Soulstice (The Souled Series)

BOOK: Soulstice (The Souled Series)
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SOULSTICE

Alyx's Story

 

 

 

 

 

A companion novella to
SOULED

Soulstice is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific living persons or experiences. The business and locations, however, are in Sandpoint, Idaho, and are only included in this novel as locales and have not endorsed the opinions/imagination of the author.

 

The opinions expressed in this fictional piece are solely the opinion of the author. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish all materials in this book.

 

 

Soulstice

All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2013 Diana Murdock

 

This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. Your support of author rights is appreciated.

 

FROM BAD TO WORSE

 

How the two of them ever got to
the point of falling in love, I’ll never understand. The differences between my mom and dad eventually yawned into an abyss so wide and so deep that it threatened to swallow the family. My mom never stopped trying to keep it together. She pretended to believe in my dad’s church and what it stood for. She even went as far as to perform her rituals in secret. Honestly, though, it did no good. It was like trying to stop an avalanche from pouring down a mountain, because Dad knew her façade was all bullshit. He openly resented the fact that she refused to give up her Wicca practice and fought back in his own screwed up way.

For as long as I could remember,
Dad had spent more time in bars than with us, holding his worn-out Bible with one hand and taking shots of whiskey with the other. He emptied our bank account faster than he and my mom could fill it. She did the best she could to budget our money, but Dad’s spending habits were hard to keep up with.

So
, to bring in extra cash, Mom made candles and sage bundles and sold them to the neighbors. Certain that the scented candles were somehow tainted with evil spirits, my father forbid her to burn them in the den, which was the one room in the house that needed the scent of a candle the most. The sickly stench of stale alcohol saturated the walls and blanketed the furniture and carpet. I was too embarrassed to have anyone over to my house. I never knew when or what shape Dad would be in when he came home, but more often than not, he would pass out in the den after hours of drinking. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone seeing him like that. People in small towns like ours talked too much about everyone’s business but their own.

Imagine opening up a box and never knowing what was going to be inside. That’s what my childhood was like. Rainbows and unicorns one day and gargantuan tarantulas the next.
I’d withdraw into my shell for days on end, preferring my own head space to the rocky footing of my life.

But Mom was always looking out for me.
She taught me to look for the consistency outside my window - the simple concepts, things I could count on - like the perfection of the seasons and the cycles of the moon. She let me watch her perform rituals and taught me simple manipulations of the elements, things that could be duplicated over and over.

Back then I was in
a hurry to grow up so I could do the rituals on my own. At ten years old, I wanted to be just like her. Skilled and talented. Unwavering in my faith. Steady and strong.

But at the first real, serious test,
at the moment where maturity, skill, and levelheadedness were needed, I failed.

Horribly.

After that, m
y mom no longer had the burden of hiding our practices from my dad – for a couple reasons.

One,
I ran from everything she taught me, by tucking my budding talent into the darkest corners of my mind, hoping it would never be discovered.

Two, Dad was dead.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

After Dad died, s
taying in the obscure, Bible-thumping town in Illinois where I was born wasn’t an option. We’d lost our home and we had no friends to speak of. Our only family was Aunt Sarah, who lived a few hours away.

W
e packed the car with what little we had and drove across the country, leaving behind the life we’d known, along with memories of Dad. A yellow highlighted line snaked its way across the grids of the map and settled in Sandpoint, Idaho. I had no idea why Mom had chosen there, of all places. Wasn’t one town just as bad as the other? I only knew the name of Sandpoint through a few discussions I’d overheard between my mom and Aunt Sarah when she would visit. Aunt Sarah said there was something special about that particular town. Something about a bridge. Something about a vortex or Christ grid.

Whatever the reason,
I didn’t care. As long as it took us far from the life that was never normal, away from a life that had me living in the shadows, afraid of the next fight that would have my brother, Jesse, and me hiding.

“Mom?”

“Hmm?” She’d stopped humming along to the Rolling Stones that played on the stereo and waited for me to talk.

“Are Jesse and I going to have to work?”

Seeing how we barely scraped by in Illinois with both parents working, I was afraid we’d be living on the streets.

Her soft laugh was both surprising and comforting.

“No, honey. You don’t need to worry. I have that taken care of.”

It turned out that
Mom had money – a lot of it. As we drove across the long stretches of Wyoming toward our new home, Mom told us that when my grandparents died sixteen years earlier, they’d left her a big, fat trust fund. She’d kept it secret from my dad, hiring a financial firm to manage it, so he wouldn’t blow all the money.

Passing through Coeur d
’Alene on our way to Sandpoint, I started to feel better about the move. Having Silverwood, a theme park, so close to Sandpoint, definitely trumped the deal.

Our lives were definitely going to be different. I knew
it in my heart – no, in my soul – because in the time it took us to drive the almost two miles across the Long Bridge, the bridge that spanned the lake between Sandpoint and the small town of Sagle, there was a palpable shift in the air that threatened to slice through the lock on my packed-away past. There was something intense about this area and it froze me up as if I’d jumped head-first into a snow bank. That was the moment I decided: this was a new town, and there was going to be a new me. I had a plan.

 

~ ~ ~

 

The Power Ranger theme song chimed from my cell. Okay. So I’m a bit of a geek.


You’ve got a text,” I said in my best AOL guy voice.

Alyx! HELLO!
What time u gonna b here? Itz 3!

Taylor
, my best friend, hated that I was always late to her parties. In my defense, I was never
intentionally
late. I just had a hard time finding motivation to rush over there when she wanted me to. I’d always go, but would come home from those parties feeling wiped out, as if I had walked through an energy vacuum. I tried to find common ground, but could never seem to connect with anyone.

Getting in shower now
, I texted back, even though
now
wasn’t really
now
, as in this moment now. I tossed the cell on the bed. I could almost hear her stomp her foot with impatience, a gesture that used to be endearing, but over the last three years, it’d gotten a little irritating.

Taylor
had been my best friend since freshman year when we met at Sandpoint High’s orientation. I remembered the electric blue iridescent color on her fingernails and she loved the candy-apple-green shade I coated mine with that morning. Taylor was fun and she made me laugh – something no one had been able to do for a long time. We’d been inseparable since then, sharing clothes and secrets. We even looked alike, except my blonde hair was a little darker than hers. Our tastes ran surprisingly similar on a lot of things – including boys. Whenever we liked the same boy, though, I’d back down so she could have an open playing field. I was always afraid that being close to a guy meant letting him get too close to my past. And if I was going to do that, he’d better be the right one.

I didn
’t bother looking at the phone when
Go, Go, Power Rangers
chimed in. I knew it would be Taylor telling me to hurry. It was so typical of her. Instead, I picked up the deck of oracle cards that I’d been shuffling earlier. My mom put this particular deck on my bed a few days earlier with no explanation, but I didn’t need one. I knew what she was up to. She was trying to draw me out of my world and back into hers. She dropped subtle hints, bought me cards and pendants, and nudged me in the direction of reconnecting with my elemental senses. Although I appreciated what she was trying to do, I wasn’t buying into it and I didn’t know if I ever would. She knew I struggled with coming to terms with my past. I’d cut metaphysics out of my life because to me, that had been the root of our problems. For the last few years I stood firm in my decision to be a
normal
teen and connecting with my guides wasn’t part of the plan.

The cards felt awkward in my hands and my fingers were clumsy. I didn’t even know why I bothered with them. I made a half-hearted effort to focus while shuffling the cards, but gave up when a card caught the edge of another, did a flutter flip, and landed on my lap. I flipped the corner of the oracle card up with my freshly painted pinky nail. The card was "
Release"
and was symbolized by a beautiful woman, elven-like, with shimmering midnight blue hair, the hem of her pale-green gown raised slightly as if carried on a breeze. Her hands released multi-colored leaves to the wind and she stared at me with a strange, captivating mix of both sadness and hope in her violet eyes.

My h
eart lurched. I never considered myself compassionate, especially towards a stranger. Concerned, perhaps, but to feel an actual ache for what I saw in this woman’s eyes had me, well, kind of freaked out.

I
opened the instruction book and found the page that explained the meaning of this card. After speed-reading the paragraph three times, I realized I wasn’t absorbing a single word on the page. Partly because I didn’t want to tap into the wisdom of the cards, and partly because I was supposed to be getting ready for a party. Mostly, though, because the weight of the emotion hung around my neck and threatened to choke me.


Release?” I asked the card, quickly forming my own interpretation of it to deflect the effects of her stare. “I’ll release all right.” I gathered the cards and explanation book and tossed them onto the bed before standing up.

I h
ad more important pursuits than analyzing my past, present, and future. This summer there was some serious socializing to do.

 

~ ~ ~

 

A few houses away from Taylor’s, I parked behind Justin Coon’s truck. Compared to his Nissan, my Audi was pretentious, and very shallow, especially for this area, but it helped create the image I wanted. The makeup and clothes we wore, the money we flashed around, are either a fortress or a window to our soul. I’d chosen my image to be an armor to hide the fact that I was the daughter of an alcoholic. As time went on, I hoped that image would stick and Justin would be drawn to the illusion that I created: a well-off party girl. I was still waiting for him to notice.

I took a cigarette and a lighter out of my purse and s
houldered open the door. Leaning against my car, I lit up, giving me a few minutes before going inside. Had I known Justin would be at the party, I might not have shown up at all. He obviously wasn’t interested in me. Why I still bothered to think about him anymore was beyond me, but, just like smoking, pining after Justin was a nasty habit that would be hard to break.

In our freshman year,
when Taylor and I first noticed him, he sat in front of us at a football game. There was one of those moments I read about in teen novels when the girl can’t freakin’ breathe when she sees the guy. That was me. Of course, Taylor was all into him, too. She kept nudging me, asking me what she should say.

She
finally quit poking me when the cheerleaders walked in front of the bleachers, throwing candy and t-shirts up into the stands. Like everyone else, Taylor yelled, trying to get their attention. The cheerleaders launched a rolled-up shirt our way and dozens of hands rose in response – right along with mine. From the moment it left the cheerleader’s fingertips, as it sailed over and through the hands that shot up to intercept it, I focused on the shirt. It was mine, but my concentration shattered when it grazed someone’s fingertips and broke its path to me. Justin’s hands got caught up in the mix and for a few seconds it was just the two of us, fighting for control. I don’t know why I was trying so hard to grab it. I mean, it’s not like I wore t-shirts or anything. Maybe it was because Justin wanted it. Maybe fighting for it would get his attention. Whatever the reason, I leaned hard against his shoulder, pushing him down and out of the way, giving me the edge I needed to snatch it out of his hands.

“Oh, my God, Alyx! You’re so lucky!”
Taylor half smiled, half pouted at the prize I held against my chest.

But t
he victory was hollow. I wanted Justin’s attention way more than I wanted a stupid shirt I’d never wear. I tapped him on the shoulder, and when he turned those hazel eyes on me, my insides melted.


Here,” I said, shoving the rolled up fabric into his hand, “It’d look better on you.”

He looked
at me for a couple of seconds as if trying to remember my face, then shrugged. “No, you keep it.” He turned back around. That was that.

My one an
d only close encounter with him and he shut me down. He was so nice about it, which took the sting out of the rejection, but unfortunately made me like him more.

I dropped
the cigarette on the street and ground my shoe over it, squashing it along with the memories of that night. Even as I ceremoniously scooped up the cigarette and tossed it into the trash bag in the back seat of my car, I knew that no matter how many times I tried to obliterate the feelings I had, it was useless to try to forget Justin.

Ugh
. It totally sucked liking someone who didn’t like me back. It was his brooding nature and the intensity that he cared for his friends, mostly Seth Thompson, that drew me in. He was deep. He’d be the type who thought things through before making a choice. No snap decisions with that guy. He wasn’t like all the other testosterone-driven horn-dogs who walked the school halls. Damn, and he was hot. Being on the wrestling team definitely had its positive physical benefits. Looking at him was enough to make my heart do back-flips and my stomach turn into a butterfly sanctuary.

I
’d have to get over that.

Starting tomorrow.

I ran my fingers over the shiny black paint of my car before dragging them across the faded red of his truck. Justin and I weren’t so different, really. He was popular. I was popular. We both liked sports. He was on the wrestling team and, well, I liked to watch him wrestle. If only I had the nerve to go after him. But I wouldn’t do well with another rejection. Besides, Taylor still liked him.

I blew
wisps of hair off my forehead with a quick breath and rearranged the ends of my hair to fall over my shoulders. I pulled down on the hem of my shorts and adjusted my cami for optimal attraction. If I could get him
to look my way, I’d be happy with that. And if he actually talked to me, I’d be ecstatic. I wouldn’t fight for him, but if
he
came after
me
, that’d be totally different. I definitely wouldn’t turn him away – Taylor or no Taylor. Who was I to waste a good opportunity?

The moment
I pushed open the front door of her house, the loud buzz of voices and music wrapped around me. It drew me in, towards the kitchen where a humongous buffet was laid out on the central island. Half the guys circling the food were on the wrestling team and the other half was the football team. Beyond that, outside on the patio, Nate, a nerdy-looking guy with a great sense of musical style, acted as DJ for the party. I got a few
‘sups
and more than a few stares from the boys as I passed them on my way to the back of the house. Through the sliding glass doors leading to the backyard, I caught a glimpse of Justin by the coolers that lined the fence.

I always thought
Justin was one of the most perfect guys in school, with the right balance of confidence and humility, brains and brawn. I loved the way his dusty blonde hair fell over his hazel eyes, but my favorite part of his face to stare at was his amazingly kissable lips. The perfect shape, the perfect fullness. Perfect for mine.

Even though
he never went out of his way to talk to me, he was always extremely polite when we passed in the halls or saw each other at the store or library. Not that it made me feel any better, but it seemed he was like that toward all females. He laughed easily when he was with his friends, but when he was around girls, not so much. He kept them at arm’s length and rarely got into too much discussion. And if he ever did get cornered into talking, he’d close off a bit and back away as if he’d rather not be seen together.

BOOK: Soulstice (The Souled Series)
8.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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