By Coral Coons
She pulled her hood over her head and continued down the cobbled streets of Camelia.
It was pouring rain, not a good sign.
The street ahead of her was dark, yet it seemed to light up. White and light gray houses stood in a straight line, the torches on the corners blazing. Nobody was awake at this time of night, the silence echoed in her brain.
She turned and opened the door to a small shop, with dusty windows and a very large oak door. This building was so very different from the others, it had a certain air about it that made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. It was tall, tilting slightly to the left. A dark brownish color, it stood out like a single star in the night sky.
It was her own shop -- she had inherited it from her mother, Nala. For about a thousand years, every woman in her family had been a seer, and her grandmother, Narcisa, had opened this dingy little fortune telling shop as a source of income when her uncle Nandu was born.
To be honest, it was not very successful, and they got an average of one customer every month. But it was a family business, and she was expected to carry it on.
She pulled off her soaked cloak and hung it on the knob by the door. Shivering, she walked towards the front room, the only place in the house with a fireplace. It was also where she conducted her services, so it was hardly ever used. She opened the door and looked around the room -- almost everything was perfect.
The scratched wood floor was as pale as ever, the walls still their musty gray. The makeshift rack of hideous violet teacups stood straight in the corner. The tall bookshelves on the far side of the room were a little crooked, but every book was still there. A gray stone fireplace stood majestically on the right side of the room, probably the only beautiful thing in the whole shop. A door, closed and locked tightly, stood opposite the fireplace.
A small oak table stood in the center of the room, a pearly white table cloth covering the stains of age. A large crystal ball sat on a cracked glass pedestal on top of the table, and two matching oak chairs were arranged carefully on either side.
As her eyes scanned the room, they froze at the table. A young woman was sitting on one of the chairs, reading intently from a small red book. As she stepped forward, the woman stood up quickly, dropping her book, a surprised look on her face. Something in her eyes spoke for her, she hadn’t come here to have her fortune told.
She clenched her fist beneath her skirts, and looked at the woman, recognition kicking in. An air of silence hung between them for several minutes-the young woman was the first to speak.
“I am terribly sorry if I’ve frightened you. I know it’s late, and I shouldn’t be here, but I desperately need your help. As you can probably see, I am with child and quite a few months along. I have been having these unusual visions, and I think they are caused by the pregnancy. I do not remember anything from the craft, and so I have resorted to coming to you. I need to know what these visions mean.” She did indeed look desperate, and, definitely pregnant.
“Listen, Sorina, I know you need my help, but it’s late, and the shop is closed. I’m tired and I need sleep. Would you mind coming back in the morning?” She took Sorina by the hand and led her towards the door.
“But,” Sorina protested as she neared the door. “You don’t understand! I need help now! You can’t just throw me out, I’m your sister! Voria! Please!” She pushed Sorina through the door, and before closing it in her sister’s face, said: “Good luck with the baby!”
She leaned against the door and breathed out deeply. How could Sorina have returned, especially when she was the one who left in the first place? As she considered this, she noticed a tiny red book lying beside the chair. Thinking it was hers, she carefully picked it up and slipped it between two other books.
She retreated to her bedroom above the shop and fell into a deep sleep. Many dreams came that night, none very good. Thoughts raced through her unconscious mind, ones that she hoped would never come again.
The next day Voria was terrified that Sorina would come back, but she never did. Days passed, and, slowly, Sorina left her thoughts. Voria forgot everything that had happened, and continued her life peacefully.
She never saw her sister again. Never did she know that her refusal would cost her sister her life, and, in a while, possibly her children’s also. And she never knew that the little red book her sister had left behind was a diary that held the accounts of a war that wouldn’t happen for sixteen years.
Coral Coons is a sixth grade student at Howe Magnet School in Schenectady, New York. She is currently writing a novel called 'Zayla's Fire;' this is her prologue.