I • How It All Began

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The morning mist fell soft on Cecilia's freckled face, causing her to grin and shut her eyes. She was lying comfortably on her back in the middle of Chaney's Field, a short walk from her father's farm. Though not part of her father's property, the Field was not a part of anyone else's either.

Presumably, the land had once belonged to a fellow called Chaney but was long since been abandoned, becoming the property of the countryside and landlord to the rabbits, foxes, badgers, and deer who resided in the nearby Setwood forest. Cecilia had only been a small girl when she first ventured to Chaney's Field, declaring it was the most idyllic place in the whole countryside and was absolutely convinced Winnie the Pooh lived somewhere nearby. Chaney's was perfectly established: far enough away from Setwood village to be peaceful and private, yet close enough to her father's farm to feel safe and secure. Best of all, besides an occasional rabbit hunter or two, Cecilia was the only human to her knowledge who regularly visited the Field, giving the place an almost clandestine feel.

Despite having to be at school in roughly ten minutes, Cecilia preferred to remain outdoors, taking in the early morning air and the amora of the remaining wildflowers which covered every acre of the long and untamed grass. It was only late August, yet it already felt like Autumn. When she was small and carefree, she played all day in the open air, explored the neighbouring forest, and wished hundreds of fond wishes by the old well. All these attractions were notable favourites, yet the Old Barn was Cecilia's most cherished destination. Quietly situated just where the Field's borders turn into woodland, the building was long since been abandoned when Cecilia happened upon it one day, claiming it as her own. Many a joyful hour had been spent in the Barn's lofts; reading tales of thrilling adventure (The Hobbit was a particular favourite), studying the universe with Aristotle, or getting lost on the moors with the Brontë sisters. In Chaney's Field, reality and worldly worries were left behind and quickly forgotten.

"CECILIA!"

At the sound of her name, Cecilia sat up, which revealed her curly red hair to be assorted with blades of grass. Her uniform was a slightly wrinkled, her cardigan a tad dirty. Squinting, she noticed a figure off in the distance coming towards her, and with a smile, she began to wave him over.

"Oi, Cec!" called a boy clad in a blue and grey school uniform resembling Cecilia's, carrying two brown bags. He was tall and of athletic build, about fifteen or sixteen had black hair which was brushed off his face, bright blue eyes, and a round nose. He finally came up next to her, huffing from running. "Get up. C'mon, let's go. C'mon!"

Cecilia greeted him with a warm smile. "Good morning to you, too. How'd you know I'd be here?"

"Because I know you," he said with a roll of his eyes, holding up one of the school bags he carried. "Also, I found this deserted by the fence, concluding your location with any reasonable doubt."

"But of course!" Cecilia replied playfully, winking up at him, "For where else would an individual of my particular predilection be?"

"On her way to school," he grumbled, grabbing her right hand and pulling her up onto her feet, "like you promised Miss Hartford yesterday, I'll remind you. Now come on."

"Ugh, must I, Isaac?" Cecilia groaned, trudging after the boy as he pulled her through the field.

"I really shouldn't have to answer that," he rolled his eyes again, tossing her her brown school bag.

"But it's such a bore!" she whined, catching the bag and shifting its straps up on her shoulder.

"Oh, PLEASE." Isaac scoffed, shaking his head as he checked his watch. 7:46. The bell was at 8:00. It's at times like this I wish I hadn't broken my bike, he thought with a sigh.

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