1680 words (6 minute read)

Chapter 1

“Daisy? Daisy?” Onyx shouted as he explored the apple orchard. “Your da told me you were out here.” He brushed his flaxen hair back as he walked, the longer strands kept falling into his eyes.

The apple trees in the orchard were bearing well. The branches of the trees were just beginning to bend from the weight of the developing fruit. Onyx ducked a few branches as he walked along.

“Go away, Onyx. I’m not interested in talking to you,” was the reply he heard from not far away.

Onyx ran toward the voice. “The peddler has just arrived. I’ve saved a little money and I was…” Onyx came to a halt and stared.

“I said I’m not interested, you dunderhead.” Daisy stared up at Onyx from under one apple tree. Next to her was David, son of the local miller. He was moving his hand away from Daisy while she was holding the front of her blouse closed.

“I thought you liked me,” said Onyx as he looked between David and Daisy.

“Dunderhead, just because I’m nice when you talk to me doesn’t mean I’m interested,” Daisy snapped.

“Beat it, kid,” snarled David. “We’re busy here.”

Onyx grew angry and embarrassed by that comment. “Kid? How dare you call me kid?” he shouted. “You are only a year older than I am.” A sudden gust of wind ripped through the orchard, causing a lot of half–ripened fruit to fall and snapping a branch just over David’s head. Onyx watched as the branch fell to earth, hitting David’s arm with a loud thud. He screamed in pain, grabbing his right arm with his left hand. Daisy wasn’t touched by the branch but she was pelted with half ripe apples that had been ripped off by the wind.

“That’s it, dunderhead. You are a freak!” shrieked Daisy as she jumped to her feet. “We’ll see about you!” She pulled David up and together they raced back toward her house. “Stay away from me.”

Onyx stood still for half a minute trying to control himself. When he felt more in control of his emotions, Onyx ran for home. He found his twin sister Pearl behind their small cottage, rolling some fur into string. Her raven hair was a stark contrast to the white fur she had in hand. He stopped to watch her work. Their mother had promised that they could try her spinning wheel if they could make a good enough thread by hand.

“I think you have the knack,” he told her. “I’ve tried but I just can’t get it to make a thread.”

“Onyx, I’ve watched you. You don’t really try. You don’t try to make thread and you really have never tried to weave either,” Pearl put down the fur she was working on. The thread their mother made was used by their father to weave cloth. The patterns he could weave into the basic cloth were intricate. Onyx’s attempt at weaving were lumpy and uneven.

“Where did you get that fur?”

“I brushed the cat until she was nearly furless. If I run out, I think there may be some wool on the brambles close to the pond.” She looked at Onyx and frowned at her twin. “You didn’t come here to talk about spinning though.”

“No. I went over to ask Daisy if I could buy her something from the peddler and David was there. Why did they do that,” he moaned to her. “Why were they…”

“Onyx, everyone else around here knows.” Pearl rose to her feet and brushed the extra fur off her skirt. “David has been courting Daisy for months. What were you thinking?” She tapped Onyx’s head, leaning close to listen for echoes. “Is there anything in there to think?”

“Pearl! How was I to know? Daisy is so pretty!” protested Onyx.

Pearl snorted, the rude sound made Onyx jump. “Daisy has her choice of all the boys around. Of course, she’d pick David. His dad is worth more than anyone else.”

An hour later, Randolph, stormed up to his house. “Oscar!” he shouted. “Milly! I need a word with you about your boy.”

Milly carefully set down the wool she had been spinning into thread. Oscar finished pulling a thread through his loom. “What’s the boy done?”

“Your son just destroyed a good part of my apple crop, that’s what.”

Milly and Oscar looked at each other. “Are you sure it was Onyx?” Milly protested.

“Call the boy,” was Randolph’s reply, “we can ask him.”

“Onyx, come here boy,” bellowed Oscar.

Onyx had been dreading this. He took a few deep breaths before hurrying to the work shed his parents used. “Yes, Da?”

“Randolph says that you ruined his crop. Did you?” asked Oscar.

“I didn’t do anything,” protested Onyx. Well, it was technically true. He hadn’t deliberately done anything at all. Of course, that was part of the problem. Onyx had never meant for any of it to happen. It just did.

“Onyx, must I tell you again to leave the wool alone?” snapped Milly at her spinning wheel. “Why can’t you be more like your sister? Pearl doesn’t play with my wool.”

The roof rattled because of a sudden stiff breeze. Milly looked at Onyx with a frown. She knew of no magic in her family, and Oscar said there was none in his. But more and more often, a random wind would happen whenever Onyx was angry or upset.

The two children were learning how to use small looms under the watchful eye of their father Oscar, the village weaver. Raven haired Pearl was able to thread the loom quickly. Her twin brother Onyx struggled to set the threads correctly.

“No, Onyx. That’s not the right way to weave that pattern,” Oscar told his son. “I’ve shown you this one before.”

Onyx looked up, frustrated by his efforts. The pattern his father was teaching him was supposed to be simple and yet he couldn’t manage to thread the small loom properly. A gust of wind tossed a pile of loose leaves into the loom.

“Onyx, you have to stop doing that,” his father sighed in exasperation. “Now you’ll have to pull out those leaves without damaging the main threads.”

Onyx threw the loom down in disgust. He paced around in a tight circle, trying to control his frustration. “Da, I can’t stop it. I don’t even know how I’m doing it,” he grumbled. “It just happens.”

“Da, how’s this?” asked Pearl as she held up her small loom.

“That’s perfect Pearl, just perfect. Though,” Oscar paused as he examined her work closer, “I see you managed to weave in a little extra pattern. How did you know to do that?”

Pearl shrugged as she motioned towards the small shed where Oscar’s large loom sat. “I’ve been watching you, Da. It’s not that hard, is it?” Pearl smiled up at Oscar.

Onyx had to force himself to be calm. Pearl was just better at weaving, and their Da would soon let her help with the big loom.

While Pearl could use the small loom and she was getting the knack of spinning thread by hand, Onyx was relegated to the other house chores. He cared for the vegetables. Weeding, watering, and picking were all safe options for Onyx. He fed the chickens and collected the eggs. He also fed their sow and any piglets she had. The piglets were either sold to others in the village or slaughtered for the family at the end of the year.

What Onyx couldn’t do was any task that required dexterity. Both weaving and spinning required nimble fingers along with a great deal of patience and concentration. While Onyx could concentrate well, he wasn’t patient. Whenever his frustrations grew too much, everyone in the house knew it. There was usually the accompaniment of anything from a gentle puff of air movement to a near gale that threatened the roof. Whenever asked about it, Onyx always replied, “I didn’t do anything.”

“Ma,” he asked while his mother was tucking them into their bed one night. “Do you think I’m a changeling?”

“Whatever gave you that idea, Onyx?” Milly replied.

He sighed. “I don’t belong. I can’t weave. I can’t spin. I don’t even look like your child!”

“Onyx, you are different. I’ll grant you that,” said Milly. “But you are just as much our child as Pearl is. Your father and I love you.”

“You do believe me, don’t you?”

“Believe you about what?”

“That I don’t do all that weird stuff. Like the wind that nearly blew Pearl’s thread away.”

Pearl sighed from the other side of the bed.

Milly closed her eyes as she framed her reply. “Onyx,” she said, “I believe that you aren’t knowingly causing those winds. But it only happens around you. Your father and I think you might have magic.”

“Have magic? Can it be cured?”