Ciara is in the darkness alone.
Her mother has been keeping secrets. Shadowy and dangerous secrets that could be fatal in the wrong hands. Due to the secrets about another world, dark and despairing, Ciara must be hidden away for her own protection. The cost of being found is too high for someone like her. Things are even more dangerous seeing as Ciara is expected to keep the secret of herself she doesn't even know. And when she's whisked away to another sinister world, the truth begins to un

Chapter One

                I stared out the window at the green that was supposed to be my new home.  I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to adjust to all the wildlife and sparseness of this new land.  Goodness, it felt like I was already in a different world, and the plane hadn’t even landed yet.  Carlingford, Ireland… sounded… ‘cozy’, I supposed.  My mom seemed to be excited enough for the two of us, that is.

                “Ooh, Ciara, look at this!” She exclaimed, shoving a glossy travel magazine in my lap and tapping on a page.  I tore my eyes away from the alien world outside to examine the page.  Wow, shocker.  Another landscape picture.  Just like the last… Aw, shucks, I lost count.

                “It’s green.” I commented, returning my gaze back to the window.

                “I know, that’s something we didn’t see in New York!” Mom laughed, taking back the magazine.  I rolled my eyes halfway and stopped.  I was being totally selfish.  I needed to start getting a positive attitude like my mom.  I mean, look how much happier she was than she was back in New York.  I guess it was just harder for me.  To leave behind all my friends and the rest of my family (including my many, MANY cousins) was just a little too painful to bear.  I sighed, and pressed my forehead against the cool glass. 

                “I think we’re landing, Mom.” I said warily.  She immediately perked up, leaning around me to get a better view of the window.  I yawned, so damn ready to get off the plane.  A Seven hour flight wasn’t on my list of things I loved to do.  I gathered all my miscellaneous junk that I tried to entertain myself with into my carry-on bag.  I grimaced as the ‘alien world’ kept getting closer and closer.  So, what, there was basically a random airport in the middle of nowhere?  So far, I didn’t spot a single house, though there was some farmland.  

                The plane’s landing was smooth, and extremely slow, so much that I wanted to bust the window out and jump from it, just to get out of the damn plane, for crying out loud.  The little voice that came the ceiling made a ding before instructing us to unbuckle and have a great day.

                Of course.  Because moving into a tiny old house with sheep trying to eat me was going to make my day just dandy.  Oh, and then I’d be going to school, where I’d have that ‘strange’ accent no one could understand.  That was going to suck. 

                We stood from our seats.  I groaned, stretching my legs.  It was the most heavenly sensation I could’ve felt at that point.  I slung my carry-on (my backpack) over my shoulder and follow Mom down the cramped plane aisle.  What I would’ve given to ride first class.  Now all I had was a neck ache, a back ache, and a stomach ache from stupid plane food. 

                As soon as I stepped off that plane, I wanted to scream and run back in it.

                Literally, I couldn’t see anything but perfect greenness as far as the eye could see.  The wind brushed my hair across my face.  I pushed it away.  It was mild and the air felt moist. I would admit one thing: the weather here was nice.  And the air smelled so fresh… whereas New York… well, not so much. 

                My mom turned to me and grinned.  I hadn’t seen her this happy in ages.  I couldn’t help but let a reluctant smile creep to my lips in return.  I wanted my mother to be happy.  Unfortunately, what made her happy made me less than that.  I sighed, dropping my smile and following her into the actual airport building to grab our luggage.

                Inside everything was amazing.  There were windows on the ceiling, for crying out loud, and people were packed inside, pulling luggage through even more crowds of people travelling.  I wondered if there were any people my age that were going through the same thing.  Probably not.  No parent would move to Ireland just to get away from their troubles while creating more for their child.  But I was going to let Mom slide on that one; after all, she didn’t really know how I was feeling.

                She was terrible at reading me.  Really, she wasn’t too great at reading anyone for that matter.

                We headed over to a conveyor belt for our flight number and scanned the luggage for two purple and two red suitcases, plus a huge black duffel bag.  We were going to get ‘Irish’ furniture.  I didn’t want to just say that I doubted it was that much different than American furniture, so I kept silent.

                Finally, our suitcases managed to all get out, some before the rest of them.  I grabbed my red ones and dragged them behind me.  In front of me, my mother was dragging two suitcases and the duffel bag.  I probably should’ve carried it for her.

                We reached the exit of the airport and went outside.  I was glad to be back in the fresh air.  As much I hated admitting it, Ireland was kind of alright.  It would never serve as my home like New York did, but I guess I could survive as long as those sheep stayed away from me.

                “Ciara, come on! Taxi’s here!” My mom shouted, snapping me out of my thoughts.  She had the trunk of the cab open and was piling luggage in.  I threw mine in and climbed into the back seat.

                “Mom, where exactly are we living?” I asked curiously as the taxi started driving.

                “You’ll see.” She replied.

                “You’re killing me, Isabel.” I mumbled under my breath, using her first name like I used to when I was younger to be funny.  It was just something I said to myself now to remind me of all the good times in my life.  I tended to focus on the negative.

                Green landscape whirled by in the window.  That’s all I could see of my new ‘home’ so far.  What scared me was that this cab was going so damn fast I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t live to see my new house.  Granted, we were practically the only car on this stretch of the road that had nothing beside it but a short stone wall and some… sheep.

                “Now we’re coming into the main part of Carlingford.  This is where you’ll be doing all your shopping or if you are hankering to grab a bite to eat.” The cab driver said, and I guess he sort of became our tour guide while I wasn’t paying attention.  I stared out the window, able to see stores and little cafés with people walking in front of them.  I caught the driver’s eyes flit over to me in the mirror.  “No one will mistake you for Irish.” He laughed.  I felt my self-consciousness kick in. I flushed red and brought my hand instinctively up to my hair.

                “Oh, um.” I said dully.  I didn’t know what to think of his remark.  He laughed good-naturedly.

                “Don’t worry, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  People just won’t see you and think ‘IRISH’.  They might see you and think ‘AMERICAN’.” He told me, smiling.  Honestly, I just thought he should be paying more attention to the road than my appearance, but I wasn’t going to contradict a complete stranger.

                “Americans are supposed to be viewed as fat and lazy.” I informed him after a moment of silence.

                “Ciara!” Isabel snapped.  The cab driver laughed heartily.

                “Not all of them are.” He reassured me, and went back to completely focusing on driving.  I sighed and looked back out the window.

                After another ten minutes, we were back into complete greenness, passing a few small, quaint houses and farms.

                “I believe we’ve almost arrived.” The driver said.  I sat up straighter in my seat and practically pressed my face against the glass.  “Ah, ‘ere we are.” The taxi stopped bumpily.  I felt a twist in my stomach.  I was going to see what my new home was like.  I pushed open the door and stared at my new home.

                Well.  It definitely wasn’t big, if fact, it was really small.  It had tan plastered exterior walls and somewhat of a thatched/non-thatched roof.  There were lots of windows and a stone gate around it.  It was overgrown with bushes and vines and trees.  The best part of it was that there weren’t any neighbors visible.  It looked like we owned a much larger piece of land than we actually did.

                The sad truth was, I liked it.  Heck with it, I loved it.  I loved the contemporary apparel of it. And I was proud to announce the yard completely sheep-free.  The cab driver gave a little honk and I turned to him.  He gave me thumbs up and I smiled at him gratefully and waved him bye as he drove off.  I turned to Isabel, who was staring at the house.

                “So, Mom, do you like it?” I asked.

                “It’s not at all what I expected, by I guess it’s alright.’ She admitted.  I raised an eyebrow.  Of course, when I like something, she isn’t too fond of it.

                “Well, I like it.” I said curtly and pushed open the metal gate and held it open for her.  She mumbled thanks and we both headed inside.

                The interior of the home completely empty, lacking even a refrigerator and stove.  The rooms were bright due to all the sunlight pouring in from the windows.  And despite the outside look of the house, the inside was a hell of a lot nicer.  More modern than I expected.  It had smooth grayish blue walls and bleach white tile, and the windows seemed new.  The shower/toilet/sink was all metallic and modern looking.  Goodness, I found my dream home.

                 I turned to grin at Isabel.

                “I love this place, Mom.” I told her genuinely.  She looked both surprised and pleased.

                “Well, that’s good.  We need to go furniture shopping, TODAY.” She mused, looking at the bare room.  “To at least get the necessities.”  I nodded in agreement.

                “We should’ve just kept the taxi around.” I stated.  Isabel shrugged.

                “I’m up for a walk if you are.” She said.

                “A walk all the way to the market place?” I asked incredulously.  I thought the car ride took forever, but apparently I was wrong.

                “Uhhh…” I replied.  I wasn’t really sure I was up for that type of walk. 

                “Sorry, you don’t have a choice. Have to pee? Go. We’re going now.” Isabel put on her good old commander tone.

                “Ugh, let’s get this over with.  You got some Euro?” I asked, and she nodded.

                “Yeah, come on, I want to buy some good old hotdogs for lunch.”

                “I got an idea.” I said, as we walked out of the house.  “We ride sheep down to town.”  Okay, really I was just trying to make conversation.  I hated sheep, remember?

                “I don’t think so.” Isabel laughed.

                “Hey Mom?” I asked.

                “Yes, honey?”

                “I’m really going to miss New York.” I said, looking around at the ‘alien land’.  Isabel placed a hand on my back as we walked.

                “Honey, sometimes it’s good to get a change.  To get some fresh air.  I know you aren’t going to love this place for a while.  You left your friends behind, and I get that must be difficult for you to deal with.  You can still email them if we can get the internet set up.  You’ll also meet new people here.  You’ll get used to the wildlife, you’ll learn to love it.  Everything is going to be fine.” She explained.

                “Not the sheep.” I reminded her.

                “There were downs to New York, too.  Pollution, crime, and noise.  Aren’t you a little excited to get away from all that for once?”

                “But that’s New York.” I reminded her.

                “You’re not getting the point.” She sighed.  “Let’s just enjoy this walk without having another talk about how good life is going to be, okay?”

                “Fine, whatever.” I rolled my eyes.

                “Hey, lose the attitude.” She snapped.  I sighed and we kept walking in silence.  Mothers.

                I was already getting into a habit of only focusing on the grass, and how beautiful it was.  It was also strange.  New York wasn’t strange to me.  New York was home.

                “I have a question.” I said after a while.  I could the clustered part of the town ahead.  It actually looked quite large when you were looking at it from a distance.

                “Then ask it.” Isabel said curtly.

                “Are we ever going to get a car?”

                “If I ever learn how to drive, then we’ll look into it.” She said.

                “I could learn, too, you know.” I reminded her.

                “Oh, right.  I don’t know if we’ll have enough money for two cars though.  Oh well, we’ll figure something out eventually.  I just want to walk around the market square and spend all this money.  It’s burning a hole in my pocket.” She said, patting her jeans.

                “Oh, look, we’re almost there.” I said dully.

                “See, it’s not such a small town as you thought! Look at all the stores and people!” She exclaimed.  I shrugged.

                “It’s nowhere close to New York.” I muttered.  Isabel stopped, placing her hands on her hips and glaring at me.

                “Ciara, stop it now. Enjoy the freakin’ place already.”  She snapped.  I decided I liked her commander tone more than this pissed one.

                “Am I allowed to explore while you shop?” I asked her.  She bit her lip.

                “I don’t know, we just moved here…”

                “You were just talking about how this was such a nice little town.  Nothing bad is going to happen.” I cut her off to say.  She gave in.

                “Fine. But keep your cell phone on you.” She said.  We finally arrived at the market square.  I sighed a sigh of relief.  My feet felt like they’d literally snap off from my ankles.

“I’m going to check out the hardware store.  Call me if you need               anything.  Be careful.  I love you.” My mom said, pecking me on the cheek.  I hated when she did that, but oh well.

“Okay, I love you too.” I mumbled and she bustled off.  I glanced around at my surroundings, no idea where to go first.  All the shops were colorful and packed tightly together, sort of like they were in New York, except these stores were old and had chipping paint.  People were walking along the sidewalk, including little children who were squealing and running around delightfully.  I sighed.  I was going to begin my exploration with an epic search for a café.

I started walking in a random direction.  A few passersby smiled and waved, despite the fact I was a total stranger, so I just smiled politely in return.  Cars drove by.  Birds chirped.  This place was a hell of a lot brighter than New York.  And the sky was perfectly blue, with just the right amount of snow white clouds scattered across it.

You know what? Forget the café.  I was going to head over to the Cooley Peninsula.  I headed over into a nearby flower shop and pulled out my cell, dialing in the number for the cab that my mother and I had ridden in on the way to our home.  Once that was all in order, I went outside and sat on a bench to wait for the taxi.  I was sort of hoping that it would be the one guy that had driven us earlier.  He was pretty nice, I guess.  People in Ireland seemed really friendly, so far.

 Finally the taxi pulled up in front of me, and I slipped off the bench and climbed in the front seat.

“Hello.” I said politely, disappointed it wasn’t my other driver.

“Hello, where to?” He asked.

“Oh, um, Cooley Peninsula.” I told him.  He nodded and started driving.  I gazed out the window.  I loved car rides.  I always had loved them, just to see the world whirl by me.  It looked the whole world was rushing by, when in reality it was me.  I rolled down the window a little bit, and glanced at the driver, a portly man, clean-cut and balding. “Oh, do you mind?” I asked, gesturing to my window.  He glanced at it.

“Please do. I’m sweating like a pig over here.” He laughed, and I rolled down the window so now the wind was whipping at my face.  “So, you new to Ireland?”

“Yeah, how could you tell?” I asked, turning my attention to him.  He shrugged.

“Intuition, mainly.  Also, you have an American accent, and you seem a little nervous, with all due respect.” He explained.  Oh, right.  I was going to have to keep the fact that I was the one with an ‘accent’ now.

“Oh, yeah.” I said.  “Any advice on Ireland?”

“Always be prepared for rain. Be courteous.  That’s about it.” He said, smiling.  I laughed.

“It rains often?”

“Well, yes, in late summer it does.  But it can rain at the beginning of summer too.  You’re going into the school year pretty late if you just moved here.”

“I know.” I said. “It’s going to be horrible.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Irish schools aren’t that bad.” He reassured me. 

“If they’ll just be a little better than American schools, I’ll be fine.” I laughed.  “My old school was horrible.  Fights every day, almost.”

“Ah, well, hopefully things will go alright for you now.  We’ve reached Cooley Peninsula.” The taxi stopped smoothly. 

“Thank you so much.” I told him, smiling.  I pushed open the cab door and breathed in. 

Cooley Peninsula was amazing.  Absolutely breathtaking.  If this was the sort of view I was going to get to look at every day, I could really learn to love this place. 

I walked over to the mossy stone wall and propped my elbows up on it.  The sun glistened off the perfectly calm water, and I could see the harbor with the sailboats and people dipping their feet in the water.  I smiled down at my reflection.  So what if I didn’t look Irish? I wasn’t Irish, and I didn’t want to look like something I wasn’t.  I brushed my long black hair out of my face.  I flicked a pebble into the water, creating a small tide of ripples.

“Excuse me!” A woman’s voice said from behind, and it sounded so desperate.  I turned.  There stood a portly woman with auburn hair and dull green eyes.  Her face had round, kind features, but there was panic in her eyes. “Excuse me, could you please help me? My daughter wandered off and I can’t find her!” She cried, distressed.

“Yes, of course.” I said, and began scanning the peninsula for any signs of a little girl.  “What does she look like?”

“She’s five, and she has brown hair and brown eyes.  She’s wearing a yellow sundress.” The mother said, frantically looking around the place.

We both froze when we heard a scream.

The sound was from a little girl.  And it was coming from the deep water.            

The End

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