The Amulet Notebook
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A story about a not-so-ordinary girl who gets mixed up in the affairs of another world via a strange necklace which gives her vivid dreams of a place where unicorns of all things reside. The first draft of the first chapter, which will probably be more or less thrown out when I retry this story. xD
High School and Homework
Summer looked out the classroom window wistfully, tapping her pencil idly on her desk top. The room was filled with the din of students, hard at work at keeping up with gossip. As if there wasn’t enough as it was. Her bored gaze flicked up at the far wall, checking the clock over the door. Ten minutes. Ten minutes until class was over, the day was over, and even the school week. It was Friday. Could she find something to entertain herself with for ten minutes?
She pulled out a small compact mirror, checking to see that the little makeup she ever had on- a thin streak of liner and eye shadow that Tayler managed to put on her every morning before school- was still intact. She never got cosmetic anything, unless it was given to her. She noted with relief that it was still on her face, and as clear as the pale color would ever be. She sighed, looking at the rest of her reflection.
Her favorite feature would have to be her eyes. They were dark grey, maybe blue, a very deep, opaque color. She had a slim, rounded chin, and thin lips, giving her an uptight and shy look. Not that it didn’t fit her personality to a tee. She combed her fingers through her hair, taming some of the long, dark locks. Her hair was thin and often limp, and reached her waist. She tended to keep it pulled back and out of the way.
She noticed that some of her blonde roots were showing through. She found the money to dye her hair, once every two months, to its current dark brown color. She probably would have dyed it black, but that would have been too stark, and her mother wouldn’t let her. She already thought it a waste of money, getting her long hair done like this.
It was just her mother’s opinion, though. Summer had reasons. For one, she often found that blondes in the school were concerned mainly about their looks. If nothing else, her natural complexion made her seem washed out. She wanted to remain unnoticed, not invisible.
Tayler’s hair was also light, and she also dyed it. Ethan always liked to tease her about it, if so much as one hair showed its true color, or if he ever saw a picture of her as a younger kid, back when she didn’t bother with things like hair coloring or dark makeup.
Tayler was her best friend. She couldn’t say ever, if you counted the girl who had once lived in the apartment below hers when they were both little girls. But Tayler was still one of the few people who actually got Summer. For one, she never questioned about her family; a big help, since she wouldn’t have said anything, anyways. Her family wasn’t her topic of choice, to put it lightly. She also never bugged her about guys. For some reason unknown to her, every girl in Summer’s school, cheerleader, punk, or soccer player, let their lives revolve around boys. It was sickening, really. Tayler was a welcome relief, even though she was as obsessed as the next.
Ethan was one of Tayler’s friends, who started hanging around when Tayler grew attached to Summer. The other girls, the fake boy-obsessive ones who ran the school, thought they were a cute couple, Tayler and Ethan. Summer, after getting to know the two of them, couldn’t think of a more bizarre match, but Tayler said let other people think what they want. It gives them something to do, which will keep them off your back for at least a few moments at a time.
Summer let out a sigh, poking at the few books she had left out. One was a used textbook with various forms of the phrase “You suck” penciled in on the page edges and a broken spine. Another, a library book with a piece of torn paper as a bookmark. She pushed them carelessly in to her backpack, leaving just her notebook on the desk. She flipped through the pages, looking over the sketches that filled the spaces and margins.
She liked to draw dragons and little girls with anime eyes and large wings, and strange birds with long tails that she came up with on a whim. She didn’t let people look at her spare scribbles. People thought she was weird and detached enough, without having to deal with looking at pictures of make-believe lizards with wings. She turned the book over, flipping the pages quickly and watching a small animation in the corners of the leaflets spring to life.
It was a secret joke between Tayler and her. It was a drawing of a simple stick person, pantomiming that he/she was choking, and then falling over the edge of the paper in a dramatic flourish. The first of the cartoons was surrounded by smudged pencil marks, where they had continuously named, erased, and renamed the misfortunate character after people they didn’t like at the time. The erased names spanned anywhere from Courtney Wilkins, the school’s vision in pink, to Mr. Couther, the monotone math teacher.
An abrupt bell sounded through Summer’s thoughts, and she sighed complacently, slinging her backpack over a slim shoulder, and pushing her way through the swarm of people grouping at the doorway, then burst in to the loud hallway. She weaved her way through the crowd, nearly having to grab her locker handle to keep from being swept past it in the herd.
One girl stopped in the hallway, sparing a glance at Summer. She checked over her shoulder to her friends, who were looking at her strangely, then walked over to Summer, a sly smirk spreading over her face.
The girl leaned on a locker next to Summer’s, and just stood there, surveying her silently before speaking.
“Hello, Summer.” She said sweetly, laying the syrup on thick. Summer looked up, and gave the girl a skeptical look.
She faced someone an inch or so taller than her, though her heels were accountable for most of that height. She wore a sheer button-down dress shirt, with the bottom tied in a knot at her waist, over a bright green camisole alive with sequins. Her short skirt sported a silver chain, with the glittering letters ‘J-O-S-H’ on it. Summer had to resist the urge to shield her eyes from the gleam coming off of her outfit, much less her face. The girl wore more makeup then even Tayler, except you could barely notice most of it, unless you were this close.
‘Hi,” she said uncertainly, trying to remember her name. “Stephanie, right?” The girl smiled at her like a Barbie doll, and pointed with a manicured fingernail to the spiral in her hands.
“My friends and I were wondering, what all you keep in there.” She ignored the dark look she got for her statement. “After all, everyone sees you drawing in it all the time, especially in math, right?” She pointed over her shoulder. “Jen is in your class. You two ought to start hanging out some. I’m sure you have a lot in common.” Summer couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow.
What was this girl up to? Whatever it was, it was annoying, and so far going no where. But Stephanie answered her question before she could get it out. “Of course, you’d probably wonder why. I mean, you two don’t hang out now, right?” She flipped a thin lock of polished hair. “But you know, Jen is in art, too. Not in your class, of course, but she has it in her schedule.” With this, she laughed softly.
Summer sighed. “You think we could be friends, just because she draws every now and then?” She asked it politely, consciously trying to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. The other girl, Stephanie, didn’t seem to notice.
“Yeah. Maybe you two could compare some of your drawings.” Summer nodded at that. So that was where this was going. She lifted her chin slightly, but came off only looking interested. “She has a bunch of pictures, stored away somewhere.” Summer nodded again, waiting for the words to just come out. “Maybe you could show her some of yours. Like, what you’re always drawing in that notebook. A friend of hers, Don, said he saw them once. Said he thought they were pretty good.”
Summer nodded once more, rewarding herself for a good guess. All this girl Stephanie wanted was to see the drawings she made in that notebook. Also known as the drawings she never let anyone see. What she hadn’t foreseen was her mentioning Don.
The boy sat behind her in her last class, and had once caught her sketching another of her dragons. He had laughed, calling them ridiculous, and said she was stuck in preschool. If he had thought they were ‘pretty good,’ he hadn’t let her know about it.
She smiled at the other girl, not bothering to hide her grimace.
“Why would you want to see a notebook full of little, pointless sketches?” she asked, watching the sweet grin start to slip off the other girl’s face. “Surely not so you can prance around with it all through school and laugh at me, is it?” Her voice was quiet, but her teeth showed, as much of a smile as a growling wolf’s might have been. “Next time you want to embarrass me, just skip the bad act, and steal it.” Stephanie glared at her, her sweet expression completely dissolved in to humiliation and indignity.
She reached for the notebook still in Summer’s hands, trying to snatch it away from her. Summer slipped it from one hand to the other, so that it was on her far side.
“Nice try, but you’re not going to even remotely get it, moving that slow.” She smirked, and looked over Stephanie’s shoulders at her friends. “Have a good day, hmm?” They just looked at each other, unsure of what to do. Stephanie gave them an idea, by giving Summer one last glare storming away with flustered poise.
She deftly spun the lock until it gave way with a click. She opened it slowly, absentminded. She dumped two textbooks in to her locker, then closed it with a crash and a bang as the delicately stacked contents tumbled over. She sighed and shouldered her backpack, feeling it hit her back in time with her gait.
She sighed as the crowd eventually pushed her out in to the bright sunlight, taking a deep breath in of fresh air and wishing it didn’t smell so much like gasoline and exhaust.
As she walked past the building corner, Summer felt two hands land on her shoulders, spinning her around. She looked up to see Tayler’s face right in hers, looking at her with false reproach.
“What, are you going to be walking home alone today, leaving us sitting and waiting for you?” Tayler was a good three inches taller then her, with a pointy face and large brown eyes framed by dark makeup. Her hair was short and nearly black, with cherry red streaks on the right side of her head. She wore nearly all black, the only color in her outfit being a band name painted in bright scarlet on her shirt. Her slender wrists were crowded with thin black and red bracelets, looped through each other, and her ears sported more piercings than she cared to count.
Ethan was just behind her, a grin on his face. Ethan reminded Summer of herself, far more than Tayler ever did. It didn’t help that the girl wore expensive clothes and jewelry, where Summer had only hand-me-downs and whatever she managed to get from the consignment shop or Goodwill.
Ethan had a head of long, curling locks, cut like a skater’s, and stuck somewhere between honey and chestnut colored. Tayler liked to start up debates with Summer to figure out exactly what color Ethan’s hair was, often picking up the locks as he stood there, bored and abused by his two best friends. His eyes were much easier to place; brown. Just brown, without even the little gold specks that Tayler’s were graced with. He had a square chin, and a rather boyish look, overall. If it weren’t for his height, most people would have had trouble realizing that he was in high school at all.
Tayler’s frown broke in to a smile, and she slung an arm over Summer’s slim shoulders, walking off through the lawn towards the street, dragging her friend with her.
“So, what are you planning for this weekend?” she asked lightly, her large boots making well-defined prints in the muddy grass. Summer shrugged, getting Tayler’s arm off of her shoulders. She cast a sly glance towards her.
“Why, what have you got planned?”
“Oh, nothing. I was just thinking that we could try crashing Molly Yullen’s party tomorrow. How does that sound?”
Summer sighed, shaking her head. Tayler and Molly used to be friends, and now Tayler spent a great deal of time trying to irk her.
“I’ll come, I guess. Just don’t expect me to do much, there but stand around.”
Tayler flicked her on the ear. “Girl, you got to stop standing on the sidelines so much. Take a risk once and a while, will you?” Ethan came to be walking backwards in front of the two girls.
“What do you want her to do, Tayler?” he asked, crossing his arms and throwing himself off-balance. “You know better than anyone, she doesn’t do pranks.” Tayler nodded, laughing.
“Yeah, I know. Summer the good girl never does anything.” She ignored the reproachful glance she received in return as the three reached the sidewalk.
She busied herself with using the curb to wipe mud from the soles of her boots. Ethan just kind of knocked his toes against the sidewalk to shake the dirt off his shoes, and Summer leaned against a telephone pole, waiting for Tayler. She walked so lightly, she barely even left footprints in wet cement, much less pick up mud from the school’s muddy yard.
Tayler finished scraping the bottoms of her shoes, and straightened up again, judging the distance between where she stood and the street corner was, as if wishing she didn’t have to walk all the way to her own house every day.
“I tell you two; as soon as I get my license I’m driving both of you to school. No more walking anywhere, especially for me.” Summer shrugged, even though it went unnoticed. She didn’t mind walking. She liked being able to move around; anything as long as she wasn’t stuck sitting still, not doing anything. Besides, it was Tayler’s own fault she wore such big, heavy shoes all the time. No wonder her feet hurt so much.
The walk home was what Summer called, in short, uneventful. Tayler and Ethan debated back and forth over whether or not they should actually start homework when they got home, or take some time to unwind first. Summer kept out of it, not really caring enough to have one of them jump down her throat for it. They both had quick tempers, and had a tendency to jump at anyone who interrupted them, especially when they started their little spats.
As they neared Tayler’s house, she looked up at the large, luxurious house; two stories, plus an attic. She thought the place was huge, for just one family to live in. But then again, neither of her friends had seen where she lived. A small apartment, in an old complex nearby, with two bedrooms, which was more than some of her neighbors could ask for. She sighed, shrugging it off. People were dealt different hands. Tayler’s just happened to be an enormously lucky one.
When they walked in, Summer dropped her bag behind the couch, where she could pick it up on the way out. Ethan let his take up a chair in the corner, and Tayler just had hers fall to the carpet in the middle of the room. She had a low regard for respect, Summer figured. In all the time she had known this girl, she had never, not once, put things where they were supposed to, before someone got on her back about it.
Tayler jumped down on the sofa, digging through two cushions to find the remote. Ethan took the far cushion, pretending he was mad at her for making him lose the argument before. Summer squeezed in between them, regarding each with a reproachful frown.
“Aww, come on. Are you two going to be like this the rest of the afternoon? Besides, Tayler; it’s not like you ever do much homework with us anyways.” Tayler shrugged, turning the TV on.
“Maybe, but I never get to watch with someone.” At that, Ethan stuck out his tongue, and looked forward, pretending he wasn’t watching TV, though both girls could see his eyes flicking towards the screen every few seconds. “Ethan, boy, why don’t you just own up. You don’t want to do homework anymore than either of us. And you’re watching it. I know you are.” He shook his head, slapping his hands over his ears. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He claimed, as Tayler reached over Summer to grab at his arm.
That was how Summer’s days went. Go to school, don’t pay attention, walk to Tayler’s house, and all day, hang out with a pair of friends that she was barely more than a third wheel for. It wasn’t as if they meant to. And it didn’t bother her. She was used to not being noticed as much as others were. She was soft-spoken, and not very outgoing. A lot of people thought she was weird, or boring. She couldn’t figure out, though, which one was worse.
After several minutes of scuffle, Tayler let go of Ethan’s arm, and he ‘agreed’ to watch with them, without bugging them about homework. Summer had to roll her eyes at that.
An hour went by before Ethan started poking the person closest- which happened to be Summer. She hissed at him through her teeth, “Quit it. I’m trying to watch,” she motioned towards the screen, not even remembering the name of the show, “this. So cut it out.” She looked around, leaning over the top of the couch to see her backpack, a pale grey tabby cat lying nearly on top of it. His wide yellow eyes met hers, and he flicked his tail, as if saying, “What? I’m not doing anything wrong, this time.” She sighed, and turned back to the TV, as Ethan poked her arm again. She sighed, and turned her head towards Tayler.
“Tayler, Ethan’s getting bored again. Can we start homework now?” On cue, the boy prodded her shoulder again. She swatted him off, and gave Tayler a pleading look. “He’s starting to get really annoying.” She begged, raising her brows. Tayler sighed, and flicked the TV off. Lazing about, watching MTV was her idea of quality time.
Ethan got up first, stretching, as the other two rolled off the sofa.
Summer walked behind the couch, stooping to grab her backpack. The cat who had been lying on it meowed in protest as it stood up, stretching. She smiled at it, slinging a strap over her shoulder. “Sorry, Marble. You should try finding better nap spots.” She bent over to scratch the cat behind the ears, and then followed the other two to Tayler’s room.
Summer always felt a wave of jealousy, stepping in to her friend’s bedroom. It was as large as Summer’s living room, with a TV in one corner, and a computer set up within view of the large black screen. The walls were nicely painted, a rich, creamy color, and covered with posters from different bands. It was the bed that Summer liked best- a queen-size bed, with a soft, fluffy mattress and a large black headboard carved with a Celtic knot cross. Summer barely even had something you could call a mattress, and even that was small, for someone her age.
She did this all the time. She was constantly comparing what others had to her own things, never feeling like she came out on top.
Tayler plopped down on the bed, bouncing a few times before opening her backpack and pulling out a binder, setting it in front of her. Ethan sat down on the floor beside her legs, where he could easily reach over with the eraser of his pencil. Summer sat across from him, leaning against the wall. She leaned her notebook on her knees, and tapped a pencil on the paper.
“So, what were we studying today?” she asked lightly. It was another joke. Tayler teased her about daydreaming all the time, and not paying much attention in class. She actually got enough out of the lesson to pull off a lot of Bs, and the occasional A or two. But she would carry on the act, pretending like she paid no attention, whatsoever.
Ethan sighed. He never could pick up whether she was kidding or not. “Will you stop doing that around me?” he complained, tossing a piece of wadded up paper at her.
She laughed, and reached for her textbook, flipping a few pages until she was staring at a picture of a large, stone castle.
That was one thing she liked about her school textbooks. Even though they were sophomores in high school, the teachers still managed to find books with large, colorful pictures, especially in history. They were studying the medieval period- one of her favorites. Back when kings lived in large, towering castles and knights rode off in heavy armor on chargers. Life was adventurous, then.
She sighed. But even without a teacher pointing it out, she knew that it couldn’t have all been as great as movies portrayed it. The main characters in those films were royal, noble, or grew up around the palace. She knew that the vast, vast majority of the people back then were serfs, and peasants, and considered scum by the few that overlooked them. They were really a lot like her; less than the considered average, and never being able to do a thing about it. People were just born in to a certain life, and very rarely found a way up.
The ones who managed that were the gifted ones, with talents that could take them places. Her only talent was drawing. She sang decently, but she couldn’t expect it to be any kind of career.
With a sigh, she turned the page, and started answering questions about the selection they had been told to read. She answered most of them quickly and without having to flip back through the reading. She had spent her time reading the section during the teacher’s boring monologue about feudalism. At least people couldn’t say she wasted time, she thought to herself.
She was finished in half an hour or less, while the other two were still reading. She set down her books to pull out her notebook, the one filled with sketches. Ethan looked up from his book, giving her an incredulous look.
“You can’t be done already. I know for a fact that you don’t read that fast.” Summer rolled her eyes.
“First of all, I read all the time, mostly when you’re not there, so how can you possibly say you know how fast I read?” He didn’t’ have an answer for that. “And secondly, I didn’t have to read. I already read it, in class.” She smiled at the boy’s sudden disinterest.
Tayler looked up from a magazine she had been poking through to avoid history. She often claimed she was more of a “current events type of person.” “And here I was, thinking you were going to be like a normal person, and hide what you’re really doing behind the textbook.” She shook her head, chuckling. “Don’t you ever do anything that could get you in trouble?” she asked, tossing the magazine aside so she could concentrate.
Summer just rolled her eyes, and looked sullenly down at the cover of her notebook. Tayler was right, of course. She never did anything that might land her in trouble, or get on anyone’s bad side, or even gain attention. She kept up decent grades, and worked hard to stay out of people’s way. She had just always figured that she wasn’t a person born to make waves. She was just supposed to ride along with the waves other people made.
She opened her spiral, flipping to her most recent math notes, and started doodling, forming a Celtic knot along the margin. As her mind started to wander, she let the top of the knot curve over and up, ending in the shape of a dragon’s head. She shaded nothing, except the small hole in the knot where the dragon’s eyes would be. That, she shaded brilliantly; a jewel in the light, loose pencil strokes. She calmed down, eventually forgetting Tayler’s comments about how boring or anti-social she was.
Drawing always made her feel better about things.
She had been an artist since she was very small, when she had only the few pencils and blank sides of letters and electricity bills that hung around her house. She had grown up, as her teachers said, with a pencil and sketchpad always in her hands. She had never actually owned a sketchpad, but the statement still held to her.
She didn’t get to make many completed pictures, mostly just the small drawings on the edges or corners of anything she could get her hands on. That was why her notes and school papers were crowded full of little doodles. Her more private ones were kept in her notebooks, where not even the teachers would get to them.
She looked up as she heard the sound of heavy books closing with a dull thwump. Ethan had finished, with Tayler right behind him. Summer couldn’t help but wonder if she had simply been looking down at his paper. She ought to check their answers, sometime before she left.
Tayler propped herself on her elbows, now very comfortably sprawled out on top of her bed. Summer leaned back against the wall with a sigh, closing her journal and tucking it safely away in her backpack, and sliding the pencil behind her ear.
“What do you two want to do now?” she asked, guessing it would have something to do with a movie or video games. Even Tayler could give a guy a run for his money when it came to wasting hours at a time in front of a screen.
To her surprise, Tayler had an original idea. “I was thinking we could check out the carnival that’s supposed to be in town this weekend.” She ignored Ethan’s raised eyebrow, looking over at Summer as if it were her decision. She could only shrug.
She had no money to do anything at a carnival. Tayler knew that, probably better than anyone. Asking her to come so she could stand around wishing for a soda didn’t seem like the best idea to her. But then again, when Tayler had one of her ideas, it was best just to go along with it. Ethan was one of the few who didn’t heed that rule, and he had a long history of being boxed on the ear to prove it.
Tayler, however, was ignoring Summer’s reluctant answer. “Okay, great. I’ll call for a ride.” It amazed Summer, how her best friend had the most uncanny ability to conjure up a friend with a car within minutes, no matter what time of day.
Ethan rolled his eyes, throwing his book carelessly in to his bag. Summer smirked, knowing that he was most likely about to be stuck with either a tall, beefy guy over whom Tayler would be fawning, or a girl who would be fawning over him. She laughed inwardly as she stood up with her bag, slinging it over her shoulder. Ethan hated fawning.
Ethan, no matter how much he claimed to his two close friends that he was a ‘ladies-man,’ hated being anywhere near love-sick people. Summer figured that that was why he hung out with Tayler and her, instead of, well, anyone else.
Summer bit her tongue to keep from giggling out loud, her face not showing a trace of her thoughts. She had just contradicted herself. Tayler probably knew more people than any ten kids Summer had met in her life, swooning girls included. In fact, with all the annoyance Tayler had to put up with from him, she had to wonder why she and Ethan were friends at all. Like she said; a bizarre match.
At least the girl didn’t have many close friends. That spot was reserved for Summer and Ethan only.
Tayler snapped her fingers in front of her face, bringing her back from thought. She looked up at the girl’s smirk.
“Daydreaming again?” she asked, already turning away to walk out the door.
Summer just shook her head at the girl’s back. “Nah, just thinking.” She heard Tayler muttering a skeptical “uh-huh” as she started down the stairs. Ethan stood at the door, pretending to be chivalrous for once in his life by holding it for her on her way out. She rolled her eyes at him as she passed. The door wouldn’t have closed, anyways. He was just standing there.
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