Ok, here it goes. My first chapter. It's not fantasy yet, but bear with me. I'm not really sure where this is going. It's going to be a surprise for all of us. Enjoy!

The Firebird

Chapter One: An Early Winter

The snow came early that year, borne on the wings of a frigid North wind that settled in at the end of October. On Halloween, there was the unusual sight of pirates and princesses parading around in puffy coats, stuttering half-hearted "T-t-trick or t-t-treat"s through rapidly chattering teeth. In most parts of the valley, the ground was too warm for the snow to stick, but up in the hills, small clusters of flakes lay in pockets, clinging to the crisp, orange and scarlet leaves that graced the ground of Rebecca's garden.

Rebecca was pretty normal for a fourteen-year-old. She had dark eyes that couldn't decide whether to be blue or green and longish hair that was either straight and brown or wavy and blonde, depending on the day and who you asked. She, being a Gemini, was inclined to do anything and everything she took the slightest interest in, but never for too long. She had dabbled in various foreign languages, flirted with numerous different religions, and tried on a new attitude every day. Rebecca's one true love was music, though even in that she was not particularly selective. She had minimal skills on the oboe, French horn, guitar, viola, mandolin, and penny whistle. She had exceptional skills on the clarinet. Her most prized possession was Jimmy, the two-year-old Buffet R-13 clarinet, whom she had bought with her own hard-earned money. There was never a day when she opened his case that she failed to marvel in the beauty of that dark grenadilla wood and those nickel-silver keys that shone in a bed of red velvet. Of course, Rebecca loved Roxanne as well, her friend of five years, who was special even though she was wrought of cheap, textured plastic. These were Rebecca's tools, used only for the sacred task of playing music. Rebecca lived to play classical music. Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, you name it, she didn't just play it, she brought it to life, giving it her very breath. Of course, she was a listener, too. Rebecca listened to everything. She was also and avid reader, her favorites being fantasy. She got good grades in school and was in all visible ways a goody- two-shoes.

Inside, Rebecca Diana Welkinson was quite different. Though usually pretty content, she sometimes grew depressed. She was brooding and thoughtful. She questioned everything (much to the annoyance of her teachers). She was indecisive and self-conscious. She was often so involved in her own thoughts that she seemed cut-off and "spacey" to her friends. Inside Rebecca was a rebel spirit that never showed, afraid to be what it was. Rebecca was never aware of this thing she housed inside her very soul, but as she matured it did, too, waiting for the inevitable moment when it would break free. For now, the girl held it off well enough, maintaining her perfect image as she had her entire life.


Wednesday had arrived as usual, a hill in the middle of the week, equidistant from the doldrums of Monday and the sweet salvation of the Friday that always seemed too far away. Rebecca woke up to a vaguely light sky, temperatures below twenty degrees, and the mindless prattle of the weekday morning show. She grimaced and lay in her warm bed for a moment before venturing out into the cruelty of this early winter. She looked at the calendar and groaned. November first. All Saint's Day. She thanked herself for not indulging in the foolishness of trick-or-treating; for once she was not cursed with a candy hangover. She took an extra-long shower, nearly falling asleep in the stream of hot water. She then dressed and did her hair as simply as always: down, with a part straight as the sun's path that ran directly down the middle of her head. Rebecca then ate a simple breakfast, finished some last-minute homework, and left home to catch the bus.

The wait at the bus stop was frigid and long. All of Rebecca's friends knew it was really cold when she started wearing her fuzzy green coat. Rebecca knew it was really cold when Jimmy took a full ten minutes to warm up from slightly flat to his usual, obnoxiously sharp pitch. Rebecca wore her coat today, along with a salt-and-pepper scarf and black chenille gloves, which had been bought on sale at K-Mart. At last the bus arrived and she climbed aboard, its fishy smell nearly causing her to gag. She scanned the seats. Today must be lucky. Seat eleven was open, one of the few with a heater. She plopped down in it, carelessly tossing her messenger bag beside her. Jason was seated across from her, wearing not his usual orange jumpsuit but a long black trench coat and red contacts. Rebecca was just putting her headphones on when he spoke.

"Hey, Becca, do you know if we're allowed to wear anarchy symbols to school?"

Some people ask the strangest questions. "Umm, I think so," Becca replied. "I don't see why not." She put her headphones to her ears and was immediately lost in Avril Lavigne's "Anything But Ordinary". She closed her eyes and nodded slightly, mouthing the words. "Sometimes I get so weird, I even freak myself out, I laugh myself to sleep, it's my lullaby." Such a fitting song for such a girl on such a day, Becca thought to herself as she gazed out the dirty bus window at the white waning moon that shone so clear on this crisp morning. It was so cold outside, so very cold. It was an early winter and it would bring its winter endings and beginnings early. Rebecca Welkinson did not yet know if this would be a good or a bad thing.