Crystal's Chant (Pt. 1)

Submitted into Contest #101 in response to: Write a story in which the same line recurs three times.... view prompt

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Fantasy Kids Fiction

“But who is she?” I asked the Woodland Elementary school principal, Mr. Singh, an overweight divorcee who was a little too handsy for my liking. He slurped his black coffee, catching droplets in his dark mustache, before the scorching liquid dribbled down his chin onto his green and blue stripped tie. “Where did she come from?”


I scrutinized the witchling with squinted eyes as I felt around in my oversized purse. There was my wallet, a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, an electronic ebook reader, my phone, makeup, a notepad, and pens.


“Where are my glasses? Little buggers. I can never find them when I need them.”


“They’re on top of your head, Miss Mandy,” Mr. Singh said dryly. My fingers shot up to the red frames, entangling them from my curly auburn hair. “Honestly, we need to glue those ugly goggles onto your face. I don’t understand why you don’t join the twenty-first century and get laser eye surgery.”


Choosing to giggle, I suppressed the vicious retort itching to pass my dry, cracked lips. But he was my boss, and I needed to stay in his good graces if I wanted to keep my coveted job. 


“Silly me,” I said, tapping the side of my head with my palm. Mr. Singh blinked at me before gulping the rest of his mug dry. I turned back with clearer vision to observe the five-year-old girl who sat on a wooden bench, watching the other children play soccer in the playground. The witchling’s raven hair and pale skin were typical of someone of her hierarchy, but I’d never seen eyes like hers before. Thunderstorms. They looked like threatening clouds in a thunderstorm. “What am I to do with this…girl? Is it even safe for her to be here?”


“Her name’s Crystal Raye. She’s visiting her aunt and uncle while her parents are chanting in the Shadows. They won’t be back for some time. Years, even.”


“She’s a Chanter’s daughter?” My hand grasped at my throat. “You want me to teach a Chanter’s daughter? I knew she was an upper level, but a Chanter’s daughter?”


“Both of her parents are Chanters, actually.”


I gasped. 


I knew little about the Chanters, except that they were rare, powerful witches who danced on the line between good and evil. Ever since the referendum voted to separate witches by the level of their powers’ strength, our school consisted of students from families with minimal magical skills to none at all. None of them could conjure up creatures or control the weather simply by uttering a series of words three times, like a Chanter could. Witchlings with that type of power usually went to one of the private schools the next country over. 


“But why? Why is she here?”


“They wouldn’t say. All I know is that we’re to take good care of her while she attends our school.”


“But why my class? Miss Beverly has more experience with the Top Witches. She taught before the referendum, so she knows how to deal with their sort.”


Mr. Singh raised a bushy eyebrow.


“Do you have problems with Chanters, Miss Mandy?”


“No, it’s not that—”


“Good. So, no more complaining. Just monitor her, and whatever you do, don’t let the witchling chant. Nobody knows if her powers have kicked in yet, or how powerful she is since she has Chanter’s blood on both sides. Who knows? You might be looking at the next world leader. Maybe she’ll be the one to set things right and reunite us.”


“Or she could damn well kill us all,” I mumbled as Mr. Singh left the classroom. I continued to stare out into the schoolyard, waiting for monkeys to fall from the clouds, or for the kids to stand on their heads, spinning like tops. “All I have to say is she better not chant while I’m around.”


The witchling turned her gaze from the children towards me. I sucked in a quick breath.


Did she hear me?


No, she couldn’t have. We had the whole yard, a crowd of rambunctious kids and a glass window between us. There was no way she could have heard me. 


I played different strategies in my mind as I headed towards where the kindergarten classes lined up. The bell rang just as I exited the building. Children ran to their designated lines with squeals or moans, leaving the game to be continued at recess. 


Crystal wasn’t amongst them.


She didn’t budge, even when the second bell rang. Her petite frame reminded me of a statue I’d seen in the Capital several years ago. Cold, grey, and timeless. I shuddered unintentionally as I stopped in front of her. 


“Crystal, you must go in line when the bell rings…Crystal?” The witchling didn’t even acknowledge my presence, forget about my order to line up. 


What am I going to do with this one? She’s causing trouble already, and she hasn’t even stepped into the school yet.


I stood closer until my shadow enveloped her. I straightened my shoulders and swallowed hard. 


“Listen here, Crystal. I don’t know how things went in your old school, but here at Woodland Elementary, we listen to our teachers. Is that clear? I have a few rules in my classroom for kids like you. There will be no chanting in class. I know school is where you’re supposed to practice your craft, but we only deal with the basics in my class. No chanting.”


Sparks of light flashed through the clouds of her eyes, aiming straight for me. I resisted the urge to cringe in retreat. I needed to stand firm. But what would happen if I punished her with detention? What would she do? How was I supposed to discipline this witchling? This Chanter witchling?


I sighed and faked the sweetest smile I could manage before taking a seat beside the youngster. 


“It’s tough being the new kid, huh?” I asked her. She continued to stare at me sullenly. “The teachers and kids are nice here. Most of us are magical like you and your parents, but Crystal, no one is allowed to use magic here unless it’s for a class exercise. Do you want to come see what we’re doing today? We’re going to be learning what ingredients to use in a protection potion. We might even make satchels to protect you in your sleep. Do you want to learn how to make one?”


“I already know how to protect people,” she whispered. She narrowed her pebbled eyes. “I know how to hurt them, too. It’s easy.” 


“Well, I hope you don’t hurt anyone. It’s not nice.” I clasped my hands together to stop them from trembling. The little girl took notice and smiled. “But I’m going to show you the ingredients for making protection potions. Maybe I’ll even let you help with a special demonstration.”


“I don’t need potions,” Crystal said through clenched teeth. “Potions are for non-magic folk. Are potions all you can do?”


My cheek stung as she slapped me with her words. 


“Either you come with me or you stay here, bored all day,” I said, standing. “The choice is yours.”


Before I was halfway through the empty schoolyard, Crystal pried herself from the bench and followed me in with a frown.


I got the witchlings to quiet down and introduced Crystal to the class. The students snickered behind cupped hands or simply stared at her. Crystal ignored them, taking her seat at the front of the class. 


“Okay class, has anyone heard of angelica?” I asked, trying desperately to address the students with my regular professionalism, but all I could feel were her eyes on me. “Anyone?”


“She’s sitting right there,” a student answered, pointing at a chubby girl in the back row. “We know her name already, Miss Mandy.”


The students laughed. I fought back the urge to roll my eyes.


“No, Craig. I wasn’t talking about Angelica the witchling. I meant the herb. It’s one of the strongest herbs for protection. Witches use it in powerful spells, in exorcisms, to heal people, or remove hexes. There’s so many uses for it. See how pretty it is. They look like tiny bouquets of flowers.”


“Can it protect us from mean big brothers?”


“What about house fires?”


The kids threw plausible scenarios at me for several minutes. I let them get it out of their system, giving them a simple nod or shake of my head. Everyone seemed to be having a good time except Crystal, who stared at her hands as she tapped her fingers. 


“Can we protect ourselves from weird new kids?” 


Crystal frowned while students cackled. 


“John!” I gasped. “What did I tell you about teasing?”


“That it’s not nice?”


“Exactly. You wouldn’t want someone to hex you one day, do you?”


“No, Miss Mandy.”


I scrutinized the classroom, taking a quick mental note of Crystal’s foul expression. 


I pulled out several herbs, oils, and crystals from locked shelves. 


“So besides the angelica, we’ve got agrimony, vervain, dill, patchouli oil, fire agates, and black tourmalines.” I described other uses for each ingredient in between disciplining the class. They were more rambunctious than usual. I glanced at Crystal, who was playing with the tips of her hair as she stared at the empty satchels. “I think we should make sure they have some extra punch so we’ll be adding a pinch of dragon’s blood to make the mix more potent.” 

To prepare, I cleaned my hands in a sink stationed in the classroom’s corner. 


“You’ve got to clean your hands before making the mixture. While I mix the herbs and crystals in a bowl, I’d like you to line up and wash your hands.”


While the students washed their hands, I mixed the herbs and crystals into a large bowl. Each witchling took a muslin bag and waited for me to scoop the mixture into the bag, adding five drops of patchouli oil. I held back a laugh as each student sniffed at the satchels. 


“Crystal, don’t you want one as well?” I asked when I noticed she didn’t move from her seat. “Every witch should have one.”


“You are not witches,” Crystal scoffed. She turned her icy stare towards me. “I told you. I don’t need potions and all that low-level junk.”


The room fell silent for about ten seconds before the group exploded in anger.


“Who does she think she is?”


“New girl thinks she’s better than all of us.”


“She’s a booger head,” John quipped in with the others. Everyone laughed, except Crystal and me. “Booger head! Booger head! Booger head!”


Crystal stood up and faced the classroom. 


“Crystal, take your seat, please.” My voice shook. Fear pooled in my belly. I didn’t know what would happen if I didn’t get the kids to stop bullying Crystal. “Witchlings, take your seats and quiet down. Now!”


Students scrambled to their seats, except for Crystal, who continued to face the class. 


“Do you want to see what a booger head looks like, John?” she snarled. “You’re trying to use chants against me?”


My heart rocketed out of my throat.


“Crystal! No, he wasn’t chanting.”


She turned her head and glared at me.


“He repeated himself three times—that’s a chant. A stupid one, but still. I’m gonna show him how to really do it. I’m gonna show everyone.”


“No! Crystal, please take your seat.”


Crystal turned towards the classroom.


“One, two, three, you can’t see. One, two, three, you can’t see—”


“No!”


“One, two, three, you can’t see.”


The room went black. Screams filled the room. My own included.


“Crystal, please! Stop this!” I pleaded into the black.


“Do you see what real magic can do?”


I felt around my desk for the black tourmaline crystals. There were plenty of them in the satchels, but Crystal blinded us all, despite protective spells and ingredients throughout the room. The black tourmaline was supposed to protect and send back all evil spells—but it wasn’t working in small doses. Perhaps spreading the crystals out more may help, but I couldn’t feel them. 


“Your crystals and herbs won’t do anything against me. My power is stronger.”


“Miss Mandy, what is going on here?” Mr. Singh’s voice pierced through the darkness. 


“Victor, Victor, she’s blinded us. We can’t see.”


“Crystal—”


“Stay where you are, Mister. I was only playing with them. See? One, two, three, make them see, make them see. One, two, three, make them see, make them see. One, two, three, make them see, make them see.”


Kids were crying, huddled in their chairs or cringing on the floor as our sight came back, and Mr. Singh simply stared at me with his mouth agape. 


“What happened?” he asked, stunned. 


I looked at Crystal, who wore a satisfied grin with eyes swimming with clashing dark clouds. I rushed out of the room, grabbing Mr. Singh with me. 


“We can’t have her in here anymore. She’s dangerous.”


“They warned me about this.”


“And you didn’t think to tell me? She can’t stay here.”


“Let me call her aunt and uncle. We’ll see what we can do. For now, try to keep things calm.”


I blew out an angry breath and entered the classroom.


“—picture me times three. You will picture me times three.”


The class gasped.


“I can see three of you, Crystal!”


“Wow, how’d’ya do that?”


The students were smiling. They were applauding Crystal and making requests. I couldn’t believe it.


“Alright now class, settle down.” 


Everyone scurried back to their seats, except for Crystal. Her grin hardened as she turned her gaze to me. I cleared my throat to demand she sit, but she slowly moved on her own.


“Miss Mandy, why can’t you teach us to do magic like Crystal?”


“Why is she so powerful? She’s only a witchling!”


The students bombarded me with questions. I was trying to come up with an acceptable response when two witches appeared by Crystal’s desk. Everyone gasped, except Crystal. 


They were about my age, but dressed as if they were from the dark ages with dark cloaks. One look at the woman’s face told me who they were. They were Crystal’s parents.


Chanters. 


“H-h-hello, welcome to our class,” I greeted them. “Is something wrong?”


“Hello, Miss Mandy,” the man said. “Yes, there is something wrong. I heard our dear sweet little angel was terrorizing the class. Is this true?”


I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to lie, but I’d sweat each time I thought of Crystal getting mad at me. Or worse—the parents. 


“We had an incident. I asked her not to chant in class—this is a kindergarten class. We only learn the basics here. No active magic.”


“Yes, we know that. We explained that to Crystal before we left.”


“But Mom, what they’re doing is not magic.”


The two chanters looked at the satchels, herbs, oils, and crystals. 


“They most certainly are performing magic. It’s just not the kind you are accustomed to. That’s why you’re here. To learn the basics.”


“But Mom, they’re not witches.”


“Hey!” the class howled in unison. 


“Yes, they are. They’re just not as powerful as you—yet. Just because you came into your powers early doesn’t mean they won’t become formidable themselves. You need to learn it all if you want to reach your full potential.”


“But Mom, it’s so boring.” 


“Stop being a snob. Do we have to suspend your powers?”


“No!” every witchling called out.


“We like her powers,” Craig said with a shrug. 


The parents looked at each other, having a silent conversation.


“Crystal, if we hear of you using your magic in any dark way or without Miss Mandy’s permission, we will suspend it. Do you understand?”


Crystal’s head hung low.


“Yes, Daddy, but she doesn’t like me.” 


“Who?”


Crystal pointed at me.


All three of them looked at me.


“It’s just I’ve never dealt with a-a-a chanter before. I shouldn’t have taken out my nervousness on you. Crystal, I’m sorry. Can we start over?”


“Can I do magic sometimes—real magic?” she looked at her mother, who gave her a nudge. “I mean active magic?”


“Please, Miss Mandy!” the rest of the class pleaded.


How could I say no?


“I think we can do that—as long as you never ever chant something that will hurt someone.”


“She does more than chant,” Crystal’s father said. “This one is special. We don’t even know her full abilities yet. That’s why she’s here.”


Crystal smirked when I let out a nervous giggle.


“We’ll be back if we hear wind of you acting up again, little one. Miss Mandy, here is a card with a chant on it. If she acts up, we insist you read the card. We blessed it so we will hear your words.”


I took the card with a shaky hand. 


“We’ve got to get back to the Shadows. Come, give us a hug.”


Crystal hugged them and they left as fast as they came.


I took a seat myself and ran my hand through my hair.


“Crystal? Would you like to teach all of us some active magic? Show us a bit of what you can do? Without hurting anyone or breaking anything, okay?”


The students’ smiles shone brighter than the sun.


 “So, Crystal. You, my dear, have the floor.”


I sat back, fiddling with the card in my pocket, and watched as the five-year-old came to life. 


July 07, 2021 14:55

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5 comments

04:13 May 11, 2022

I absolutely love this story! I find myself wanting more, and wishing I didn't read so fast. Encode... encore

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13:39 Jun 15, 2022

I have to get to work on the next part.

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Ruth Smith
04:20 Jul 09, 2021

This is a very good story, Trina. I enjoyed how you developed Crystal's character and how everyone went from suspicion to accepting and Miss Mandy being shown by children how to accept. And I'd like to see these characters some more.

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08:45 Jul 09, 2021

Thank you so much Ruth! I loved writing this story to be honest. I'm fairly new to writing fantasy so I was a bit nervous at first, but it was a lot of fun in the end. I was sad that the story had to end and I was thinking about making it a longer story. You've inspired me to bring Crystal and the others back. Thanks again. :)

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Ruth Smith
12:12 Jul 09, 2021

You are welcome. ;)

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