles.
I sigh, "I know. But geez. Couldn't you have waited to pounce till school started?"
She laughs it off and bites into her club sandwich, I suddenly realized that I was the one that had to scarf down the double decker with cheese and bacon. I took a little dish and mixed some mayo and ketchup inside of it. It was something I made for my fries and such. I ate a couple fries before biting into the juicy burger. It sent my tastebuds into a frenzy. I almost got dizzy.
Dinner was same as always, quiet but with the occasional beep from texts about the shop. As much as I tried shovelling it all in, I couldn't. So, I got a doggy bag with some deli sandwiches to go.
"Its gonna be a quiet night it seems." Aunt Eden speaks paying the bill.
"Well, its been a long day." I reply putting my hoodie on.
"Can't wait to get back and just crash out and watch Tv." She replies holding the door open for me.
We walk to the van and get in, again, I see a group of kids mocking her. I sigh and slink into the sleep and watch as everything pass us by. We pull up to the house and I put the bag of sandwiches in the fridge before going up to my room and floping on the bed and crashing.
I lied there for what seemed like forever. It felt nice having a new beginning, but it also sucks. As much as it was nice having friends for a while, I'd always have to hid a part of me. The part that’s an orphan, the part that’s a kitchen witch. Even then, if they find out about Aunt Eden as usual it will all come crumbling down.
Merlin jumps up on the bed and places himself against my stomach and lies himself on my arm. I could feel him purring through my sweater. I kiss his head and close my eyes trying to focus on sleeping. After about an hour, I manage to fall into an abyss.
I open my eyes and find myself in the woods. My eyes, and body feel incredibly heavy. I push myself over onto my back and manage to sit up long enough to stand.
I hear a branch break, "Is someone there?"
I pause and hold my breath, I reach down and take the small pocket knife out of my boot just in case. I take a step back and feel something brush up against my back. I freeze. I feel my heart racing, I can hear the pounding in my ears. I take a breath and turn, its only a tree.
I turn and look into the clearing and suddenly hear growling. As I move, it gets louder.
I break into a run, deeper into the woods. Not by choice, but the sound was coming from the clearing. I ran till I couldn't anymore. I fall to my knees, panting, hoping to catch a breath. I look to my left and see a bit of light shinning on a boulder. I squint to see whats on it, but can't make it out.
I stand, listening to make sure the growling wasn't around me as I walked over. I hold my hand out to the light and feel its warmth. I listen once more before stepping into it. I see a dark cloth covering whatever is on the stone. I reach and pull the silk off and find a box of chocolate with a white rose. I pick up the rose and examine it before taking a whiff of its sweet scent. But then I feel a small sharp pain on my index finger. I look and see that a thorn had cut into me. I rub my thumb over it for a moment when a drop lands on a rose petal.
I turn and see a pair of glowing eyes in the dark.
I turn and see a shadow jump out at me from the dark and scream.
I jump out of bed hearing my alarm going off. I check to see what time it is, 12:30am?
I shove the sheets back and get out of bed, tripping because my feet get caught up in the blanket. I rush into the washroom to brush my hair and wash my face when I hear my phone ringing.
I dash across the hall and pick up, "I know I know I'm late. I slept in. I'm on my way."
"Its fine. You looked tired. But before you come can you make a bagel dash?"
I toss on a clean pair of jeans, "Sure. Text me the info. I'm leaving now." I reply and hang up.
I look for a clean shirt and put on a black tshit and toss on my purple hoodie over it before grabbing my keys and cell phone and locking up. I grab my scooter off the porch, juvenile I know. I had my licence, just haven't saved up for a used car yet.
I ride into town and look up and down the strip of places and find a little coffee shop, The Burnt Bean. I go on inside and am surprised to find it quit empty. I look at my phone and see the huge list.
"Shit." I curse.
I pack up my scooter in my bag, I'd have to carry it all.
"Welcome to the Burnt Bean, how can I help you?"
I look up and see a guy about my age working the counter. Dark hair and eyes, and a little facial hair around his chin. He looked to be about my age, but I couldn't really tell. I'm horrible at that sort of thing.
I pass him my phone to read the order, "Can I get that to go?" I ask.
He laughs and nods, "Sure." He goes over and tells the people in the back the order and comes around, "So. I saw you and your mom at the new shop. The Ivy I believe, must be new in town."
"That obvious huh?"
He nods, "Kind of. You don't have that whole gossip girl thing going on."
"Is that a compliment or an insult?"
The order comes up and he leans over, "Definatley compliment." He replies. "Well, here are your five 12 grain bagels, double toasted with cream cheese. Three coffees regular, two teas. A chocolate chip muffin, and a coffee slush?" He asks.
I nod and pass him over the cash, "Thanks..." I look at his tag, "...Peter." I smile and grab the bag and coffee trays.
I could feel him watch me as I left the shop, and I have to admit he was cute. And also impressed that I hadn't completely forgot how to flirt. I walk into the shop and go around the counter and find them in the back. The only person I knew was my aunt.
"Hey everyone, order is up." I smile.
Aunt Eden hugs me, "Oh thank god. For a minute I thought I was gonna pass out without my coffee."
I laugh, "Then I suppose I am here to save the day." I reply and strike a superhero pose with my chest puffed out.
I see a pair of woman fixing themselves up in the mirror, there about my aunts age. One has fizzy light blonde hair, the other bruentte semi-straight hair.
I hold my hand out, "Hello. I'm Penelope. But please, call me Penny." I smile.
The blonde grips my hand, "Awe. What a sweet girl. Hello dear, my name is Agnes. And she is Martha, but we call her Margie." She smile.
I shake Margie’s hand, "Nice to meet you both."
"Well know that introductions are done. I need a favour." My aunt replies turning to me.
She goes into the back and brings out a box, "Well. Obviously I am not technically inclined. But, the shop needs a local site for advertisement. And I know you are handy with that sort of stuff."
I nod, "Yeah."
"And, I know that your computer is suffering a slow and painful death..."
"So, here." She replies and hands me the box.
I open it and find a new Mac laptop, "Its beautiful... but we can't afford this...not right now anyway." I reply sadly.
"I consider it a business expense." She smiles. "Who better to design the site then someone whose been working here for a few years? Besides, the computer is the payment. And its actually cheaper this way."
"Are you sure?" I ask.
She nods, "Yes."
I hug her, "This is amazing."
"Awe." Agnes and Margie say at the same time.
I laugh it off, "Okay. Enough with the mushiness. Let's eat and get to work. We have boxes to unload and a shop to open."
"Here here!" The three of them cheer and bust open the bags of food.
I hop on the counter and put my bagel, muffin and coffee slushie next to me. For a moment, things were going great. But the weird dream I had kept popping into my head. I have no idea what it meant. I take out my journal and jot it down. Maybe I'd look back on it later.
The bagels were great, I already knew this is where we'd be getting our breakfast from now on. With the shop and school, we mostly ate out. We had food at the house, mostly I'd make a simple dinner because she'd be home late. Other then that we ate out. We try to keep it as healthy as possible. And in this town, that didnt seem like it would be a problem. I didnt even see a fast food place in site.
After the bagel I wash my hands in the back and open the computer. I smile when I look in the bottom and see some Disney stickers for the top of it. I laugh when I see the zombie snow white.
"Its...perfect." I smile and put it on.
I noticed that its already been set up and loaded with some stuff from my external hard drive. After I play with it for a little I put it away and finish my food.
I sip my coffee slush, "I'll get started on putting the bits of fabric up. Then wrap some lights around the window. Then on the display. Can you guys do the boxes?" I ask hopping off the counter.
I have streams of fabric framing the windowsill/ display case. I have small shelves displaying some of the more popular products with the lights dancing along the bottom.
Between the cases of products and shelves I put up frames of different herbs. Upon the entrance I put a small bowl of and light a couple incense cones to get the flow moving. When you came to the shop we wanted you to relax. Let loose your negative energy and feel in tuned with the earth.
"She certainly knows what she is doing." Agnes smiles.
"She's a special girl." Aunt Eden smiles.
I grab some of the smaller candles and add them to the display, "How does that look?"
My aunt comes up and hugs me, "Perfect."
"You have an eye for decorating." Margie replies with a smile.
"I suppose my insanity comes in handy with my insanity. Being a writer helps me visualize." I reply.
"Oh, you write?" Agnes asks.
"I use too. Lately its mostly been journal writing."
"The school offers some great writing programs. They come highly recommended. Philosophy in Literature, and Writers Craft, those are the best I've heard."
"Interesting." My aunt smiles.
I take out my phone and look at the time, "Wow! Its 5:30! Totally lost track of time." I laugh.
"Geez, I've held you ladies hostage."
They laugh, "Its perfectly fine. We had fun getting to know your niece." Agnes replies.
"Would you like to join us for dinner?" Margie asks.
"I'd love too. Penny?" My aunt asks.
"I think I’m gonna head home. I have some food there. I’ll close up for you though."
She hugs me, "Thanks sweetie. See you at home."
"Have fun. See you ladies tomorrow." I smile and wave as they make there way out the door.
I clean off the counter and cut up the boxes before taking the trash out to the dumpster. Once that was done, I check to make sure everything was in order. After tomorrow it’ll be ready to open. I grab my laptop bag and lock up behind me. I turn around and see Peter standing there, startled, I jumped.
"Oh, Peter. You startled me."
"I didn’t mean too. I saw you closing up as I came out after finishing my shift. Thought I would see how you’re day went."
I smile, "It went by quickly. The ladies my aunt hired are actually pretty cool."
"That’s good to hear." He replies.
"How was your shift?"
He smiles, "I think we both know that I came over for a reason."
I begin walking down the sidewalk, "Oh? And what reason would that be?" I ask.
He smiles, "I’d like to take you out to dinner sometime."
I turn and look at him. He was sweet, charming. Anything a girl would want in a potential boyfriend. But I had just moved, I wanted to get settled. Make some friends, settle into school. Blend in.
"I assume you mean as a date?" I ask.
He takes a step closer and plays his fingers on my arm, "Yes. A date."
I lightly pull his hand away, "I’m sorry Peter. But I’m not ready to date anyone. I mean, if I were. I would say yes. You’re sweet and charming. Any girl would jump at the opportunity."
"I hear a ‘but’ coming on."
"I’m not ready to start dating. I just moved here. I have no idea where the foundation of my life is at the moment. Or if its even stable enough. I want to find my place in this town, find myself a little before I start even consider to date."
For a moment, he looked hurt. But then he nodded, "I can understand that. Respect it even."
"Okay. Then, can a friend take a friend out for a bite to eat?" He asks.
I smile, "Your not gonna let me get away without dinner, are you?" I reply.
"I'll be honest. Your not like most girls. Which is what I like about you. You seem sweet, at least you were to me. Friendly, and can laugh. But, you're right. We don't know one another well enough. So, I'd like to take you to dinner. As a friend." He offers.
"And you would be okay with that? Being friends?" I ask.
"I would." He smiles and nods slightly. "So does that mean you'll consider the invite?"
"If its two friends going out to eat, it sounds fun."
"Good." He smiles. "Friday? About the same time?"
I nod and he gives me his info to add him on Facebook and such. He runs to catch his ride and I walk to the bus stop. I feel a strange sensation coursing through me. Something new. Was it excitement? Was I finally able to feel excitement again? Who knew?