The story below is a winner from our Fiction Fantastic Young Writers Contest, open to all youth in Lane County. For more information on this contest, including how to enter, visit here. Support this program with a donation.
You can purchase this story in the 2020 Winners Anthology Fueled By Fire here.
“The Story of Magissa Stry” by Ava Thompson, Kennedy Middle School
Third Place, Middle School Level, 2020
The Story of Magissa Stry
By Ava Thompson
Kennedy Middle School
I didn’t mean to catch Mrs. Pyrah on fire. I really didn’t. Honestly, it’s her fault.
“Maj-EE-sa, please turn to the correct page!” Mrs. Pyrah said in her nasally voice.
“I AM on the correct page, and I told you my name is pronounced Ma-gis-a!!” I said.
Mrs. Pyrah frowned and angrily said, “Don’t you give me attitude, young lady, you’re disrupting the class!”
“No,” I said, “now YOU’RE disrupting class.”
Her face briefly flashed angrily, then it was deadly calm.
“Uh, oh,’’ I thought to myself.
“I knew you would be trouble as soon as I heard about your father,” she said with an evil smile.
“She wouldn’t!” I thought.
Mrs. Pyrah had the class’s full attention now. She wouldn’t tell about my father for real, would she? I mean, I knew she had it out for me, but this? This was truly evil.
Oh, no, here it comes.
“How long has your father been locked up in St. Parafron?”
Everyone knew now. St. Parafron was widely known as the biggest insane asylum on Mikro Planiti. Everyone’s attention was now on me. They all stared at me as if I had a giant griffin on my head, only in a bad way. A couple of the kids twisted their faces in disgust, others looked confused, some of them smirked.
One yelled out, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!”
Everyone in the class laughed, but the person laughing the hardest was none other than Mrs. Pyrah herself. In fact, instead of punishing the boy, she came and rewarded him with candy! I was so angry, not only had she singled me out, but she had rewarded the kid who had insulted me! All these things that teachers are never supposed to do. I could feel my face getting hot as I gritted my teeth and reminded myself that if I did anything, I would get in trouble. I stared so hard at Mrs. Pyrah I thought she would catch on fire.
And then to my—and everyone else’s—surprise, she did! She started screaming and yelling! Then she turned and looked at me and screamed, “YOU DID THIS!!!! YOU . . . ARE A WITCH!!!!”
“No, it wasn’t me! I swear!” I said, panicking. I wondered though, could I?
“WITCH! WITCH! WITCH!” chanted the class. I felt my stomach drop.
Mrs. Pyrah finally doused herself with water and promptly fainted! Oh, I was in trouble now. Some people in the class started walking towards me, arms outstretched as if to grab a hold of me.
“Get the witch!” some yelled.
A burst of fear and adrenaline shot through me. I took a quick look around the room and saw an open window. I ran and jumped out the window. I landed weird and felt my ankle twist. I let out a small strangled squeal as I felt a sharp pain in my ankle. I heard a thump behind me and whipped around to see the boy who had made fun of me, he looked angry and scared, as if I scared him and infuriated him at the same time. Fake it ‘til you make it, I thought.
“Stand back!” I said with fake confidence and my hand outstretched.
He stopped and a look of fear came across his face.
“Turn around!” I said.
When he didn’t, I threateningly pointed my hand at him. At that he quickly turned around and faced the school. I made sure he wasn’t looking, and when I saw he wasn’t, I turned and ran as fast as my injured ankle would allow. As I ran I winced as my ankle throbbed. I turned down my street and told myself, just a little further. I burst through the door of my house, panting and on the verge of tears. I ran to the kitchen and collapsed.
“Are you okay, honey?” The voice of my mother cut through my thoughts.
I breathlessly told her the whole story. She thought for a moment with her brow furrowed, then she jumped up and started running around the house gathering up little things and shoving them in a backpack she pulled from a cupboard.
“What are you doing?” I asked
She replied with, “No time to explain!”
With that, she went over to the wall and pressed on it. I was confused until I saw that it opened a small compartment. And she said into it, “Anoixe!”
The wall opened up to reveal dozens of scrolls, bottles of strange liquids, and jars of what looked like dried animal parts! My mother quickly started shoving things in the pack.
“Mom,” I said. “What is going on? What are you doing?”
Instead of answering my question, she simply shoved a bottle of gold liquid in my hand and said urgently, “This is for your ankle.” When I hesitated, she said, “Hurry, we don’t have much time!”
At that, I quickly downed the contents of the bottle. It tasted like honey and somehow like sunshine, then I felt the dull throb of my ankle subside.
“What is this stuff?” I asked in wonder.
“Healing potion,” my mother replied.
“Did you say healing potion!?!?” I said, thinking I hadn’t heard her right.
“No, I said apple juice. Yes, I said healing potion!” my mother said sarcastically.
She then shoved one last scroll in the satchel and thrust it into my hand. she kissed me on the forehead and said, “Just remember that I will always love you, no matter what happens.” As she said this, I saw tears in her eyes.
“Now I need you to get out of here as soon as you can.”
“Where am I gonna go?” I said with a lump in my throat.
“Anywhere but here, now go!” she replied motioning me out the door.
“Bye, Mom. I love you,” I said as my throat got tight, and I felt a single tear make its way down my face.
“I love you, too, Maggie,” she said, using my old nickname.
Then I quickly went to the door and looked back to take one last one last look around my home, stopping on my mother’s face. She smiled sadly and waved goodbye. I waved back, and then I turned and ran out the door.
The forest was pitch black in the dim light of dusk, I could barely see my own feet. As I ran, I stumbled over root after root until finally I couldn’t hear anything, and I stopped to catch my breath. I sat against a tree to see if there was anything of use in the backpack my mother had given me. I reached into the bag and found a strange yellow ball labeled, “Shake me.” “What else do I have to lose?” I thought and gave the yellow ball a good hard shake. To my surprise, the ball started to float and glow brightly. I smiled and gently moved it so I could get a proper look in the bag. Inside I rummaged around until I found a letter labeled “To my dearest Maggie” in my mother’s handwriting. I felt a lump in my throat as I tore open the seal of the letter and began to read:
Dear Maggie, I wish that I could have stopped this, I wanted to tell you that you were magic, but I could never find the perfect moment. I know you think that you are the reason for your father’s sanity slipping away, and I can understand that, but it is not true in the slightest. When I told him you had inherited your great grandmother’s gift, I hadn’t thought that he would go running to the police. He wasn’t crazy at first. It was just when no one believed him that he started to obsess. I remember one evening, I came home and you were crying at the kitchen table and your father was repeatedly saying, “Tell me the truth!” You, of course, had no idea what he was talking about, so you were very frightened. That was the day I decided it was best if you went to public school with all the other children instead of staying home with your father. Anyway, I’m getting off topic, in the satchel you will find these things and much more: (By the way this satchel is bigger on the inside)
This letter (obviously)
A light ball
Dried fish, cheese, bread, and a flask of water
Small potion book
An expandable tent
And my love
I wish you well in whatever fate throws at you. I love you, Maggie.
A tear traced its way down my face and landed on the letter, leaving a small wet blotch on the slightly yellowed parchment. I let myself sit and wallow in my own sorrow for a moment longer, and then I wiped my tears away and got up. “Let’s see that tent,” I said to myself. I dug in the backpack and felt around. I hadn’t realized it before, but the bag was really deep! After a couple minutes of digging around and coming up with a host of strange potion ingredients, I finally pulled my hand out of the pack and, low and behold, the tent! I walked around a bit to see if I could find a nice flat spot to set up, doing so proved to be difficult due to the fact that I was in full growth forest full of roots. In addition to that, my long wily auburn hair kept getting tangled up in tree branches and thorns, so I had to keep stopping and untangling myself. As if things couldn’t get any worse, I heard a roll of thunder, and it started pouring rain. Finally I found a clearing and set up the tent. I grimaced at the size of the tent, seeing that it was the size of a doghouse. Sighing, I lifted the tent flap and looked inside. I was shocked to see that the inside of the tent was the size of the average bedroom! I smiled and laughed to myself in amazement. I don’t remember much after that, I remember pulling a sleeping bag out of the pack in a haze and falling in to a deep, blissful sleep.
I woke up to find that several animals had gotten into my tent and were sleeping on top of me, one of which was a midnight black cat with electric green eyes, which were a stunning contrast to my chocolate brown eyes. Once I had shooed all the animals out, I saw that the cat was still there. I sighed,
“What do you want, cat?” I snapped.
“Nothing,” replied the cat in a strange British accent.
I jumped back in surprise.
“D-did you just talk?” I stuttered.
“What does it sound like?” the cat said, sarcastically rolling its eyes.
“Okay,” I said, thinking out loud. “I’m in the middle of the woods with a talking cat, and I’m running away. Man, never thought that would happen.”
“You need some help,” the cat stated matter-of-factly.
“Says the talking cat,” I replied.
I sat down and started to eat some of the bread I had found in my bag. When I spotted the cat eyeing it with a hungry look, I sighed and threw him a chunk of bread.
“Well, I never!” the cat exclaimed.
“What?” I asked alarmed.
“I cannot possibly eat that bread,” he said in disgust. “It’s contaminated!”
“Oh, really?” I said.
“I always mean what I say,” he replied with his nose turned up.
At that I promptly picked up the piece of bread and popped it in my mouth.
“You filthy beast!” the cat exclaimed in disgust.
“Well, then,” I said scowling, “none for you.”
“Humph!” the cat huffed.
After I had eaten, I went to pack up and found the cat curled up in my backpack. After numerous attempts to move the cat, I gave up and just packed around him. As I slung the pack onto my shoulder, I grunted under the extra weight but managed not to lose my balance. And with that, I set off.
It was a long day of hiking through the dense brush and crawling under dead logs and jumping over streams. At about midday I stopped in a nice sunny clearing to take a drink of water and eat a little. As I slung the pack off of my back and dropped it on the ground next to me, a muffled “OW!” came from it. I sighed as the cat stumbled out and began to wash his fur.
“How very disrespectful!” the cat exclaimed.
“Says the cat that made me carry him ALL the way here,” I replied.
“You don’t have to say cat like a bad thing,” he mumbled grumpily.
“Well, what am I supposed to call you then!” I said exasperated.
“You may call me Midnight,” the cat said simply.
“Huh,” I said, “nice name.”
“I know,” Midnight said smiling. “Aren’t I amazing?”
“And humble, too,” I replied, rolling my eyes.
Just then, one of the bushes near me rustled slightly.
“What the—” was all I had time to say before a man jumped out of the bush and tackled me! With a gasp of astonishment, I realized, that man was my father!
“D-dad?” I stuttered.
“Don’t call me that!” my father rasped.
“W-what are you doing here?” I asked, still stuttering.
“You don’t need to know that information,” he said menacingly.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Midnight disappear into the forest. What a coward, I thought.
“Hey, can you please get off of me so I can hug you?” I asked.
At that, he laughed and laughed.
“Why would I want to hug you?” he replied.
“Well,” I said, confused, “I’m your daughter and—”
He cut me off. “You,” he growled, “are no daughter of mine!”
And with that, he hit me on the head and everything went black.
I woke up to find myself chained to a wall in a dark room with a barred door. I felt a lump the size of half an egg on my forehead that was throbbing with a painful, steady pulse. I felt dizzy and I couldn’t think straight.
I called out hoarsely, “Hello? Is anyone there?”
“Be quiet, witch!” a gruff voice hollered back.
I tested the chains by pulling on them, only to find that they were anchored deep in the wall. I sat there and wondered what they were going to do to me, bury me alive maybe? Burn me at the stake?
A loud clang from outside interrupted my thoughts of death and suffering.
“Hello?” I said tentatively. “Mean man, is that you?”
Without a word my father’s evil grin appeared at the bars.
“I knew you were a witch all along!” he said, his face screwing up in disgust.
“No,” I said, my smile going all goofy. “You only knew when mom told you, and then you completely broke her trust and betrayed her.”
“Well, I, I uh,” he stuttered. I could tell through the fog that was my mind that I had hit a sore spot. “It doesn’t matter, everyone knows now that you’re a witch! They let me go because they realized I’m not crazy!” he said with a hysterical laugh.
“You sound pretty crazy to me,” I said smiling.
“Enough of that!” he exclaimed. “You’re going to be executed, and there’s nothing you can do about it!” And then he walked away laughing.
I felt a tear trace its way down my face as I thought about how I would never see my mother again.
“Finally,” said a female voice from the corner. “I thought he’d never leave.”
“W-who’s there?” I whispered.
A girl materialized in the corner. She had curly blonde hair pulled back in a fashionable pony tail. Her electric blue eyes twinkled as she smiled and said, “C’mon, let’s go.”
I had butterflies in my stomach as I looked at her.
“You’re pretty,” slipped out of my mouth before I could stop myself.
“Thanks,” she said, her smile becoming even bigger.
“You’re welcome,” I said, my heart in my throat.
“Oooh,” she said reaching out to touch my forehead. “You don’t look so good.”
I giggled. “Ha, yeah, being kidnapped and taken to jail does that.”
She laughed a small puff of a laugh. “Yeah.”
“Hey,” I said, “what’s your name?”
“Me? I’m Sofi.”
“I’m Magissa. It’s nice to meet you, I’d shake your hand, but I’m chained to the wall.”
“Speaking of which, let’s fix that,” she replied, smiling.
At that she took a bottle of metallic liquid out of a pouch on a belt around her waist. She walked over and took my arm in her hand. I blushed and felt butterflies in my stomach. Why did I feel this way? She poured the liquid on the chain, and I was astonished when the chains melted! She did the same to the other wrist.
“Who are you?” I asked in wonder.
“I’m Sofi Torres, part of the witch rescue team,” she replied.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s part of the W.I.S—Witches in Secret. I’m going to take you there.”
“Oh,” I said, “thank you.”
“No problem.” She smiled.
Fast forward three days in the future, we came to an old building.
“Are you ready for this?” Sofi asked, taking my hand.
I glanced down at my hand in hers. “As ready as I’ll ever be.” She squeezed my hand reassuringly.
“Anoixe!” she said to the door.
“Hey, what does that mean?” I asked.
“It means ‘open’ in Greek, why?” she replied.
“My mom used it to open a cupboard full of potion ingredients!” I exclaimed.
“Huh,” she said. “Well, Magissa, welcome to W.I.S!!!!”