Authors: Joanna Mazurkiewicz
The Whispers of the Sprite
(The Whispers Series #1)
Copyright © 2012 by Joanna
First published in Great Britain in 2012 by Joanna
. The right of Joanna
to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author/publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a newspaper, magazine, journal or blog.
Table of Contents
I need to get going,’ I say to Gosia when I look at my watch. When I finally realise how late it really is my heart starts racing.
Come on, just one more,’ insists my friend, grinning. She is already tipsy, rolling her blue eyes, as she sips her pink cocktail.
You know my mother. She is probably already freaking out,’ I respond and look through the messages on my phone; I received five up to eleven o’clock asking me where the hell I am, but since then nothing else. It’s odd; my mother wouldn’t usually just stop texting, she would start calling until she got through to me. If she knew the name of the bar, she would probably call here just to make sure that I am still alive. Gosia’s ears are ruby red. She is gazing at me looking amused.
Whatever, I am staying. That bloke at the bar can’t take his eyes off me.’
Well, take care of yourself then. You have to visit me in Swansea when I get settled,’ I say and kiss her on the cheeks, glancing at the man that she is talking about. She’s right, he is looking at her. Around five foot seven, dressed smart with polished leather shoes. He’s her type.
I will,’ she nods and hugs me tightly.
When I leave the South London bar, it’s nearly one in the morning. I glance at the taxi for a long moment but then I change my mind. I don’t manage my money well and I am leaving to start my new life tomorrow, so it’s necessary for me to save the cash. I pass through the familiar roads, calculating how long it will take to get to my street. It’s a rather warm September night, although the dark clouds in the sky indicate that it might start raining soon. After half an hour of intensive walking I leave behind the traffic, taking my usual shortcut. These parts of city seem to be asleep. Complete darkness surrounds me. The roads are clear and the unnatural silence fills the air.
I stop and look at my phone again, wondering why Mum hasn't called me yet. She always calls me, even if she knows that I will be home within minutes, just to check. I feel slightly anxious walking alone at this late hour. The streets are so silent; there is no one around, not even cars passing through, which is odd. It seems as though the city has collapsed into a winter’s sleep, instantly forgetting that it's still summer, like some lost soul trying to make its way to Heaven but getting to Hell instead. I think about the enjoyable evening that I had with Gosia. She was excited for me finally gaining a new independence and a new life in another city.
I shiver when the wind starts howling and look around, hoping to spot any living soul near me, but I am alone. I take another shortcut and then feel horribly lost. The silence seems different and I cannot understand why there are no cars around. I stop for a moment to wrap myself in a light cardigan that I find in my rucksack. Only a few seconds pass, but during this short period of time I feel like I am being watched. My subconscious is laughing out loud. I look around but the streets are uninhabited and silent. No one is around but my mind is playing tricks on me. I inhale the thick air filled with my own fear and a cold shiver flows down my spine. A harsh, bitter wind starts to blow again and simultaneously a few streetlights go out, enveloping the street in an unexpected dimness.
The tar-black darkness that surrounds me obscures my senses; I can't see anything and my eyes focus, trying to get used to the gloom.
I stop abruptly and for a moment hear only my shallow breaths, then I hear someone’s movements and my heart starts racing while my mouth gets unpleasantly dry. I stop breathing, trying to pinpoint the noise, but everything is still again. The silence buzzes in my ears. My heartbeat quickens, making my mind spin. Suddenly, one of the streetlights comes back on again. I blink rapidly and continue walking while looking around at the unfamiliar surroundings. The houses and streets seem to be under a spell. There is not a human being anywhere around me.
I continue walking, but I don’t hear any more odd movements. Soon I locate a familiar path and reach my street within minutes. I begin to wonder if I actually heard anything and my rational side keeps telling me that it's only my imagination. I approach the house, wondering if my mother will be waiting at the window for me, but all the lights are off.
I exhale, still feeling slightly apprehensive, staring at the round of semi-detached houses in the cul-de-sac. I stop and put my rucksack on the floor to find the keys, and then I hear that movement again and lift my head. The dark figure is walking towards me slowly. This time I am fully aware that it’s not my imagination.
Peaceful night?’ says the stranger walking by when I finally have a key in my hand. I smile weakly, dismissing her statement.
In the light from the street I glance at the stranger one more time. The strong fragrance of her perfume reaches my nose and I inhale,
lavender. I manage to get a look at her face. She is an older lady with short, silver hair and big, wide, dark eyes, but it's too dark to tell if I have seen her before. As she starts to disappear into the dark alley, the rain starts drizzling. For a moment I wonder what she is doing here. I toy with the idea of her visiting anyone I know. I shake my head, thinking it’s been a rather strange night.
My thoughts are still on the odd noise that I thought I heard in the alleyway. While walking upstairs to my bedroom, I look in to make sure that Mum is still asleep and I quietly close the door. Normally she would wait for me to tell me off. It’s not like her; she always makes sure that I am at home at a reasonable time. I take off my clothes and soon drift off into a dream, forgetting about the woman on the street.
In the morning I have to nag my mother to get up earlier than usual, then a few hours later she still isn’t ready to let me go.
Mum, hurry up!’ I shout, walking downstairs with my large suitcases. ‘I have to leave in five minutes!’
There is no rush. For heaven's sake, you have all day,’ snarls my mother, appearing from the kitchen still polishing the glasses. Her short, dark hair is untidy. I had wished she would work today; I would have enough time to get to Swansea without delays.
I purse my lips together. Why does she have to be so frustrating?
I don’t want to be stuck in traffic. I told you that yesterday,’ I shrug.
Don’t talk to me in that kind of tone,’ she barks, pursing her lips. ‘I remember everything you told me, young lady.’
I roll my eyes and then smile. I completely forgot about yesterday. When I woke up this morning I was expecting to have a massive lecture about my late escapade with Gosia, but my mother didn’t say anything, as if she forgot.
She wrinkles her forehead with effort and vanishes back into the kitchen. I head back to the living room, wondering if there is anything else that I have to take.
She appears shortly after me, scanning the suitcases with her brown eyes. She isn’t happy that I am leaving. My mother would love me to start university somewhere close to London, at least so I could still live at home, so when she heard that I had chosen Swansea she was devastated.
Are you sure that you want to stay in Swansea? It’s too far if you ask me,’ she adds, helping me with the suitcases.
I sigh. She is still dwelling on the fact that I will be three hours away. However, I can’t wait to be alone.
Don’t worry, I will be home often,’ I insist.
When we step outside we walk in silence and the sky is cloudy, but I can feel the excitement in the air along with her tension. I try but I can't read her expression. We put both my suitcases in the car. Mum seems to be lost in her thoughts while I set up my sat-nav.
I’ve got everything ready now to leave. I stand in front of her wondering what to say. I shift my body to the side scratching my head nervously. Finally, I look at her and she starts crying. My stomach clenches uncomfortably. I was never good at saying goodbyes.
‘Oh, Ania,’ she whimpers.
I smile weakly, trying to comfort her. I hate that she has to bring up all her emotions at once, but I manage to say, ‘C’mon Mum, I will be fine,’ I say, ‘You have to start going out more. Start thinking about yourself.’
‘I still have to look after you. I haven’t got time for this nonsense,’ she says, blowing her nose.
She stops crying and hugs me for a long while. I hold back my tears. I look at her for a long moment, wondering if I said enough. I swallow a giant lump in my throat and get into the car.
When I am on the road, I can't hold the tears back any longer, wondering if I had made the right decision to leave Mum all alone.
I know that this will be tough for me in the beginning, considering the fact that I have never lived alone, but I am twenty-two-years old; I have to start living my own independent life.
Mum raised me the best she could and now she has to do something for herself and change her life. It takes me a while to stop thinking about her and my conscience reminds me to stop being a wimp and focus on the road. The life ahead of me is more exciting and I have three hours of constant driving ahead of me to concentrate on.
A new city and new surroundings would bring fresh company. Student life is never boring and George won’t distract me. I keep calling him my informal boyfriend, but he is far from that. He is studying drama in London and our relationship has always been complicated. We often see each other to fulfill our needs of being with someone.
I didn’t intend to move to Wales just to forget about George. I am hoping to start a new and exciting life; the independence is very important. I don’t expect handsome blokes to just fall at my feet. I am nearly six feet tall and this often brings uncomfortable attention from others, especially shorter men. My hair colour doesn’t appear natural – it's bright red. All my friends back home love my red hair, but I always used to hate it.
I would love to have long blonde hair and look just like a typical Eastern European girl.
I am very skinny and although I eat constantly, I never seem to put on any weight. My mother, on the other hand, is short and overweight, and her character is very different from mine.
Looking at my father's photographs I have a slight resemblance to him; I may recognise my own long nose from him, but he has dark hair. No one on my Mum’s side of the family has bright red hair, but I have never met anyone from my Father's side, so the colour could be from there.
I feel uneasy for the rest of the journey so I stop somewhere near Bristol to grab some lunch. By the time I reach Swansea it's after 5pm and the excitement flows through my body when I park the car in the street. The three-hour journey was exhausting. The sky in Wales is gloomy and cloudy as I expected.
After reaching Swansea, I need to make sure that Mum knows that I am still alive, so I send her a quick text.
She doesn’t understand that I grew up and am not a child and she still treats me as if I am.
The forecast for today said that it was going to rain. I switch off the engine and begin to stare at house No. 4. The streets are quiet, all the houses are detached and my new home doesn't look appealing. I came here a few weeks ago and everything looked different. Maybe it’s because of the weather or it's just me feeling homesick already.
I was adamant that this house would be perfect for me when I first saw it, so I am not sure why I am feeling this way. I didn't want to live on campus; the idea of living in a block with so many people frightened me.
The house that I have chosen has four bedrooms and it is within walking distance from the university and the beach. Inside, I inhale the unfamiliar, dusty air.
The windows haven't been opened for a while and I make the quick decision that if I am to live here, I will need to make it a lot more habitable than its current state.