Chapter 3 : Good-Byes
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The next month slipped quickly by and before I knew it, It was time to say goodbye. I rose with the sun that morning and slipped out of bed into a warm set of clothes before ambling my way down to the shore; strolling down the beach and watching the sun rise and dye the sky a paint pot of purples and yellows and reds. I sank slowly to the soft white sand running my fingers through the fine powder and welcoming in the day with the chirping birds for the last time.
I watched the clear blue tide ebb and flow before making my way back up to the cottage to carefully pack my trunk once again. Tayla was up by the time I got back; hunched over her bowl of cereal pushing it around the bowl rather than eating it. She looked up at me a smiled at me sadly, silently, I walked over to her and but my arms around her.
“I’m going to miss you so much” she sobbed into my shoulder.
I let tears flow freely down my face as I shakily returned her sentiments.
She took a deep breath and scrubbed her hand under her eyes after a few minutes. Before letting go of me and getting up murmuring, “I’ll be right back”
“Okay” I said quietly, wiping any stray tears away from the underside of my eyes and blinking back fresh ones.
Tayla returned then with a small flax bag in her hands. She presented it to me with a timid smile; gently I took it from her and fingered the flax gently.
“What...” I began, looking down at the bag.
“Just open it” she said quietly.
I peered inside and saw a small black box; tenderly I slid the box out and pinched the lid in my fingers. My breath caught as I took in the beautiful greenstone pendant that sat nestled in the white silk. It was an intricately twisted piece of greenstone that crossed over in once in the middle and met at the bottom in a curved never ending line – similar to figure eight. I looked up at Tayla through bleary eyes.
“It’s a Pikorua – the twist” she told me before continuing “The single cross over in the middle represents you and I coming together no matter how far apart we may be, while the crossover represents our bond as friendship in the highs and lows. It has no beginning and no end because it’s eternal. ‘Waiho I te toipoto, Kaua I te toiroa’ Let us stay close and not wide apart” She finished tearily.
At this point, I was bawling. Wordlessly I got up and hugged her tightly.
After a minute or so, Tayla cleared her throat and quietly hiccoughed an excuse to leave. I dabbed my index finger under my eyes; I hated crying in front of people. I took a deep steadying breath and toyed with the pendant again, marvelling at its emerald smoothness before easing it out of its box and slipping the thin black chord over my head. I pulled the slip knots till it hovered above my heart, and the pendant smouldered softly. I smiled to myself pleased that it was meant for me.
I went back to my room to pack the last of my things. Carefully, I cleared out the debris that littered the bottom of my drawers; placing my folded clothes into my trunk. I walked over to my bedside table, picking up my candles, the conch shell and the picture frame of my parents. I ran my fingers over my mother’s kind face smiling out at me – I missed her so much. She was kind, she was sweet; I remember her clean flowery scent like when it’s just rained on a spring morning. I placed the ornate picture frame into a stretch of bubble wrap and lay it safely into my trunk. I heaved a heavy sigh before raising my hands, muttering a quick levitation spell and making my way toward the headmistress’s office.
I knocked shyly on the Professor Araki’s office before entering.
“Ah Lucina” she said smiling warmly
“Hello Professor” I mumbled, shuffling my feet awkwardly.
“There are few things I must talk to you about before you leave” she began as I swallowed nervously.
“Yes?” I said locking my eyes on the floor.
“Firstly, I have recently received this from your aunt” she said, I flicked my eyes up at her to see her holding a long floaty white quill that quivered in the insignificant breeze.
“This is a portkey, it will take you from your home tomorrow afternoon to just outside the small village your aunt lives in” She said offering it to me – I took it gently with a muttered thank-you.
“Secondly I wish to present to you with this” she said holding out a woven flax bag – inside the bag was another bag and inside that one was another each decorated with a small Maori carving. “They represent the three baskets of knowledge, I am giving them to you in hope that you remember the importance of knowledge and that you stay grounded” she continued with a small smile.
“Thank – You” I said reverently.
Tayla burst through the door at that point panting and sighing with relief when she saw me.
“Oh good. I thought I’d missed you” she announced.
“No, Miss Stone will be leaving shortly, but there is one last thing you should know” our headmistress said seriously.
I narrowed my eyes warily and flicked my eyes over to my best friend who wore the same expression.
“There is an impending doom lingering over the UK. Dark forces are at work at this very moment – and are constantly growing stronger. So I implore you to be cautious.” She said, her blue eyes burning.
“I will professor” I said, uncertain of what else I was supposed to say.
Tayla had worry etched deeply into her face as I cast her reassuring weak smile – which she ignored.
“Well, you had better be on your way” the professor said after an instant; raising her hands gracefully so that my trunk and Puhi’s empty cat cage floated into the wide fire place ready for my departure.
I nodded before turning to Tayla and was promptly winded by a hug.
“Promise me you’ll write.” She said shakily.
“Every week” I promised.
“Okay” she said unsteadily, her eyes watering.
“Okay” I mimicked, stepping into the fire and grabbing a handful of shimmering silver floo powder.
“Goodbye and Good Luck” Professor Araki said, smiling broadly.
“Bye Luce’, love you” Tayla said, tears now slipping slowly down her face
“Bye, love you too. “ I said before forcefully throwing the floo powder at my feet and announcing my home address.
The last thing I saw was the smiling, bleary face of my best friend blur out of sight at the airy green flames whisked me away.
I stepped out of the fireplace brushing myself off onto the carpet. (Puhi had bolted and disappeared; she hated the floo network). I heaved my trunk onto the ugly green carpet that Naomi had chosen when she’s redecorated my parents’ home.
Before I could retreat to my room a loud tutting caught my attention.
Naomi stood in the doorway clutching a glass in her taloned hand.
“You’ve ruined the carpet” she said angrily.
I stared down at the revolting carpet to see a fine dusty powder covering it.
“It’s an improvement if you ask me” I stated with a shrug.
That did it.
Naomi advanced on me, her cold eyes flashing with anger. She grabbed my forearm and pulled me roughly toward her placing her lips near my ear.
“I will be so delighted to see you gone; I hope you never come back. You are a freak and were it up to me you never would come back; from that freak show carnival you call a school or anywhere.”
I yanked my arm out her grip heatedly and turned on my heel.
“Believe me, if it weren’t for my father I wouldn’t see you either” I said coolly over my shoulder as I walked to my room.
My room has pretty much empty; just the basic things – a bed, a set of mahogany drawers and a desk I’d out grown. There were a few personal touches here and there; a feathered russet dream catcher which hung against my headboard and a small pink plant pot figurine. I picked up the little ornament and studied it. It had a small upturned pink pot plant for a body with a four small string limbs attached to its base and sides, a small wooden head topped with light curly brown hair smiled warmly at me while ‘no rain, no rainbows’ shined positively from its chest in cute script. My mother had given me this on my tenth birthday – it had been the last thing she’d given to me.
As I placed it into my trunk my father knocked quietly at the door.
“Oh, hi daddy”
“Hi sweetie, how are you?”
“Yeah, good. You?” I said distractedly as took my folded clothes out of my drawers and slipped them into my trunk.
“Yeah, good. How was school?” he asked, watching me move around as he took a seat on my bed.
“It was good. Got everything checked off, Professor Araki gave me this - I said holding up the white quill – that’ll take me to Aunt Belinda's tomorrow afternoon and I’ve said my goodbyes” I finished sadly, running my fingers across the necklace Tayla had given me.
“That’s pretty” he said noticing my movement “Speaking of parting gifts...” he trailed off, getting off my bed.
He returned shortly afterward with a long red box and a long thin envelope wrapped up in his large hands.
“This is for you. I was told to give it to you on your eighteenth birthday but being that this is a milestone of sorts for you. I’m giving it to you to take away and open when you think you’re ready. Inside this envelope is a letter from your mother.” He said sadly, before handing both to me.
“Thank you, daddy” I said dropping the shirt in my hands and walking over to hug him where he sat on his perch on my bed.
He hugged me back tightly.
“I’ll miss you Kiddo”
“I’ll miss you too daddy”
* * *
After an early morning of biting my tongue around Naomi and spending a much needed day with my father; the afternoon seemed to surprise us and suddenly it was time to leave.
The long white quill that I’d been given began to emit a bright blue glow which indicated it was almost time.
I stood in the lounge, holding my father’s hand and the quill in the other for a few minutes before releasing it after all he wouldn’t be coming with me and it was fast approaching 5:12. My trunk and Puhi were going separately by floo, directly to my aunt's house.
So this was goodbye. I took in the living room that I’d grown up in, taken my first steps, met Puhi as a kitten, played, laughed and cried for the last time.
“It’s almost time daddy” I said sadly, tears beginning to trickle down my cheek.
He crushed me in a bear hug for the last time before releasing me and stepping well away.
“I love you, remember, the sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you” he smiled a watery smile a dabbed his red rimmed eyes.
“I love you too” I said unsteadily “Goodbye, Daddy”
“Goodbye, Lucina” he said.
I felt a tug somewhere behind my navel propel me into blackness leaving New Zealand behind.
When the light reappeared, it was dim as I felt myself slam painfully into the hard earth.
I picked myself up, coughing and dusting dirt off of my jumper. A large sign announced the beginning of the town boundary in neat elegant script:
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