Yellow and black butterfly on a pink flower.

Speed Writing #13 – Summer Vacation in Terra Norma

Laura was sitting in the mid-level branches of the oak tree when she heard the garden gate creak open.  From her vantage point she could see Aster’s entire garden, a formal European design in extremely rural Minnesota.  She recognized the blond-haired teen walking along the path, cobblestones that had been placed with liberal use of magic when Laura had been away two summers ago.  She placed a marker in her book and considered calling to Jason, but decided to see how long it took him to find her.

He started by knocking at the back door.  Aster answered fairly quickly, and Laura briefly wondered if he’d come to see her.  Though her grandma had lost the ability to do magic, she’d been highly trained and could still serve as a valuable resource.  Aster waved her arms around a bit, as if indicating the garden, but Laura couldn’t hear her voice.  They had a brief conversation, then Aster went back to the kitchen and Jason turned away from the door and looked around.  

After a moment, in which she was sure he was considering all the options, he walked the path to the bench nestled in a thick patch of lily-of-the valley, right beneath the oak tree.  He took a seat, then looked up and smiled.  “Hello, Laura.”

Lately, when he smiled at her, or bumped into her, or spoke to her, she felt a rush of happiness and energy.  He was her friend and her math tutor.  He was a house fellow in her dorm at magic school.  He was nearly three years older.  Having a crush on him was inconvenient. “Good morning,” she called back.  She tucked her book down her shirt and  descended the oak.  She’d been climbing trees all her life, and this one since she was six.  Nine years of experience made it a quick task.

Jason watched, no expression on his pale face, and his blue eyes wide.  As she dropped down in front of him, she heard him let out a breath.  “I know I haven’t told you this,“ he said, “but it completely freaks me out to watch you do that.”

She laughed.  “What, climb trees?  You’ve seen me doing it for two years, and I’ve never fallen.”  She shrugged.  “You’ve seen me climb far scarier things.”  The corner watchtower to the school’s outer wall was a favorite hangout.

“Don’t I know it,” he agreed.  “You’ve got no fear of heights, have you?  But then… I suppose you don’t need to fear heights like the rest of us.”

“I’ve always liked heights, even before I knew I could levitate myself.”

He shook is head.  “It’s not natural.”  He sounded serious, but she knew he was teasing.

“It is for me.”  She untucked her t-shirt from her shorts and pulled out the book.  “What’s up?“

“I’m so bored!” he said, throwing his head back and sprawling over the bench dramatically.  “I’ve always worked at camp over summer vacation… well except when I was younger, and I went to camp.”

“Why’d you take the summer off anyway?” she asked, setting her book on the bench as she reached back to pull the binder out of her hair. “You always seemed to like it.”  She put the binder in her teeth and started slicking back her tight orange ringlets as best she could.  She preferred her hair long enough to braid, which kept it under control.  But last summer she’d had to cut it off as the price to save a friend’s life.  She had no regrets, but she was glad she could finally pull it back, even if the tiny ponytail was dorky and needed adjustment every few hours.

He frowned.  “My mom wanted to have more time with me, since I’m spending the whole school year at Ming Tang’s, which she feels violates their custody agreement.”

“Ugh.” Laura patted his shoulder.  “That sounds nasty.”  His parents divorce usually seemed so calm that she tended to forget about the high emotions that caused it.

“Yeah,” he agreed.  “But I don’t want to get held back again, and I really need to learn magic, which I can’t learn here.”  He straightened up and a serious, yet puzzled expression crossed his face.  “Have you noticed that Clarissa Memorial K through Twelve lacks a magical curriculum?”

It took effort to hold in the laugh that wanted to burst out.  “I had.  Very odd, that.“

He nodded.  “Completely unsuitable for mancers.  I shall have to write a formal complaint.”  He shook his head.  “Anyway, I agreed to stay here for the summer if I could stay at Ming Tang’s for the full year again.  It kept things peaceful and we don’t have to go into mediation again.”  He rolled his eyes.  “But my mom’s at work all day, so we don’t get quality time until she gets home, and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do all day.  What do you do for fun around here?”

She raised her eyebrows.  “You do remember meeting me, right?” Their first interaction had been through her locker door.  “And you remember me talking about how much better life is for me at Ming Tang’s, right?”

“Yeah, but I’m sure you still know how to have fun here, right?”  He sounded hopeful.

Shaking her head she pointed to the book.  “The library is my idea of fun in Clarissa.  Also, long bike rides.”

He scowled at her.  “That’s it, O’Dell,” he snapped, as if he couldn’t take any more.  “We’re mancers stuck in a town smaller than our school, and we are going to have the best summer ever!”

She gawked at him.  Oh god.  He was really serious.  She could see her plans of laying low and reading for fun scattering like leaves in the wind.

He jumped to his feet and grabbed her hand.  “Starting with the ice cream shop on main street.”  He started down the path, tugging her behind him.

Prompt: Everyone else is on vacation and we’re both stuck in our boring home town. Wanna hang out and mope about it together?

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Author of adult and young adult speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, dark fiction)

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