Excerpt from “Fledgling”

Here’s a little snippet from a Witch Lit story I am working on for Moon Books; it’s called “Fledgling” and it’s about a teenage girl who discovers modern witchcraft, and it helps her to discover her identity and learn to connect with the world around her.  There’s also some heavy issues explored such as falling in love, bullying at school and family drama, and we will see how she uses Magick to help her deal with what’s going on.  This is based heavily on my own history with witchcraft and the events I write about actually happened to me, so it’s been quite a personal journey for me to write this.

Below is an excerpt where Autumn discovers the possibility that witchcraft in the modern world really does exist….

  The thought of going to Faye’s for a sleepover that night kept Autumn going during the day. After school, she had gone home, changed and packed her overnight bag, quickly completing her homework before eating dinner.  Her mum drove her to Faye’s house and told her to be home by lunchtime the next day.  Faye had pulled Autumn inside enthusiastically, and the girls set up camp in the living room for the evening, using the sofa cushions and sleeping bags to make a nest on the floor in front of the TV.
     Faye’s mum emerged in the living room doorway wearing skinny jeans and a pretty jade coloured blouse.  Her limp, caramel hair was up in a bun so tight that it seemed to pull the skin of her face tight.  She had a lot of blusher and perfume on, and had an almost predatory air about her, although she was wearing a smile.  The cream leather bag she toted matched the three inch heels she balanced in.
     “You girls going to be alright?” Faye’s mum had a slight trace of Northern in her accent.
     “Yeah, Mum, we’ll be fine.  What time are you coming back?” Faye asked.
     “Twelve.  Your sister should be back just before me.”
     “Did you put the pin in for the film?” They had chosen a slasher film to rent from the cable box office; Faye chose it on the basis that she fancied one of the main actors.
     “Mmm-hmm,” her mum was applying peach lip gloss to her thin lips in a little mirror on the wall.  “Don’t eat everything in the cupboards, will you.”
     “It’s okay, I brought snacks,” Autumn patted her bag which had a tube of Pringles, some chocolate chip cookies and a share size bag of Malteasers; she hadn’t want to go to Faye’s empty handed, so her mum stopped by at the Spar shop in the village on their way.  “Thank you for letting me stay over.”
     “That’s quite alright, Autumn, you’re a nice friend of Faye’s.  Okay, well I’m going now.  You girls have fun,” Mandy flashed them a smile as she strutted out the door, locking it behind her.
     Krystal, Faye’s older sister, who was in sixth form and had baby-sat Autumn and her brother one time a couple of years ago, was the next to leave the house a few minutes later.  She had a boy pick her up on his motorcycle.  Faye and I watched from the living room window as Krystal skipped out the door, down the front path to where her boyfriend was waiting for her, the engine rumbling, offering Krystal a helmet.  We watched enviously as she swung herself onto the back of the motorbike, wrapped her arms around her boyfriend’s waist and roared off into the evening.
     Autumn and Faye changed into their PJs with the music channels playing in the background.  Faye wanted to know more about heavy metal and rock music because her latest crush- Tom Blazeby- was into Korn and she didn’t have a clue, so Autumn switched the channel to Kerrang! and played Faye some crucial tunes that would be a guaranteed conversation starter and promised to lend Faye some of her CDs.
     “What about you, Autumn?” Faye asked.  “Have you got your eye on anyone?”
     “Well…maybe,” Autumn said coyly, giggling.
     “Come on, spill!” Faye punched her playfully on the arm.  “Who is this man of mystery?”
     Autumn hesitated before confessing with a sigh, “Kemp.”
     Autumn could practically hear the cogs turning in Faye’s mind as she mentally searched through her internal database of the boys at school, frowning as she tried to put a face to name.  Faye was tall and slim like Autumn, but that was where their similarities began and ended.  Faye’s mum let Faye dye her hair with blonde highlights, and permed curly so it fell in golden waves around her shoulders.  Faye had flawless pale skin, full lips and straight teeth.  She had her bellybutton pierced with a silver bar with turquoise jewels, two gold hoops through her ears, and a diamonte nose stud; the nose piercing was something all of the girly gang had done, and they had got pierced together on the same day.  Autumn hadn’t even bothered asking her parents if she could get her nose pierced, too- the answer would’ve been a flat-out-not-even-going-to-consider-it no.  Autumn didn’t really want her nose pierced that badly anyway- she hated her hook nose and wouldn’t want anything else to draw attention to it.
     Faye’s blue eyes widened.  “Joshua Kemp?  From Year 10?”
     Autumn blushed and nodded, avoiding looking at Faye who was trying to keep a straight face at the thought of a boy like Joshua Kemp being interested in a girl like Autumn.
     “Isn’t he going out with Tia?” Faye said.
     “Who?”
     “She’s the girl from South Africa.  She moved here last term.”  Faye was always pretty good at gossip and knowing who was who at school in the unspoken social hierarchy of high school popularity.  “Joshua Kemp is a player, he’s two-timed every girl he’s gone out with.”
     “Doesn’t matter…it’s never going to happen anyway,” Autumn said quietly.
     “Want to do nails?  My sister has a ton of nail varnishes,” Faye asked, examining her own bitten fingernails.
     “Okay,” Autumn nodded, quietly gutted of Faye’s lack of reassurance or offer of a miraculous make over…this wasn’t High School Musical.
     “Come upstairs with me,” Faye stood, letting the sleeping bag fall to a shrug at her feet.
     Autumn rose and followed through the arched doorway from the living room to the tiny entrance hall, and followed her up the narrow staircase, careful not to slip on the shiny dark wood of the staircase in her fluffy bed socks.  The top landing was small and had framed pictures of Faye and Krystal from when they were in primary school, while third door remained undecorated and stood slightly ajar; Autumn guessed this last one was Faye’s mum’s bedroom.
     “Wait here,” Faye instructed as she opened the door and switched on the light to the poster plastered door on the left.
     She disappeared inside to search for the trove of nail varnishes leaving Autumn on the landing.  Deciding to explore a little bit, Autumn stepped to Faye’s mum’s bedroom doorway, nonchalantly nudging it open with her foot. The door swung open slowly, the light from the hallway shining in a slant to reveal a double bed with leopard print sheets, a wardrobe and a dresser.  The dresser shrouded in shadow was covered in perfume bottles of all different shapes and sizes, hairbrushes, a pair of styling tongs and make up.  There was a faint whiff of musk lingering in the room.  Framed photos hung on the walls displaying Faye’s mum looking twenty years younger smiling with her friends in bars and beaches.  The shaft of light ended at the nightstand in the corner by the bed; there was a lamp and a shiny trinket box, and a small pile of books piled on the nightstand.  Autumn loved to read, and was drawn to the books, curious to see what Faye’s mum read; she thought you could tell a lot about a person from the books on their shelf.
     Faye was still rummaging in her big sister’s untidy bedroom looking for the nail varnishes.  Autumn stepped inside the bedroom and tiptoed across the carpet, feeling like she was intruding a bit.  But she wasn’t going to touch anything, she told herself- she only wanted to see the books which were left out in plain sight anyway, so she didn’t see any harm.  As she got closer she saw there were only four books- two were trashy chick-lit romance  novels, one was a hardback autobiography of some soap actor.  But the last book was pocket-sized tiny at the top of the pile.  It had a flamingo pink cover with a cauldron and cartoon black feline on the cover; the title was “The Little Book of Love Spells.”
     Autumn couldn’t help but pick it up and flick through it.  There was recipes for making bath salts, special candles, combinations of fragrances to blend and more.  There were instructions for rituals to attract love, become desirable, to dream of a true love, or mend a broken heart.  Autumn’s eyes poured over the miniature book, studying it closely.  Its unusual size reminded her of the little impulse buy gifts usually sold on rotating stands in book shops and sometimes in card shops, with titles like “The Little Book of Calm”, or “Reasons Why I Love My Cat”, or else full of soppy-inspirational quotes.
     She checked the back cover, near the bar code where the genre of a book could usually be found printed above the scanning area and RRP.  She expected it to say “Novelty Gift” or “Fantasy Fiction” but instead it said: “Mind, Body, Spirit.”  Of all the times Autumn had been to the bookshop, she had never seen a “Mind, Body, Spirit” section.  To be fair, she only really stuck to the “Young Adult” section, or got Stephen King novels from the “Sci-Fi/Horror” shelves.  This tiny little book belonged to a whole new category she had not even known existed, a genre she wasn’t sure was fact or fantasy.
     “Autumn? Where’d you go?” she heard Faye on the landing and the sound of a door shutting.
     “In here,” Autumn said, walking out of the bedroom.  “I was just looking at the books.”
     Faye rolled her eyes, cradling a shoe box full of glitter and colours.  “You are such a nerd, Autumn.  I found the nail varnishes.”
     The girls went back down the stairs to their nest of sleeping bags and cushions.  As they painted each other’s nails and watched a deranged serial killer slaughter a group of not-so-innocent beautiful twenty-somethings, Autumn’s mind was churning over “The Little Book of Love Spells”.  She was surprised that Faye’s mum was in possession of such a book; Mandy was very practical and down to earth, “straight-talking” as Autumn’s dad would say.  She ran a little cleaning business with her friend Nadine and went to the pub on the weekend after working during the week.  She was a single mother to Krystal and Faye, having broken up with their father when the girls were little, and from what Faye had told her, he didn’t have much to do with Faye or Krystal, except pay maintenance money to her mum.  Autumn thought that this was all logical for Mandy, but the book of magic was a surprise- she wouldn’t’ve thought that someone like Mandy would buy into the idea of casting spells.  But maybe, Autumn conceded, she was being too judgmental; people could surprise you with what they believed.
     Faye had already fallen asleep by the time the credits of the film rolled.  Autumn found the remote amongst the pillows and switched the TV off, thinking about casting spells in the darkness as she drifted off to sleep beside a girl that wouldn’t stand up for her at school but claimed to be her friend.  Autumn nestled deeper into her sleeping bag and thought she could do with some magic in her own life.
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