It was dusk of the international day of happiness. Chirps and chitters were blanketed by the reticent warmth of spring silence. Toes encased in well-worn shoes poked at disappearing evidence of a hard and cold winter. Footsteps sunk into the soft muddy ground and traced a trail to the woods that hugged the train tracks.


A glove gripped a hand. It was hidden, but it was familiar and comforting. Whispers joined wisps of wind in a quiet symphony. Exhalations trembled to the beat of swaying white flowers.


A feeble ripple through a corpse, and bits of soul rained down like the aftermath of a macabrely magnificent firework.


Monday, March 21


One moment, Willow Evison was struggling to walk through the pain of having been rudely awoken from her daydreams by an outstretched branch. The next, she was being accosted by apologies and condolences. She tried to make herself cry. Ava Young was her best friend, after all. But instead she just stood still, as latching her gaze onto the dilapidating ceiling would eventually allow her to sling herself out of the pressing crowd. 


She thought back to the fight. If it didn’t happen, maybe this all wouldn’t have happened. Ava really should have listened to her.


Then she was called into the principal’s office for questioning and her composure cracked, just a little.


Felicity Hale was pouring a cup of green tea when the news broke. Pieces of porcelain littered the linoleum floor. Sunlight shone through white lace curtains, drawing sweat from her neck, but the bag in her cup stayed dry.


Jessie Mercia’s hands shook as she fumbled with the key to her lock. She was sure that she would be next.


Thursday, March 15


Ava Young cried in the corner of the girl’s bathroom. She thought about what she did to win. Someone rushed past her. This was embarrassing, and the place smelled like vape. She wiped her tears with the same hands she used to rip up the artwork of Willow Evison. 


When school ended, she headed for the doors instead of the library. On her way to the rusty bike racks, she bumped into someone. Gosh, she was so out of it today. Her stomach plummeted. Jessie Mercia. She was generally friendly, but Ava knew she would gladly shove her off a cliff. She could feel her green eyes scrutinising her as she made eye contact with a fairy-like figure across the road. Jealousy was a dangerous thing. 


Jessie Mercia watched Ava Young walk towards the road, arm in arm with Fabian Hale, and couldn’t help but think they really did look better together than she and Fabian ever did. They always argued, but they would always know each other best, wouldn’t they. After all, even after Alluring Ava appeared and swept the world away, Fabian still came back to her for advice. She thought about Ava’s predicament and couldn’t help but feel awfully sorry for her.


Friday, March 11


Willow Evison wondered if she was being too much of a bother. Was it really her business who Ava talked to? She was always taking up too much of her time. But she thought back those rumours about that girl. There was something wrong. She had to talk some sense into her. Darn her rose-coloured glasses and her cow-hide skull. She kept desperately hacking at this glass wall forming between them until she’d abandoned any form of dignity. 


Jessie Mercia tried her best to talk over the screaming in the hallway. The scattering of students in the room shifted uncomfortably in their seats, trying to ignore the gnawing feeling in their stomachs that Ava Young and Willow Evison sounded mad enough to harm each other. The ruckus stopped, but the meeting ended with the markers left untouched on a blank sheet of paper, looking sad and juvenile and tacky like abandoned playgrounds on a cloudy day. The evening festivities would have to be organised tomorrow.


Sunday, March 20


A figure sprinkled the roots and watched them catch in the whirlwind of water. She watched the sprigs of colour explode. There was silence in the empty hallway.


Monday, March 21


Jessie Mercia’s heart hammered. Her face was flushing and she pressed her freezing hands to her cheeks in an effort to hide any evidence of her growing panic. She dug a barrette into her raven hair. It could not have been Felicity Hale, she told herself. Stop scaring yourself, you’re letting your feelings get to you. You’ll be fine.


Sunday, March 13


Ava Young looked out her window. It was cloudy outside, but her blood was rosy and warm beneath her skin. It was 3. She left the house like a ghost and no one noticed. She hummed a little on her way to an inconspicuous tree characterised only by muscle memory. Not quite grand, not quite magical. Chosen as special by virtue of luck. 


She thought back to when she and Willow first met. It was in third grade. Their first interaction was a terrible joke. The next was a piercing glare met with a sheepish smile. Progressively more half-hearted terrible jokes and progressively more forced sheepish smiles. Poor Willow, standing there with her stony face looking as confused and heartbroken as her statuesque self could allow. She—they—’d been stuck in this stagnation for years. They both deserved to move on. She could only hope that Willow, too, may find someone who opened her eyes. This was for both of their sakes. She tried to squash the seedling of doubt that Willow planted.


Monday, March 21


Ah, there was her missing notebook. Right there, disturbing the order of Willow Evison’s locker. Jessie Mercia figured.


Saturday, January 8


Felicity Hale smiled behind the sleeve of her lavender cardigan. But inside, she was squeamish. This was the last time, she promised herself. She had her hummingbird. She didn’t need to do this anymore. In the next three minutes, the figure before her would notice a blossoming headache. Their eyes would widen. They would faint. The following morning, they would find themselves incapable of getting out of bed. Just this once, she promised no one in particular.


Friday, March 18


Willow Evison opened her bag and saw that her sketches were missing. She was going to throw them out anyway, and was glad that they found some other home instead. How did Jessie manage that? In the past month, she’d gotten disconcertingly adept at this game. Well, she wouldn’t let herself be outdone. She peeked onto Jessie’s unattended desk.


Monday, March 14


Jessie Mercia couldn’t be in the room anymore. The teacher didn’t seem to notice. He droned on about Socrates. She thought about lady’s lace and how the night her sister died, she could’ve sworn she saw white flowers floating in her tea. Her rage stomped those stupid flowers into a wreckage of pathetic petals. 


Sunday, March 13


Felicity Hale could not believe it. The malice in her hummingbird’s voice. She couldn’t believe she ever trusted her. She shouldn’t have bothered. She should’ve known she was just like the others. She never hurt anyone, most of the time. No, the hummingbird couldn’t share her secret. That was her special thing.


She seethed in the unfairness of everything. She couldn’t help it if her explorative genius pushed her to new things, foraging for flowers and digging up her own roots. The aromas needed her to bring them into existence, the world needed her conjuring powers, and that incident in January was just one little mistake anyway. 


Sunday, March 20


Felicity Hale prepared to take a prolonged sniff of the honey-coloured liquid: elderflowers, spearmint, and lavender. It would be perfect. A sip of it and it would be the end. Except…oh dear, she wasn’t expecting it to smell different. It must be from the time it spent in her locker. 


Monday, March 21


Willow Evison exhaled as her car pulled into the driveway. It was only the afternoon, but she needed to be awake for the festivities. After a long drive, she dragged herself to her room and slept.


Sunday, March 20


Felicity Hale stared at the figure before her. Ava smiled at her tea. It was just slightly too sweet, she knew. It hid the odd taste. The girl grimaced a little and said it was amazing. 


Relief flooded through her system. The previous week was just a small hiccup in their relationship after all. The tea fixed it all, they could be happy here forever. Hazel eyes gazed at her with dilated pupils. 


Then the hand she was holding started trembling, and with a rush of panic she realised what was happening.


Shit. Shit. 


There was nothing she could do. That’s what she told herself as legs buckled and a body crumpled onto the forest floor. That’s what she told herself as she got up abruptly and hurried home, ignoring the shallow breaths and look of stunned betrayal that would later haunt her every daytime hour and every sleepless night. There was nothing she could do, and so Ava Young died alone.


Jessie Mercia’s reverie was interrupted by Fabian frantically shaking her shoulder.


“They discovered more cases? It’s over for Felicity now, isn’t it. I can’t believe it. No don’t be sorry, how were you supposed to know about the poisons in her room?”


How convenient. She’d been so distraught that she’d failed in her plan—she couldn’t believe Felicity didn’t drink her own tea. But it all turned out just fine. After all, as some wise person said, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.



Photo: Tanya Dudenkova on