Published January 1, 2023
by Emilija Veljković
Cover photo by Jenõ Szabó
(Pećs, Baranya, Hungary)
There was something, for lack of a better word, magical, about the Akabara family. No one understood what exactly it was, not even family members. But soon one of them will uncover a well-kept secret.
Nina Akabara is a 17-year-old girl. She considered herself quite ordinary. She had average height, bright red hair that reached her shoulders, blue eyes, and pale skin.
In her free time, she liked visiting the old attic in her grandparents' house, where she would either read her favorite manga or just open random boxes in a dusty corner. You could say she's also very curious, which is what led to this moment...
"Oh, what happened? One moment I was trying to open this little box, then suddenly it made a strange noise and went boom!" Nina thought as she dusted herself off.
She looked around to see if anything was damaged. Her Nana would be so angry if she broke something, and well, that woman had a very short temper.
"Hm, this is interesting. I haven't seen this room in a very long time. Ah, the memories just keep coming back..." a female voice cut through Nina's inner musings.
"What the? Did I hit my head?" Nina thought, questioning her sanity little by little, because a woman had suddenly appeared in front of her.
"E-excuse me, ma'am, but who are you? How did you get here?" Nina asked the mysterious lady.
"Oh, you young people, always in a rush, asking so many questions all at once. Give this poor lady a moment to collect herself, child!" the lady said, fixing her clothes and her red hair.
"–Wait, red hair?" Nina thought to herself.
The lady finally turned around. She was tall, but not overly so, with a slender figure. She didn't look that old, around 50 or so. But what caught Nina's attention was the lady's face and her hair. They were the exact replicas of her own.
"Oh my, it seems as though I'm looking at my own reflection. But never mind that. Now, I think introductions are in order. My name is Amelie Akabara, and you are?"
"She's an Akabara? Well duh, of course she is. We might as well be twins," Nina thought to herself. "Oh, this is so confusing and exciting at the same time. I always knew there was something special about this dusty old attic! Okay, Nina, take a deep breath and calm down. She asked for my name, right?" Nina paused in her self-pep talk, trying not to appear too crazy in front of her ancestor.
"I'm Nina Akabara. It's very nice to meet you, ma'am, though I'm kind of lost. How did this whole appearing out of nowhere thing happen in the first place?"
Amelie was amused by Nina's antics. She already liked the girl, her eyes full of awe and childlike curiosity. It reminded her of herself when she was Nina's age. To think that it was such a long time since she had company, but that's alright, she can tell with certainty that she won't be bored to death like with those old geezers from her time.
"It's nice to meet you too, Nina. I can tell you we're going to get along just fine. As for your question from earlier, this little box, which serves as a time-travelling machine of sorts, has protective charms placed on it. The only one who can open it must be an Akabara with magic coursing through their veins."
The box was small and made of brownish-red wood. Instead of a keyhole, there was a rose emblem, so Nina must have pushed it with her finger and triggered it with magic, which caused it to open.
Amelie continued, "So my dear, it seems you are quite special. I bet you considered yourself an ordinary teenage girl living an ordinary life. This is also the reason why no one knew about this little secret. The only two people who could accomplish something as extraordinary as using magic were my grandfather and I, with you being the third after almost 150 years. Quite a feat, if I do say so myself.
"A charm that was placed on the box is called A Secret of the Rose. That's what our family name Akabara means: a red rose. We originated from Japan, but we mixed with other families from various parts of the world. Some of them had magic of their own, while others didn't. And that's perfectly fine; no judgement there."
Nina listened with her mouth open wide, trying to process all this. All things considered, it made sense. Amelie and she looked alike. Some might have mistaken them for twins if it weren't for the obvious age and timeline difference.
Ever since she was little, Nina believed in magic. She believed in fairies, goblins, ghosts, and other magical beings. For her, this seemed like a dream come true. Happiness bloomed in her heart. She couldn't wait to find out more about magic and what her family is capable of.
"Wow, that's just... wow! I never expected this to happen at all. So, what kind of magic can we do, Amelie?"
"Well, we are good with charms; it's our speciality in a way, but we can also heal people, move objects, manipulate elements. Oh, and time-travel, which is rare in itself but not impossible as you saw for yourself." Amelie chuckled as she continued explaining their family's abilities in more detail.
And that's how Nina Akabara, a 17-year-old girl who considered herself average, discovered that she was not so average after all. Her journey had just begun.
Emilija Veljković is a young woman who writes poetry for fun and in order to organize her thoughts. Some of her poems have been published in magazines such as The New England Monthly Poetry Digest, Poetic Reveries, and as a part of the Sweetycat Press anthology.
Jenõ Szabó is Hungarian, takes photos as a hobby, and loves nature.
Jenõ Szabó's Pixabay gallery: https://pixabay.com/users/szjeno09190-702158/
Previously published in Phoenix Photo & Fiction:
by Bahynskyi Bohdan Dmytrovych
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