Every morning for as long as I can remember, I’ve woken up with a distinct feeling of trepidation that consumes me. My mother has always tried to reassure me, “when you shift, those feelings will make sense." But the years continue to race past me, and now they are evolving into a distinct sense of déjà vu.
I am the daughter of Carmela, the direct descendant of our eldest, Urania; once the strongest Elemental that existed. She passed some sacrificial way. The details are kept secret until our 18th birthday at which point we shift; our bodies mature, and develop into one with the earth; allowing us to manipulate one of the elements; earth, air, fire or water. Not all of us have the same abilities and some inherit none. Few can possess the capability over more than one.
One hundred human years equal just one of ours after our shift; aging slowly, watching our friends and half-blooded families die off. Some of our kind surpassed the Elemental status by also evoking supernatural mysteries. Aristotle once spoke of these possibilities, but thankfully never came close enough to uncover its true existence. Along with the ability to control the elements, the chosen ones are able to inflict their will metaphysically. We were told there was only four others possessing these powers; my grandmother Urania, my mother Carmela, and two others thought to have died many years ago. It was believed the age of a 5th Elemental would never exist again. Recent whispers amongst the elders suggest I may be the next one. How they all came to this conclusion is still a mystery. They all say it’s a gift, and something I should be proud of. I just want a normal life, one where I can go off to college, meet my prince charming, and live happily ever after. Well… wishful thinking!
Chapter 1 - Visions
“BEEP- BEEP- BEEP- BEEP”
The alarm clock blasted its annoying tones deep into my ear canal at the same time my mother yelled from her room, “Elizabeth you will be late!”
I smacked the top of my alarm clock that rested on my nightstand for ten years. My longest stretch in bed allowed me to continue my train of thought.
“What was I thinking about?” I hit the imaginary rewind button until I struck the one impression that tickled my interest, my recurring dream.
Restless nights continue to transform my existence into a misty memory. Vivid dreams of a mysterious stranger visit me nightly. First, we are both children. He grew as I did, but he was from a different world, a different time. Who is this man and what did he want? Frustration was an overwhelming feeling I’d grown far too accustomed to knowing no one had the answer. The man in my dreams would always spike different emotions. It was confusing. How could I long to be near a man who once sent apprehension through my body, and now a burning desire for him.
My dream always started the same; I am gazing out of my bedroom window into another world. It felt as if I was outside of my body and watching all that took place, sort of like a movie playing over and over again each night. I would sit on my small bench. Everything was in black and white; color was forbidden. At least that is how it used to be.
I would go through the same motions, propping my knee on the bench then slowly leaning in toward the window, using my hands to block out the glare of the moon.
My heart would race with intensity, as I knew he would soon appear. My stranger would never turn towards me. Instead he teased me with the shape of his tone back, but as the years passed, small details became more apparent. His shirt is ripped around the shoulders and down his back.
The place in my dream was never familiar. It did not even seem like the same century. My window acted like a wormhole through time. I could see a dirt road, with a haze hovering over it like a blanket. Before I could take in more details, I was instantly transported to an ominous road. My only company was the night, my mystery man would vanish.
Then I would feel a cool breeze, as a windstorm of cold air consumed me. During that same moment, a cloud of dirt moved in closer as a faint hissing sound soaked the air. Panic overwhelmed me as each breath I took was useless, nothing penetrated my lungs.
A voice calls out sparking chills down the back of my neck to the tips of my toes. I could never move, frozen with a sense of reverence as a cold wet substance would contour the side of my face. I would always lift my finger to wipe it away, concluding it was a tear. Last night was no different. I went through the same motions, yet when I glanced at my finger I could see that the substance had color, red. The one solitary color newly developed in my dream.
I stood along a row of Daphne's shrubs. Its flowers swayed softly even while I was assaulted by a tornado of cold wind. The fragrance it released acted like a smoky hand floating through the air. Its crushed berries littered the ground. I focused on its flow as it consumed the dirt, creating a river of crimson.
“Elizabeth you are going to miss your own graduation if you don’t stop daydreaming!” my mother said as she commanded her way into my room.
I did not look up at her still dazed by the increasing clarity of my vision.
“I know you hear me!” she intruded into my world of thoughts again. “Yes, I heard you. I had another dream and yes I know my visions or dreams will be as clear as a mirrors reflection.”
“You had another dream?”
“It was nothing, just the same dream as always,” I responded in a nonchalant tone with the hopes she would not pry.
“Don’t worry dear,” she said.
The same words of reassurance stumbled off her tongue. I swayed my thoughts as I walked over to pull out my graduation cap and gown, next to all of my camera equipment. Photography was my escape. Hiding behind the lens kept my mind occupied, my focus on something else instead of me and my certain future.
Graduating from high school ended the closest thing to normalcy in my life. My kind starts the rest of our un-naturally long lives buy; training to protect our existence, learning how to perfect our powers, and pro-creating to keep our blood line strong.
My thoughts returned to the first day of school. I was clinging to my mother’s leg begging her not to leave me! We were usually home schooled but my mother believed the more I knew of and interacted with the human race, the stronger I would be at protecting our kind.
At first, I believed everyone knew about us. That is until the third grade.
My mother received a call from Mrs. Rivers, “Your daughter has a wild imagination.”
The stories I would tell the other children during recess were true.
“My mama never gets her hands dirty! She tells the broom to sweep, the mop to mop, and the rag to wipe!”
How do you get a seven year old girl to understand? How do you explain to a child we are not mortal? Surely there is no easy way but she did and I understood. Just like she tried to explain why I had such different eyes. She left that one to the expert.
Dr. Tudi tried to explain it, “you have complete Heterochromia, a disorder caused by the concentration and distribution of melanin.”
My mother added a different explanation. She said I get it from my father. I never really asked much about him or what even happened. The only time she spoke of him is when she felt it was necessary. She did say we shared the same distinct feature; one brown eye and one blue eye.
My one blue eye almost seemed white during the darkest of nights. I would even scare myself at times. My brown eye had the hint of a maroon outline. I kept my eyes secret most of the time, hiding them behind dark sunglasses.
The tapping of my mothers’ feet reminded me she was still waiting. “Mom, I will be ready in 10. Can you please take my cap and gown down to the car?”
Just as she stepped out into the hallway, my phone rang. It would have slid off the table but instead it hovered in the air for about a second, and then glided itself onto the bed. I hated when she used her powers for insignificant things.
My first reaction was to give her the third degree just like the elders gave those who used their powers hastily. However, instead of getting into a disagreement, I ignored her and picked up the phone to see if I was right. My intuition was growing more as each day passed. The caller ID confirmed it; it was Gwen, my best friends since middle school. Our friendship was a burden for me. Even though I trusted her with my life, I always had to keep what I was a secret and it was exhausting!
“Hey Gwen,” I answered.
“Hey are you up and out of bed?”
“Yeap sure am.”
“I can’t wait until we are done with graduation. Have you packed yet?”
“Of course I have! I packed the day you mentioned it. I can’t wait until we are out of here.”
“Okay then. We don’t have much time. We can chat about Europe later. I am going to leave here in about 2 minutes. I’ll meet you at the salon, k?” Gwen said.
“See you there,” I grabbed my purse from the doorknob then selected a pair of sunglasses to complete my ensemble.
I flew down the stairs barely touching the wooden floorboards beneath my feet. The morning greeted me with splendor. The sun’s rays danced across the trees.
My mother was already waiting in the car. She was hell bent on not letting me drive until I shifted. The moment was getting so close and the signs were apparent. I would space out as my hands trembled; a sure sign of things to come. Not knowing was the worst part. Shifting marks a time in my life where I have no say so. I take on the Elemental responsibility as well as the physical changes; it’s just not fair.
I have seen the differences in all of our kind when they shift. My long time boyfriend Tristan for example; his hair grew a few inches, his shoulders broadened, grew two inches taller and not to mention inherited the power over water. He looked different, even sounded different. Most of the kids in our school have a relative in our bloodline, but only those of pure blood will shift.
The small Island of Prince George is where Blake and the other Elementals live. With a quick 20 minute boat ride I can surrender to a safe haven. This is where Blake and I spent lots of time together. He is like a brother. He had the same apprehensions I did about shifting until it happened. His outlook changed, appreciating his responsibilities as an Elemental. He inherited the power over air. His shift was almost three months ago, taking him to just over six feet, stocky and very handsome. Maturity was one of his traits unlike Tristan; Blake followed the elder’s rules. The use of power is only to defend your life or the life of another.
“Elizabeth, are you alright? You seem distant,” my mother asked.
“Fine,” I answered.
“Nervous about graduating?”
“No, I can’t seem to focus on anything these days.”
“I know Elizabeth. You have lots going on but you will be fine. Take it one day at a time.”
She kept the conversation down to a minimum and I am not sure why.
“Why are you so quiet?” I had to ask.
She took a minute to answer. I could tell she searched for the right words, confirming something was up.
“I have lots on my mind too. You’re leaving for Europe; your shift is close and you are graduating tonight,” she answered with no emotion, just held a firm grip on the steering wheel as we made our way into town.
Waverly was untouched by technology. Old store fronts and antique cars accented the town. The mom and pop pharmacy next to the ice cream shop provided delights for my great uncles, even when they were just knee high! You could not find my neighborhood on any street map, hidden from the rest of the world, which is how my family wanted it.
“Hey girl” Gwen greeted me with a smile and hug before I could get out of the car.
“Liz, I have a council meeting – there are things that have to be sorted out, but I will be back in about two hours,” my mother explained.
I cut her off, “Fine, but don’t worry. I'll ride with Gwen to the school, see you there,” I closed the car door and walked away.
“Your mom seems to always have something to sort out. What could be so important now?” Gwen asked.
“You know how she is. Always protecting a new part of the forest or endangered specicies…whatever she feels is important at the moment,” I answered.
She has been full of questions these days. Sometimes I feel as though she knows I am holding something back.
“Come on let’s get this over with!” I said to change the subject.
As soon as I pulled open the salon’s door, my lungs were greeted with the sour smell of bleach. I quickly looked around to see all the familiar faces. We only had two salons in town, the other one catering to women well over their 50’s. This would be the spot for my senior class.
It was not long before I looked like a princess which is how Gwen described me. My shoulder-long hair was pulled up, folded just right to accommodate my graduation cap.
Just as Gwen finished her final inspection I saw Kemp walk in with urgency.
“Liz! Come quick, Tristan is about to go at it with Blake at the Arcadian!” Kemp held the door open knowing I would follow.
“What happened!?” I asked.
“We ran into him on the way to your house, and you know Tristan. He wanted to get even for last night…the party” Kemp’s tone thick with anger.
His words last night brought me back to Tristan’s outrageous display of jealousy. Jen’s graduation party was supposed to be a celebration; instead it turned into an Elemental side-show. I knew when I made the decision to take Blake I would regret it. Tristan’s possessiveness drove him to treat me like a child but my fury drove me to a much darker place. Even though I have not shifted, I get a few teases, glimpses of my powers. A tingling feeling at the base of my neck emerged. Everything around me gave off a distinct feeling but would fade, never allowing me enough time to understand it. My muscles burned, just like a nice workout at the gym. Last night was different. I could feel the sensation building within me. This time it lasted long enough to break his firm grip from my wrist. I shoved him so hard his body soared through the air like a rag doll. He landed almost 150ft away. Of course we became the focus of everyone's attention, especially Kemp and his friends. Their burst of laughter drowned out the music.
“Earth to Liz…come in Liz,” Kemp said as he snapped his fingers just inches from my face.
“Sorry Kemp. I am just so fed up with Tristan.”
“Don’t tell me that, tell him,” he said.
“Liz, you know how he feels about you, you belong to him. He told me you and him were going to be together forever.”
“Forever! Is he assuming I will spend the rest of my life with him? He must be insane! Ever since he shifted he has turned into a complete egotistical ass.”
“Yeah well, you egged him on last night showing up with Blake. Why would you do that?”
“Blake is my friend. Does he assume I cannot have friends of the opposite sex? Or be friends with my Prince George family?”
I could tell Kemp searched for the right words as my question lingered in silence.
“Hey regardless of the same family background, you know we don’t get along with them. They think they are better than us. Tristan thinks Blake uses you to get under his skin.”
“This time he has gone too far. I want nothing else to do with him. He needs to find himself again. The sweet soft spoken Tristan I once loved is gone; left behind when he shifted. All I can say is this. If Tristan hurts one hair on Blake’s head, I will march right over to the elders and snitch! Regardless of the stupid rivalry, this has to stop. You all are placing our kind in jeopardy! Regardless if most of us on Scotia know who we are, there are those that don’t. Tristan is the oldest of your little click. He should set the right example!”
The next few moments were silent. The distance from town to the Arcadian Falls was ten minutes but it felt like we were driving forever. I grew anxious the closer we got. I could just imagine the both of them. Blake defending himself as Tristan used his gifts to teach him a lesson. His arrogance will be the cause of us turning up on the six o clock news.
We reached the end of the dirt road. We had to stop and go on foot. It was a few hundred yards to the Arcadian Falls. You could hear the roar of the water as it made its way down 750ft of cliffs and boulders.
I could hear the un-natural sounds of tree branches splitting, accompanied by loud thuds and deep vibrations; as if holes were being opened in the earth.
I raced toward a clearing; bobbing and weaving through branches recently rearranged.
“I told you to stay out of Scotia but no; you came anyways, just to test me,” Tristan yelled as he pointed his glowing hands toward the river. His eyes consumed by the color of deep jade.
“Man, you are so into yourself. Do you think we all have to do as you say?” Blake blasted back. “Besides, I came as a favor to Liz; that is what has your panties in a bunch.”
“I told you, leave Liz out of this. You can think what you want, but in the end, I am the oldest; do as I say.” Tristan summoned the river to finish his sentence as a sphere of water engulfed by rage, raced toward Blake. He held it in front of him for a few seconds, caressing it, talking to it, letting it know what to do. Tristan tried to use intimidation as his evil partner but failed. Blake used an enormous tree for cover as he summoned the wind to act as his shield. I could see him panting as his back leaned on the tree, peaking around the side to avoid the obvious blast. Blake was tired. He recently shifted. It takes time to build up your strengths and know your power. He was forcing himself and it showed.
“Don’t think you can hide from me,” Tristan yelled.
“No I’m not hiding Undines, just waiting for you to stop playing with water,” Blake taunted.
He loved to crack on Tristan by calling him a Undines. That is the proper name for a Water Elemental however; we all knew what he meant, “Mermaid.”
“You will be more than just wet!” Tristan yelled as he released his fury, projecting his mass destruction at Blake. It dodged tree branches as it maneuvered its way up and down, avoiding neighboring Black Oaks.
Blake’s’ shield was nothing compared to Tristan’s heat seeking projectile fueled by his rage. His body trembled with the blast of water, hurling him in the air about 25ft. A hard sigh escaped his mouth as he landed hard on the dirt.
“Tristan stop!” I pleaded.
I sprinted to where Blake lay motionless.
“Blake are you ok, please say something.”
“You must be stopped Tristan! You’re a danger to everyone!”
He had no idea how fed up I was with his power-hungry ego.
Tristan stood still.
Turning my focus back to Blake, “I m okay,” he reassured me then he pushed my hands away.
“Hey Tristan, you are a piece of work,” Blake said with a chuckle.
Tristan’s focus was on Blake. His intentions clear. The river roared as it collided with the boulders.
“I hope she sees you are nothing to come home to,” Blake ridiculed Tristan again.
I could feel the energy gathering around me. Even if he knew he was wrong, Tristan would not let go without consequence. The water began to peak over the side of the embankment, twirling into a tight round formation. I could feel him pulling in the energy; concentrating on the now massive sphere that moved in toward us.
“That… is… enough!” I said with the utmost authority.
“Enough? That fool has not seen anything yet!” Tristan grunted.
“Step away Liz,” Blake demanded I move back. Tristan’s anger blinded him.
Kemp took a few steps toward Tristan, “Come on, let’s go. Graduation, remember?”
“Not another step Kemp or you’ll take the ride over Arcadian too!” Tristan turned on his own best-friend.
I knew then I had to do something before someone got hurt or even killed. The familiar feeling hit me. This time a tidal wave of energy swallowed me. The sensation was warm and good.
I stood up and turned toward Tristan, to
tell him or force him to stop.
“You will stop this!” I yelled.
Within seconds, Kemp and Blake rushed Tristan but before they could reach him; he released the water at Blake. We knew if the sphere reached its target, a tragedy would be eminent.
I willed with all my might to change its course, but I could feel my energy weaken. It was too far, I needed to get closer. My focus never shifted as I stretched my invisible flow of power just as Tristan’s blast was inches from Blake’s chest.
Instantly it fell creating a pool of water. The splash created a wave almost 4ft tall, soaking Blake and I.
I stood there, shocked. Not with pain but with disbelief!
“That is it! I have had enough,” all I could do was tremble with anger.
“Blake – Tristan; GO HOME!”
“Okay, I’ll see you later Liz and I’m sorry,” Blake said, then turned to Tristan, “I’ll see you around.”
Not only was all of this unnecessary but I’m graduating. My hair and makeup was ruined!
I turned around, walking toward the trail that leads to my house. I knew the best thing I could do is keep my mouth shut. The insults would have been embarrassing. But somehow I knew Tristan would not leave it alone. I tried to warn him with a simple gesture by holding up my hand.
“Wait up” Tristan said as he walked up behind me.
“I know you’re mad but you have to understand this fool is always pushing my buttons. I can’t just let him get away with it.”
As if his excuse was going to make it all ok, knowing that magic is forbidden.
“What would have happened if Gwen was with me? You only think of yourself and no one else! I am so fed up with it. What happened to the rules the elders put into place? I am so tired of your antics and immaturity!”
“I want you to leave me alone. I will leave this summer with no attachments and come back with none. You have to grow up, and I have to figure out if I have any feelings for you. I don’t want this anymore!” I looked away. The expression on his face would be an image to haunt me all summer.
Just as I reached my house I felt this sudden surge of energy. Everything in front of me turned dark. I could hear the raging water of the Arcadian fading away as my body felt weightless. What was happening? My breathing was equivalent to my racing heart beat; causing my chest to expand quicker. A sensation now engulfed my body. I slowly opened my eyes hoping to find what was coming over me but instead, there he stood! The man who crept into my dream was now invading my consciousness. Standing like always with his back towards me but now he held out his hand, pointing toward a dark path; reaching for something or someone.
My vision was clear but now packed with color. I felt my hand motion to him; begging him to face me. Right at that moment when it felt like he would turn, darkness crept back into my eyes.
“Liz, Liz, please answer me?”
I realized someone was calling out my name.
“Liz open your eyes!" I recognized Tristan’s voice.
My eyes felt like they wre glued but slowly I managed to open them, blinking several times and forcing myself to adjust to the light.
“I’m fine…What happened?”
“We were talking then you blacked out on your feet.” Tristan explained as his eyes locked into mine continuing to examine my every gesture.
“Tristan please don’t tell anyone. If my mother finds out, she will freak and give me hell for leaving to Europe, k? Promise me?” I softened my tone knowing that would be the smartest way to seal his silence.
“I guess, but tell me what happened if you want me to keep my mouth shut.”
“Look I don’t have time now. I have to get home and get ready again. Look at the mess you made of me!” I sprinted toward my house. I had less than an hour to get ready!