I have actually finished the first draft of this story. Starting to edit it. It's about a young girl moving to a strange place with her father. The place turns out to be enchanted and she one of the few chosen one's to receive a very special power. Would really appreciate feedback.
1. Thornton Bridge
The temperature was warming up as we made our way north to visit Aunt Pamela.
There were just the two of us: me and my dad, so it wasn’t very surprising that the conversation was kept to a minimum. Dad drove and I sat in mom’s seat, occasionally giving out directions but mostly saying nothing.
I wore skinny legged jeans and a winter sweater. My tangled, golden brown hair blew about in the messy spring breeze and my arms were folded rigidly over my chest; for I wasn’t sure whether I was too hot or too cold.
Dad poured all of his energy onto the road. His once dark, now greying eyebrows were knitted tightly together as he turned this way and that in our old, rusty, red Ford. We had started our journey in conversation, discussing the weather, the things we would miss about Northfields and last night’s reality TV result, but eventually this chatter had subsided into silence.
The silence was okay by me. The silence was normal, and normal was what we needed right now. After all, my dad and I had never been particularly garrulous before, so why did we need to start now?
My mobile phone buzzed angrily on my lap, as we turned left onto a road canopied by at least fifty, gnarled oak trees. The sunlight found its way through the many arched branches and formed golden spotlights along the path. I stared at my phone with trepidation; it hadn’t been my most loyal companion lately. After mom had died I had been bombarded with hoards and hoards of sympathy texts; texts which had opened up the wound in my heart and freshened the pain.
My dad looked at me from out of the corner of his eye; this look was layered with worry, and so I pretended to be fine with the text message and even formed a stiff smile with my lips as I opened up my phone’s lid.
“It’s from Aunt Pamela,” I said, practically sighing with relief when I saw her name. “She says that they’re going to throw a huge barbecue tonight to celebrate our moving in with them.”
Dad fashioned a smile, “Aww isn’t that nice of her.” But I saw doubt in his hazel eyes, “I wish I had something a little jazzier to wear though.”
I had been thinking exactly the same thing. Aunt Pamela was our most wealthy relative and she wasn’t one to keep a low profile. If there was something to be celebrated then Aunt Pamela would celebrate it, and Aunt Pam did everything in style.
Moving in with Aunt Pamela hadn’t been my decision. In fact, I still couldn’t believe that I had agreed to move to her fancy pants neighbourhood with only a rucksack of belongings to call my own. What I had agreed on was that my dad and I couldn’t go on living in our old house. Everything about that place was brimming with memories of my mom; the wallpaper she had chosen; the dinner set she would lay out on the dining room table every Sunday; her bookshelf and the bookmark in the book that she had yet to finish. Being there was torture because there wasn’t one minute that we didn’t think about her and wish her to be back with us.
Moving in with Aunt Pamela had been an immediate solution. My dad had come to the conclusion that not only was Aunt Pam wealthy enough to sustain us while we got ourselves back in order and the house sold, but also that the change of scenery would be beneficial to us emotionally, as Aunt Pamela lived out in the peaceful countryside.
Of course Aunt Pamela had been more than willing to put us up. We hadn’t seen her in over ten years and she was dying to see how I had grown. Despite having an enormous wealth, Aunt Pamela had neglected to visit my mother and it was only just before my mom’s death that the two sisters had laid eyes on one another for near a decade. Not surprisingly, Aunt Pamela had felt an enormous amount of guilt when mom had died, so it was no surprise that she was feeling overly hospitable towards us now.
Eventually, the rusty, red Ford ploughed its way up past the speckled, white sign I remembered from my youth. The sign read ‘Thornton Bridge’, which was the name of the village where my Aunt Pamela’s grand manor resided.
My heart beat quickened when I saw the sign. The whole place felt like déjà vu to me; it was tremendously green, there were fields and fields of freshly mown grass with the odd little cottage nestled between them. To the north there was the heavily wooded forest where my cousin Jason and I had played when we were tiny. In the centre of the village there lay my favourite attraction, a vast lake with water so clear that you can see the fishes weaving in and out of the rocks. Running across the centre of this lake was a long, white, wooden bridge where my parents and I had stood and peered over, looking down into the lake to feed the ducks with stale bread. I remembered clearly the pleasant-sounding patter of my ballet shoes on the wooden planks of this bridge and the gentle honking of the geese as they paddled into the water with their fuzzy chicks.
It was at the other side of this bridge and to the north of Thornton Bridge where Aunt Pamela’s home could be found. I could see it already, an enormous piece of architecture with white stone walls and a long, sloping, grey-tiled roof.
As we approached the huge driveway of this grand home, I heard my dad give a low whistle.
“Do you think that they’ll let this old piece of scrap park in there?” he asked, patting his dashboard.
“I doubt it,” I replied with a nervous smile.
My eyes were on stalks as my dad spoke into the intercom at the front gates. Not much about the place seemed to have changed from when I was a child. I noted how the lawn I remembered to be filled with toys and space hoppers had now matured and instead now housed a few fancy motorbikes, which were propped up beside the garage. The stables were still present at the east side of the property, but I doubted whether the horses I had ridden back then still remained.
The front gate finally opened up and my dad drove up into the compound. It felt almost ridiculous when we parked up beside the open top Audi; it took a lot of effort not to laugh when my dad and I climbed out from out of our rusty Ford and the door wouldn’t close properly. But my smile vanished when I felt the buzz of my mobile in my pocket; another stab at my wound.
Aunt Pamela was in the front garden, battling with some rose bushes when we arrived. She was tall and extremely slim - exactly as I remembered her. She wore a flowered sun dress and a tight, green gardening apron. She wore pumps with heels like sky scrapers; not the most intelligent choice of footwear when out gardening, but somehow she made it work.
Her botoxed face broke into an unlined smile when she saw us, and she flung her arms around my dad’s neck. Dad blushed bright scarlet, as apart from the occasional, timid peck on my mother’s cheek, he was never very physical with other people.
“Long time no see,” he said, his face breaking into a worried smile.
“That’s for sure!” Aunt Pam cried, grasping my shoulders with her perfectly manicured fingers and inspecting me closely, “Oh Olivia,” she beamed, “You look just like your mom.”
I smiled uneasily. I didn’t enjoy family reunions, I felt embarrassed and totally incapable of saying the right thing. My dad was only a little better in these situations than I was, and that was only because he’d had more practice.
Pamela ushered us into the grand hallway of Thornton Manor, her pale blue eyes staring at us intently. Unlike the enormous exterior of the property, the interior had changed – dramatically. The warm honey tones and the country wooden counters had been replaced with a modern, clinical feel. Every wall in every room was white with little variation to the tone. The furniture itself was extremely minimalistic and reminded me of the furniture from a science fiction movie; spacey and surreal.