Author: Nicole Zoltack
Genre: YA Paranormal
Title: Crystal’s Magic
“Crystal? Are you dressed yet?”
Crystal groaned and rolled over. Covering her head with her pillow, she peeked with one eye at her alarm clock. If she didn’t leave the house immediately, she’d miss the bus.
She scrambled around the room, hopping into jeans, trying to throw on a shirt and brush her hair at the same time. Somehow she wrestled her way into some clothes (whether or not they looked good together she hadn’t the time to worry about) and ran downstairs. Her kiss missed her mom’s cheek. “Bye, Mom!”
“Wait, Crystal, you forgot your school bag.” Her mom held it out for her.
Crystal grabbed it and groaned again when she spied the kitchen clock. There was no way she’d make the bus. It probably drove past her house five minutes ago.
Still, she had to try. If she was late one more time, she’d get detention. And getting her first detention two weeks before her sixteenth birthday was not on her to-do list.
Crystal threw her bag over her shoulder and hurried out the door. She raced toward the bus stop.
Please, dear Lord, let the bus be there. Please let the bus be there.
She ran with her eyes closed. She never prayed with her eyes open.
When she reached the end of the stone driveway, she opened her eyes.
The bus was just pulling to a stop.
Crystal grinned. Thank you, Lord.
She climbed up the steps and slid into her customary seat beside Kelly Mae.
Kelly Mae took one look at her and raised a perfectly arched eyebrow until it disappeared behind her blond sideswept bangs. “Again, Crystal?”
Crystal shrugged. “I must’ve slept through the alarm. Why… is it that obvious?” She glanced down at her clothes. Dark blue jeans, a black T-shirt, and a navy vest. Definitely not the most stylish of choices.
Kelly Mae reached over and tugged something out of Crystal’s hair. Her hairbrush.
Staring at it, Crystal had to laugh.
Ten minutes later, the bus stopped in front of their school, and the students rushed to their lockers. Crystal grabbed her books and hurried to geometry class. Mrs. Gingrinch began to drone, and Crystal's mind wandered. It’s not that she didn’t want to learn, it’s just that she always felt as if she was wasting her time, as if she was meant for something more than learning the area of a rhombus. I mean, seriously, a rhombus? Who came up with that word?
"Crystal, care to join us?"
She snapped her head up and looked at the stern face of Mrs. Gingrinch. "Sorry," she mumbled.
"Pay attention." Mrs. Gingrinch turned to face the chalkboard and continued writing.
Crystal hung her head. What’s wrong with me lately? She had a hard time falling asleep, and she was always daydreaming—
"Crystal! Come up here and solve this problem."
Crystal gulped. She stood and walked to the chalkboard. Mrs. Gingrinch held out the chalk, and Crystal hated the smug look on her teacher's face.
Shouldn't teachers want their students to succeed?
She took the chalk and inhaled deeply. She could do this.
Until she looked at the math problem and realized she had no idea what to do or how to figure out the answer.
Please, dear Lord, help me.
Just then, the bell rang.
Crystal fought back a grin and dropped the chalk onto the tray. She headed back to her seat as her classmates left the room, talking and laughing. After slinging her school bag over her shoulder, she walked to the door.
"Crystal, I don't know what's going on with you, but if you need someone to talk to…" Mrs. Gingrinch offered.
Crystal raised her eyebrows. Mrs. Gingrinch didn't seem like the kind of teacher to reach out to students. "Everything's fine, Mrs. Gingrinch."
Her teacher humphed. "If you say so. I expect you to start participating in class more. I know math isn't your favorite subject—”
Was she that obvious about it?
"But it's important that you learn the basics. How else will you be able to take trigonometry next year?"
Crystal shrugged. "I'll try."
"Very well." Mrs. Gingrinch erased the problem from the board. "You better be on your way to class."
She nodded and had to force her way through the tide of math students entering the room. Luckily, she had lunch now and didn't have to worry about being late. She returned to her locker, dropped off her morning books and grabbed the ones she needed for the afternoon, and headed into the cafeteria.
Mount Claymore High was a small school, but the cafeteria was a huge room. Crystal made her way to the center, where she and her friends always sat.
Kelly Mae was already there, as were Brian and Paula.
"Where's Vince?" Crystal asked.
"In line." Kelly Mae jerked her head to the long line of students waiting to buy food.
"I'll be back." With a wave, Crystal cut through the line to join him. "Hey, Vince, how's it going?"
"Crystal. I asked the others already, are you doing anything Sunday? Thinking about having a cookout.”
She tilted her head and thought for a second. “Sure.”
Vince smirked. “Church won’t be a problem?”
“I can go to an earlier Mass.” Crystal normally went to the twelve o’clock service every week.
He shook his head, his longish brown hair falling into his eyes. “I don’t understand how you can believe in God and all that.”
Crystal smiled sadly but said nothing.
“He does nothing to help anyone.”
Vince was worse than an agnostic. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe that God existed, he thought God was apathetic. And he did have a legitimate reason for feeling that way.
Almost two years ago, Vince’s little brother died from cancer—leukemia. Vince, and his parents, blamed God. A lot of his aggression and hostilities started then. Before, Vince had been one of the sweetest, most caring boys she had ever met. He was one of her oldest friends, ever since the second grade.
“He does help some people,” Crystal said softly.
“Really? How can you bother praying to someone who doesn’t bother to…” He sighed, shook his head, and ran his fingers through his hair.
“He helped me this morning. I should have missed the bus by a good five minutes, but I prayed and the bus just pulled up when I got to the end of the bus stop.”
Vince’s lips twisted into a grimace. “How naïve can you be, Crystal?”
She smiled, unfazed by his tone. No one else understood her relationship with God. Nearly everything she prayed for happened. “I don’t want to fight.”
“You want me to make some brownies for the cookout?” she changed the subject.
“Sure, your brownies are the best.” He grinned, and the awkwardness of the moment passed.
They reached the front of the line, grabbed their food, and paid for it before heading back to their table.
“Whatcha doing the weekend after next?” Kelly Mae asked as Crystal sat down next to her.
Crystal shrugged. “Nothing yet.”
“I figured we could celebrate your birthday then.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Make it Saturday,” Paula cut in. “Sunday doesn’t work for me.”
“I’ll have to check with—”
“I’ve already started on a list of people to invite.” Kelly Mae opened a notebook to a long list.
Brian grabbed it from her. “You forgot to add Josh.”
“Woah, guys, slow down!”