1st Prize for Literature at the School Level - PTA Reflections 2014-15
The beautiful vase lay on the floor in pieces, shattered. Images of dark blue waves licking sandy beaches were no more; instead, they had become shards of intricately painted glass. Isabelle Hollister looked in dismay at the sharp slivers of the landscape. Two feet away, her wyvern, Starflower, gazed up at her innocently and then smoothly trotted out of the open door. The culprit, slithering away.

Isabelle scowled at the miniature dragon’s retreating back and then turned her attention back to the vase. She called upon her magic and the colors of her room faded in and out of focus as she struggled to recall a spell that would fix the vase.

Isabelle finally thought of the perfect incantation. “Reparalia et immadia leviosa,” she murmured. The pieces of the vase seemed to be vibrating, getting ready to go back together. “Arenosa vibrato fixa,” she continued.

Suddenly, Isabelle noticed that the shards of glass weren’t the only things that were vibrating. So was her dresser…and her chair…and her bed…and pretty much everything else in her room. She continued to mutter incantations, but they didn’t seem to be working; she was losing focus rapidly.

The vibrations gradually got stronger. Isabelle’s jewelry case toppled over along with several bottles of color-changing nail polish. Isabelle was genuinely alarmed now. She wasn’t sure what was happening, but it seemed to be a minor earthquake.

Risa reparos--OW! THAT HURT!” Isabelle exclaimed loudly as the floor of her room began to shake, bringing her sharply to her knees. She tried to stand up but found that she couldn’t. The shaking was too strong. Isabelle couldn’t process what was going on.

“If I die today, I’m blaming it on you, Starflower,” she grumbled darkly. “If you hadn’t broken that vase I wouldn’t be stuck here trying to fix it, and I might be near enough to the phone to dial 911.”

A loud crashing sound emanated from somewhere downstairs. Isabelle got the impression that several more household artifacts might need to be repaired, provided that she survived this…earthquake, or whatever it was.

And then, as suddenly as it had begun, the vibrations and shaking stopped. Isabelle stood up dizzily and surveyed the mess in her room. Oh God, she thought, the nail polish. The carpet. Everything.

Most of the nail polish bottles had cracked, sending multicolored streams of lacquer oozing into the fluffy pink carpet. As Isabelle wondered how in the world she was EVER going to clean all that up, her mind wandered back to the spell she’d been attempting. She hadn’t been able to finish it. In fact, the spell had been split into two parts by the earthquake and she had exclaimed loudly at the end. She knew that things could go horribly wrong when spells were done incorrectly, even with just a tiny mistake.

However, no serious damage seemed to have occurred, and Isabelle put the incident out of her mind. She turned her full attention to cleaning up her room instead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That night, CNN newsroom’s main news report was about a certain earthquake, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale that had taken place in Sycamore City.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Isabelle completely forgot about the mis-spell for the next few weeks. She went about her regular life, which mainly revolved around helping her parents out at their private wildlife reserve. Mr. and Mrs. Hollister had started a wildlife preservation program a few years ago and it was Isabelle’s life’s ambition to make it even better….using her magical abilities, of course.

Even though the entire Hollister family had been given the gift of magic, the Hollister Wildlife Preservation Center, otherwise known as the HWPC, was run in a mundane and utterly unmagical manner. Although it had rehabilitated hundreds of lost, hurt, and injured animals, Isabelle thought it would be a lot more useful if she could have a say in how it was run.

On a bright sunny day a few weeks later, Isabelle was sorting through some paperwork for HWPC and watching a news broadcast at the same time when she saw something rather odd. The 20-20 news anchor was speaking into the microphone with a baffled expression, not at all composed and “ready for anything” like a proper newscaster should be.

“We have just received intelligence that a large group of lions and cheetahs on the African savannah, which were tagged as part of a research program and were being tracked by a central computer system, have seemingly stayed stationary for the last six weeks,” the news anchor way saying. “The latest update to this story is that the lions and cheetahs have all been sleeping.”

“What?” Isabelle asked, suddenly alert and forgetting that the person on the TV couldn’t hear her.

“Yes, that’s right,” the newscaster continued. He leaned closer into the camera. “A group of biologists, led by Dr. Monica Smith, have visited the site and confirmed that several hundred lions and cheetahs are lying down in a region of grassland and are sleeping. The strangest thing about this case is that they have been sleeping for six weeks straight without any food, yet they are still very much alive and continue to maintain a normal heart rate. Tracking data indicates that the lions and cheetahs have been asleep for exactly forty-two days.”

Isabelle gasped. She switched off the TV and then ran to the calendar in the kitchen. The earthquake had happened exactly forty-two days ago. Her bungled spell had taken place exactly forty-two days ago. Could her botched spell possibly have something to do with this whole sleeping-lion and sleeping-cheetah episode?

She dashed upstairs, taking the stairs two at a time, and then burst into her parents’ bedroom. They had gone out for a few hours and would be back later. Isabelle was supposed to ask their permission before she borrowed any of their things, but this time, it couldn't be helped.

She found their cherry wood bookshelf and ran her finger along the spines of thirty-six magiclopedia volumes. She took down one of the last magiclopedias, which was labeled “W,” and began to page through it until she found the page with the heading “Wildlife Spells.”

Sure enough, the very first spell listed began with “Risa reparos” and continued with several lines of complex chants. Next to the spell, in the Effects column, “long-term slumber of apex predators, esp. lions and cheetahs”, said the first item.

Isabelle groaned. Lions and cheetahs were the apex predators of the African savannah. Since they were all fast asleep, other parts of the food chain must also have been affected by her misspell. The whole world’s natural balance could be seriously disrupted if she didn't act fast enough!

Isabelle flipped forward a few pages and found the list of Undoing spells. The one she needed was incredibly complex; Isabelle wondered how she would ever memorize it in time……

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Two hours later, Isabelle opened her eyes and found herself lying face-down on the bed, drooling all over the Magiclopedia. Somewhere in the process of memorizing the spell, she had fallen asleep.

She could hear the sounds of dishes being washed and dried downstairs. Clearly, her parents were home.

The good thing was, Isabelle had the spell entirely memorized. The only thing she needed now was a dilated unicorn horn, which was necessary to strengthen the Awakening spell she had to perform. However, the unicorn horns were kept in a drawer in the kitchen. There was no way she could get hold of one without having to tell her parents what she had done.

There was no way out of it. Isabelle trudged forlornly down the stairs and opened the kitchen door, startling her mom.

“Oh, hi. I see you’re awake,” Mrs. Hollister said. She was directing a knife above a cutting board as it magically brought itself down on a pair of tomatoes, chopping them into quarters.

Isabelle nodded and squeezed past her mom. “Um,” she said nervously. “I have to tell you something.”

“What is it?”

“Did you see the news last night?”

“About the great cats of the savannah falling asleep? It’s all very mysterious,” Mrs. Hollister answered. “I was wondering if it might have anything to do with the magically gifted….”

“It has to do with me, actually,” Isabelle said. “I was trying to fix something Starflower broke the other day, and the earthquake really messed up my spell.”

Mrs. Hollister gasped. “Oh no.”

“The good news is, I can fix it. I just need one little unicorn horn from this drawer.”

“You can take it,” Mrs. Hollister answered, “but keep in mind that this may be a harder fix than you think.”

“What do you mean?” Isabelle asked nervously.

“Wait and see. Just wait and see.” She seemed to be ominously suggesting that my bungled spell may have had a deeper impact than I had realized.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With that cryptic warning, Isabelle lugged an enormous forty-pound unicorn up the stairs. It was striped silver and lavender and was about three feet long. Unfortunately, the only unicorn horns that were left in the drawer had been of the gigantic variety.

Once in her room, Isabelle began to recite the spell with her left hand resting on the horn.

“Reversa somnia restic predatoria, somnia est tresa mauvaise…fella bojour somnic fixa…”

When she was done, she looked around.

Nothing much seemed to have changed.

The room looked just like it had minutes before.

Isabelle logged onto her computer and spent the next fifty minutes examining CNN updates on the great cats’ case. The ripple effects of the African savannah’s main predators’ prolonged somnia were just beginning to show, and they weren’t good at all.

Buffalo, gazelle, zebra, giraffe, kudu and impala populations had seen a rapid increase in only the last month. Grass was disappearing at an alarming pace, and the food supply for herbivores was running dangerously low. In desperation, kudus were stripping acacia trees of their leaves. In response to overgrazing, acacia trees had massively increased the tannin content of their leaves, upsetting the fermentation processes in the stomachs of the kudus and causing several sudden kudu deaths. Other, more minor populations of animals were also suffering.

Suddenly, Isabelle’s browser was overwhelmed by a huge volley of updates coming in from every newsroom across the world. The great cats that were being continuously monitored by the scientists, were slowly waking up! Not surprisingly, they were incredibly hungry and thirsty after having not eaten for weeks, but they were alive.

Isabelle sighed with relief.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Over the next few weeks, constant Internet and TV updates showed that the ecosystem of the savannah was gradually returning to normal. Of course, it would be a very long time before all was fixed for good, but that time would come and balance would be restored.

Isabelle was currently working to establish the magic control center of HWPC. Her parents had finally agreed to add a magical sector to their company, which would increase the efficiency of wildlife rehabilitation by the use of…slightly unorthodox transportation methods.

Of course, the whole operation would need to be entirely controlled, because modern society might not like the idea of intercontinental dolphin teleportation.

On the whole, Isabelle realized that what she wanted more than anything was to use her powers to help preserve the fragile balance in nature. She started researching and writing a regular blog on issues related to wildlife conservation and management around the world. With her work at HWPC and the increasing popularity of her blog, she was taking her first step. She knew that the world would indeed be a better place if everyone respected and worked to preserve the balanced relationship of the plants, animals, and other living organisms that make up natural communities.

Francis Thompson was certainly correct when he said, "One could not pluck a flower without troubling a star."

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Comments

C.V.Govinda Raju
07/26/2015 2:04am

Fantastic imagination for the age of the author. It is as good as her own maiden book "Spilled potion", authored by an eleven year old.

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09/18/2016 7:56am

Accidents happens and we should be prepared for this.

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