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First Page: Elijah – Fiction

First Page: Elijah – Fiction

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


Fifteen year old Marissa Dubois was very excited about her very first babysitting job.

Technically, she claimed she was experienced since she did have a four year old half-sister from her mother’s second marriage, but she really didn’t spend very much time with her younger sister. Her mother and her second husband, a man five years her senior, spent a good chunk fighting over each and every little thing. Sometimes Marissa would hear them yelling so loudly with such rage that one of them would begin to throw things violently against walls, crashing noises and shattering, sudden cries would fill the air.

Her baby sister, Annalise, would begin to cry, calling out for her mother.

Marissa would lie in bed across the hall from Annalise’s room and ignore her cries, keeping her eyes screwed shut and promising herself that if she could only stay detached and find some way to begin saving some money, she could run away in a year or so and never have to deal with any of them ever again.

That was where her babysitting job came in.

The job had been an unexpected blessing; the neighbors were very strange people, and had been in the entire two years that Marissa and her new ill-fitting family had moved into the little bungalow, tightly squeezed between two nearly identical bungalows on the short, dingy street of the neighborhood they could actually afford to live in. They were as reclusive as could be; for the first year that they had lived there Marissa didn’t even believe that anyone lived in the house. There were never any lights on, and while there was one rusty old truck that resided in the driveway, it never left, not for a single hour of a single day.

Then one day late in May Marissa had been walking home from school and as she passed the neighbor’s house she saw the fleeting shadow of someone quickly ducking out of the window as her gaze reached their level. Pausing in her steps, she had frowned, looking at the window for longer and even going so far as to stop, staring in the curtained window of the house.

No one appeared, so feeling vaguely creeped out, she continued on her way up the driveway and into her own shoddy bungalow.

She hadn’t said another word about it.

Shortly thereafter, she witnessed a silver Lumina pull into the driveway one day, and out came a rather stern-looking woman with impressive posture, glasses and her dark hair pulled back into a no-nonsense bun. When Marissa nosily inquired to her mother about the strange visitors next door, her mother had irritably informed her that it was the new nanny, and that Marissa would do best to mind her own business and stop spying on the neighbors.

First Page: Child of the Essence – YA Fantasy

First Page: Child of the Essence – YA Fantasy

Welcome to First Page Sunday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


On the morning of my sixteenth birthday, as I doze in and out of my inner fantasies, a large gloved hand sweeps the hair from my forehead. I peek one eye open, shifting on the mattress to see who it is, and the corner of my mouth lifts.

Richard.

All week he hinted he was planning something for my birthday, teasing as I followed him on his afternoon duties. And now here he is, sitting on the edge of my bed with stubble on his cheeks and a curly mess of brown hair hanging to his chin. He wears his guard uniform. He must have been relieved from duty only minutes ago, but his eyes are bright and alert with excitement.

Grabbing his arm, I curl my fingers around it, keeping it close to my body, and close my eyes once more. I don’t want to get out of bed. For one, it is ridiculously early; dawn has yet to arrive, starlight still visible and a cool spring breeze wafting through my open window. And it is my birthday. I should be able to choose when I wish to wake up.

But Richard doesn’t wait for my consent. In one big swooping motion that sets my heart beating much too fast to be normal, he lifts me from the mattress and cradles me against his armoured chest. With my boots over his shoulder and my cardigan on my lap, he carries me down the stairs, through the empty corridors of the manor. The way he holds me, snugly against his chest, fills me with his warmth. I find myself falling asleep again in his arms until the scent of the stables reaches my nose and I’m brought back to the waking world with all its smells and sights and sounds.

At the rear of the manor, the stables are dank and dark, but when we enter them I clearly spot my favourite horse, Dolly’s tawny silhouette chewing methodically while she waits outside her stall. A saddle is already strapped onto her back, the bags bulging with supplies for our ride.

Richard sets me onto a bench beside Dolly’s stall and begins lacing my boots.

“Where are we going?” I say, scrubbing at my eyes. Nothing ever happens this early in the morning. The flies that usually swarm the horses in the daylight aren’t even buzzing, though I spot a few crawling along the tops of the nearby stalls, sluggish and dismissive of Richard’s and my closeness.

Maybe he wants to show me the sunrise, though I’ve seen it many times before from my window.
Richard finishes lacing one boot and goes to work on the other, not lifting his eyes to mine, but his ears quirk under the curls of his hair telling me he’s smiling. “Have you ever heard of a surprise?”

Yes, and I despise them.

He finishes with the other boot and I slip my arms into my cardigan. Richard lifts me onto the saddle, then swings up behind me, his hands grazing my sides as he handles the reins and nudges Dolly into motion.

It starts off as a slow canter as we move away from the stables, then our speed increases to a gallop. In a dazed state, my head lolls back against Richard and I rest my eyes waiting for our motion to stop. I think of where he’s taking me. Nowhere I have not been; I have been pretty much everywhere within the priest’s property. I’ve spent almost my whole life here, after all.