Immortal, novel excerpt


Rainbow Stars, Zimuzo Ugwuanyi, ’22

Samantha Sextonson, '22

Jane’s not so pleased with her village life in a town just outside what would nowadays be London. She finds every opportunity to escape into the woods. The one place where she doesn’t have to worry about being truly special at anything. The one place she feels comfortable.

The woods always smelled like pine. The lumbermen often cut down the pines for hearty wood, so the scent hung in the air all of the time. I loved it. Pine trees were by far my favorite. They always remained so green, so unwaveringly, alive. Even in the darkest times of winter, they stood tall and green and proud to be there. 

The smell faded a bit as I entered deeper though, it became more earthy and less noticeable. The grass was tall enough to tickle the tops of my feet where shoes didn’t cover. The sun still shone through, and before I knew it, I had entered deeper into the woods than I ever had before. And I didn’t care! I had just found a beautiful clearing with sun spots all around.

I fell onto my back and lay there in the soft dewy grass, closing my eyes and thinking about nothing at all. 

It was then that I heard a crack crack crack of something larger and heavier than what I usually heard out here. I sat bolt upright and looked around. The footfalls were coming from the opposite side of the clearing, from the deeper side of the wood. My head immediately went to Wood Dweller! 

I could hear it creeping closer and closer. I rolled into a bush just in time for him to come into full view. It wasn’t a monster as I had imagined, but a boy not much older than I. I gazed at him through the brambles. He was quite unoriginal, but something about his gait made me fade farther into the bush. It scratched my face and I felt warm droplets of what I could only assume was blood inching down my face. My eyes were wide, for this boy brandished a staff that I could have sworn he didn’t have earlier. The berries on the bush squished against my back creating a putrid sweet smell as I watched the boy. He wasn’t brandishing the staff as I originally thought, but rather waving it in complex circles and patterns. 

I sat in awe for a few minutes while this kid waved the stick. I was sure I’d seen him before, but not recently. As I crouched in the bush, I was confused at first as to what he was doing, but it soon became clear that this boy had a purpose for waving that staff. I was sure this lunatic thought something would magically happen. I watched as he set his jaw and scrunched up his face in concentration. It was kind of cute how he did that. Not that I noticed.

But it turns out, I was the one who was crazy because a little puff of purple smoke ejected from the end of his staff. I swear, I almost fell over in amazement. This kid was magic! Which was super cool to me, partly because, well, magic and partly because I had always been interested in my village’s ridiculous obsession with the evils of magic. They would have killed this kid on the spot if they saw what he was doing. In fact, they’ve held other executions for similar reasons, but I don’t think any of my neighbors had seen anything like this. 

The boy smiled and spun in excitement exclaiming some vulgarities while he did so. His smile made me smile and I almost came out from the bushes, but decided against it. What if he was the wood dweller? What if he was the one people told stories about? What if he knew I was here and was just biding his time to kill me? I felt a fresh pang of fear, but also, I felt more alive than ever. If this boy was evil, I was my great aunt Agnes. Warts and all.

I crouched there while he practiced, and each time a wisp of colored smoke spewed out of his staff, I celebrated silently with him. After hours of sitting there, my back had become sore, my eyes heavy, and the skies dark. Even though I enjoyed watching this mysterious magic boy, I knew that it must come to an end soon or else I would be in great trouble with my mother, who disapproved of my being out later than I had to. Especially this deep in the woods.

The boy packed up and headed back into the far reaches of the wood shortly after. So I unwound my braid from the brambles, careful not to pull out the long locks, and set off towards home.