Write Like a Wizard
2016 Writing Challenge Entry:
by, Allison Whitmore
In 3000 words or less, tell a story about a girl that escapes from a bully by closing her eyes and vanishing? How does she use this new power?
At nearly fifteen, Lizzy King had nothing to offer the world other than an unusual knowledge of an old band that she loved, The Doors. She lived in Venice Beach, California, which many considered the epicenter of everything Jim Morrison. Jim Morrison had been the lead singer of the famous band. He was a rock legend, and a part of the 27-club, which she found fascinating in and of itself. Entry to be a member—oh, you just had to be an ultra-cool counter-culture hippy type person with a lot of talent—and also die at the age of 27. Her earphones sang the beachy electric guitar as his godlike voice filtered into her ears telling her that days were strange. She believed it. The next song perpetuated the idea that people were strange. She believed that, too.
As she reached one of the more populated streets in her neighborhood, Abbott Kinney, she saw three figures at the end of it. Great. She normally didn’t encounter the trio until she hit Main Street. They were in front of an eatery known as Lemonade. It had really great food and, of course, fabulous lemonade. She had been dreaming of one since fourth period that day. But, she had not counted on Frankie Baxter and her two goons filling the space in front of the shop before she got there. Her stomach curled. She passed a food truck that sat in front of the bar her Uncle Ward worked in. She checked her watch. It was 3:15. Her uncle didn’t usually get in until four to start checking the stock of whatever it was they stocked inside and preparing for the night of bands, locals, tourists, and hipsters from Silverlake who decided to take a jaunt over to Venice to further their stance of being hip without wanting to be.
Lizzy could dip inside and hide, stating that she was waiting for her uncle, but no, she had a right to have her lemonade, didn’t she? The problem was Frankie’s favorite goon, Tasha, had a boyfriend, who’d sat next to Lizzy during the pep rally last week. They were partners in biology class and on top of that, their teacher had assigned them to participate in the science fair together. But that didn’t matter to Tasha. She accused Lizzy of trying to “swoop in on her man.” Of course, that was followed by a howl from Tasha, a guffaw from Frankie, and a snicker by their quieter friend, Marie. “As if he’d want a puny little nerd like you.”
Lizzy hated the girls. The very sight of them turned her stomach sour. And they were always there; in third period math where she was the only 10th grader in a sea of juniors—like Frankie and her goons—and seniors. Lizzy hated that class. She didn’t even really like math. She was just good at school, getting her work done as best she could and as fast as she could.
“Hey!” she heard a girl’s voice stage whisper from behind her. She whipped around, on edge. “Lizzy. Meet me in your uncle’s place. The side door is unlocked.”
“What? Where are you?” she called out, as a man on a bike with his son strapped in a toddler’s seat behind him passed her frowning.
“I have a way to help you!” the voice came again, but Lizzy still saw no one.
“Look, I’m not going wherever you ask me to go, and…” Lizzy realized that she was hearing the voice loud and clear through her earphones. But it wasn’t like the voice was coming through the speakers. It was there alongside them, like how someone would sound if they were speaking to her while she was listening to music in her bedroom or something.
“All right, then. If you won’t come in…” the voice trailed off, suddenly leaving Lizzy afraid. That sounded sort of like a threat didn’t it?
“You’ll do what?” A slightly plump woman in jogging gear sped past her. Lizzy was thankful she too had headphones in and hadn’t heard her babbling to herself.
Deciding she had no other choice but to walk full speed toward the girls she wanted to avoid, she quickened herself up the sidewalk behind the powerwalking lady. As she moved, a bird whizzed by her head. It flew up high then flew by her again. “What the heck? Go away!”
Then she felt it. A warm bead of wetness dropping on her head. She froze, trying not to screech, looking up to see her favorite bullies still in the doorway of the shop. They had yet to spot her. She felt the wetness drip onto her shoulder. “Oh God! Gross.” When she dared look at the substance, preparing for utter disgust, she did not find what she thought she would at all. It was bright, shimmering gold and it continued rolling down her side before snaking into her hand. She screamed a little, quickly hiding her mouth behind her hand. But it was too late. The girls at the end of the road were now looking up.
She couldn’t turn back now, but her focus was more on the strange weight in her left hand. When she turned her palm over, she found a golden coin that felt warm against her skin, yet when she touched it with two fingers from her right hand, she found it to be ice cold. What on earth? Then, she heard another voice. This time it was a male.
“Lizzy King, you are a time witch, and you must embrace your destiny,” the voice went on, making her stomach churn. Everything around her seemed to blur. Frightened, she dropped the coin and rushed ahead. She ran without thinking and before she knew it, she’d smacked right into Frankie, who shoved her backward.
“What the hell is your problem?” the tall, thick girl asked her.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t see you?”
“Yeah? Just like you didn’t see us when you sat next to Tasha’s boyfriend at the rally?”
“I told you that I—“
Before she could respond, Frankie shoved her to the ground with fierceness. To Lizzy’s left, she saw the coin again.
“What’s that?” the girl asked, but before she could reach for it, Lizzy snatched it into her hand. As soon as Frankie lunged for her, she pinched her eyes shut and squeezed the coin in her hand, thrusting it behind her back.
When she expected to find a fist in her face, Lizzy instead felt a cool gust of wind stinging her cheeks. She opened her eyes to a sudden blackness all around her, and then the air thinned in her lungs. She froze with fright, closing her eyes again, praying for the chaotic moment to end.
Then, she plopped onto a wet surface. It felt like grass and mud. She dug her hands into the substance beside her. It really did feel like mud. She scrambled backwards. It was an attempt to protect herself, but from what she did not know. She slammed her eyes shut and pinched her lips together. I-2-3. When she opened her eyes again, she was back on the sidewalk, but the bullies were gone and Lemonade was gone, even though she was still on the same corner. The crowd was thicker too. People in clothing she’d think would be reserved for a costume party waltzed by her nonchalantly. Many held an odor of perspiration as if they had not showered. What was going on?
When a man with circular sunglasses and porkchop sideburns nearly knocked her down with a plunge to her shoulder, she shrieked, and “Hey! Watch it!” was his reply. The man smirked. Then, something clicked in her mind.
“Hey, wait!” she said before the man could turn to leave. Why is everyone dressed like it’s the 60s?”
The man lowered his sunglasses and lifted his eyebrows. “Because it’s 1967.”
“No. There must be some kind of festival.”
The man looked at her like she was crazy, and then stalked on to wherever he was in such a rush to get to. 1967? He was lying. But after she took in her environment, she had a sinking feeling that maybe he wasn’t. She reached into her pocket and found the gold coin. As soon as she tightened her hand around it, she felt the cool air against the blackness once again filling her eyes.
“You little bitch!” yelled Frankie, her fingers poking harshly into Lizzy’s shoulder.
Lizzy clutched the coin again, squeezing her eyes shut. Then, she was back in the past, but this time her arrival had gone smoother. It was a cool slip from one space in time to the next. She stood on the same road once again, watching the people pass her by. No one seemed to notice her appearing out of thin air.
“How is this even happening?” she mumbled quietly as she looked around for some sort of clue. The coin was obviously controlling this travelling—or whatever it was she was actually doing. But where had it come from; and why was it given to her?
Then, a vaguely familiar male voice spoke through her headphones once more. “Lizzy, you are one of the last of your kind. Please, find me so I can give you a message and send you on your way. You can’t stay in the past too long—or it will affect you.”
“Who are you?” she asked, spinning around in a daze, hoping to catch a glimpse of the invisible man. “Affect me, how?”
The voice didn’t respond, but Lizzy was certainly turning heads in the crowd around her. She had to find him, but who was he? And more importantly, where was he?
As she walked by the place that would eventually become Lemonade, Lizzy noticed a flyer taped to a pole. She was going to ignore it, but the way it flapped in the calm breeze pulled her attention back to it. There was some scribbled writing that she couldn’t really decipher, but it was the black and white photograph in the center that made her take a second look. She shook her head and ripped the paper down from the pole. In clear, black print along the top, it read, “Come Hear the Voice of Venice on the Boardwalk.”
Was that really who she thought it was in the picture? Her thoughts shifted back to the faceless voice. Was he leading her somewhere? And if he was, did that mean she was running out of time? He had said something about how it would affect her if she stayed too long. What was going on?
Looking off in the direction of Main Street, which would lead her right to the short paths that would take her to the Boardwalk, Lizzy wondered if it would be a fool’s journey. It was less than a ten minute walk from where she stood, but how much time did she have? And what if it was all for nothing? Whoever the voice belonged to had scared her. She decided she should just use the coin to go back.
Grasping it in her hand, she clenched her eyes tightly and waited to feel the cool air brushing against her skin. Instead, nothing happened. When she opened her eyes again, she was still right in the middle of Abbot Kinney, 1967. “It’s the fear. It is how you control your power. You need to rid yourself of it. That is what I can teach you. Come hear my music,” the voice said, his tone now calm and soothing.
“I don’t even know where to go on the Boardwalk! This place doesn’t really look like it will in the future,” she whispered, earning a few more stares from passersby.
“What are you wearing?” asked a kind voice. It was that of an old woman who wore a large, orange hat with feathers protruding from the top.
“Those things,” she said, pointing at Lizzy’s face.
“Oh,” she gasped, yanking her headphones from her ears. As she stuffed them into her pocket, she tried to come up with a believable anecdote. “They’re these new earmuffs I’m testing out. Small, insulated.”
“I’m heading to Boston for college in the fall,” she sputtered.
It was a horrible lie, but Lizzy had been put on the spot. She was no expert on earmuffs, and she knew she did not look old enough to be going away to college. But she hoped the lady would accept her as another Venice Beach kook and move on. It must have worked because the woman smiled and let out a hearty chuckle. “I’m losing touch with this new batch of kids. All these new, flashy things; we didn’t have half this junk when I was a kid.”
“Imagine how it will be in the future,” Lizzy said with a laugh.
“Well you take care, dear. It’s starting to get cold near the beach, so try to stay warm,” the woman said, turning away with a single wave to say goodbye.
It wasn’t exactly what Lizzy would call cold, but night was fast approaching. How long had she been in the past? And what if she didn’t get back to present time soon? Her heart began pounding furiously, nearly escaping from her chest as the world spun around her. “Calm yourself and find peace. It’s all about perception. How others see you will open doors to things and places you’ve never imagined. Your time is thinning, Lizzy King. Find me, now.”
The voice sounded more familiar now than it had before, but it was probably just time affecting her as he had warned. Unwilling to risk it getting worse, Lizzy made her way toward the coast. Whether she’d find the mystery figure was unknown, but further attempts at using the coin were a failure.
The sounds of the Boardwalk could be heard after a short walk through the strange streets that she thought she knew so well. She was still in Venice, where she had lived all her life, but it looked so different. Even the people were different; friendlier and less self-indulged.
By the time she arrived at her destination, Lizzy had almost completely forgotten about Frankie and her goons until their faces flashed back in her mind. “Oh no,” she gasped, the fear of uncertainty striking again. Surely, they must have realized that she had disappeared for a long time. How would she explain herself? It looked like more bullying would be in her near future.
As she walked along the pier, taking in the differences of a world she’d never known, a familiar tune played in the distance. Was that—? It was! Lizzy followed the sound, singing along with the faint lyrics as they got closer. “Riders on the Storm!”
There they were, performing on the boardwalk. It was the Doors, and front and center stood Jim Morrison, his eyes closed as his soothing voice filled the air with his words. Then, he paused and looked out into the crowd; right in Lizzy’s direction.
She paused, her heart skipping a beat as she tried to piece everything together. Was he the voice in her head? Or wherever it had been?
When the song reached its end, Jim walked off and disappeared into the crowd that had surrounded the group. Moments later, however, the voice returned. “You’ve come. Now let’s send you back with the one thing that will set you on your way.”
Lizzy felt as if he was speaking to her from the water, so she walked down the pier and darted through the sand. There he was, his bare feet soaking up the water as it washed up against the shore. Turning around, he smiled and nodded. “I didn’t think you were coming, but I’m glad you have.”
“Oh my god!” she whispered, trying to contain her excitement. It was difficult because her ability to breathe properly had left her. He stood there. Slender, beautiful, and more soulful than she could have ever imagined. “You’re really him?”
“It appears so,” he chuckled, staring back toward the sunset. “But set that aside for now. We’ll speak again in the future; or the past. Either way, there’s no time now. You need to understand your power and master how to use it. Then, you won’t have to worry about the ill effects of time travel.”
“And how do I do that?”
“You let go of your fear. Embrace what you believe, but stand firm in your convictions. A friend of mine sent you here. She is the one who gave you the coin so you could find me. That will be your timepiece; it allows you to harness your power to manipulate the fabric of time and space. As an empath, I’ve been able to speak with you here, but I’m no time-witch, so speaking into the future is difficult and costly for me. I imprint my spirit in my music, my words, you dig? It’s different. But you are something special, Lizzy.”
“What about Frankie? She’ll know something weird happened. Her goons, too.”
“Clutch your timepiece and think back to that very moment. Exercise your fears and confront your tormenters. They will torment no more when they see that you’re fearless. Show you are bold and more beautiful than you know. Go now, Lizzy King. Become who you’re meant to be.”
Holding the coin in her hand, it suddenly went from ice cold to fiery warm. The sensation tickled her palm as harsh winds blew against her exposed skin. Seconds later, she opened her eyes to see Frankie and her goons walking down the street.
Was she really back to that afternoon? And back to where she had first traveled from? Lemonade was right near her this time, but the strange bird seemed to be absent. That aside, it seemed whatever Jim had told her to do had worked.
“Look who it is, Tasha. It’s the puny thing that tried to steal your man.”
Instead of panicking or cowering in fear, Lizzy walked onward with an air of arrogance. “I didn’t steal your man, but if you don’t leave me alone, I will,” she said, her voice peaceful but stern.
Frankie’s mouth fell open as Tasha and Marie gasped in shock. “You think we’re afraid of you all of a sudden?”
“No, but you should be,” Lizzy said, walking past the bullies to get her lemonade. They never said another word that day, but she no longer had a reason to fear them. She was a time witch, and fear had no place in her life.
About the Author
Allison Whitmore was born in Los Angeles and studied literature and writing at Long Island University. She spent several years teaching English and history after earning her master's degree at Mount St. Mary's University. Outside of writing and reading, Allison loves classic Hollywood films, and spending time with her family and friends. In 2011, she started working on The Lost Heir (Book I in The Diadem Chronicles) with two of her good friends, Erin Virginia and Grace Arden. She is grateful to have them along for the ride as she developed the characters and etched out the massive story world of the novel and the exciting series-to-come.