The Last Sorceress and the Amulet

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Freak!

Emma Smith was a perfectly ordinary girl.

She looked ordinary. She had mousy brown hair that was slightly wispy, and always seemed to be getting in the way, and pale grey eyes that the other girls said were the colour of pencil stubs. She was so skinny and short, that sometimes felt as if she was hardly there.

Then again, the way she was treated at the Kindred Spirits Children’s Home, she really sometimes did feel like she wasn’t there.

Kindred Spirits Children’s Home was such a strange name for this place she had always thought. She had once read in an old book which had had a girl with red hair in it, she had talked a lot about ‘Kindred Spirits.’

She remembered the book because the girl in it was an orphan like Emma. But she hadn’t read it in ages, the girl who Emma had borrowed it from took the book with her when she got moved to her new home.

Her parents certainly hadn't wanted her. From what Emma could understand from her file, her Mum hadn't been very old when she had her and hadn't wanted Emma in the first place, and Emma's Dad hadn't hung around for very long. So Emma had ended up being stuck here.

The adults didn’t seem to have the time for her, because they were usually more busy dealing with the ‘difficult’ children. The girls or boys who acted up, or ran away from home, or got sent home from school with reports about being rude to the teachers.

She didn’t try skiving off school like some of the older kids either. In fact, she quite liked school. She was good at it and got the best marks in the class.

If she’d been good at sports and on teams or went to ballet class, maybe the adults might have noticed her more, but she wasn’t into any of that. She could throw a netball or hit a rounders bat just as well as any other nine-year-old girl, but sports didn’t interest her.

So, because she wasn’t a problem child, or needing special attention to get taken to sports practise or anything, she usually got overlooked by the adults who ran the home, even if it was a mistake.

Then there were the other children, Emma wished that she got overlooked by them. For as long as Emma could remember, she had been christened Freak. Emma had lived here since she was a baby, and ever since she was little, they had called her Freak. Then again it might have had something to do with the fact that Emma had taught herself to read when she was two and a half because she was bored, so always had her head stuck in a book.

The worst of the lot was Emma’s roommate Kate. Kate was a few months older than Emma, and therefore Kate felt far superior to her. Kate was a bully to put it lightly, she made Emma do all her homework and threatened to beat her up if she told on her or wouldn’t do the homework.

Kate even called her Freak at school, so now some of the other children at school called her Freak too. Kate and Emma were supposed to get on as they were close in age, and in the same class. But they were polar opposites, Kate was on the netball team, and would talk back to the teachers at school. Kate was popular and was even friends with the older girls at the home.

Emma was currently reading by torchlight under the bedsheets, tonight was the first night of the Summer Holidays, and she was making the most of the fact she didn’t have to go to school tomorrow. Kate had slipped out of their room after lights out, to hang out with the older girls.

Her favourite things to read were fairytales and fantasy books. She was currently reading about King Arthur and the Knight’s of the Round Table and Arthur had just pulled the sword out of the stone. She wished she was a brave hero like Arthur.

‘Oi! Freak!’ called Kate as she came into the room.

‘How did you know I was awake?’ stammered Emma.

‘The light was on under your blanket idiot,’ said Kate shaking her head.

‘Honestly Freak, sometimes for someone who’s supposed to be smart, you can be really thick!’

Emma’s upper lip quivered as Kate mocked her. She tried to think of a comeback, but her mind had gone blank.

‘Look,’ said Kate getting into bed, ‘if you tell Mike or Sue that I was out of bed in Claire and Charlie’s room until one o’clock in the morning, you’ll hurt so much you won’t be able to sit down until Christmas.’

‘It’s one o’clock in the morning?’ asked Emma who had completely lost track of the time.

Kate rolled her eyes in exasperation as she got into bed properly.

‘Look,’ sighed Kate, ‘did you do my homework Freak?’

‘I wish you wouldn’t call me that,’ muttered Emma.

‘What did you just say,’ said Kate threateningly.

‘I said it’s the Summer Holidays, we don’t have any homework.’

‘Oh yeah,’ said Kate her face splitting into a grin, ‘no school for eight weeks.’

‘Goodnight Freak,’ yawned Kate snuggling down under her covers.

‘Goodnight,’ sighed Emma putting her book and torch away. She hoped that the next day would be better than the last.

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