Naturally: Chapter One: Reunion

By Layla Katz

Illustration by Olivia Bagdanov

Live Aurelius, a 17-year-old boy with the gift of creating live organisms such as plants, is searching for the one who has gifted him these powers. Through his search, he finds a mysterious little demon and a cool, bunny-loving girl. Who are these weird new friends of Live’s? And how can they help him find the person he’s looking for? Welp! Time will tell.

Students sat at or on cold wooden desks with metal legs and dark turquoise chairs. An oak table commanded the front of the classroom where an older man with short, salt-and-pepper hair typed on a computer, occasionally pushing his black glasses up onto the bridge of his nose. 

As the children chitchatted about their summers, a boy, small for a 17-year-old, took a seat in the back of the classroom. He had light blonde hair and hazel eyes. He wore a violet and turquoise shirt, a dark, dusty brick red and red violet accented open sweatshirt, a black belt, blue jeans, and simple black shoes. Live situated all of his school supplies in front of himself and folded his arms on top of the items, resting his head in his arms. He looked around the room, noticing a few people from years prior, including Jene Keket, a girl he knew in middle school and the previous years of high school. She was talking with a few other students and laughing. Her golden eyes wandered over to him, a curious expression visible in her eyes. Live quickly looked away, hoping the girl wouldn’t notice him. Live could still feel her eyes burning into the back of his head even after he turned his head. 

“Heyyy, Live, right? It’s good to see you again!” chimed an awkward voice.

“Oh! Uh yeah. You’re Jene?” Live asked, sitting up and giving the girl a shiny smile. He really did not want to have any conversations with anyone right now, especially with Jene. He already knew that there would be an awkward amount of silence before one of them left, so when Jene nodded and stood there scratching the back of her neck, he wasn’t surprised. 

“How was your summer?” Jene asked, glancing down at Live. 

“Good, pretty mellow. You?” Live prompted, tilting his head. 

“Good! I got a ton of new sundresses but, well, I can’t wear them anymore…” Jene smiled sheepishly and shrugged. Something about that smile and the way she shrugged made butterflies form in Live’s stomach. 

“Please! It’s still pretty warm out, I bet you could,” Live scoffed, leaning forward in his chair. 

“Hm. Maybe. I guess I could throw a sweater over it,” Jene nodded her head.

Live assumed it must have been the quietness between the two, but his mind began to drift off to the first time he met her.

***

“Gosh, Live! You have the nicest hair ever,” Julie said from behind the boy. Julie was one of the girls he hung out with during recess. She sat on top of the old wooden picnic tables that would give you splinters if you ran your hand across the surface. 

“Thanks, I’ve been growing it out just for you to braid it, heh,” Live spoke softly, sitting on the picnic table bench and playing with a fallen green leaf. 

“Yeah, I love it! I wish my mom would let me grow my hair out!” Stef, another one of the girls, whined, running a hand through her shoulder-length, strawberry-blonde hair.

 “You guys don’t think that it’s stupid that I grow it out?” Live asked, feeling Julie’s warm hands weave his hair together. 

“Not at all! Julie responded, grinning brightly. Live didn’t respond, a common thing he did when he was thinking. He pulled his knees up to his chest and looked around the playground. He noticed one student in particular. The boy sat on the swingset with his head down low and his baseball hat pulled down to cover his eyes. He softly pumped his legs that way he was still kind of swinging. As Live continued watching him, he noticed the boy look up, his golden eyes catching Live’s. 

***

The two sat there awkwardly for what seemed like an eternity before Jene announced her departure and walked off to her group of friends. Live let out a sigh, happy to not have to talk to the other anymore. Little did he know he would later be forced into another conversation with her, one that provide hints that would help him answer the greatest question of his life …

To be continued …

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