Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by Elizabeth Reed

It was another routine day at the orphanage. Being 16 there was little chance of me being adopted, so I did extra around the orphanage to earn my keep. Clarice and Charlotte were kind of like my mothers, and all the kids my brothers and sisters. Being the oldest there I was always the one put in charge when Clarice and Charlotte needed help or had to go out. And this morning, they had to go to the market, so I was left in charge of breakfast. Clarice and Charlotte had already baked all the muffins, so all I had to do was make toast, and hand out fruit and milk. So I woke up before the sun was above the trees, which was quite a boring time for me. The moon and stars had already gone, but I still couldn't yet see the sun. I tied up my hair and changed my clothes, heading to the kitchen, trying to be as quiet as I could so I didn't wake the little ones. Thankfully at this point we didn't have any babies. Our youngest was four, and besides me the oldest was 12. She was just about on the verge of being unadoptable. Infancy is the prime age for adoption, 1-4 being really good, and 5-8 being safe. Once you hit 9+ it was really hard to be adopted. But once you hit 13 it was pretty much impossible. No one wants to adopt a teenager. So I kind of helped her out, tried to keep her spirits up and tried to teach her how to appeal to adults.
Yawning, I grabbed two loaves of bread and placed as many slices I could at once onto the grill over the ember rocks. I put a bunch of fruit in a bowl on the table (that seats 22), and set out all the glasses. We were able to accommodate 10 children comfortably, 25 legally, and we had 20. So I set out 20 glasses and 20 plates at the table, which takes a bit of time. I turned over the toast, noticing the side to be a bit more cooked than usual. Assuming the coals were just hotter than usual today I started new batches, turning them sooner and warming some of the muffins as well as one by one the kids started to wake. The younger kids usually woke first, coming out all sleep, rubbing their eyes, hair a mess. I would offer to brush their hair as they came out, being refused by some, but most allowed me, if they didn't insist on doing it themselves. Then they each took a place at the table, taking a piece of fruit, a muffin and some toast as I poured them each a glass of milk. If they didn't thank me automatically, I asked them 'What do you say?'
"You kids are going to grow up with manners." I told them. "You can't get adopted without manners." One of the younger ones, Max, age 6, swallowed the massive bite of muffin he took and looked up at me.
"Selena," he said. "How come you were never adopted?" The words struck me. I didn't get mad at him for asking. The orphanage had never had a kid as old as me before. But, I didn't know how to answer him. I didn't know why I was never adopted. I was nice to everyone who came in, I always look clean and nice, and Clarice and Charlotte raved about me. Yet no one had ever adopted me. I smiled down at him and pat his head.
"Because Clarice and Charlotte need me here to help with you kids." I explained. "I don't need to be adopted, but you guys all need to go to good families. Go to school. Get a good education."
"But I wanna stay with you!" came the high pitched voice of Melaina, the little 4 year old I adored. I giggled a little and kissed her head.
"Aww, sweety. That's so nice of you." I said. "But you need to find a mommy and daddy! I'll always be there for you." I rubbed her arm then quickly tended to the next little tike who walked out sleepy eyed, handing them the brush to fix their hair. I walked over to the window and opened the curtains, pleased to see the sun was starting to peak over the trees. I smiled a bit as the warm rays lit my face.
"You're gonna go blind!" Max said with a full mouth.
"Don't talk with your mouth open, Max." I instructed before turning to face him. "And I will not go blind. I have special eyes."
"Do not! That's a lie!" Max squeaked in a tired voice.
"Hush up and eat." I said. He pouted, but took another bite of his muffin. Once all the kids had woken up and eaten, I had the last muffin, a banana and a piece of toast. Of course it was one of the burnt ones I did at first. Just as I finished eat Clarice and Charlotte came home with bags of groceries in hand.
"Oh, Selena!" Charlotte said, sounding a bit winded. "Give me a hand with these bags, please?" I rushed over and took some of the bags from her, setting them on the counter. Clarice and Charlotte were sisters in their late 40's. They were orphans themselves who were in some really bad orphanages, then adopted into a strict household. So as kids they promised each other they would one day have their own orphanage that would be a safe place for kids, and they would always make sure the houses were nice. Clarice was older by two years, but neither of them looked terribly aged. Some slight laugh lines and crows feet, with little dark circles under their eyes, and a few gray hair peeking through their dirty blonde hair, but they looked younger than almost 50. The three of us unloaded the bags and put the food away, making small talk about the weather and the kids.
"Oh, I know!" Clarice said. "Little Ebony is a handful, isn't she? So cute though! I'll be so sad to see her go."
"You know she'll be adopted soon." Charlotte agreed. The question Max asked me earlier rung in my ears. Why were you never adopted? I paused for a second before turning to Clarice and Charlotte.
"Why wasn't I ever-"
"Oh, goodness!" Clarice shouted, pointing to the counter. Charlotte and I looked to see one of the paper bags on fire from one of the ember rocks. We both gasped as I quickly grabbed the pitcher of milk and I had left out from breakfast and dumped it over the flames. It smelled horrible as the ember rock boiled it away. We carefully moved the sopping bag away from the heat and Clarice went to get a rag to clean up the milk.
"I am so sorry!" I said to Charlotte. "I thought it was far enough away from the rocks! And the milk... What a mess... I promise I'll clean it up!" Charlotte touched my arm.
"Don't worry, hun." she said. "It's fine. You put the fire out. And I don't think the bag was all that close. The rocks must be really hot today." I nodded.
"I burned some toast today." I said. Charlotte shook her head with a puzzled look as Clarice came out with the rag, wiping it across the counter and on the floor.
"No use crying over spilled milk!" a child's voice cried from the hallway. The three of us giggled a bit, and once the milk was cleaned, continued putting away the food. I had completely forgotten that I was about to ask them a question.
********************
"Well that must have been scary." my best friend Sam said that afternoon after I told him about the fire in the kitchen. Sam and I had been friends since we were 6 years old. He lived in Light Wing Forest as well as myself (Light Wing Forest was named after the glowing bugs, because there are so many of them). We hung out almost every day and got into a lot of trouble together. Not serious trouble, of course. But we would travel farther than we were supposed to and return after curfew. But we had so much fun together. Once when we were about 7 Sam convinced me to climbed a Looma tree. Looma trees are very tall trees with thick trunks and thick, long branches with vines that dangle off them. But, the thing about Looma trees, is that if they don't want you on them, they wrap you up in there vines and try to pull you off. Sometimes they throw you off. The Looma tree didn't seem to mind us being on him, but Sam thought it would be cool to punch the tree. He kept saying, "Let's see how much it will take!" and after about 6 punches, it grabbed us both and chucked us from it's limbs. Sam broke his leg and I broke my arm, but a week later we were back at Looma Woods, resting against the trees. Sam meant a lot to me, being the only other person besides Clarice and Charlotte that I could remember since childhood.
I nodded as I flicked my ponytail over my shoulder.
"It was..." I replied. "I don't know what happened. The embers never got that hot before." Sam shrugged, continuing to scribble in the dirt with his stick as we leaned against the tree in his backyard.
"They're embers." he said. "They get hot. Some are hotter than others." He chuckled a little. "Remember that time we went all the way to Ember Pond and you got burned on one of them?" I rolled my eyes with a smile.
"How could I forget?" I asked. "I still have the scar on my arm. It was your fault, you know. You pushed me."
"I did not push you!" Sam cried, half smiling. "You tripped! You've always been clumsy."
"Whatever helps you sleep at night, woman beater." I teased. Sam laughed a little a she stared to break the stick into little pieces.
Sam had the most gorgeous yard. He was tucked away in the woods, lots of big, viney trees surrounding his small home where he and his parents lived. Sam had wonderful parents. His mother, Renna was so sweet and an amazing cook. She would often bring us out snacks and invite me for dinner, which I would eagerly accept. His father, Luke was very kind as well. Being injured, though, Sam and Renna had to work to bring in money. Luke worked in a mine near Ember Pond, mining for diamonds that had been rumoured to be down there. No one had ever gone so far down, so no one was aware that embers lied beneath the surface. As Luke dug he broke into a pocket of embers that fell onto his leg, giving him 3rd degree burns on his entire leg. It was horrible.
Sam did a lot of yard work for people to bring in money. From stuff as small as mowing their lawn to hauling wood to cutting down trees. Whatever you would pay him to do, he would do it. He was a good kid. He was going to make a great father one day. I always knew he'd make a great father and husband. A wonderful provider.
"So how's your dad doing, anyway?" I asked. "Any chance of him getting back to work soon?" Sam sighed and shook his head.
"I don't think any time soon..." he answered. "Some of the wounds in his leg are infected... He's getting pretty sick." I gasped a little, covering my mouth with my hand.
"That's awful!" I said. Sam nodded.
"Yeah, it's been rough." he explained. "But me and my mom are doing good bringing in the money." I gently placed my hand on his.
"I'm sorry that you're going through this." I said softly. "It isn't fair to have to be working so hard at your age."
"Well what about you?" he asked with a smile as I removed my hand from his. "You're practically have a few dozen kids and you're only 16 yourself." I smiled back and shrugged.
"Yeah, well... That's different." I replied. Sam shook his head.
"Not at all." he said. "I do manual labour a few hours a day five times a week. You take care of near twenty kids every day." I looked at him for a second before playfully nudging him.
"You're right, you're a slacker and I do all the hard work." I teased. Sam shoved me back and just as we got into a mini wrestling match his mother walked out with a plate in hand.
"Now, now!" she said with a grin. "Take it easy, no fighting. One of you always ends up hurt." The two of us grinned, eager to see what she was holding. "I made fire crackers!" Fire crackers are delicious. They're actually leave from Fire Trees that grow in the Prince of Fire's kingdom. The leaves are always on fire. You put them on wheat crackers and let them sit for a moment, toasting the cracker. Then you smother the leaf with another cracker covered in jelly, and quickly eat it before the leaf catches fire again. They're Sam and I's favourite snacks. Probably because there's a slight element of danger. We both took a cracker with a flaming leaf, jellied cracker in our other hand. We always counted to three together then squished the jellied cracker and ate them at the same time. I laughed a little as I noticed my leaf was much hotter and the flame was much bigger than Sam's. We counted to three and smother my leaf with the jelly, as did Sam. But as Sam quickly ate his, mine became engulfed in flames. I screamed and dropped the cracker before it burned my finger tips. Sam quickly stood and stomped the snack into the ground, covering it with dirt so the leaf wouldn't catch fire again as Ebony stood with her hands over her mouth. We all exchanged glances. "How strange!" Ebony exclaimed.
"I've eaten those dozens of times and that's never happened." I said. I shook my head. "Fire just does not like me today." Sam helped me up off the ground and brushed some dirt from my back.
"Are you okay?" he asked. I nodded.
"Yeah, I'm fine... Uhm, I'm going to go home, though. Clarice and Charlotte probably need my help." I explained. Ebony nodded.
"Good idea. Sam should get some rest anyway. He has three jobs to do tomorrow." she said.
"Yes, ma'am." Sam said respectfully. We parted ways and I walked back home, some anxiety still looming.


© 2012 Elizabeth Reed


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Elizabeth Reed
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Added on October 26, 2012
Last Updated on October 26, 2012
Tags: Fantasy, Moon, Sun, Element, Elements, Teen, Teenager, Teens, Teenagers, Love, Journey, Adventure


Author

Elizabeth Reed
Elizabeth Reed

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I absolutely love to write, but I'm not very confident in myself. I would love honest feedback. Negative or not. If you'd like to see pictures of my characters, go to my photos. The letter(s) at th.. more..

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