I’ve always looked up to my mom, but it wasn’t until I started attending her Alma Mater that I found out how much of the rest of the world did, too. Not only was a whole wing dedicated to her, but many of her accomplishments have been implemented into the school system. You might think this would make my life easier, but it’s actually having the opposite effect. All of the other students have ostracized me, due to my mother’s success. They just stare from a distance and whisper to each other when they think I’m not looking. I don’t even have the advantage of knowing the material super well. Mom is always so busy that I have to study and learn it myself. Not to mention the added pressure of her great shadow that professors seem to cast on me. I can no longer deal with disappointed looks, so I study and practice at all hours of the day. Eventually, I studied and practiced so much that I began to truly discover why my mom fell in love with magic. I became addicted to creating new spells, but I’ve never shared them with anyone. Not even my best friend from childhood, Jay.
“Oh, no! Jay!” I look down at my phone in frustration. This is the third time this week that I have completely lost track of time. Quickly shoving a few books and pens into my bag, I run out the door. Jay is going to be so upset with me this time. Even if we have been best friends since we were born, I’d understand if he’s done with me. Shaking my head, I grip my bag tighter. I can’t lose him. He’s the one person I trust the most in the world and know just likes me for me.
Jay also goes to Wenrick Academy, but is studying to be a healer. Unlike me, he knows exactly what he wants to do in life. It’s the perfect job for him, too, because he is the most kind and gentle person I have ever met. I’m blessed to have him as a best friend. Checking my phone once more, I quicken my pace. If I want to keep him as my friend, though, I need to hurry! I’m so late for our study session. I rush through the courtyard toward the Southern dormitories. As if he somehow knew I was there, Jay opens his door just as I’m about to knock. He smiles his big, warm smile and hugs me, pulling me through the entryway.
“Wow, I’m happy to see you, too.” I laugh as Jay lets me go, a little surprised.
Jay blushes, “yeah, sorry about that. I just got some really good news, and I couldn’t wait to tell you!”
I set my books on the table, and then look back at Jay who is almost shaking, “well, say it before you explode!”
“I got the medical internship! I beat out over 3000 applicants and got the internship!” I give Jay a kiss on the cheek, hugging him extremely tight.
“Congratulations! I knew you could do it.” Jay doesn’t move for a moment, then slowly returns the hug.
Softly, he says, “um, Lana, I…” When he doesn’t say anything more, I look up at him. Jay shakes his head, smiles nonchalant, and lets go.
“We should probably start studying. It’s getting pretty late.” I want to ask him what he was about to say, but don’t get the chance because he begins to quiz me on the ingredients for an invisibility potion.
The next few weeks are hard as Jay adjusts to his new schedule and doesn’t have any extra time to spare. I spend even more time in my “secret place” practicing my homemade spells. One day, as I’m practicing, I finally get a spell I’ve been working on for months to succeed. As I flick my wand, saying the spell, the Aurora Borealis can be seen in the night sky. As I watch in awe, I hear a noise behind me and decide now is probably a good time to go home. The next day, as I leave my potions class, I feel like I’m being watched. I look around the hall, but so many other students are leaving their class that it’s impossible to pick out just one. In the afternoon, I go to my “secret place” to practice once more. As I walk through the forest, I feel a presence other than mine, but only for a second. It’s so fleeting that I assume I imagined it. Settling down in my favorite spot, I practice a couple new spells I’ve been milling about until dark. Once the stars come out, I do my new Aurora Borealis spell. As soon as I do, a person appears behind me, nearly scaring me to death.
“Can you teach me that?” My heart nearly jumps out of my chest at the sudden sound of his voice. He laughs at my startled expression, “I’m sorry. I thought you heard me approach.”
I frown, “definitely not.” I begin to pack up my things and walk back towards the school. He walks next to me pacing his steps with mine.
“I didn’t mean to intrude. I’ve just never seen anything like your spell. It’s totally awesome!” When I don’t say anything, he continues talking, “my name’s Olli, by the way. I’m a Junior in Light magic with a minor in Mythical Beasts. How about you?” I raise my eyebrow at him, but he looks innocent. It seems like he really doesn’t know who I am.
A little shocked, I reply, “my name is Lana. I’m a sophomore, and I’m undecided.”
He smiles widely at me, “well, with what I saw you do, you could easily be anything.”
I blush at his sincerity, “really?” I’d meant it rhetorically, but Olli nods enthusiastically.
With a serious look, he says, “sure. Clearly your magic is strong enough for Light magic, but the spell sounded homemade, so you could also be a Philosopher. But I wouldn’t limit yourself to just those, either.”
Looking down at my feet, I reply, “I don’t think so. I’m nothing that special.” I can feel him staring at me, but I remain silent. Instead, I continue to walk in the direction of the Northern dormitories. He walks me to the door, and I feel a little awkward. For nineteen years, Jay has been my only friend. I didn’t realize how socially awkward I have become. “Um, thanks for walking with me. It was really nice to meet you.” I smile and Olli just stares at me a moment before laughing. He waves his hand in front of the door and it unlocks. I stand there in shock before following him inside.
“I thought it was weird you were walking towards my dorm. I had no idea you lived here, too.”
“What a coincidence…” I step in front of this huge blank wall and wave my hand slightly. A door begins to appear in the stone with the number 313 on it. I glance over at Olli who’s watching his door appear. “Well, goodnight.”
Olli looks over and smiles widely, “night! Call me soon so that we can find a time for me to learn that spell.” He winks and disappears through his door. I’m just able to catch the 643 on his door before it dissolves back into the wall.
I walk into my room and toss my bag onto the floor. As I pull off my jacket, a folded piece of paper flutters to the ground. Picking it up, I find Olli’s phone number on it with a note that says, “don’t forget!” Rolling my eyes, I toss the paper on the counter. There is still some homework I need to finish, but I’m exhausted. I decide to just go to bed and finish it tomorrow before class. While I brush my teeth in the bathroom, I glance at my reflection. I’m always compared to my mom and my looks are no exception. Strangers will say I have my mom’s eyes or hair, but I just want to look like me. I don’t want to be constantly compared. Sighing, I splash some water on my face before drying it off and heading to bed. The next morning, I wake-up and rub my eyes. Yawning, I wave both of my hands, fluttering my fingers slightly. As I get out of my bed, it begins to make itself. I throw my clothes on the floor and get into the shower. Once I’m finished, my room is clean, and I can smell fresh coffee and toast in the kitchen. As I sit down at the kitchen table, my plate and mug magically float down to me. I give a small smile, slightly impressed with myself. It’d taken me a few weeks to master that one.
I quickly finish my breakfast and leftover homework. While I pack up my stuff for class, my phone buzzes. It’s from my mom and all it says is, “heard about Jay’s internship. Congratulate him for me?” I didn’t expect much, but for some reason it still hurts a little. I text back, “k,” then wave my hand in front of my door. I’m distracted as I lock my door back behind me and don’t notice that there is someone beside me. I am so caught up in my thoughts that I jump a little when he suddenly speaks.
“Wow. Are you stalking me, now?” He is joking of course, but gets a worried expression when he sees me clutching my chest. “Oh, geez. I’m sorry. I was just kidding.”
I take a deep breath, and then shake my head, “it wasn’t your fault. I was lost in thought and didn’t notice you sooner.” I begin to walk to my class and, again, Olli falls into step next to me.
“Oh, I see. You were daydreaming about me when I happened to catch you, and now you feel guilty. But you know, you don’t have to feel guilty about daydreaming about me. I have that effect on people.”
I raise my eyebrow at him as I continue walking, “…yeah.”
Olli feigns surprise, “a nonbeliever?! I didn’t realize any existed. Well, it’s the complete truth, I promise. It’s been tested.”
I roll my eyes, “okay. If you say so.” Olli grabs my hand and pulls me into a dimly lit alley. “Hey! What are you — !” The narrow alley has his face suddenly very close to mine. I’m pushed against the wall, his hands on either side of my head against the brick. He stares directly into my eyes, not saying a word. I hold my breath, not able to move. A minute later, he suddenly sighs and leans back against the other wall.
“You really are something special, you know. Every other girl would have been putty in my hands just now. You’re even still –” My hand smacks against his cheek a little harder than I intended. He looks up at me partly in shock and partly as if he’s unsure it actually happened.
My cheeks burn with embarrassment, and as I leave the alley, I shout back, “you can’t just do whatever you want!” Stomping through the halls, I take a deep breath to calm down before I enter the classroom. When I do, a girl I recognize as somewhat popular walks over to me.
“Hi! My name is Arabelle, and yours is… Lana?” I nod and she continues, “I saw you have been hanging out with Olli Knight. What’s the deal with you two?” Instantly, I understand. She only wants to know if i’m going to be an issue for her, she doesn’t even want to be “fake” friends.
“Look, we’re not even really friends, and I don’t want to be.”
“Awesome! Thanks.” The girl flips her hair and walks away. I shake my head and get ready for class. Geez, Jay, I really miss you. When class is finished, I take my time putting my books and notes away. Outside, I see Arabelle chatting away to Olli, but it seems like he’s not really listening. Suddenly, he looks up and we make eye contact. I quickly look away, but not before I manage to see him moving in my direction. Sighing heavily, I’m sure that girl is going to let me have it next class. I’ll need to spend extra time practicing my defense spells. With both hands, I cover my face and shake my head. How did I get myself into this? Where did this guy even come from? I look up when I hear Olli approach. I’m surprised when he doesn’t say anything, but just walks silently next to me. A minute or two passes and I begin to fret from the awkward silence. My thoughts swirl around in my head like a hurricane as I debate whether I should speak first.
“I–” We both stop as we each try to speak at the same time. I blush but am able to recover first.
“You first.” Olli clears his throat.
“Yeah, okay. I just wanted to apologise to you because you’re right. I can’t just do whatever I want to people. I was a real jerk. Can you ever forgive me?” My blush deepens, and I can no longer make eye contact.
“Yeah, I guess so. And I’m sorry for slapping you.”
Olli smiles widely, “I needed the wake up call.” I begin walking again, no longer able to stand still. We head towards the dorm making light conversation as we go. When I finally get back to my room, I feel my phone vibrate. My heart skips a beat when I see that it’s from Jay.
“Meet me at my place?”
“Be there in ten!” I freshen up really quickly and then grab my bag. For the first time in a while, I head to the Southern dormitories. I walk slowly, breathing in the cool, fall air. Just that one message from Jay has lightened my entire mood. Until now, I haven’t really realized how much I rely on him. I really need my best friend. Suddenly, I feel a chill go down my spine. A sweet scent fills the air, and I begin to feel very sleepy. My mind clouds, and I find myself curling up on a bench to take a nap. As my eyes close, I see the blurry outline of a girl.