Bite, Blaze, and Enchantment - Zara Zenia

Chapter One


As I sit in my room, I'm not feeling myself. In fact, it's been a while since I've felt like anyone in particular; like a person at all. Lately, I'll admit that I have been starting to wonder if I was ever really meant to live on this planet. That line of thought might have been a little spurred on by my older cousin's outlandish claims. The ones about her going to another planet. It is all pure fantasy, of course. Still... I could not help but imagine what it might be like to be swept away to an alien world where things like magic seemed possible. Where I could forget about all the hurt and sadness that this world, planet Earth, the only world that has any life on it as far as I am concerned, has given me.

I am lying in my bed with most of the lights off. Just a small lamp to light the room a little. It is late afternoon I think. Lately, I have been having trouble telling the difference between the times of day. That's what happens when you don't have any kind of sleep routine. When you don't really see the sun a whole lot.

Then my solemn contemplation is cut short when I hear something in the other room. Mom's talking to a visitor. I get out of my twin bed, amble through the dim and dingy bedroom that's become my personally allocated prison. And I slowly open the door without making any sound. I can see my mother in the living room, seated on our three seater couch. Beside her is my older cousin, Katie. It's a shock to see her initially, since she has been away so much. I almost call out her name with excitement; it's rare that anything happens anymore that actually makes me feel elated. Or just feel anything at all.

I will admit I am embarrassed just to watch the scene unfold. My own mother is making me seem like a lost cause, a charity case. Someone to take pity upon. Even worse, my cousin Katie is being thrown in the middle of a difficult situation.

"You can't be serious..."

It seems like the tenth time Katie has repeated the same thing. Not word for word, but with the exact same meaning. Like she was trying to get the same point across to my mother.

Finally, she says, "Your daughter is not cut out to go to Etwan."

Etwan? But that place isn't real. Why is Mom asking her to take me away to a made-up place?

Mom looks crushed, her hope that I might somehow find happiness on the far away planet gone. But what if I can go there and live such a thrilling experience? Find love and more too – just like Katie idd? It doesn't seem like a bad idea really. Too bad it is just fantasy.

"No..." Katie repeats, although hurt is evident in her voice as she says the words. Just as much as she could see the hurt on Mom’s face. "Etwan really is not the type of place for someone like your daughter. I'm so sorry. I just—"

Before my cousin can finish her sentence, I cringe at what happens next. My own mother is down on her knees like a groveling beggar. "I know Stephanie is only nineteen. But you have to admit that going to that planet changed your life in so many ways. I can tell that you're thinking about it. You know it would be good for her, don't you? You're a good girl. Please don't let my daughter continue suffering for something she didn't do. Ever since her father's death—"

"Mom, please!" I speak up finally. I've come out of my room, swung the door open in a huff. Immediately, I regret doing so. The move has left me out in the open, exposed. Two sets of eyes fix on me with judgment. I suddenly feel very unsafe and wish I was back in my cocoon in my bedroom, blanket wrapped around me, face nestled in the pillow. Head buried in so much proverbial sand to shield me from the harshness of reality. The shitty hand that life has dealt me.

"Stephanie!" Mom exclaims, but not with a reprimanding tone. She seems overtly embarrassed. "I, I had no idea you were listening. I thought you were asleep."

"So you just wanted to talk about me behind my back? Is that it? What on Earth are you talking about anyway? Sending me away to some