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A Far Away Magic
Author:Amy Wilson & Helen Crawford-White

‘Yes,’ I say. I look at the fire, so that I don’t have to face him when I lie, but it catches my confusion and roars, flames shooting up the chimney, sparks flying out in all directions.

‘You need better control of it all,’ he grumbles, as I tread on a couple of burning embers. ‘The house picks up on your mood; you should know that by now. And you can’t fight the raksasa with fire. They’re part made of it. So you’ll need to show your game face. Show me, Bavar!’

I stick my tongue out at him. His mouth twitches.

He’s not completely humourless, my grandfather. He just tries to hide it.

‘. . . and I’ve no idea what business Aoife has, bringing up notions of catalysts. Why would some insignificant VILLAGE girl be a catalyst?’ he blusters, almost as if speaking to himself. ‘How could she possibly be connected to us here at all?’

‘Connected?’

‘Can’t have a catalyst unless there’s a connection, can you, boy? What’s she got to do with it all, eh?’

I stare at him, tired and confused for about the billionth time today, and he stares back, unblinking. And then the window blows open with a bang.

Hot, fetid air pushes in through the room. Huge wings beat over the house, darkness obscuring the stars. Raksasa. However much I shore up the barrier, it won’t stop them getting through the rift.

‘Get out there! Make it go!’

‘It will go,’ I say, sitting on the edge of the desk and curling my fingers around the polished wood. I don’t look at him. I focus on the striped rug by the hearth. Orange, brown, yellow, blue. Orange, brown, yellow, blue . . .

‘Bavar!’

‘It can’t do anything,’ I say, keeping my voice level. ‘The barrier is solid; I’ve been working on it, like you said. It can’t go anywhere. If I go out there now, I’ll only antagonize it, make it worse.’

‘You cannot just hide away in here!’ Grandfather flexes his chest, making the pillar wobble. ‘Bavar, I command you!’


I swallow hard. ‘It’s my decision.’

The beating wings are like a heartbeat, a fluttering, broken heartbeat that speaks only of bad things coming. I wait until they quieten. Until the creature heads back to its home beyond the rift.

‘You see?’ I raise my head. ‘We just have to wait them out.’

He snorts. ‘You must show them your strength. Show them that there is a master here, who will fight with all of his might, as I did once. You may not stop them all that way, but you can make them FEAR you, and fewer will try. You cannot think just to hide in here forever.

‘Not forever. Just for now.’

He isn’t content, and we both know he’s right – the day is coming when I’ll have to face them, whether I want to or not.





I think I might have to move in with Bavar. No. I don’t mean that, obviously. But maybe I could put up a tent on that patch of grass, just be there in the peace overlooking the town. Things feel OK there. Unchangeable.

Everything here is change, and I never liked change. Mary’s macaroni cheese is made with all the best intentions, and orange cheese, and it’s so wrong – it sticks in my mouth and makes my nose tingle.

‘Come on. It can’t be that bad,’ says Mum’s voice, amused. ‘She probably thought it would be comforting.’

But it isn’t, I shout in my head. It’s all wrong, it doesn’t have bacon in it, and it’s not stuck in mounds that you need a knife to cut.

I never said it was all perfect. Dad was away a lot, with his research, and Mum was pretty busy herself, most of the time. And she wasn’t much of a cook. But that was OK. It was normal. This is just wrong. The sounds are wrong too. Not so much of the chatter, more of the fork-scraping-plate sort. The floral curtains have been drawn and the carpet is vanilla and I feel like I’ve been imprisoned in a cake and I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe here.

They’re too quiet.

Pete clears his throat.

‘So. How was your day, Angel?’

‘OK.’

I stick a row of peas on to the fork tines; the pop of green skin is satisfying.

‘Do you like the school? Our two were always . . .’ He frowns. ‘Well, they seemed happy enough there. Didn’t they, Mary?’

‘Have to go,’ I mumble, lurching up from the table. ‘Homework.’

‘I’ll bring a cup of tea in a bit,’ says Mary behind me.

I imagine turning and letting out the scream that’s on my chest, shocking her out of her tea-making comfort. But I don’t. I head to my room, and I think about how Bavar suits his house, and how I don’t suit this one. And then I pull the battered old suitcase out from under the bed, and the smell when I open it is of home and . . .

help

I take the posters out, and the ball of Blu-Tack, and I wage a war on all the pastel pretty of this room, and it takes me a while and some of the time I can’t really see straight because of my traitorous crying eyes but I do it and I keep doing it and then it’s done. I shove the candle in the skull on to the desk, and when Mary brings the tea, her mouth tightens a bit, but she doesn’t say anything, and in a minute she brings matches, and a box of tissues, and she sits with me on the bed, looking up at it all, not touching me, just sitting there.


The new school is smaller than my old one. Smaller, and older. I kind of like it, the way the corridors tangle so you never quite know where you’re going. Plenty of places to skulk. I wait for Bavar by his locker in the morning. Every so often, as the second hand ticks on the clock in the corridor, I tell myself I’m being stupid, like some crazy stalker fangirl, but I wait anyway, and when he arrives with a crash of the double doors, I have to stop myself smiling at the sight of him. I don’t know why. Except I did think about it a bit last night and I reckon probably it’s because seeing him is like proof that I’m not round the bend.

I didn’t imagine it all last year. It wasn’t burglars.

I just need to work out how it’s all connected.

‘No basket today?’ I ask.

He gives me a blank look, as if he’s never heard of a basket before, and then the bell rings and kids start to swarm around us. Well. They start to swarm around me; he’s got some kind of invisible barrier around him, so they just avoid the space where he’s standing entirely. After a second, fed up with stares and jostles, I move into his space.

‘What are you doing?’ he protests, as I shove right up against him.

‘Hiding,’ I say.

I suppose it’s not the most dignified way to walk into a classroom, stuck tight against the side of the strangest boy in school, but it kind of works. Nobody looks up as we enter, nobody notices as we sit down. I mean, I don’t sit in his lap, or anything, just pull a desk up close to his and sit as close as I can.

And then I see it, right there, though he’s ducked his head down and his hair is hiding most of his face. He’s smiling.

‘Why don’t they see you?’ I whisper at him.

‘They don’t want to,’ he says.

I pull out my folder, plant it on the desk in front of my face.

‘But why?’

He gives me a long look. His dark eyes glitter.

‘Why do you think?’

‘Because you’re different?’

He nods.