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Learning to Shine by Porcelain
Chapter 1: .:One:.
Poppy Morrison, Eleven.
The pretty poppy red glided softly over my lips, their pale colour growing vivid instantly as I smiled at myself in the mirror, the red spreading small dots onto my teeth. It was my very first time ever using lipstick and in an instant I felt so grown up.
Then it did something I had never seen my mother’s lipstick do. It hardened. A glossy, plastic covering keeping the garish staining red just as filled with colour as the moment I put it on. No amount of scrubbing, scraping or soap would remove it. It took three whole weeks before it began to chip and crack away.
I was seven and I had just learnt one of my most important lessons;
Nail polish is definitely not lipstick!
It would be fair to say I got teased. But then, that was me. The one who made mistakes and got things wrong. I got to learn that maybe that was my talent in life. Just a lone quite extraordinarily average oddball in a family full of geniuses. I was the one people forgot, or, if they did remember, it was always for the wrong reasons. I could have been anybody, but, instead I was a nobody. I wasn’t even popular or quirky to make up for it.
I admit, I gave up pretty early on trying to make myself a talent. It wasn’t for lack of effort but it just seemed that my genes defied even the most basic instinct for this whole genius lark. I suppose that being plain was my destiny. An odd form of genius in its own right ... at least, that is what I keep telling myself.
It didn’t really sit very well with my parents. If you knew them, hell, if you had even briefly conversed with them, then I really would have to tell you they were disappointed in me. It was unheard off that a Morrison child could be average. Nineteen generations of Morrison’s and every one of them had a talent of sorts. They tried not to let it show though, treating me just the same as the others but those wistful glances were never missed. I suppose that was one of the reasons why, as the years moved on, I became more self sufficient. I revelled in my own company and did my best to avoid any family ‘fun’ time. The excuses became easier and easier to create and my parents more and more willing to accept. Win-win situation, I guess.
With eleven years of getting used to the idea of being normal, of being as average as they come made me well within my rights to burn the letters. Rising and making a fuss was simply not an option. It gave them exactly what they wanted. However, by the time I was receiving twelve letters in one day I decided to confront the situation. My siblings were tossers. They liked to laugh at me and for the most I took it, but this, well, it was going way too far and hitting my exactly where it hurt. My plainness.
“All right you lot!” I announced one morning during breakfast – an oddly calm and organised time considering our size and passion for teasing one another – “It isn’t funny any more! Stop with these letters or else I’ll ... I’ll, well, I don’t know what I’ll do but it will be bad! It just isn’t funny any more. You aren’t being fair!” The blank stares I receives were not what I had been expecting. Laughter, maybe, even a disappointment in the fact the game was over, certainly not the confusion they mirrored in one another. Dropping the bundle of un-opened letters onto the table I watched them scrabbling about for one, each one intent on reading the pieces of paper that had gotten me so worked up.
Andy’s laugh was the first and most definitely the loudest. I would be surprised if half the village hadn’t heard him going at it like that and I was not impressed. My lips pressed into a tight line and my eyes narrowed as I tipped my head slightly, pushing my nose high into the air. I really hated it when they laughed at me. “Who ever came up with this one is a genius all right! Maybe you and him were switched at birth. It's brilliant! You have a book list even” his words were lost as the laughter over took him engulfing the rest of what he had wanted to say.
My other siblings were joining in with him, all at different intervals indicating their reading speeds, each one finding it just as hilarious as the previous had. My face flushed vividly, dark enough to cover over all my freckles and erase all indication of my normally pale complexion. They laughed me even when I hadn’t personally done anything to laugh at. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my siblings. Each and every one of them and it isn’t like I don’t know that they love me back, it’s just, I wish I could be more like them. When they point it out, it hurts, it highlights every little bit of me that screams I must have been adopted, and hell, I had had my fair few of ‘you were adopted’ jokes in my short eleven years.
I was faulty as far as a Morrison went.
My teeth found my lip and I fidgeted on the spot, “so none of you lot have been sending these?” I asked, half wishing them to be real though knowing it couldn’t be. I couldn’t think who else would bother so persistently. The Jenkinson boys down the street didn’t like any of us but they were neither creative nor dedicated enough to pull a prank like this one and there really was no-one else that would be bothered enough to put the effort into finding out who actually I was.
The hardest thing was it all seemed to fit. It explained the moments of fear or anger or hurt that odd things happened in, the mirror that simply shattered when arguing with Samuel. Or, when Mia and Sophie wouldn’t let me join in with their game saying that I wasn’t old enough or smart enough to know the answers, the way that the huge stack of dad’s papers had violently blown off of the table, even though all the windows and doors to the room had been shut and the air outside was barely even breathing.
I fidgeted under their scrutiny, my body suddenly feeling much too big for me, like a hand-me-down jumper that just wouldn’t stay still on your shoulders. “It isn’t funny!” I stated defiantly, my nose tipping ever so slightly higher into the air as my hands came crashing down on my hips, “they know stuff about me. You just look at the address bit, even has my room on it and everything. Poppy Morrison, Little attic room, see!” I flipped one of the letters to show where the address had been written, my face still flaming.
Then, it finally clicked. To say they all sprouted genius genes they were pretty slow on the uptake. The rush, however, was enough to make me jump at the sudden influx of offers thrown my way. Only catching segments of the conversation;
“... if anyone so much as touches you ...”,
“ ... a new computer system that can track...”,
“... can do some good harm ...”,
“... promise you no-one will get to you, i’ll ...”,
“...little sister, how dare they?!”
My pose relaxed slightly, my nose returning from its elevated height. It was moments like these that I remembered just how much I love my siblings. How much that they, despite all their teasing and banter, love me too and would do anything for me. The smile slipped onto my face and it seemed the research began, everyone abandoning their breakfast to start work on deciphering the letters. Each intent on solving the mystery. It was like a competition with them. It always was a competition.
Our, -and I use the word ‘our’ in the lightest of sense of the word as I did very little for the cause – attempts were unnecessary, however. Just two days passed when the influx of letters stopped. Instead of letters on my doorstep I found a woman, her face hard and stoic, wishing to speak with me. Me! These kind of people - the smart looking ones that scream cleaverness simply from the way they stand - never came for me despite their frequency at our door. She said her name was Professor Clearwater, she held a single letter in her hands and she told me some of the most amazing things. Things I had scarcely even dreamed about. The first thing she told me, though, was the most amazing. The letters were, quite simply, not in any way, shape or form, a prank, joke or mean spirited trick.
I was a witch and expected to attend a school for magic. The news was certainly anything but ordinary and things that were anything but ordinary just didn’t happen to me. I was as ordinary as they came. Little Plain Poppy. The girl who tried hard. The sodding poster child for the phrase “it’s not the winning that count’s, it’s the taking part!”
My arm was black and blue by the end of the day from the amount of pinches I had given myself.
A/N: I started this story about a year ago, however, I never really got it off the ground and haven't really written since. So I thought with the new year coming I'd give it another shot!
I know there really isn't too much to this chapter, I just thought it was an important starting point to understand Poppy with more clarity. :)
I really hope you guys like it!!