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Emma Rae never thought twice about the sparrow that continuously visited her bedroom window, yet behind that sparrow lays a friend who knowingly held all of the secrets of a past Emma never realized she had. After being lured into the forest by a mysterious song Emma has only heard in her dreams, she comes to uncover a world that is only spoken about in fairy tales. The Neverafter is a world of Elementals; creatures that are a hybrid breed of humans and animals. The three types – Earth, Air, and Water – can take on any form of animal. However, it is nearly impossible for Elementals and humans to live safely in the other’s world, but then, why is Emma the exception? With newly acquainted friends, family, and enemies, Emma discovers the truth behind the Neverafter, and what she can do to help its inevitable fate brought upon by the Dark Queen Noxumbra and her son. As this fast-paced fantastical tale unravels, Emma uncovers the friendship, betrayal, and past she would have never imagined existed in her reality.
Kevin was all decked out in a sleek black suit, a red rose pinned to his chest, holding one out for me to tie around my wrist.
“Very traditional,” I commented with a grin.
He slipped it on me and took me by the arm, leading me to his car.
“Since when did you buy this?”
“Didn’t,” he smirked, “Borrowed it from the parents. Hope they don’t mind,” he added with a twisted smile.
We met Sally in her backyard which was a plethora of flowers and nature galore. I absolutely loved her backyard aka enormous garden and we had spent plenty of afternoons picking the blueberries from the bushes that lined the side of her house. Although not overly jubilant at Kevin’s presence, she hurried me onto the cement pathway leading out the back gate to pose for pictures her mom was already snapping.
Then we got a few shots of Kevin and I, then Sally and her date, and let Kevin drive us to the school.
The dance was just as we expected it; not a waste of time, but definitely not the time of our lives. I secretly had to confess I enjoyed getting dressed up and fancy for a night, it wasn’t usually my nature, therefore the night was not a regret.
Sally had won homecoming queen, which was a story all in itself. Without trying to sound bitter, I truly did not think Sally would win compared to the rest of the girls on the court, and they were utterly disgraced to say the least. Not that Sally was ugly or mean or unintelligent, but merely because the other girls went out of their way to pretend to be nice to everyone. They figured if they set up a front to get people to like them, their chances of success would highly maximize in events such as homecoming. Sally, on the other hand, was rather blunt and sometimes even brutal. I imagine, though, that these qualities are exactly what sets her apart from the rest, and why people are naturally drawn to her for her advice and opinions. Sometimes, as I have pointed out to her on occasions, it definitely gets to her head, because attention is something she has always been the center of.
Which brought me to the conclusion that Sally and I are an odd pair to begin with. I was not loud, exuberant, outspoken, or voiced my opinions on many occasions. Alone with close friends and relatives, I could definitely be, but in school, I never made those features a priority. When Sally first began talking to me, I thought maybe it was a prank, until she genuinely contacted me and wanted to hang out.
We were waiting in front of the school with a large group of kids discussing the night’s events, waiting for Kevin to pull around with his car, when I noticed an unusual commotion. I peered over towards the parking lot to find Kevin and two unrecognizable boys, decently larger than Kevin, arguing over something. I attempted to drown out the sound of my classmates, and with failing, decided to take a few steps towards Kevin, to make sure he wasn’t in any danger.
As I began to walk, Sally called after me. “Where are you going?” Her smile had begun to fade and all of the people whose attention was previously on her switched to me. Cheeks growing red, I waved it off.
“I just want to see something.”
“Stay with me, Emma!” she begged with a pouting face, a few chuckles erupting from the boys nearby.
I heard the boys saying, “. . . your girlfriend now?” and “A guardian, eh?” but I couldn’t decipher what those statements could mean and continued to venture further. When Kevin noticed me, I automatically read the grave expression and caught the subtle shake of his head urging me to turn around. Frozen in step, I continued to watch the two boys close in on him.
I was about to sprint towards my friend when Sally came up behind me, forcibly turning me to face her. “What are you looking at?”
Before I could answer, my heart dropped at the sound of a familiar song. I quickly scanned the perimeter and noticed my sparrow friend circling around in the air, edging towards the darkening forest.
“That’s the sparrow,” I unintentionally blurted out.
“What? Come on; let’s go see what’s taking Kevin so long.”
But Kevin and the two boys were nowhere to be found.
As if being pulled by an invisible string, my legs began to carry me across the street to enter the forest where I heard the sparrow’s tune slowly fading away.
“Emma, don’t even think about it! Are you crazy? It’s a bird . . .” With that, she cut off short, as if experiencing an epiphany.
I turned to see her being dragged in the opposite directions by boys and girls jabbering about “homecoming queen and king pictures.” That was my only chance to escape.
As the song became more prominent, words began struggling their way into my head. I thought I was hearing them inside of me, but in reality, I actually heard voices singing it. I picked up my pace, yearning to hear the lyrics of a song that came to me in several variations.
Everything has a parallel
Everything has a rhyme
Everything has a meaning
Only if you take the time
The dirt beneath your body
And the wind throughout your hair
Can never reveal the wonders
Of a world not really there
To find it is forbidden
Unless it’s you we seek
To live here is unreasonable
If you want your heart to beat
So quit your thoughts and ponders
To turn and go back home
Or keep to the path unraveled
To seek what you’ve never known
The words . . . the rhythm . . . the voices . . . it was all from my dreams; excerpts of the song audible to my ear in reality instead of my unconscious mind. Although advised to turn around, there is not a reasonable cause that could get me to leave this path where everything seemed to be rapidly adding up. The sparrow that led me here, the pattern of its feathers, its beautiful sing-song chirps; it has to be the one that visits me at my window. That and the unexplainable music that has found its way to me in several different ways led me to the decision to keep on the trail of mystery and potentially lead me to answers I never knew there were questions to. Holding my breath and hiking up my red, flowing dress, I wandered deeper into the darkening forest where the temperature was easily ten degrees below what it was in the city.
My arms began to prickle from the cold and my tangled hair very easily had a few twigs and spiders caught up in the disaster and I nearly considered turning around, dressing in appropriate attire, and heading back here later, but who knew if it would be the same. I didn’t want to take my chances only to throw on a jacket. I thought I heard continued voices in the atmosphere, and had to completely stop moving to understand what it was saying over the snapping and crunches of leaves beneath my heels.
Dumbfounded, I continued to stumble ahead, contemplating what it meant. Only then is when I actually considered this all to be a trap; a very convincing, drawn out trick to get me here by some 40-year-old pedophile who had been stalking me. Knowing my imagination always seemed to run wild, I knew I could have easily over thought all of this nonsense and only at that moment, when it was probably already too late, realized I might not make it out of this jumble of trees alive.
But then I figured, I already made it this far, and I couldn’t go back without knowing the truth, so I began to sing the same song that revealed itself on several occasions in my dreams, what the sparrow whistled late at night, and what this disembodied voice clearly sang to me in reality. When I was near the closing, the world seemed to be spinning. I thought maybe it was lack of oxygen because my heart was beating so rapidly, anxious to know what was about to happen, and frightened for my well-being.
I stood still suddenly, continuing to sing, and eventually found myself sitting on the dirty, cold ground, with the sparrow singing along with me in the background. Then, everything went black.
I wrote Neverafter in 28 days in November of 2011. For the annual NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) contest, you have to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I had already had ideas mapped out for Neverafter, but hadn't begun writing it yet. I decided to use this idea and the words kind of just came to me. I am very proud of this and hope to make it into a series (seeing as I left the finish open-ended).
I originally was only going to self-publish the Psychokinesis trilogy, but when NaNoWriMo told me they were working with CreateSpace and would give me five free copies of my book if I published it through them, I had to jump at the opportunity. I had ten days to edit the entire story and have Kyla create yet another cover. I figured I'd be on my own with this one, considering I published this in the summer when we aren't dorming together, but upon throwing the idea by her, she was all too ecstatic to help me, and for that, I am grateful! This flower was painted by Kyla with watercolor, it's beautiful!
I love Alice-in-Wonderland type stories. I am obsessed with the idea of traveling to other mysterious, beautiful worlds, and because of that, Neverafter is not the first world I've ever created. I really like the idea and hope to expand from it to continue the series.
Neverafter is about 270 pages and is available on Barnes & Noble's website, Amazon, and CreateSpace for $10.99. It is also available on the Kindle and Nook for $0.99.