Nanowrimo 2011: Of Places I Don’t Know – Chapter 5

“Here we go,” Said Sophia, carrying a tray of drinks and paninis over to the corner sofa table where Aiden and Echo were sat in The Coffee House, “One Earl Grey tea,” She said, placing down a small white teapot and cup next to Echo, “One cappuccino, very manly,” She continued, giving Aiden his drink, “And two mozzarella pesto paninis.” She finished.

 

“Thanks Soph,” Aiden replied.

 

“No worries, hey, Echo what are you up to this afternoon?” Sophia replied.

 

“Uh, nothing really I don’t think.” Echo shrugged, it was a Saturday, and bar this coffee with Aiden she had no other plans for the weekend.

 

“Want to come shopping? I could really do with some new shoes, and I get of work in like and hour and a half, You’ll still be here then, right?” Sophia asked.

 

“Really? More shoes?” Aiden said, he turned to Echo, “She’s got so many, they don’t even fit in her room, they’re all over the hallways!”

 

“Oh shush!” Sophia replied, “You’ll come, yeah, Echo?”

 

Echo nodded, “Sure, I’ll just be here.”

 

It had been a few days since the night her and Aiden Became, and in the time since then they had starting hanging out quite a lot. Echo was pleased, it was nice to have found another Apsu, even if he had none of the same culture growing up as she had, it was still something they could bond over, a shared knowledge and a shared secret. Almost by default of her newfound friendship with Aiden, she found she had a whole circle of friends, albeit a fairly small circle, in the form of his flatmates. Of them, Sophia was the only one she had seen outside of a group situation. Perhaps it was because they had met first, or perhaps it was because they genuinely got on well, she did not know.

 

“Cool. Right, I’d best be getting back to work, see you soon.” Sophia said, before turning round and walking back over to the bar.

 

Aiden and Echo sipped their drinks, waiting for them to cool down. Despite having hung out together a fair bit over the last few days, they still had a tinge of awkwardness to their meetings. Since they Became, Aiden had not mentioned anything about Apsu to Echo. All Echo wanted to do was to talk about it, to find out about what there was Aiden didn’t know, so she could put being a Zagmi’s daughter to good use and show him, and yet he seemed to reluctant. Ecery time Echo had hinted at it, he had rapidly changed the subject. But it was always there, lingering around like the elephant – or dog and cat – in the room.

 

After a few minutes of talking about classes and the weather, Aiden, looking around to make sure Sophia wasn’t close enough to hear their conversation, finally brought it round to what Echo had been waiting for.

 

“So, um, you know the other day. The other night, even?” Aiden started, slowly and hushed.

 

“Yeah, what about it?” Echo nodded.

 

“You know how you said you’d teach me?” He asked, Echo nodded, “Well, uh, could you? Could you really? I want to know about this, about, what did you call it? Apsu? Yeah, I want to know everything. I know, I could have asked you then, or yesterday or the day before that, but it’s just, it’s strange for me. I didn’t think I’d ever meet another one like me, even though I knew there were others.”

 

“Where do you want to start?” Echo asked.

 

“Oh I don’t know, do I?” He replied, “I don’t even know where there is to start.”

 

“Fair enough,” Echo paused to think for a minute, “How about we start by you telling me what you know first?”

 

Aiden sat silent for a moment, trying to think of what he did know, and how to say it.

 

“Well, my birth mum, Mel, she died when she had me, so I don’t know all that much, I just know what she told Samantha, her friend who I grew up with, she’s practically my mum, actually.” He said, looking at his hands. “Samantha didn’t know about what Mel was until the day she died, when she knew someone would have to know because of me. She knew I was like her ‘cause of my birthmark, same way you knew, I guess that’s why we have them, isn’t it? We’ve evolved to recognise each other.”

 

“Evolution doesn’t much come into it with things like that,” Echo interrupted, “Or genetics really, I mean, it does, do some extent, but a lot of it is just magic, literally. It’s really complicated, I don’t even understand it properly and my dad is a Zagmi.”

 

“A what?” Aiden asked.

 

“Oh, yeah, it’s like a, um, what do you call it? A priest? Kind of like that, but less is a religious way and more in an Apsu magic way.” Echo tried to explain.

 

Aiden nodded, “Well, anyway, Mel lived on a commune, I guess like you did? But she left, she started seeing this guy, my uh, my dad I guess, who wasn’t, um, Apsu? Yeah, he was just, like, normal, and they made her leave because of it. Are they all so prejudiced? Or was her one just strict?”

 

“No they’re not all like that, although some have this thing about ‘preserving the purity of the Apsu bloodline’, Stony Oaks  – where I’m from –  isn’t much like that, they just keep themselves to themselves, y’know? Although I don’t know what would happen if someone went out with a Lu, it’s never happened before there I don’t think.” Echo explained.

 

“A Lu? Is that like the word for a normal person?” He asked, Echo nodded, “Okay, so what else is there? There’s the telepathy thing?”

 

“Yes, there’s this.” Echo sent. It was so much easier at a short distance when she knew exactly where it was sending. She was still having trouble long distance, but she felt it getting easier each day.

 

“Yes, that, stop it!” Aiden said, “How do you do it? Is it only with Apsu? Do I have to learn to do it properly? You heard me the other day and I’ve never even done it before.”

 

“It’s mostly innate, you can learn how to become better at it, how to send things without seeing who you’re sending it to, sending from a distance, storing messages to be reheard later, that sort of thing.” She explained, thinking of her current difficulties with those very things, “And you had done it before, that first day in class I could hear things, but it was so quiet I don’t think you even knew you were doing it.”

 

“You.. you heard me? Things I was thinking?” Aiden said, staring straight at Echo’s eyes and leaning backwards.

 

“Oh, Aiden, don’t worry, there were no words, I wasn’t prying.” She said, reaching her hand forward towards him.

 

Aiden relaxed again, safe in the knowledge that his thoughts were private. “Okay,” He said, “And what is there, magic and that?”

 

“We can do certain magics naturally, some of us study it, that’s how the Zagmi become Zagmi. I was in training a couple of years ago, but I stopped when I decided I wanted to learn about the Lu here, I’m a little rusty, but I can teach you the basics.” Echo said. She reached down for her bag and took out a small, tattered book, that looked as though it were bound with autumnal leaves. “This is my Lamadu,” She said, holding it up, “It’s a book of spells and charms I learnt as a child, for my magic classes. I though it may be useful to you, if you wanted it?” She handed it to him.

 

Aiden took the fragile object, and stared at it, examining the cover, admiring it’s rustic beauty. He opened it, ever so carefully, and started turning through the pages, pausing to read it. “Incantation for levitation of an object, Basic sewing spell, Water-boiling spell, Basic good health charm…” He listed, “You can do all that? I can do all that?”

 

“Yeah of course, I can teach you. Not now, ehre isn’t the best of places, but if you want to come round after class on Monday or something I can give you a bit of a lesson? You can hang on to my Lamadu until then, I don’t need it for the time being.” Echo said.

 

“That would be great,” Said Aiden, “Thank-you, Echo, thanks for having the time to show me this.”

 

“No problem.” Echo replied.

 

They had now finished their drinks and food, and were just sitting in the café. They had been talking in hushed tones for so long that they had almost forgotten how to talk at a normal volume. Sophia approached their table.

 

“Hey girl, ready to come shopping?” Sophia asked.

 

“Woah, has it been that long already?” Aiden asked.

 

“Yep, you two seemed pretty lost in your own little worlds there, Socciology stuff? Sophia asked.

 

“Yeah,” Echo replied, “Something like that. Yeah I’m ready if you are.”

 

“I’ll leave you two to it then,” Aiden said, he stood up and went to hug Echo goodbye, “I’ll see you both later, Echo, please don’t let her bring back too many more shoes! Seriously, you should come round and see the hallway!” He said as he was leaving the café.

 

***

 

“Oh that skirt’s so cure, you should definitely try it on,” Sophia gushed. Echo pondered for a moment, before picking up the black and silver lace skirt. They had already been to 3 shoe shops, and, with Sophia not being able to decide on a pair, they ahd ended up in Topshop (Echo’s first Topshop experience, not that she had told Sophia), looking at endless rail after rail of skirts and dresses and jeans and shorts and knitwear. “Come on, lets go try them on,” She continued, her arms weighed down by what seemed to Echo like a good proportion of the shop.

 

They made their way over to the changing rooms, and took cubicles next to each other. Echo began to try on the skirt, which she and as well as two dresses and a shirt.

 

“So, you an Aiden,” Sophia began from the cubicle next door. Echo’s face went white. Did she know about them? About what they were? How could she know? She couldn’t be too, could she?

 

“Uh, what about Aiden?” Echo asked shyly, while fiddling with the button on the lace skirt.

 

“What about him?” Sophia laughed, “What do you mean what about him? You like him, don’t you?”

 

Echo exhaled, relieved that the question was far more innocent than she had originally interpreted.

 

“Uh, I don’t know.” Echo replied, “He’s nice, and his eyes!” She said. Sophia laughed.

 

“You should go for it, ask him out, he really is lovely,” Sophia encouraged.

 

Could she really like him? She’d never really liked anyone before, although she’d never really had the chance to. Stony Oaks was so close-knit, the idea of seeing any of the kids from there filled her with the sort of repulsion usually reserved for the concept of incest. Not that she had to only see Apsu, but it would make Alder happy, a “Nice Apsu boy” as he would say. Not that it had to be serious, if there even was anything between them that was.

 

“Do you think he likes me?” She asked, eventually, emerging from her dressing room with the skirt now on. Sophia emerged at much the same time in a cherry-red dress. Sophia looked at Echo with her eyebrows raised.

 

“You can’t see that yourself?” Sophia asked, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Echo shook her head, and Sophia put her hand on Echo’s shoulder, “Yes hun, yes he likes you,” She informed her, Echo was slightly taken aback by the ease at which Sophia seemed to be able to tell this. “Now what do you think of this dress? And that skirt looks just as cute on you as I thought it would.”

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