I finish reading Chapter One and Aunty Alyssum asks us all to answer the questions about the chapter in our notebooks. We do as we are told, and Raina, with her wand, gets another piece of chewing gum out of her pencil case, opens her mouth ever so much, and allows the chewing gum to find its way onto her tongue.
“I so wasn’t paying attention. What’s their annual festival called?” Raina asks me.
“Diwali.” I say, rolling my eyes.
“No. Not their Wilted one. Their magical one.”
“Oh. Leekshma.” I say, with poor pronunciation.
“Chapter One is blank. What happened?” Raina looks at me.
“I don’t know. What do you mean it’s blank?” I ask, flipping the pages back to the start of the book to find chapter one. When I find it, the content and the photographs are indeed, not there.
“I have charmed your chapters so they can’t reveal themselves ladies. Year Twelve will be about learning – not referring. So you had all best learn.” Aunty Alyssum says.
“Is she for real?” Raina asks me.
“I think she is.” I am surprised.
“What is the colour of the uniform the girls wear?” Raina asks me.
“Purple and gold.”
“And the boys?”
“Grey and Gold.”
“How much does it cost to attend the girls school?” I ask Raina.
“Forty thousand dollars Australian.”
“Thank you.” I say.
“Ms Goldrose?” I ask, trying to get my aunty’s attention. Aunty Alyssum walks over to me.
“Seeing as I read the chapter out loud, I didn’t really absorb what I was reading. Any chance I can read the chapter again silently?” I try.
“No. Sorry.” Aunty Alyssum walks back to her desk.
“That totally did not work! Suffer.” Raina smirks.
After Global and then Government – which is an absolute bore, Raina and I throw our books and belongings into our lockers and head straight to the dining hall because we are starving. That’s what happens when we skip breakfast. We both order a chai latte and a plate of scones with jam and cream to share and we sit down at a table. A few moments later the chai lattes, in their glasses on china saucers, and the jam and cream scones on one large plate zoom through the air and plonk themselves in front of us, our chai lattes, splashing about a little in their glasses until their liquid calms itself.
“I hate when that happens. You would think they would charm them so that it doesn’t go everywhere.” I say, looking at my drenched napkin and flooded saucer. I peel the soaked napkin away and with my wand direct it to a nearby bin.
“They’re too dumb to think of such a thing.” Raina rolls her eyes, and cuts a scone in half with a butter knife. She spreads jam and cream onto one halve and bites into it.
“They are amazing though.” She speaks with her mouth full. She has jam and cream in the corner of her mouth. I laugh at her.
“Nothing.” I say, using my wand to pick up her napkin and dab at the jam and cream.
“You could have told me.” She says.
“Hey. Is it just me who thinks Miss Graveberry being sick is a bit weird?”
“Nah. I think that’s weird too. She was fine in homegroup. How can she be sick all of a sudden.”
“Yeah. That’s what I think. I think your mum knows something we don’t know. You should ask her.”
“I should and I will. But I doubt she will tell me anything.” Raina shrugs her shoulders and keeps eating.
“I’m looking forward to Wandart.” I say, swallowing a chunk of scone.
“Mmm. Me too. It has been a while since I have painted with a wand.” Raina says.
“Mmm. I made a couple of drawings during summer with my wand, but I prefer drawing in greylead. It’s much better.” I say.
“Much more lifelike too.”
“So what did Begonia’s coffee cup show this morning?”
“Not alot. It showed her older brother being hired for a very respectful career. It showed her Mum and Dad being promoted at work. And a baby being born in the family.”
“A baby. Does she know anyone who is pregnant?” I ask.
“No. I asked her that, and she doesn’t.”
“Well, if she doesn’t now, she will soon.” I say.
“You know we’ve got double flying in the morning?”
“Do we? No. I haven’t checked tomorrow.”
“I hate flying. Kill me now.” Raina sooks.
“If my wand allowed me to do that, I would do so gladly.” I grin.
“Haha. Very funny.” Raina sooks some more.
“I can’t believe we have homework for Government. What is this? It’s our first day back and already we have to answer fifty questions tonight. Like I have nothing better to do!” I say.
“You don’t. Besides listening to music all night because that’s all you ever do.” Raina jokes.
“I can’t live without music.”
“There are other artists besides the ones you listen to, you know?”
“I know. But I like what I like.” With her wand she throws a scone in my face.
“Are you crazy? Now I have jam all over my nose!”
“Good. It covers that disgusting nose of yours!”
“What’s wrong with my nose? You have the same nose!” I say, wiping my nose with a fresh napkin my wand has cast toward me from the counter buffet.
“True that. I do.” Raina laughs.
“I have cream in my hair. You idiot.”
“You need to put something in your hair. It’s wild.”
“When is it not? I can’t help it. It’s just so damn frizzy. It doesn’t matter what I do. Nothing works.”
“Ever thought about straightening it?”
“No. That’s such a Wilted thing to do. Why would I do that?”
“Because you’re Wilted.” Raina bursts into the loudest round of laughter I have ever heard escape from her lungs.
“Wilted? Oh my Goodness. I am going to kill you.” Raina gets up, and runs away from me, and I am running after her like a mad woman through the dining hall, my wand held out in front of me, where hundreds of other girls are eating and chatting. I’m not sure what I intend on doing to her with my wand – maybe the worst I could do is trip her over or something – but I keep it held out in front of me anyhow. We are running down the potions corridor when we come to a crashing stop into a group of people around the corner.
“Sorry.” We both say instantly. Everyone is acting weirdly, gathered in the hallway during recess like this.
“Have you heard?” Sage asks me. “After homegroup this morning, Miss Graveberry disappeared.”
“We know. We saw her.” I say.
“No, I mean, like actually disappeared. Nobody knows where she is.”
“Maybe she went home?” I hazard a guess.
“Maybe she got sick of looking at us.” Raina chimes in.
“Have any of the teachers tried calling her?” I ask.
“Yes. Mrs Freestone has left several calls on her mobile phone and has tried calling her home as well.” Sage says. Mrs Freesia Freestone is our principal.
“Maybe she was abducted?” Raina says stupidly.
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Sage says.
“I was joking.” Raina retorts. The school bell rings to signal that it’s time to go to our lockers and grab our books for our next class.
“Come on ladies. Lockers please. You heard the bell.” Miss Merryfeather who teaches flying is ushering us in all sorts of directions. We are separated faster than billiard balls on a Wilted billiard table.
“Rumours. This school has the biggest bunch of gossipers I have ever known!” Raina says, as we walk down the hallway and toward building one, to the classroom our Wandart class is being held in. Miss Galewand unlocks the classroom door and we follow her into the dark classroom and sit in two empty seats. She points her wand at the light fittings on the ceiling and all twenty-eight of them instantly glow alight.
“Good morning ladies. How are we?” She asks us.
“Good thanks.” I say.
“What happened to Miss Graveberry?” Raina asks.
“What do you mean?”
“We just heard she has disappeared.”
“What do you mean by disappeared Raina?”
“She disappeared to leave homegroup and go to our next class, right? But girls have been saying, that she disappeared completely. Like, my mum had to take Global this morning.” Raina explains.
“I see. Well, I haven’t heard the rumours Raina. But I am sure that if something has happened to Miss Graveberry, Mrs Freestone already knows about it, and is well on the way to rectifying-slash-solving whatever the issue may be. Can you please set up all of the workstations with canvas and easel?” Raina hops down off her stool, and walks into the art supplies cupboard. Using her wand, she distributes twenty-two sets of canvas and easel, which is all we will be needing for this class. Ten minutes later, everyone has arrived, and have seated themselves quietly.
“Now. Welcome everyone to year twelve wandart. For those of you who don’t know me – but you all should seeing as you have ALL been here for five years thus far – my name is Miss Galewand, and I am a painter – with wand, and with brush – which is a very fine Wilted skill to have. Today’s theme is music. I want you all to draw a painting with your wands, something that resembles music, something that is close to your heart. You have the next hour. This first piece will make up ten per cent of your overall grade at the end of the year, so take your time, and do not rush it.” We all go about shimmying on our stools to make sure we are in the perfect position, and despite not using any paint, some of us, including myself, roll up the sleeves on our jumpers, because it feels better. I really love that the theme is music, because I immediately know what I am going to paint – the album covers for the most recent albums released by my four favourite bloomer artists – Heather Stemweave, Iris Barkwood, Lily Riverstone and Daisy Hemlock. For the next thirty minutes, I paint in silence while a few girls here and there chatter, including Raina. I am so lost in a painting reverie however, and she senses this so does not bother me. Different tones and hues of colour shoot out of the tip of my wand and onto the canvas. I love how my wand can see what colour I want and then just puts it there. That is one of the advantages of being a bloomer – our wands are in sync with our thoughts. My wand – which I call Rosa, is an extension of me – much like our mobile phones are. However, we can’t use those again until three thirty when they all magically reappear in our lockers. The bell signals end of period three and we all say our goodbyes, leave our canvas where it is, and head toward our next class. Raina and I have potions, and this is the one subject everyone dreads because it’s so bloody annoying having to charm a set of glass vials and beakers in a metal frame from one building to another while hoping you don’t crash into someone else, or send the glass smashing to the ground. We could all hold them against our chests – but that would just be too much work. They are so bloody heavy. Most girls put anti-breaking spells on their potions sets just until they get to class. Which is a really good idea if you ask me. Not all of us are that good at spell-casting however. Myself and Raina included. Which is why paying attention in Spells during Period Five will benefit us greatly.
Raina and Aunty Alyssum come over for dinner. Mum is in the kitchen cooking a roast while Farley and Briar are clawing at the oven door. I am surprised they haven’t burnt their paws, tapping on the hot glass door. Mum has shooed them away a bazillion times, but they just don’t listen. They have selective hearing. They know food is in the oven.
“Saffra, can you feed them please?” Mum says, setting the table with cutlery and condiments with her wand.
Raina is pouring lemonade for everyone into four crystal glasses. I open the canned tuna with my wand and send it landing into their dinner dishes on the floor near the laundry door. They are happy little Vegemites – which is a Wilted thing they also love.
“How many times have I told you not to pour lemonade with your wand Raina?” Aunty Alyssum says, casting a rewinding spell, so that the spilt lemonade literally pours itself backward into the bottle because Raina has overpoured the lemonade and the clear bubble liquid is all over Mum’s glass table.
“Sorree..” Raina says, knowing she is useless pouring stuff with her wand, but still does it anyway, because she’s too lazy to screw the plastic lids off bottles and physically pour them with her hands.
“Also, no more chewing gum at school. It makes me look bad.” Aunty Alyssum says.
“Makes you look bad?” How?” Raina is pissed off.
“Because I am a teacher there and you are a student. Everyone knows I’m your mother and your first disciplinarian. I don’t give a shit what kind of teacher they think I am behind my back, but a parent – what kind of parent I am – I care about that. If you continue to flout the rules Raina – there will be severe consequences. I can’t have you making me look bad. People will think I don’t discipline you.”
“But you do.” Raina says slowly.
“I know I do. But they are not here right now to see that are they?”
“No.” We all sit down to eat, after the dishes have beat us to the table, and lids have removed themselves, and utensils have positioned themselves on top of plates and inside cookware, where they should be.
“So what’s this I hear about Lachoula Graveberry?” Mum asks, and Raina and I immediately look at eachother because this is exactly what we have been wanting an answer for since recess today.
“Raina. Saffra. This conversation stays at this dinnertable. Is that clear?”
“Yes.” We nod.
“Delph – it’s not good news. Some bloomers somewhere have somehow infiltrated the disappearing spell and when she went to disappear this morning from their” – looking at us, “homegroup, to move onto their next class, they intercepted, and she wasn’t able to complete her disappearance.”
“Holy shit. Really? How do you know this?” Mum asks gobsmacked, looking at a stainless steel tablespoon spooning peas onto her plate.
“Freesia spoke with Dahlia Derefelle at lunchtime and reported her missing. The Magic-Surveillance Department in Canberra flew to our realm, and cast an extended-reversing spell using invisibility, so that they wouldn’t be seen and arouse suspicion amongst the students. They reversed the whole day’s actions of magic and stopped right on nine o’clock this morning, just before she disappeared.”
“They reversed the whole day’s actions of magic?” I blurt out, annoyed, knowing my canvas from wandart is now blank.
“Yes, Saffra, they did. Why are you so annoyed?” Aunty Alyssum asks matter-of-fact.
“My amazing painting from wandart has been destroyed.” I am so heartbroken. Raina cackles with laughter.
“Unfortunately paintings painted with wands do not survive reversing spells I am afraid.” Aunty Alyssum says. Tears are streaming down my cheeks.
“Oh darling. It’s ok. You can do another one tomorrow.” Mum says, getting up and hugging me from behind, while I am still seated.
“For starters – we don’t have wandart tomorrow! And no. I can’t do another one. That one was amazing. I was so proud of it. I put so much effort into it.” I say sobbing.
“I saw it. It was pretty good.” Raina says, her laughter gone.
“If you like, I can have a word with Miss Galewand, and ask her to let you paint with brushes and paint for the rest of the year?” Aunty Alyssum suggests.
“If you want. You could do that. But it’s a bit wilted don’t you think?” I say.
“It is, but it means that if you paint something really nice, it can’t and won’t be erased by any sort of magic.”
“Okay. If you think so. Ask her. See what she says. She has experience with paint and brushes too, so maybe she will say yes.” I sob, getting up from the table. “I’m going to have a shower.” I say, leaving the kitchen and walking upstairs to the bathroom and slamming the door behind me.