Author: S. K. Gregory
Genre: YA Dystopian/Urban Fantasy
Copyright 2018 © S.K. Gregory
"Oh my God, this is so unbelievably lame," I muttered.
How much longer was I going to have to endure this torture?
"Just one more picture," Mom insisted. "How about actually going over to the stones, since we came all this way?"
I rolled my eyes and trudged across the muddy grass to Stonehenge. The place was crawling with tourists ahead of the summer solstice. I guess I was a tourist too, although not a willing one.
Mom organized a last minute trip to jolly old England, to stay with some distance relative, a man she insisted I call Uncle Phillip. I'd certainly never heard his name growing up. Then she insisted on this ridiculous day out together. Mom didn't do days out. When she wasn't working at the lab, she was locked away in her office at home.
I got used to doing things by myself, this was completely out of character.
Maybe after almost eighteen years, she's finally remembered that she has a kid.
I could be back home hanging out with Roxy, going to parties instead of visiting some ancient rock formation. I mean who cared about them anyway?
"At least try to smile, Nova," Mom said.
I forced a smile then dropped it as soon as the flash went off.
Leaving Mom to fuss over the camera, I strolled over to the nearest rock. There was a kind of weird energy in the air.
Probably static electricity, I thought. It had been raining for most of the day. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a thunderstorm soon.
I reached out my hand and placed it on the stone. The second my hand connected, the world started to spin, my vision clouded over and the everything around me disappeared. It was dark, so dark, and cold. I couldn't move my body, couldn't speak. Then in the darkness I saw something. A face. Skeletal, terrifying. It opened its eyes and I screamed.
Suddenly I was back at the rock. I jerked my hand away from it, hissing in pain as I scraped my hand. I clutched it to me and looked around at the other tourists. Clearly, I hadn't screamed for real as no one was even looking in my direction. I still felt strange, I could feel a headache forming at my temples. What the hell was that?
"Nova? Is everything okay?" Mom asked.
I showed her my hand.
"Oh! Let me see," she said. As she took my hand, she accidentally jabbed the cut with her nail.
"Ow! Mom!" I tried to pull my hand away, but she grabbed hold of it and squeezed, causing blood to drip onto the grass.
"Hold still, Nova. Let me see it."
After a few seconds of inspecting it, she pulled a tissue from her pocket and pressed it to the cut.
"Go clean it in the restroom."
Holding the tissue in place, I headed for the restroom. So much for her bedside manner. But Mom wasn't that kind of doctor, she was a biologist. Everything was cold and clinical with her. I remember cutting my knee as a child when I fell off my bike. It was a quick inspection, a band aid and warning to be more careful.
I checked the cut, it wasn't too deep, but I ran it under the cold faucet anyway. The last thing I needed was to catch some British disease.
I brushed my auburn bangs out of my eyes and fixed my eyeliner using the cracked mirror above the sink. I tried to put my...vision? Out of my mind. Maybe all this fresh air was making me hallucinate. Or I should stop watching horror movies before going to sleep.
Mom was waiting when I left the restroom.
"Can we go now?" I moaned.
"Yes, fine." Mom sighed. She brushed her light brown hair off her face and gave me a tight smile. We looked nothing alike. I was a redhead with green eyes, a trait Mom often told me was rare. I was a good four inches taller than her too. I guess I took after my father, whoever he was. Mom never spoke about him. I didn't even know his name. My guess was they had a one night stand, but she would never admit to that. Mom had to be in control of everything and there was no way she would have lumbered herself with a kid if she didn't want one. Pity all her behavior said otherwise. I often worried if I was just some science experiment to her. There to be observed but not loved.
Stop it, she does love you. Perhaps she did, but she was definitely not maternal.
We headed back to the car.
"A fascinating structure, isn't it?" Mom said.
I shrugged. "I suppose."
"Come on, Nova. This is supposed to be a fun day out."
I checked to see if my hand had stopped bleeding. It hadn't. "Well I'm sorry, but I don't think a bunch of rocks are fun."
"I thought you would like to get out of Phillip's house for a while. To see a bit of the world."
"Yeah, well now I've seen it. Can we go home now?"
Mom sighed as she started the car. "Why don't we stop somewhere for some ice cream? Chocolate chip? Your favorite."
I bit my tongue to stop myself from saying, "Yeah, when I was five." Instead I shrugged again. "Whatever."
She took us to a little café that served ice cream.
"What's the password for the wi-fi?" I asked the girl behind the counter. She pointed to a chalkboard on the wall with the password – Sprinkles.
Taking a seat at one of the tables, I logged in to check my messages. There was one from Roxy.
Yo, girl, how's jolly old England? Snore. You better get back here soon. Todd was asking about you ;)
Todd? Todd Parish was asking about me? He was the hottest guy in school. I flirted a bit with him before Spring Break, but I never thought he would do anything about it. I messaged her back for the details.
Mom appeared and handed me an ice cream cone.
"Thanks," I said, taking a lick of it. It wasn't bad.
Mom had a cup of coffee for herself. She looked lost in thought.
"There's something I have to tell you," she blurted.
"Oh God, are you dying?"
"What? No! Of course not," she said.
"Good. You just looked so serious," I said.
"Well, it is serious. I have to go away on a trip."
"So? You always go away. I'll be fine by myself."
"I can't leave you by yourself. You'll be staying with your Uncle Phillip."
"He's going to come to our house?"
"No, you'll be staying here."
"For how long?"
"I don't have a time frame yet. At least a couple of weeks."
"Weeks? But Roxy and I have plans..."
"For now, you're staying here," she said firmly.
"I don't even know the guy. I'm nearly eighteen, I can go back home, I'll be fine by myself."
"I've made my decision. I'm sure Phillip can find chores for you to do around the house to keep you busy. The time will fly by."
"Can we go home when you get back?"
Mom sipped her coffee. "Of course."
For some strange reason, I didn't believe her.
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