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the blessing

IT TOOK LILLY-ANN three weeks to understand what Ceana had “blessed” her with.

It had been a week of clear weather, and tourists or visitors from close by had come to spend a day in Eaeyndale. Many of them decided to spend the day hiking in the woods, while other, more adventurous, individuals decided to scale parts of the cliff to a series of caves to the west. Lilly-Ann, however, decided to spend the day in town, curled up in the ancient library with a book.

Her mind had been busy the past week, thinking of Ceana and wondering if something was to come of her “blessing”. But now she was absorbed in a different fairytale and had forgotten about her meeting with Ceana.

The bell of the antique bookstore startled her slightly and she looked up. A boy had just entered and met her gaze. His mouth dropped open slightly. Lilly-Ann offered him a smile and then focused back on her novel, trying not to laugh at his expression.

She was aware that he was talking to the owner of the bookstore and that he was asking for a fantasy series, but then she tuned him out. Lilly-Ann had come to the part where Anne bitterly spurned Gilbert for the second time after he had saved her, and Lilly-Ann couldn’t help but groan.

“Anne of Green Gables,” remarked the boy Lilly-Ann had seen coming in. She now looked up at him and smiled.

“Yes. This is my favourite series.” She admitted the fact, slightly cringing as she thought of her other much-loved books. She loved them too.

“Really? I haven’t read them yet, but I don’t know if I’d like it. I’m more of a... fantasy and action lover.” He shrugged slightly, sliding his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

Lilly-Ann nodded. “My best friend finds them boring, so I understand. Did you need help finding anything? I know this place like the back of my hand.”

“No, thank you,” replied the boy, and then abruptly changed the subject. “Has anyone ever told you you’re beautiful?”

Lilly-Ann looked startled. “N-no. No one has. Why?”

The boy frowned slightly. “Someone must’ve, with your black hair and killer blue eyes.”

With those words, Lilly-Ann remembered her predicament. She was horrified and barely stammered a ‘thank you’ before fleeing the building. She ran to Myrtle’s Inn and threw her arms around her old confidant.

“I have blue eyes!” She cried into Myrtle’s shoulder, confusing the poor woman.

“Honey,” Myrtle soothed. “Your eyes are as brown as they were yesterday.”

“B-but this boy just t-told me I’m beautiful and that I have blue eyes and that I have black hair and I don’t know what to do!” Lilly-Ann was rambling with panic, thinking that she might never look like herself again. She knew something had changed that day with Ceana and she had agonised over it, but now she knew for sure.

Myrtle allowed Lilly-Ann to hide in the inn for several hours before sending her out again, ordering; “Go and buy yourself a coffee. Relax.”

Lilly-Ann reluctantly made her way over to the Cafe de Eaeyndale. She was stopped two doors down from the cafe by a tall guy and his three friends. Even Lilly-Ann would have to admit they were good looking, but her heart sank as she realised she might have ‘killer blue eyes’ instead of brown eyes.

“A goddess lives in this small town after all!” One of the boys exclaimed, bowing dramatically over Lilly-Ann’s hand. She giggled nervously and removed her hand, disgusted at her predicament.

“Thank you, but I’m just a-”

“The living image of Aphrodite,” another one piped up. The tall boy glanced at his friend, raising an unimpressed eyebrow.

“Aphrodite has blonde hair, Greg,” he spoke slowly, patronisingly. “This girl has thick, black curls.”

Both friends looked at the tall boy, frowning. Lilly-Ann looked on in growing horror as they both exclaimed,

“She has red hair!”

“It is blonde, you idiot!”

Lilly-Ann blinked her eyes, trying to clear the moisture in them and stop herself from crying. The three boys stood arguing as she snuck away and entered the cafe. There, she purchased her favourite tea and found a table in the corner of the cafe.

She watched the people coming and going, trying to focus on others instead of her growing apprehension and paranoia. She was only partially successful, however, as Braidon, Lilly-Ann’s best friend and constant companion, snuck up to her.

“Lil?” He asked as he slid into the chair opposite her. “What’s up? You look like you’re internally having a meltdown.”

“I am,” she choked out and then proceeded to spill the whole story. She only summarised Ceana’s legend and hoped that Braidon would believe her tale of being “blessed”.

As she finished and silence fell around them, Braidon sat still and stared at her. He could see that she looked the same as she always did, but neither of them noticed that Braidon could still see her. They were too focused on the fact that the other boys had not.

“So what do we do?” He finally asked, unclenching her one fist and tapping her palm. “This is absolutely crazy and you sound insane, but I believe you.” He suddenly grinned and Lilly-Ann knew she wouldn’t like what he would say next.

“What about we test it out?”

She closed her eyes. “Test what out?”

“How this curse works,” Braidon responded and pulled her upright. “Come. I see a boy walking down the street. You’re going to accidentally trip into him.”

And so she did. Lilly-Ann walked down the street, tripped over the curb and fell into the boy Braidon had pointed out. The boy steadied her and then paused, studying her face. She felt extremely self-conscious, waiting for the boy to say something. But he didn’t.

“Sorry about that,” Lilly-Ann finally said, breaking the awkward silence.

“No, no,” the boy replied, removing his hands from her shoulders. “It’s totally okay. Are you wearing contacts? Or are your eyes naturally a violet colour?”

“Natural,” muttered Lilly-Ann, averting her eyes. “Why?”

He shrugged slightly. “I just haven’t seen that before. And dark eyes with pale hair has always looked really pretty, I think.”

“Thanks,” Lilly-Ann replied uncertainty. She made her excuses and hurried away, while Braidon ran to catch up with her.

“That was strange,” Braidon remarked. “But that’s alright. We’ll figure it ou-”

“Hi,” another boy interrupted Braidon, not even sparing him a glance. “My name is Terrance, and I was wondering if you’d like to get a coffee with me.”

“Uh...” was Lilly-Ann’s delicate reply, as she internally melted into a puddle of hopelessness. “What do I look like?” She finally blurted out at Terrance.

He frowned. “You’re a cute, short brunette with green eyes. Why?”

“No, that’s okay. Thanks!” Lilly-Ann ran away for the fourth time that day, Braidon following close behind.

“It’s not going to be okay, Braidon!” She shouted at him, drawing attention from several passersby on the street. Lilly-Ann smiled sheepishly and hurried on, soon out of the town.

The two best friends walked the trail in the woods, finding peace and solidarity amongst the trees. Unfortunately, a group of college-aged guys had decided to come hike today, and one of them was about to come around the turn.

Fate had her hands set against Lilly-Ann, for she allowed the unfortunate girl to collide with the guy. They both let out an elegant ‘oomph’ as they stumbled backwards.

“I am so sorry,” Lilly-Ann said, exchanging a panicked look with Braidon. He bit his lip to keep from laughing at the situation, and then at the anger in Lilly-Ann’s eyes. She did not find this funny, and heaven help anyone who did.

“I should’ve looked where I was going,” the boy replied. “No harm was done.” And then he dragged his eyes away from her face towards Braidon. “Is this your boyfriend?”

Lilly-Ann and Braidon both shook their heads.

“No,” Lilly-Ann replied. “We’re friends, that’s all. Why?”

The guy shrugged. “I was wondering if you’d like to get to know me.”

“Why?” asked Lilly-Ann, confused as to why a guy would ask her out a second after meeting her. Or running into her.

“Because you’re absolutely adorable?” the guy asked her back, giving her a wink.

“Oh,” replied Lilly-Ann. “Why do you say that?” She knew better than to ask outright what she looked like- that would make her look foolish.

The guy grinned. “I like your button nose and grey eyes, especially since you have auburn hair. I also like the fact that you look athletic. It means you like doing stuff outdoors.”

“Thank you,” Lilly-Ann told him, the sincerity in her tone stemming from the fact that he had told her what she looked like, not because he had asked her out. “But I have a boyfriend at home.” Not, she added on in her mind, feeling bad for lying.

The guy retained his smile. “No worries. You enjoy your walk.” And then he left her alone with her best friend.

“This is exhausting,” commented Braidon, tugging on Lilly-Ann’s mousy brown hair. “And you must be frustrated.”

She nodded and they resumed their walk. “I don’t understand what I have to do.”

“Maybe we can research an answer,” Braidon suggested. “Or... what did she say again?”

“She told me the ‘blessing’ would end after I found True Love,” Lilly-Ann answered her words barely a mumble at the end of the sentence.

Braidon restrained his laugh and answered; “Well then, dearest. We shall endeavour to find your knight in shining armour! Let us be off!”

And Lilly-Ann promptly burst into tears.

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