Hidden Flame – Chapter One

by Feb 6, 2003Stories

I have always known I was different from others. In another century, my appearance alone would have been enough to convict me as a witch: long, wavy auburn hair, pale skin, with violet eyes and a birthmark shaped like a six sided star on my right shoulder. Throughout my childhood, I felt different, somehow; I was withdrawn, quiet. I remember, even now, feeling detached from that early part of my life. Perhaps it was because I did not know my parents: perhaps I was silly childhood fantasy; but I felt that I was destined for something more, something greater than others. I felt that I had a purpose in life, a duty to perform. And that I did not belong here, in this modern world of technology and deforestation, living on the brink of atomic war. Terra, the scientists called Earth, now that we had discovered other earths, other planets with intelligent life; and it was rapidly declining. Its doom was near. Many will not believe this story, but it is true, every word. Do not doubt me.


Maybe not knowing my origins was what inspired me to dig deep into the past. I was hungry for knowledge of the world before the Scientific revolution-the world in which my parents must have lived. I did not know them. I was found wandering near the shores of the Celtic Sea, alone and frightened. No one knew where I was from, or who my parents were. I was two, then, and could not speak any language they could understand. Nobody claimed me, nobody reported a missing child. They named me Gwyn, and I finally ended up with an adoptive family in America, Mr. and Mrs. Jones. They were wealthy people, and kind, in their way. Unable to have children, they adopted several; but I was, by far, the most peculiar. I did not run and jump and play like the others, but was content to sit and read quietly, or stare into space. I had strange, almost precognitive dreams, and an uncanny ability to “read” people: judge their honesty and personality by picking up a myriad of tiny, seemingly inconsequential details and fitting them together to determine weather a person was worthy of my trust. At the age of nine, I was gladly sent to St. James School for the Gifted. I am sure Mr. and Mrs. Jones were glad to rid themselves of such a strange child. Two things were to happen at this new school that would shape the rest of my life. First, I met a girl named Anna. We soon became inseparable. She introduced me to the world of the authors of the past: Lewis, Tolkien, Lawhead… all fueled my desire to find out more, to discover the cause of the problems our planet was now facing. I read about Narnia, about Middle Earth, in a desperate attempt to find out what they had that we didn’t. Both worlds interested me, but it was Arda that I really loved. Anna and I sat up late into the night, sometimes with her older brother Chris, discussing the finer points of elvish genealogies, reading aloud, or studying Quenya and Sindarin. We spent almost the same amount of time discussing Tolkien as we did trigonometry. The only other thing of import was a class I took, Celtic Studies. I was curious about my roots, and I thought that by learning about the place where I was found, I could learn about me. So, I spent my days at St. James in quiet solitude. And then, I graduated…

Anna and I decided to take a trip to the city to celebrate our graduation. The trip to the city would take a day, then two for shopping and sightseeing, and back home again. Then, at the last minute, I got sick, a 24 hour virus. After some arguing, I convinced Anna to go on without me, arranging to follow in a day. I spent most of the day sleeping in the apartment Mr. Jones had let for me for the summer. I was woken that afternoon by a thunderstorm. The sky darkened and thunder cracked as white-hot lightning split the sky. I was dizzy, disoriented. My vision was blurry: it seemed as if the room was shifting. I heard a sound, faintly. I realized, after a moment, that someone was knocking on the door.

“Come in,” I called, struggling to stand. I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts. The door opened as the rain began to pour down. Chris was standing there, the look on his face dark. “What’s wrong?” I asked him, trying, and failing, to focus on his face.

“Anna was in a wreck. She’s hurt badly.” The world slammed sharply into focus.

“What!” I exclaimed, disbelief filling my face. “What happened?” Suddenly, my vision faded. I knew, without knowing how, that Anna was dead. There was a lurch, as if something had been in delicate balance and one end had suddenly been dropped. I looked down at my feet, and instead of carpet, I saw heaving waves. I turned to look at Chris, but he was only a pale image against the vivid night sky. I began to slip, into the water. I grabbed at Chris’ pale form and fell into the water.


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