Sunday 26th July
Today brought pangs. Pangs of loneliness and also pangs of envy. I scared myself today.
What is there to look forward to today? I racked my brains, surprising myself. Usually, I didn't need to think to hard about what there was to look forward to. Sometimes, the mere thought of a day with few problems was enough to bring on my smile. But today, I felt I needed something in particular to look forward as I'd been feeling so low last night.
The stranger in the bathroom mirror looked back at me with vulnerable brown eyes. Her face was sad. The dark locks around the face, more brown than black in the light from the sunshine pouring in the windows, hung limply, looking dull and lifeless rather than soft and voluminous as it usually did. I sighed. I was suddenly reminded of one of Timothy's comments. ‘...unless you think I really waste my time stalking uninteresting girls who are really not my type.' The expression of the girl in the mirror grew sadder. I really couldn't believe it was me I was looking at. Tirana Flor? Sad? It was like suggesting the moon was made of cheese, that's how little sense it made.
But maybe the moon was made of cheese. The world was as unfamiliar to me now as the unrecognisable eyes which gazed back at me as if they were longing for my old self to return. Who knew anything for certain now? I shivered at the thoughts of a world in which nothing was fixed. Anything and everything could dissolve and change at any moment and everyone would be blissfully unaware. I thought of a book I'd recently read. 1984 by George Orwell. I shivered at the memory of the idea that history could be changed and then that people could be made to believe that 2 + 2 = 5. Chills ran down my spine. My reflection was scared now. I should go and occupy myself somehow before I forgot how to be happy.
I took a shower but that just gave me more time to think. I needed distraction. After getting dressed, I rang Leanne on my phone. Even if I couldn't tell her everything, she was someone to talk to.
"Hi. It's me, Rani." My voice sounded a little shaky and weak.
"Rani? Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine..."
I was interrupted as someone grabbed the phone from Leanne. I suddenly heard Alex's voice on the end of the line. "Hey, this is Leanne's boyfriend and if that's a guy, I'm telling you now she's mine." He spoke with mock aggression, but I could tell he was just teasing.
"Hey Alex," I said.
I could hear Leanne in the background saying, "I told you it was Rani." The next voice I heard was hers.
"Sorry about that."
"That's okay. Are you two going out?"
"Yeah. He rang me up last night. He said he would've asked me earlier but he didn't want to have to think about stuff like school while he had a girlfriend."
"Wow, that's brilliant!" An unexpected lump rose in my throat. "You two are perfect for each other.
"Thanks. Are you sure that's okay, though?"
"What d'you mean?"
"Well, you liked him at one point..."
"Leanne; that was when I was 13! Of course it's all right. In fact, I'm very happy for you."
"Thanks, Rani! That means a lot." She sounded as if she were brimming with pleasure. I wasn't surprised. It was extremely hard to find a guy like Alex.
But something tore at my heart. Maybe it was a longing for my life to be going as great as Leanne's or maybe it was envy at the fact that she was going out with a great guy rather than feeling for a cruel monster.
"So, what did you want to talk about?" she asked.
I felt a tear running down my face. "I've fallen in love," I told her and burst out crying.
"Rani!" She sounded alarmed. "Rani? Are you okay? Isn't that a good thing?"
"No," I cried. "He's horrible."
"But... I don't understand. How can you love him if he's horrible?"
"I don't know... My head's all messed up."
"Stay there. Alex and I are coming right over."
I laughed at her stern, authoritative tone. "Thanks, Leanne."
"That's okay. It's what friends are for. We'll be around in five minutes or so. See you then."
Leanne and Alex sat with me on my bed. Leanne's face was full of concern. Alex looked slightly distracted by Leanne. He was absent-mindedly toying with her hair.
"So, what's wrong?"
"Well, I went out last night for a drink - before you took me to Alex's. I sat at the bar next to this really handsome guy and I had a strange longing to stroke his hair. And he had this weird air about him, as if he were a mystery... I think I was drawn in by it."
Leanne frowned. "That sounds ... slightly odd."
"I know! I'd never even met him before in my life. Anyway he saw the way I was looking at him (I must have looked fascinated 'cause that's how I felt)..." I laughed. Leanne smiled. Alex grinned absently as if he weren't really concentrating on what I was saying. I had to lie now because they'd never believe the truth. "Anyway, he glared at me. Told me quite clearly that he wasn't interested. And there was this sort of dark energy around him - it was quite scary really - but I still found I longed to be with him... So, yeah, that's what happened."
Leanne looked angry. "He shouldn't have been so mean! Alex and I will sort him out, won't we?" She looked at Alex for confirmation
"Oh, um, yeah. 'Course."
Leanne looked back at me. "What does this guy look like?"
"Oh no," I said hurriedly. "He told me never to talk to him again."
"He didn't tell us."
"It's fine. Honestly. Thanks, but I really feel as if I'm going to be okay now."
Leanne's brow furrowed. "If you're sure..."
I nodded. "Thanks."
"Alex and I are going to the cinema today. You're welcome to come."
I shook my head. "I can't intrude on you two like that."
Leanne rolled her eyes. "Rani, you're our best friend. You wouldn't be intruding on anything."
"I would, though. And I can totally understand. It'd be awkward."
Leanne shook her head, frowning. "If you're sure..."
I nodded. "Thanks for listening."
"That's okay. If you ever need anything, just call. We're here for you, aren't we, Alex?"
Alex didn't answer. He was kissing Leanne's hair. I felt a pang of longing for someone to be doing that to me. No, not just any old someone. Timothy.
Leanne nudged Alex, looking embarrassed. "Alex!"
He lifted his head. "What? Oh, yeah. We'll be here for you, Rani." He smiled.
I smiled back. "I couldn't ask for better friends."
Leanne rolled her eyes. Alex resumed kissing her.
"I'd better get this one out of here before he starts getting really embarrassing."
I grinned as she stood up and tugged at Alex's hand while he stared at her looking loving and captivated. He slowly stood up and followed her resembling very much a person in a trance. He looked as if hypnotised by her.
"Bye, Rani," he said absently, never taking his eyes off Leanne.
"Bye," Leanne called.
"Bye," I called back.
And then, I was alone again.
I decided to go and see Lily. I knew she'd told me not to, but who else could I talk to? I didn't have any other friends and my parents were on holiday in the south of France. Even if they had been here, I didn't talk to them much.
I remembered the name of the shop: Mystic Wonders. I looked up it in the Yellow Pages. I found the name of the town where it was situated. I took a train there and from the station took a taxi to the shop.
I walked in, feeling slightly nervous, saw Lily at the till and walked up to her.
"Hey," I said. She looked up from a book she'd been reading, and placed it down, eyes widening in shock. "I'm really sorry," I continued, "but my best friends have started going out and I've got no one else to talk to."
"No, no that's fine. You poor thing." Lily looked sympathetic. "Um, what do you want to do, then? Just talk? Maybe you'd like to learn some magic!" She looked excited by this prospect. She jumped out of her chair.
I frowned. "Um, am I allowed?"
"Allowed? Why wouldn't you be?"
"Um, I'm human... Are humans allowed to learn magic?"
She laughed; a melodious laugh that rang out like bells. "Of course they are! What shall we start on? I'm going to be a teacher and I'm specialising in flowers and herbs, but you can learn about anything you want!"
"Um, I don't know where to start. I don't really know much about the whole magic thing..."
"Oh, we can start on the basics." She clapped her hands together in excitement.
Just then, an extremely unwelcome person walked in. It was Timothy. I simultaneously felt a pang of longing and annoyance at the way he'd interrupted the good time that Lily and I had undoubtedly been about to have. Lily's face fell.
Timothy saw me and his eyes widened in surprise. Then, he frowned.
"Hey, you're that girl who fainted."
You'd think he'd been the one who'd taken a forget potion, but I suppose he had to be convincing.
"Hey - you're that guy!"
"Um, what are you doing here?"
"Shopping?" His brow furrowed. "You won't find much here. I'll show you where the shopping centre is."
"No, no, it's fine. I wanted to buy... some jewellery." To Lily, I said, "How much is one of the amethyst pendants?"
"Amethyst?" Timothy asked. "You were going to sell her amethyst?"
Lily shook her head. "She just asked now."
"Well, I hope you're not going to sell her any. Even if her birthday's not next month."
"Pardon?" I asked politely, though really I was impatient.
Timothy waved a hand dismissively. "Nothing. Come on; let me take you somewhere else."
"No, if I can't buy amethyst, I'll buy something else. Um... how about some foxglove?" I said randomly, spotting a sign indicating a special offer on this flower.
Timothy stared at me as if I'd just asked if I could buy a nuclear bomb.
"What?! Why do you need foxglove?"
Lily looked pale too.
I shrugged. "My mum's favourite flower," I lied. I was actually a bit annoyed at Lily for not helping me have an alibi for being here.
"No," Timothy said curtly.
For a second I thought he'd read my mind and seen the lie but then he said, "Loads of people are allergic to foxglove. I wouldn't buy any if I were you."
Internally I sighed with relief but also groaned. Was I not going to get out of this situation?
"Let's go to the shops," he said impatiently.
"I hardly know you," I said. It was a valid point.
Something dangerous flashed in his eyes. Lily sprang into action. "Oh, no you don't!" She stepped in front of me and said, "I think you should go."
"Not without her."
"Well, you'll have to kidnap me, then, won't you?" I said defiantly. "I don't get why I have to leave and I'm going to stay here until I decide to leave."
This made Timothy really mad. I saw him reaching into his pocket.
"Don't you dare!" Lily said. "It's not fair!"
"What?" I asked, confused.
"Well, I'll have to now, won't I? She's puzzled past what words can solve."
"You are not casting a spell on this poor girl!"
"What?" I repeated. "Spells?" Then, seeing an opportunity to remain here, I said, "There's no such thing as magic. I don't believe in all that stuff. I've no idea what you're talking about but I'm not fazed about being confused. It would be rude for me to pry."
Timothy was glaring. Lily was frowning.
"You should leave. This girl's crazy," Timothy said. "If you don't believe in magic, why keep company with the insane people who do?"
"I told you - I'm staying until I want to leave."
"Oh, I've had enough of this." He pulled out his sapphire.
"No!" Lily yelled but Timothy ignored her.
He held it pointed at me. "Let the girl stood here be found, in a trance where will is bound."
I felt my body relax as the world went black.