Once upon a time I wrote an older children’s fantasy fiction novel and did nothing with it. Here’s something:
Endings and Beginnings
Cadence felt a cold chill surround her. She knew what it was. It was not the breeze coming in off of the balcony or the fact that her clothes were torn and tattered. The needle-like sting of cold that Cadence was experiencing was death coming over her. The pain had come and gone, and now all she was feeling was numbness. She saw the pool of blood creeping up around her on the stone floor and she wondered how much longer she would be able to hold on. Her hand gingerly touched her stomach and her fingertips felt the blood seeping out of her open wound. This was not how this was supposed to turn out. In her mind she feared that she would fail and let everyone down, but in her heart she really believed she would fulfill her destiny and return home. The room was spinning as she looked out towards the monster that did this to her and made one last effort to get up off of the floor. It was pointless though and Cadence began coughing up blood, struggling to catch her breath. How did she end up here? The previous months all came rushing back to her in these final moments. Her entire journey up until this point seemed so long and now she was praying for just a few more moments. Cadence’s eyes began to close and as she was fading out of consciousness her mind drifted back to the beginning.
Cadence was a 13 year old New York City girl, through and through. Having grown up in the city her entire life, she was intellectually and culturally advanced, being exposed to all the wonders that the city had to offer. She was a peculiar child, unlike most children her age. Other girls would dress up, put on makeup, talk about boys, and go shopping on the weekends. This was not what Cadence enjoyed doing in the least. She desired something more. Cadence yearned for great adventures and beautiful landscapes. While she did talk and play with the other boys and girls at school, her free time was mostly spent reading and writing, or playing with her dog and cat. At a very young age, Cadence developed a love of animals, rescuing both of her beloved pets off of the street. Tulip, her golden retriever, was about seven now, and Lily, her fluffy Persian cat, was about five. Cadence generally thought that her pets seemed to understand her better than most people so she preferred their company over others. On the surface, she seemed like a happy, well rounded young lady, but deep down she was lonely. She filled the hours of her day reading books, filling her head with thoughts of magic and dragons and far away places. This was where she felt she belonged, in this fantasy world of make believe. The high rises and bright lights of the city could not inspire her and she knew she would never be truly happy here.
Being an only child, her parents loved her more than anything. She was their pride and joy. They had been a happy family for as long as Cadence could remember. Having been slightly estranged from both of her parents extended families, it was always just the three of them. The occasional Christmas and birthday cards would come, sharing news and pictures, but visits were rare. However, this did not bother Cadence and she was content with their current living arrangements.
Cadence’s father was a strong, yet gentle man. He did architecture in the city and helped to construct all sorts of buildings, from mini marts and gas stations to museums and skyscrapers. Cadence always thought her father’s work was fascinating, being able to make something wonderful out of nothing. It was fun to walk around the city on a Sunday morning and have her father point out all of the buildings he had helped design. She felt like her father had a hand in history, signing his name all over the urban jungle. He was a wonderful father, a good provider, and a devoted family man.
Once a week, he would take them all to a new restaurant, never telling Cadence or her mother where the destination would be until they got there. Cadence liked these little adventures. Her father had a way of making everyday life seem extraordinary. Cadence’s mother would occasionally wake up to a bundle of fresh flowers on the pillow next to her. She would smile all morning, fill a vase in the kitchen with water, and delicately put the bouquet in the vase, inhaling the scent as she placed them in. Throughout the whole day, she would gingerly rearrange them and float around the house as if in a dream. Sometimes these simple acts of kindness inspired days of joy and laughter in the house. Every once in a while, Cadence would find notes in her room leading her to a special present hidden somewhere in the house. It was like a treasure hunt and Cadence was always eager to find her prize at the end. Stuffed animals, coloring books, new shoes, nothing was out of the question when it came to the surprise presents. One time, Cadence found a beautiful antique gold pendant. She wore it every day for weeks after finding it. It was her favorite necklace.
Cadence and her father had many hobbies together. Camping, painting, horseback riding, mountain biking, whatever Cadence enjoyed doing, they did. She thoroughly enjoyed spending this special time with her father. Every time they went out she made a mental photograph of their day together. She engraved images of his crooked smile and gleaming spectacles into her mind. She noticed how his hair was always a bit uneven in color, somewhere in between blond and brown. Her favorite thing about him though, was his hands. He had long fingers that were slightly calloused from sketching, short nails with a touch of dirt underneath them, and comforting palms that always felt warm whenever you touched them. He was the kind of man that you just wanted to shake hands with. Cadence loved everything about her father from the rugged texture of his voice to the complexity of his intellect.
Cadence’s mother was an entirely different story. To the untrained eye, Cadence and her mother had a perfectly normal mother-daughter relationship. They went places together, had conversations, and trusted each other, but Cadence never had the special connection with her mother like she did with her father. Her mother always seemed a bit distant with her. It never totally made sense to Cadence, the strange detachment that existed between them. Her mother was a lovely woman, slim and sleek with simple good looks. She rarely wore makeup and always had her hair tucked behind her ears, revealing a stunning pair of diamond earrings. They were an anniversary gift from Cadence’s father and she rarely took them off. They were her most valuable possession. Cadence wished she could grow up to be an effortless beauty like her mother, simple, yet strong. Cadence was a lovely child of course, but had not yet evolved into the kind of woman she yearned to become. Her mother worked part time as a waitress at a high end restaurant in the city. She made excellent money for the hours she worked, and enjoyed her free time. Cadence never remembered her mother ever working full time, but her father worked enough for all of them to live quite comfortably. Cadence’s mother once had aspirations of becoming a dancer and doing ballet at the opera house, but that was many years ago and the dream dwindled down over time. Cadence could not help but feel responsible that she was to blame for her mother not pursuing her dreams. This was a burden that resurfaced whenever she noticed her mother gazing off into the distance, completely out of touch with the world around her.
Altogether, they were an ideal family, loving and charismatic, not perfect, but happy. Cadence was doing excellent in school, her father was one of the most sought out architectural designers in the city, and her mother was making great tips at work. Everything was going so well. Like most great things though, destiny dictated that their pleasant journey was to come to an end and a whole new journey was about to begin. One that was to change the fiber of their being and fulfill all of Cadence’s dreams, both good and bad.