Tale of Life (Essence Series #2)

BOOK: Tale of Life (Essence Series #2)
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Tale of Life


This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All right
s reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher or author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.









ht © 2014 by E. L. Todd

All Rights Reserved

ISBN-13: 978-1494480585




Tale of Life


Book Two of the Essence Series





E. L. Todd

Pep Talk


“The holidays went by too fast,” Breccan said as they walked to campus. The morning moisture was dampening their hair and freezing their cheeks. Calloway shoved his hands deeper into his pockets to protect them from the sting of the cold.

“At least we’re closer to graduating,” Calloway said.

“I suppose,” Breccan said.

When they reached the campus they saw Easton walking to class. She smiled at them. “Are you ready to finish the year?”

“I’m ready for it to be over,” Breccan said.

“Not as much as I am, “Calloway said. “I still have to deal with Hawk for the next few months.”

Breccan rubbed his hands together. “Let’s follow him home one afternoon. We’ll sneak up on him and place a bag over his head, beating the crap out of him until he passes out, and he’ll never know we were responsible.”

Easton stared at him with a shocked expression. “Don’t joke like that, Breccan.”

“Who said I was joking?” he said.

“As much as I would enjoy that—in theory—that would be wrong,” Calloway said. “That sounds like something Hawk would do—not us.”

“We could pay someone…” Breccan smiled.

“This conversation is over,” Easton said. “We can’t talk like that.”

“You guys are no fun.” Breccan sighed.

They walked through the hallway and disappeared into their classrooms. When Calloway walked into his English class, he nodded to Mr. Avey and then took his seat. When he looked at Beatrice she was looking at him.

“Hey,” she said.

The class was full of students and she acknowledged him in their presence. At first Calloway wasn’t sure if she was addressing him but then he realized there was no one else—he was in the last row. He nodded to her then looked straight ahead. He appreciated her acknowledgment but he would prefer it if she dumped Hawk and never spoke to him again. The guy was a jerk that didn’t deserve her affection. He still didn’t understand why she stayed with him.

Mr. Avey addressed the class and handed out copies of
To Kill a Mockingbird
, and they started to read the book out loud. Calloway considered himself to be an avid reader even though he was unable to pursue his interest recently. He read all the Shakespeare plays that his father owned. They were in the bottom of the chest. Since their class essays were based off their reading it made the class more enjoyable. It was his favorite class and the only thing he would miss once he left.

Calloway completed the rest of his classes then joined his friends in the library for lunch.

“Hello, Nancy,” Calloway said when we walked inside. “Did you have a good holiday?”

“Yes.” She smiled. “My daughter came home from New York to visit.”

“That sounds nice,” Calloway said.

“It was. How was your Christmas?”

“Good,” he said. “Thank you.” He walked away and approached their table in the middle of the room. Easton was sitting at the table but the Kirin Book was absent from view. Calloway thought it was odd since he always saw the item placed in front of her. Breccan was eating his lunch quietly, and neither one of them were looking at each other. Calloway suspected that he just missed an argument.

“Where is the book?” Calloway asked.

“I decided to take a break,” she said. “I’m just getting slower at deciphering it. Besides, I’m trying to imagine where the portal might be.”

“You’re wasting your time,” Breccan said as he chewed his sandwich. “We need the portal key first.”

Easton sighed. “I know but I’m trying to think of where it could be. I don’t know anything about portals. Where would it be? Does it have to be a certain size?”

Calloway shrugged. “I have no idea.”

“If we find the portal, are we going to notify Weston?” she asked.

“No,” Calloway said. “I would prefer to wait until I have proven myself before we reveal that information. Otherwise they’ll just take the library from us.”

“Well, you
it,” Breccan said. “So I find that hard to believe.”

“It’s still in my father’s name,” Calloway said. “So no, it’s not mine.”

The conversation came to end when the bell rang overhead. Breccan stuffed the rest of his sandwich into his mouth and shouldered his backpack.

“You don’t have to eat everything in one sitting,” Easton spat.

“I’m hungry,” he mumbled.

They left the library and headed to their afternoon classes. When Calloway arrived at photography, Hawk was staring at him with a look of hatred. Calloway ignored the look and took his seat.

Mrs. Ezquibel addressed the class. “I hope everyone had a good winter holiday,” she said. “You will begin a new assignment where you will combine your photographs into a collage and present it to the class. Your cameras are in the cabinets. Off you go.”

The students rose from their chairs and grabbed their cameras from the drawers and walked outside. Breccan and Calloway remained in their seats while they watched the class filter from the classroom.

Mrs. Ezquibel looked at them. “Your parents have repaired the destroyed camera so you are allowed to check out a new camera and complete your assignment. I suggest you be careful this time.”

Breccan looked at Calloway. “I’m not going near Hawk.”

“I agree,” he said. “We can take our pictures inside.”

?” Breccan asked.

Calloway shrugged. “I don’t know but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hawk tries to break the camera again. It would be smart to avoid him altogether.”

“Well, that’s impossible,” Breccan said. “We’ll just have to stay out of his way—preferably near witnesses.”

“This is stupid.” Calloway sighed. “This shouldn’t be an issue at all.”

Breccan’s eyes lit up in excitement. “We could put a bag over his head and kick him.”

Calloway stared at him. “We aren’t doing that.”

“We should,” Breccan said. “Fight fear with fear. Teach him a lesson. I’m tired of sitting by while Hawk tortures you.”

“Did you see the bloody nose I gave him?” Calloway asked.

“That doesn’t count,” he said. “You only did that because of Weston—no other reason. You never defend yourself when you should.”

“Well, Hawk pushed a girl. I have zero tolerance for that,” Calloway said.

“And Hawk has been throwing McDonald’s gift cards at you all year,” Breccan snapped. “You should have no tolerance for

“Just drop it,” Calloway said.

“No,” Breccan said. “You need to stand up for yourself—not for someone else.”

Calloway wanted to change the subject. “Beatrice said hi to me today.”

“In front of people?” Breccan asked incredulously.

“Yes,” Calloway said. “She spoke to me in our English class.”

“That’s a first,” Breccan said sarcastically. “And probably a last.”

They rose from their seats and checked out a camera. When they went outside they avoided Hawk at every opportunity and returned to the classroom before Hawk and his friends did. Calloway was annoyed that they had to sneak around because they were frightened of a bully—it was pathetic.

When the period ended, Calloway walked to Mr. Avey’s classroom across campus and sat in his desk in the front row. He leaned back in his chair and looked at his teacher. “Did you have a good holiday?” he asked.

Mr. Avey nodded. “It was lovely,” he said. He typed on his computer and then turned toward Calloway. “But too short. Before I knew it, I was back in my desk stuck with you kids.”

“Don’t act like you don’t like us.” Calloway smiled. “You aren’t fooling me.”

“I enjoy your presence—most of the time.” He smiled. “So what do I owe the pleasure? Your SAT’s are over and you’re completing your homework on time—study hall has become obsolete.”

Calloway was quiet for a moment. “I have a problem.”

“That doesn’t sound good,” Mr. Avey said. He rose from his desk and approached Calloway. He leaned against his desk and crossed his arms over his chest, waiting for Calloway to speak.

“It’s worse than you think.”

“Well, spill the details.”

Calloway sighed. “I’m tired of being teased by Hawk—sick of it. All the other students hate me because Hawk does and they harass me for being poor. I’ve put up with it this long but I don’t know how much more I can take. The only solution I can postulate is violence but I know that’s unacceptable. I can’t talk to Hawk—he’s unreasonable.”

Mr. Avey nodded. “Well, Hawk’s actions say more about him than it does about you. Always remember that. And the fact that you’ve held your head high while you’ve experienced it is also admirable.”

“Without the support of my friends it wouldn’t have been possible,” Calloway said. He remembered how Weston defended him at the dance and he felt his throat go dry at the thought of her.

“And that’s what makes you different,” Mr. Avey said. “Hawk doesn’t have real friends—just company. You’re very intelligent, Calloway, and full of love—Hawk lacks these things. He’ll never be half the man you are.”

“I thought you cared about all your students?”

Mr. Avey was quiet for a moment. “Most students can be saved—some can’t. Hawk is one of these people. He is beyond help and aid—he’ll probably never change.”

“What went wrong?” Calloway asked. “His dad is a principal.”

“How is that relevant?” Mr. Avey asked. “He may be educated but that doesn’t make him a good father. Hawk may be lacking something in his home life.”

“Well, I don’t have anything and I did just fine.”

“We aren’t referring to the same thing,” Mr. Avey said. “You don’t have money but you have everything else. Your aunt and uncle are remarkable people—they raised two amazing boys with the little funds they had. So what does that say about Hawk’s parents?”

Calloway was quiet for a moment. “That even though Hawk has everything he still isn’t happy?”

“Exactly,” Mr. Avey said.

“I refuse to believe that Hawk is a bad person—he just does evil things. I’m just not sure why he does them.”

“One of the mysteries of the world,” Mr. Avey said. “In the course of human history every villain thought they were doing the right thing—even Hitler—and imagined that their beliefs were right even though they clearly weren’t. Hawk is the same way; he thinks his behavior is acceptable.”

“And how do I prove it isn’t?” Calloway asked.

“You’re already doing it,” Mr. Avey said. “He tries to bring you down but you won’t let him. You have friends that would protect you and defend you, even give their lives in your defense. Who does Hawk have? He’s alone, Calloway. Behind that evil exterior is just a lonely and miserable boy. Try to remember that.”

“That’s easier said than done.” Calloway laughed.

“And after you graduate from this high school, you will continue on to do amazing things. You will have friends that you trust more than anyone, and you will have the love of a woman who adores you. I can guarantee that Hawk will writhe and suffer once he comes into the real world—alone with the thoughts that depress him. The next time Hawk harasses you, just remember who he’ll be in the years to come—he’ll be biting your dust.”

Calloway smiled at him. His comforting words chased away the stress and anxiety he was carrying. The constant insults by Hawk were trying his frustration, but his teacher put the taunts in perspective. Even though he would still be livid every time Hawk harassed him at least he had something to reassure himself—the knowledge that he was better.

Calloway rose from his desk. “Thank you, Mr. Avey.”

“I hope I was helpful.”

“Always,” he said as he walked out of the classroom. He waved to Mr. Avey then moved down the hallway toward the exit. After he left the building, he saw Easton and Breccan talking on the curb. They stopped speaking when he approached.

“That was short,” Easton said.

BOOK: Tale of Life (Essence Series #2)
5.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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