This is the Young Adult novel I’m working on.
The whitewashed walls of the Temple crack and beams splinter like kindling. The floor quakes and moans in protest tossing the large marble altar aside as if a piece of driftwood. Gilded candelabras filled with dozens of illuminated long white tapers, tumble to the ground. The melted wax pools in webs, cooling immediately from the floor covering the inlaid symbols used to commune with Spirit. The flames snuff out leaving the room pitch black. No light penetrates the dark. Not even the moon and starry sky can peek through the billowing dust and dirt.
“Luxiel, what do you want to do?” Archangel Michael bellows over the sounds of disintegrating sanctuary.
“What do you mean?” I say. No sooner do I respond and the answer unspools in my mind’s eye, like a rolodex slowly unraveling, each course of action flows into the next. I know what I must do. As I sift through the information, my scrolls illuminate one-by-one, from the spirals on the tops of my hands to the platonic solids on my feet. Each symbol lighting the way, beckoning me to go first. To go now. “Will Lunares collapse and cease to exist?”
“No, the balance is thrown off but it’ll stabilize soon. We’ll be okay, do not worry. You must honor your calling, Luxiel.” Michael says. He shuffles closer, shoving debris out of his way.
“How can I leave you all as our home crumbles to pieces?” I motion to the angels, my friends, each with head bowed, chanting and praying for the future; the cacophony of the hope mixed with destruction. The fissures in the floor spread further cutting the flower of life symbol in half. I feel ripped in two: one part here, the another part already descending. I whisper my own prayer for the angels who fell to Earth. For those, like me, about to incarnate. For the humans unknowing of the darkness about to descend. For the light that will follow, as it always does.
“Trust yourself and the path as it’s been revealed.” Michael advises. “I know you don’t feel ready, that your training isn’t complete, but this wouldn’t be the way if that were true. You know what you need to know, and the rest will come when you need it.”
My stomach tickles, the resonance of his words guiding me now. But I’m afraid to leave abruptly, to not know more about this little blue planet I’ve been studying while here in Lunares, amongst the angels each sparked into existence to protect, nurture and guide humankind. “But what if I don’t remember you or any of this while there? What if I fail?” I shudder at the thought. It’s not all up to me, but as the emanation of the Creator’s Light, I am to usher in the dawn of a new day. Just how that is to happen is a mystery.
“What if you don’t? There is a divine plan and you have your part. Plus, you won’t be alone; others will find you,” he reassures me. “While your memories will be bound, that’s mainly for your protection. It’s a lot for the human mind to comprehend the infinite and unmanifest. You will awaken as you need to, trust your intuition, your divine link, as it’ll guide you out.” Michael smiles, “My dear Winged Warrior of Light, it’s been a pleasure mentoring you.” He pulls me into a hug, his strong arms holding me tight to his chest.
“I can’t believe this is goodbye.” I look into his sapphire eyes, wanting to remember every moment I spent here training with the other angels in how to be an angel on Earth.
“There are no hellos or goodbyes in this endless wake of today, Luxiel. We’ll meet again, I promise you that.” He presses his forehead to mine and chants, “alis volat propriis.”
“Look at Luxiel!” One of the angels remarks, “she’s dissolving into light.” The other angels look up, momentarily stunned and staring at me.
“Goodbye, Michael,” I say, my body propelled into the in-between. The Temple blurs out of site as I free fall through a void with no end. There’s no pain, no nothing. My last vision of Lunares loops in my mind’s eye: Michael’s sapphire eyes so full of love, the angelics wishing me peace on my journey, the destruction of the Temple, the darkened sanctuary, and the sacred the symbols obliterated. The images stay with me as I’m hurdled through the time-portal. I don’t know where I’ll land, who I’ll be. Just as quickly as I faded to light, my energy morphs into flesh. I feel the same cool marble floor beneath me.
“Michael, it didn’t’ work, I’m still here.” I murmur. I fight to open my eyes, my eyelids heavy and tired. When I finally lift them, I can’t see anything. Orbs of light and shadows dance around, but nothing familiar comes into focus.
“Take it easy, Luxiel. You need to let your eyes adjust. I don’t know which Michael you called out to, but you did make it, Luxiel. You’re here. Rest up until your energy returns.” She says and places her hand over mine. Her palms are soft and warm; her fingertip rubs one of my spiral scrolls. “There you go, Luxiel, the others are coming and we’ll help restore your energy here in the Temple. Incarnating is quite the journey, and yours was spur-of-the moment so it’s natural for you to be so disoriented. I’m Olivine. We’ve been waiting for you, Winged Warrior of Light.”
“The others? Are my companion incarnates here?” I croak, my throat dry like sand paper. “And please call me Lux.” My voice surprises me. I’ve never heard it out loud like this, the tones reverberate in my head.
“Yes, they’re here. Skyler and Celeste have been on celestial incarnation before and are more adept to adjusting to physical form. Don’t push yourself, you need to rest up. We’ll prep you for your time here. Although, we’ll want to bring you up to speed quickly as school has already started and you won’t want to miss much more.” Olivine says, her voice the only link between the dark behind my eyes and my new home.
“School?” I ask. “How old am I?”
“You’re seventeen and a Senior and Capital High. We have all your text books and schedule. But first we’ll help you acclimate to being here.” Olivine says.
“I don’t know how to be a teenager.” I mumble before it all fades black.
Chapter 1: The First Day
It’s mid-October and a blustery day in Helena, Montana. The high mountain desert cooled from the blistering end-of-summer temps. Nestled in the valley of the Sleeping Giant, amidst the Continental Divide, this small town sprawls across the flat land, a thriving web of life, nearly engulfed by the mountain chains on either side. Evergreens mingle amongst the crimson and golden deciduous trees, the leaves ready for the dark encroaching days of winter. Change in nature is predictable. Humans are a different story. I look out the classroom window, transfixed by the twirling leaves falling from bared branches to the ground. I admire the grace as they plummet to their death.
“Miranda?” Mrs. Joy calls out. Roll call? Seriously, how embarrassing! Just as I look up to answer, a boy runs through the door. A blur of black sweatshirt as he jumps into the empty desk in front of me. He slides in right as the tardy bell rings. As if he knew I was watching, he turns around and flashes his crooked grin.
“Hey, you’re new. I’m Grayson. What’s your name?” He asks. He slowly takes me in from head to toe, as if this as a statement rather than a question. His eyes a deep charcoal gray, like thunderclouds forming during a summer storm, full of electricity which only pulls me deeper into his gaze. His jet-black hair cut short in tiny spikes. He seems quite muscular, despite the bulk of sweatshirt, but more like a panther than a gorilla and his pale skin accentuates his piercingly hypnotic eyes. Unable to avert mine, he clears his throat clearly wondering if I’ll respond. But before I can answer, Mrs. Joy, answers for me.
“Miranda, Miranda Lux?” Mrs. Joy inquires, not happy to repeat my name so many times. She taps her fingers impatiently atop her long oak desk in the front of the room and looks up from the clipboard, peering above her reading glasses perched on the tip of her nose, and waits, expectantly, for the student disrupting her morning roll call flow to answer. Well, here I go.
“Lux, I go by Lux and I’m here.” I look down as I hear the snickers filter around the room. Great! So much for trying to lay low on my first day of high school. I mean, I knew I’d have a hard time fitting in as an incarnated angel here on Earth, but I didn’t think roll call would be the beginning of the end. I thought my unique name would be met with curiosity not thinly-veiled animosity. I scan the room and take in the sea of students, trying to not pay attention to the taunts. I hear Grayson repeat my name softly in a whisper. He nods his head, satisfied with his own unanswered question and turns back around towards the front of the class, but not before catching my eye, sending shivers up my spine. I shake it off, like static cling, unwanted but exhilarating none-the-less.
I continue to glance around the room taking in the students. Jocks sit in the middle of the room, the nerds up in front, the stoners in the back, with preppies in between. I wonder where I’ll be placed? I chuckle to myself as I realize I’ll likely exist in the “other” category as kids won’t know what to do with me. In a simple white T-shirt and jeans, with fair skin and perpetually pink cheeks, almond blue-gray eyes, and blond hair falling in dizzying frizzy waves, it’s pretty difficult to sort me out into the social order. White polo and I’d be in with the preppies, smarter and I’d fit in with the nerds, don’t smoke so stoners won’t be interested and the jocks, well, let’s just say I’m aware of their type and I am not it. The only item I’m wearing that affords any interest is my motorcycle boots– worn black leather with a bright shiny buckle resting at the base of my ankle with a slight chunky heel used to catch the pedal of a motorcycle that I don’t have nor have ever ridden. I live for these boots. That’s one thing I admired from above: the fashion on Earth. I could hardly wait for my celestial carnation so that I could don some of the cool threads.
Oh, and speaking of jock types, my angelic friend and opposite, jumps up hearing her name during roll call.
“I’m here, call me Celeste. You’ll all know me eventually,” she says ending with a giggle and bow before sitting down. She is confident, sassy and, of course, met with applause from the middle of the room – the jocks. Lead by what can only be the school’s football quarterback, Cade. I know this as his jersey is emblazoned with his name and the number one directly below. Typical. It isn’t difficult to see why she elicits that reaction. She’s tall and lean with beautiful auburn hair cascading down to her shoulder blades. With sun-kissed skin with a sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose and her emerald green eyes seem to sparkle from within, she looks like she walked out of a Victoria Secret catalogue. I’d hate her, except she’s my bestie here during celestial carnation. We used to look at the fashion magazines from Earth on Erelim together, picking out our favorite designers. Mine are Stella McCartney and CHANEL and hers: Versace, Prada and Dolce and Gabbana. She can pull off any look with her leggy frame. I look over at Cade and see Skyler fixed on me with a worried gaze. He’s my other celestial carnation companion. He’s always concerned about me. I don’t know why as I can take care of myself. He should worry about Celeste, especially with the way Cade is leering in her direction.
Skyler, on the other hand, replies “present” when hearing Mrs. Joy call his name. That’s Skyler, not wanting to cause any ripples unlike Celeste. He’s blonde with sapphire eyes and an athletic body. He and Celeste have been here a few weeks ahead of my arrival for reasons I don’t know. But he’s definitely cemented himself as one of the High School’s heartthrob. He speaks and the girls swoon and sigh. The energy in the room lifts merely from his presence.
“Ok class, take out your copy of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and turn to page 42. Grayson why don’t you read Romeo’s portion and Lux you can play Juliet.” Mrs. Joy holds up her worn copy. Black leather with gilded lettering. Thick despite the rice paper pages. We have to read from the non-descript school-issued copies. If they want to encourage reading, the district should invest in more hip stacks. Part of the experience is tied to holding the book and feeling the smooth pages, the cover the portal to another world. Grayson ambles to the front of the class, opens his copy and begins. His voice deep and resonant.
“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?…”
His voice is hypnotic, but I can’t relax to take one of my favorite passages in like savoring a delectable piece of chocolate. My heart beats with hummingbird wings and my knee jostles below my metal desk as I tap my foot, nervous to speak in front of the entire class. Grayson abruptly looks up at me and tips his head as he reads the last few lines. His expression as if to say “tag, you’re it.”
“Thank you, Grayson. Lux, please continue.” Mrs. Joy reclines in her chair. The vintage springs creak and moan in protest. She looks at me steadily through her spectacles a slight smile forming. I get up from my desk and shuffle to the front of the class. It feels like she’s is punishing me for my roll call blunder when I look at the passage. Normally, I’d love reading this in the comfort of my own room. To make matters worse, Grayson stares right at me, not through me like the other students. Apparently, he’d like to witness my embarrassment first-hand. Oh well, here goes.
“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.
Of if thou wilt, be but sworn my love…”
As I finish reading the last line, I can’t help but sigh and look at the ceiling dreamily- moved by such a declaration of love. Whispers float across the room. When I look up, I’m greeted by Cades amused brown eyes and smirk slowly forming on his face.
“Cade, you seem to have something to add, please do share with the whole class rather than limit your insightful comments to those near.” Mrs. Joy interjects. She closes her book and marks her the page with the attached ribbon.
“I think it’s a bunch of sentimental drivel, I mean really: stars, love and denying your family name…if Romeo was a real dude he wouldn’t need to say all that to get Juliet. I mean, she’s just a chick,” he says exasperated in needing to explain himself. He looks around, the other boys nod in agreement, including Grayson, to my dismay. I want to let this pass, but I feel the need to defend.
“Sentimental drivel? This is Shakespeare, classic literature and one of the most romantic love stories ever told. Who are you to judge?” Why did I have to end that with a question? I don’t want to hear anymore from Cade. My cheeks flush, I feel the heat spread like wildfire.
“Well, Lux, has a guy ever said anything like that to you? I think it’s out-of-date. We should be reading something more in-tune with the times. Don’t you agree?”
And he had to end with a question as well. Why can’t we both just finish this? I do not want to tell everyone that I’ve never had a real boyfriend or any type of romance for that matter. I look at Skyler for help only he seems to be enjoying this spectacle as well. He offers me a smile and nod of encouragement. I glance over at Celeste, but she’s distracted looking at her nails. The girl next to me forms a heart shape with her two hands giving me the courage I need to answer.
“I’ve never really had a boyfriend, but if I did I sure wouldn’t mind him quoting Shakespeare to me. Or better yet, making up his own declaration.” Oh, did I really say that?
“That’s what I thought. Never had a boyfriend. Everything is a foolish fantasy and not reality, time to wake up…Edward Cullen, Jace Wayland, Romeo and the like do not exist.” With his final statement, Cade dismisses our banter and turns back to Grayson who has his smoldering eyes fixed on me. Man alive, I wish he wasn’t paying attention. I lower my head and hope my hair covers my face. I feel his gaze delve into me as I turn an even deeper shade of red. He clears his throat. My pulse quickens. He’s going to add to this wonderful experience.
“What my cousin is trying to say, is that not all of us believe in hyped romance. That’s all. No offense to those who are moved by the sentiment.” Grayson says.
I can’t think of how to respond. I just lower my eyes again and try to retain some dignity. Fortunately, the bell rings saving me from needing to answer. Grayson jumps from his desk and is out the door before I can even put my book away.
The girl to the left, the one that helped me out with her cupped hands in a heart, chuckles and says, “That’s our Grayson, he always knows when and how to exit.” She extends her hand to me. “I’m Alexis and, for the record, I do believe in romance. Would you like to eat lunch with me?” She has a bright, sincere face. I instantly feel comfortable around her.
“Yes, I would, thank you!” I say, excited and happy to have made a friend.
“Great. I like to eat in the music hall. It’s a bit out of the way, but we can have space there. I’ll fill you in on the social order of Capital High.” Alexis says, picking up her textbooks, “meet me after your 4th period by the front doors for lunch.”
“Sounds good, if my first class is any clue, I’m going to need all the help I can get!” I say. I scan the empty classroom and wonder if I’ll ever get used to this: high school and being human.
“Just be yourself, and those who are meant to will flock as friends. Those that don’t, aren’t worth the effort and it’s their loss,” Alexis replies with a smile.
“Thank you, that’s great advice,” I say, “See you in a few hours!” I cross through the threshold and am immediately swallowed up by the throngs of students. Beige lockers flank the hallway. The only individuality shown in the various locks. I’m not sure where room 201 is located but I’ll need to figure it out quick to avoid a tardy. I scan the map Skyler tucked in my backpack. The High School has three floors and three stairwells, one on either end and the widest steps smack-dab in the middle of the hall. The building is built like a plus sign, the gymnasium on the far end just passed the office and front doors, and just beyond the gym, the auditorium and music rooms round out the structure, but I won’t need to go there until lunch.
“Lost Lux?” A deep voice asks from behind. I turn around only to be met with Grayson staring down at me amused. His eyes crinkle at the corners from his grin.
“I have a map.” I say, holding my hands up showing him the glossy tri-fold.
“I see that,” He says stepping closer, “but it’ll help if you turn the map 90 degrees, otherwise you’ll be looking for second period in the parking lot.” He chuckles, turning the map for me, and points to the room on the second floor just to the right of the middle staircase. “If you run up now, you won’t be late.”
“Thank you,” I say, preparing to follow the center lane student flow up the steps like waiting to enter double-dutch jump rope where timing is everything. “Your eyes, they were gray in class, but now they look blue?”
“I have hazel eyes, only they change with my mood.” Grayson says, giving no indication that he’ll clue me in as to which emotions pair with which color.
“So gray and blue, I guess I’ll just have to pay attention to figure out the spectrum.” I fold the map up and shove it in my front jean pocket.
“Haha, you better get to class, Lux,” he turns around and disappears into the sea of students headed toward the gym.