We all believe 2 things, that everyone is destined to find their soulmate, and that our souls are entirely our own.
There was a point in time where my family truly discovered what a soulmate was. You see soulmates are not a luxury for all to experience.
Sometimes, when the moon is half moon and half-darkness, two people are born with half a complete soul. When those two people find each other, then the fragments of their soul that they each hold can come together and be one.
If they do not come together, for one reason or the other, then a rip is created in time for time cannot move on until what is destined comes to.
I always dreamt about the day I would finally feel my soul become complete. I hadn't ever thought it would be so cold and numbing. Two bodies cannot hold the one soul, not once the pieces have come together. Can a body live without a soul?
The spring of lavender sat delicately in the centre of my palm. My mother who sat beside me kept her hand underneath man, steadying me, guiding me.
"As you breathe out, I wasn't you to retract the flower." She whispered into my ear, as she pressed the back of my fingertips in the same position, she had demonstrated to me moments before.
As I pushed the air back out of my lungs I envisioned the spring retreating back into my veins, disappearing. No evidence I had ever conjured it in the first place. As I looked back down the string lay exactly as it had a moment before.
"I am utterly useless at this part; you know this mother."
"I just can't understand how you can find it so easy to conjure a plant out of thin air but the concept of making it disappear is too difficult for you." She giggled and she waved her hand above mine, the lavender disappearing as she did so.
"You will figure it out Claudia, it takes all of us a little while to learn." She tucked a strand of hair behind my ear.
I always surprised about how much I looked like my mother. My mother had the same raven black hair that fell across my shoulders now. The only variation was that hers sat in a long bob, framing her thin face perfectly, whilst mine trailed down towards the small of my back. Our faces were very similar the same death white complexion and pointed features. My father had given me his eyes at least. My mother’s icy eyes had always had the ability to freeze me in my tracks, forcing the truth to tumble out of me, an ability my father's mud brown eyes had not been so successful at. Well, my mother had always claimed it was her eyes and not the witch’s blood than ran through her veins into mine.
Witchcraft had run through the women of my mother's family for generations, from my great grandmother Bellona in Rome all the way to me, in the small town of Bamburgh, England.
Bamburgh, as with much of the North of England is constantly covered by a layer of rainclouds and has a population of less than 500 people. It’s almost as though the town is trapped outside of the time that seemed to carry the rest of England past the Victorian era. My family had never thought to move out of this town, no matter what this was our home and for them I was content to suck it up and live here, although I would take any opportunity to escape for a few hours once a week and take the train to an area that had a functioning cinema and train station. Two buses passed through the town every day, the only connection any of us had to a world outside the invisible border that surrounded us.
No one had moved in or out of Bamburgh for as long as I had been alive, that was, until last week. The Athanatos family had founded this town back 1,400 years ago, taking up residency in the castle ruins that hold a special place in the hearts of every primary school teacher planning a group outing. But they had left 200 years ago without a trace. The stories say they were witches or vampires but my family never speaks about them so I am certain those rumours can be left to rest. Our golden rule, written in golden lettering under the family crest carved into the side of Witchwood Manor was "Witches protect witches." When it comes to mortals, we held this rule closer to our hearts than ever, after the witch trials had wiped most of our kind from the history books. And so, I was certain, my family, for whatever reason, hated the Athanatoses so they were certainly not witches.
My father came gliding out of the garden doors towards me and mother's hunched over bodies. My mother was now making the water float out of the ground and sit still in the air.
"What happened to our lesson Aeliana?" My father chuckled quizzically as he came to rest behind us, his wrinkled hand finding its common place on my mother’s left shoulder. I had never seen two people more in love with my parents. A Roman witch and her scouse piano teacher.
"Felix, darling, you haven't taught me since we got married 15 years ago."
"Darling, we should head inside. I am extremely tired, aren't you?"
"Well, not that you mention it Aeliana, I am awfully tired." He replied with that lost look that was now so common in his eyes. I was sure he had no idea where he was.
"Claudia, we will continue our lessons tomorrow, I'm sorry." My mother looked at her brows softening. Despite being almost in her later 40s my mother didn't look a day over 22.
"I can't tomorrow mother, school starts again."
"Oh, yes. I'm sorry. I'm almost as forgetful as your father." She said solemnly.
"Don't say that please," I mumbled under my breath as a silent prayer. "Mother,"
"Stop saying sorry so much, you are losing your cold touch." I smiled at her, taking a deep sigh as I stared at my parents.
My mother draped her arm over the back of my fathers’ hunched shoulders, her hand messing with the full greying hair covering his head. I had no doubt that he would be asking her who I was and why I was sat in their garden which often saddened me, but this evening was reserved for sixth form anxiety, so I tossed my arms in the air using their momentum to throw myself back into the grass.
Closing my eyes, I imagined the look on Nathalia's face when she saw that I had in fact not darkened at all over the summer and thus owed my £20.
Bamburgh had very little but the private school on the ocean front was the worst part of the entire town. It was rumoured that the early Romans who had conquered the majority had set it up as an institute to teach the locals how to speak their form of Latin. It had long stopped teaching Latin and now focused its efforts on the mainly on 3 main areas, science, technology and the visual arts. I was in my final year of sixth form, taking Art, French and English Literature as my final core subjects. I knew this year was going to kill me, but it was just the beginning of the end. Who knew what I would be when this part of my life was finally over.
I always dreamt the same thing, I had ever since I was a child. When I was younger it had scared me greatly but now, I had seen it so many times I could recite it perfectly. A thorn bush that seemed to scream out for someone, and then a blade covered in blood, but the blood wasn't crimson like it should have been, it was black. Then, just two palms, one I recognised now to be my own a spring of lavender growing in the centre. Besides my own, a foreign hand, darker than my own, a warm hand with a few spots missing the tone of the rest of them, and in this palm a small wick of fire, like this palm was a candle rather than a real hand.
My alarm blared, as my mother flowed straight into my room, as if summoned by my groans and flailing arm. I threw my pillow over my head, still whacking in the general direction I remember placing my alarm last night.
"Stop throwing your arm around, the alarm isn't there. I moved it whilst you were sleeping so you couldn't press snooze this morning. I have brought you some mint and chamomile tea to settle first last day nerves and your Esther is downstairs making breakfast so please do not keep her waiting amore." My mother flew around the room, tossing open windows placing tea down on my vanity, and most frustratingly pulling my duvet off me and taking it out of the room with her. I regretted the choice to wear shorts to sleep immensely, as my legs began to shiver in the cold of my room.
I threw myself up, sitting on the edge of my bed, staring at the piles of poetry books that littered my floor. I don't know how long I sat like that before I could bring myself to start moving.
Staring at my reflection in the mirror, I began the intensive morning routine my mother was so excited to share with me when I had turned 16. Green algae face wash, followed by Hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, niacinamide and finally a moisturiser she had made herself from thyme, lavender, olive oil, and a bunch of other things. Then I brushed my teeth and my hair, pulling it back into two Dutch braids trailing down back. If I did this today, then I wouldn't have to worry about my hair again until at least Wednesday.
The best thing about English school is uniform, some people hate it, but you cannot deny the convenience of waking up every morning for 5 out of 7 days and knowing exactly what you are going to wear. The uniform students of the Minerva Academy and Sixth Form had been gifted upon passing entrance exams was not quite what I would have chosen myself, but I had seen others that made me grateful enough. It started of simply with a plain white shirt and white ankle length socks, frills at the top that sat just above my Mary Janes. The black skirt, as with all local schools, fell to a spot between my knee and my mid-calf. And similarly, to girls from all the local schools I rolled my skirt until it reached a comfortable position on my thigh, covering the extra bulk around my waist with the knitted green jumper. Finally, over the top, the tweed grey blazer lined with the forest green colours and the school emblem on the top pocket. A snake, I was unaware the specific breed, had itself entwinned around a brown tawny owl. The words below reading "In morte eligimus sapientiam" - in death we choose wisdom.