The pale dawn light fills my palace, lighting up my golden crown and making my long dress sparkle. My majestic throne is behind me- I’m much too angry to sit down. Dead! Impossible! How could Blaze, Starla, Jade, Ariana, and Willow be dead?! Queen Raven is powerful...But how did she kill Blaze? When I’d met the fire queen for the first time, I’d gotten pinned to the wall with a knife at my throat. Blaze trusted nobody, and she was strong, powerful, and well respected. It was impossible that Blaze was dead. Yet...Her body lay outside her former palace, alight in flame. It was tradition for fire queen’s bodies to be burned outside the place. It insured that they’d go to the spirit world in their full strength and appearance. I shook myself. She’s dead. There’s nothing I can do about that. Straightening, I address the elderly woman standing before me, her head slightly bowed. “So?” I snap, too angry to worry about kind tones. “What does it mean?”
“Your Majesty, I’m not sure. But obviously, we know who the threat is.”
“Obviously.” I glance around, as if the evil shadow queen will pop up out of nowhere, clutching her set of pearly white daggers. Maria says nothing more. “So what do you think it means? What's the point of having elders if they don’t help?” Maria laughs, smiling a wise smile.
“Respect us, young one,” Maria says. I frown. She stops smiling. “We can only guess what it means. We can’t know for sure.” I tap my scepter irritably.
“Just make a guess!”
“I think that it means...Well, we have no current queens of earth, ice, fire, water, and air. I think...We need to take humans to be the queens.
“What?! But that’s never been done before! They have no experience at all! They have no idea how our traditions work, they-”
“El! Calm down! Remember you were a human too, when I took you and trained you.”
“I was fourteen! And how old are these...Humans going to be?” I hiss the word between my gritted teeth.
“But that's ridiculous! Twelve?! What are you thinking?”
“El, we need a fresh start. Raven killed all royalty for the five elements. We need to start again.”
“But...But twelve year olds as queens? That’s absurd!”
“You're only 16,” Maria points out quietly.
“Yes! I am! That is four years older! Four! I am your Queen, Maria. This idea is absurd. I-”
“El, you asked what I thought. I am telling you. You either take the hope, or you risk everything you know- everything you love getting blown to pieces. There is no other thing we can do here. We need humans El. They are our only hope.” There is so much I could say here. Lot’s of things I want to say- some of them not exactly nice. But I keep silent. Maria is right. I know she is. I need to try.
“Okay,” I sigh. “I’ll see what I can do.”
I woke up this morning feeling 100% ordinary. I’m just an ordinary girl, who maybe punches people too much, and that’s that. My life has never been special. My life has never been interesting. It’s just a normal day, normal house, normal sch0ol.
“Have fun!” Mom calls, as I grab my backpack.
I’ll try, I think, but instead, reply, “Yep!” As I dash outside and hop on my bike. Can’t wait to hear how far Everleigh has gotten into the Hunger Games! I think, picturing myself shooting a bow and arrow, hitting the target perfectly. If only I actually could...I smile, and pedal faster, the wind whipping my hair, and throwing it all across my face. I glare at it, and pedal on. Gotta get there fast...I’ve gotta actually talk to Everleigh before the bell rings! Stupid bell. Can’t it wait? I wish I was super strong, like one of those Twilight vampires so I could SMASH it!
“Hey, Everleigh!” I call out. A girl looks up from a bench, where she has a book grasped in her hands, her light brown hair flowing in the breeze.
“Oh! Hi, Anabelle!” Everleigh calls back, waving me over. I park my bike in the bike rack, and walk over to join her. She waves her book in front of me. “Look!” she says.
“Woah. You’re on Catching Fire all ready?” I ask, impressed.
“Yep,” She says. “Started it last night.” I grin. I have a hard question for her.
“Hey, Everleigh, which do you like better, Harry Potter, or The Hunger Games?” I ask, grinning. She throws her hands up.
“Oh, Anabelle! Why do you have to make me choose?” I grin, and she puts Catching Fire in her backpack. “I’m going to have to go with...Harry Potter,” she says. “How about you?” I don’t need time to think.
“Hunger Games!” I say. “But, they’re both good,” I add, seeing Everleigh shoot me a playful glare, her green eyes glowing.
“Hey, guys!” A girl with long, dark brown hair waves to us, her light brown eyes shining.
“Hey, Emma!” Everleigh and I say together. We share a smile.
“How’s Harry Potter coming? Like it so far?” Everleigh asks.
“Yeah, it's good! I like it!” Emma says, sitting down on a bench.
“Hi!” A joyful voice snaps me out of a Harry Potter conversation.
“Oh hey, Harley!” Emma says, waving her over.
“Where’s George?” Harley asks.
“I don’t know,” I say. Just then, my phone buzzes. I pull it out of my backpack. “Oh, she’s out sick,” I say, reading her text.
“Oh,” Harley says, sighing.
“What?” Emma asks. “I mean, besides the funniest person in the world being out sick.” Harley’s face brightens, and she leans in.
“Come closer! Lean in!” she says, bringing her voice to a whisper.
“What?” Everleigh asks.
“I got us tickets to a very cool place! It has the best slides, and we are going after school! I think it has waterslides, but I’m not sure though,” Harley whispers, handing us each a ticket.
“So that’s what my mom put in my backpack. My bathing suit!” I say, grinning. Excitement boils up in my belly.
“Woah, cool! Thanks!” Emma says, taking her ticket and smiling.
“Harley, this is super cool!” I say, hugging her.
“Wait, but what about George?” Everleigh asks.
“Hold on,” I say. I pull out my phone and start to text George. I glance at the ticket to read the address.
YOU: Can you meet us at 6, Sunlight drive at 3:30? Harley got us tickets to a fun place
“Anabelle! She’s sick!” Emma says as she grabs my phone to look at what I sent. “Wait. How do you even have your phone? Your mom took it away because you punched Leah! Remember? Did you steal it back?”
“Maybeeee,” I say, grinning. “Don’t tell her,” I add quickly.
“Guys, we all know George! She probably faked it, like she did when we had to take those awful end of year tests!” Harley buts in. My phone buzzes again.
“Wow, she replied already!” I say, amazed.
“What did she say?” asks Everleigh, leaning over to have a look at what she said.
GEORGIA: Yeah sure, no problem I asked my mom and she said ‘as long as you are feeling okay’ and I said kk and she doesn’t know I’m faking this hahaha lol
I read the text out loud, and we all burst out laughing.
“How could she not?” Harley asks.
“We do have a math test today!” Everleigh chimes in.
“And we all know how much she hates math!” Emma says. Then, the bell rings. Harley jumps up.
“Uuuuuuugh!” Harley whispers to me, banging her head on the table. Our teacher, Ms. Topla, taps her pencil on her table.
“Harley, quiet please,” She says. I fill in a problem, and then another, scowling slightly at one as I make a wild guess, not exactly wanting to do the real math.
“Wow, 7th-grade math sure is hard!” Harley whispers to me. Emma turns around in her seat.
“Can you please stop talking? Some people actually want to get a good grade!” I giggle, then turn back to the test. I look over at Everleigh. She gives me a smile. Just then, I hear my phone vibrate.
I stiffen, waiting for Ms. Topla to lecture me on phones in school. But she doesn’t notice. Quietly, I slide my phone out of my backpack under my chair. I read the text, and it’s from George.
GEORGIA: Time does not fly! I am sooooooooooooo bored right now. Oh shoot, sorry, Ms. Topla probably yelled at you for phones in school sorry
YOU: Haha, it is fine, she didn’t notice this time, but don’t send another text, okay? I don’t want Ms. Topla to find out!
I park my bike on the side of a towering building. Harley, Everleigh, and Emma park theirs beside mine.
“Where’s George?” Harley asks, gazing around.
“George?” I call.
“BOO!” George jumps out from around a corner. Everleigh gives a yelp, sort of doglike, Emma and I jump, and Harley stumbles backward and laughs. George’s light umber hair is messy, as though she hasn’t bothered to brush it. Her hazel eyes shine mischievously as she flips her wavy, shoulder-length hair over her shoulder.
“Woah, George, you gave us a scare there!” Emma says, laughing.
“Uh, yeah! Do NOT do that again!” Everleigh says. George giggles.
“So, what are we doing?” George asks, looking at the four of us.
“I got us tickets to some cool place with really fun slides! Maybe waterslides! Your mom put your bathing suit in your backpack, I know, so don’t worry. My mom sent a group text, I think.” Harley says, handing George a ticket.
“Cool! Thanks!” George says, holding her ticket in front of her to read.
“Does everybody have their tickets?” Harley asks.
“Yep.” We all say, taking out our tickets.
“Okay! Let’s go!” Harley pushes open big yellow doors with butterflies on them. As we walk inside, we notice a young woman, sitting on a yellow couch, by a towering slide.
“Hey, kids!” she says, giving us a friendly smile and a wave. “Call me El!” She waves us over with a hand with bright yellow fingernails.
We all walk over to sit by her on the couch, taking off our backpacks. We all hand her our tickets, and she motions to the towering slide above her. There are towering stairs, and then the slide will either take you down a red slide, a green slide, a purple slide, deep blue slide, or a frosty whitish-blue slide. But the slides shoot off from a main yellow part.
“Woah,” George says, her mouth dropping open.
“This is the slide you have tickets for.” El says. She waves us up the stairs. She looks at Harley and only Harley. “Hope you brought your bathing suit!” She says. Harley opens her mouth, probably to say yes, but El says,
“Nevermind. This isn’t really a waterslide.” Weird. Why would you ask if it wasn’t really a water slide? And it either is or isn’t a water slide, lady. It takes all my strength to not say this aloud.
Everleigh starts up the wooden stairs, then Harley, Emma, me, then George. As we climb the towering stairs, we look down at El, who is coming up too, curiosity and suspicion in our eyes.
It takes us five minutes to reach the top, and when we all do, we all have to stop to catch our breath. I lean against the wooden fencing around the edge of the platform. “Who wants to go first?” I ask.
“ME! I DO!” Yells George. El laughs. I narrow my eyes.
“Alright!” El says. George sits down at the slide. “Ready?” El asks.
“I was born ready!” George says. El gives her a push, and she shoots down the slide. I shudder as I hear George’s shrill screams bounce among the walls. Suddenly the screams stop. Mid scream. It feels like a stone has been dropped into my stomach. My muscles tense. If you did something to her...I swear, I will make you wish you were never born.
“Where did she go?” Everleigh whispers.