Norah Aven Chronicle #1

Get ready for a thrilling adventure with The Norah Aven Chronicles! Below is a sneak peek of some of the items you’ll receive in your first envelope. It's just a taste of the captivating journey ahead, but be warned: this is just the beginning of a story that will leave you craving more.

Below, you'll find Chronicle #1 of The Norah Aven series; please read in sequential order for the full experience.

Piece #1: Legend Of The Cobbogothians

Piece #2: Uncle Jack Text Message

Piece #3: Chronicle 1 Memory Lapse

(Web version of Chronicle #1 - 2 pages front and back)

Perhaps I should begin by introducing myself. My name is Norah Aven Lukens. I know "Aven" is a strange name, but Uncle Jack's mother Aven Aegissida was Icelandic, and the Mountain Aven is Iceland's national flower, so there you go. Uncle Jack said he gave me the name not only to honor his mother but to help me remember. When I asked him what he wanted me to remember, all he said was that there would come a time in my life where I would want to know who I am. When that time came, I should go back to the beginning where it all began. I always wondered what he meant by that. Now I know.

I was raised by my Uncle Jack from the time I was a baby. He's not really my uncle—more on that later—but he is the leading archeologist at Harvard University. They call him the Myth Chaser because, well, he chases myths. Very original, I know. But it does have a sort of immortalizing ring to it, doesn't it? I'm proud of him; always have been. I've included his most famous myth with this letter in case you want to see his work for yourself. He discovered The Legend of the Cobbogothians in the '70s, before I was born. He found it carved into cave walls on his granddad Aegissida's farm in Iceland. All you need to know is the caves are important. Don't forget about the caves.

If only someone had told me sooner. 

It makes the most sense to start this chronicle on the day I left boarding school. It's not where the story begins, of 

course, but you'll understand soon enough why I begin there. I was heading back to Boston, and believe me, I was more excited than your average 17-year-old to be finished with high school. Dunstan Academy isn't your regular prep boarding school, see. Dunstan is a "special" school, for "special" kids, which is just a nice way of saying "kids with some serious issues."

How I ended up there in the first place isn't important right now. Let's just say I'd been "seeing things" for a while, things I wasn't supposed to be seeing, things that shouldn't be real, couldn't be real, not in the world I was familiar with. Yet that didn't stop me from seeing them. 

The first thing I remember from that day is waking up on a public transit bus, of all places, to the driver announcing Belmont Center as our next stop. I don't think I need to tell you I was feeling pretty freaked out. My panic all came down to one very important fact: I couldn't remember how I got there. Ever experienced that before? Yeah, well, it's not a great feeling. Thankfully I was already under the impression I was a little crazy, so yeah…there was that comfort.

Anyway, when I stepped off the bus, I should've known something was wrong by the look the driver gave me—by the fact that he asked me with genuine concern if I'd be all right. I was too distracted by Uncle Jack's text message, which I'd only just seen, letting me know at the last minute that James Riley was going to pick me up from the bus stop. Do you have anxiety at all? If you do, you know how awful it feels when you don't have time to  prepare for something you know will be excruciatingly awkward. 

I know, I know. Why was it such a big deal, Nor? He's just a guy? But the fact is, James Riley wasn't and never had been "just a guy." Not to me, anyway. To me, he'd always been THE guy. So, of course, of all people, Uncle Jack chose James Riley to pick me up and take me home. 

For the irony of this situation to make any sense to you, you need to understand that Uncle Jack spent the better part of the previous summer doing everything in his power to keep James and me apart. He even sent me off to boarding school for nine hellish months to "put some distance between us." Why the change of heart suddenly? And did he even consider how I might feel about it? I mean, I hadn't heard from James in those nine months. Not even once. I spent the first three months being devastated, the next three being livid, and the last three trying to forget (unsuccessfully) that James Riley even existed. The last thing I wanted was to have him waiting to greet me the moment I got home. 

So I did what any semi-sane person would do when confronted with a really awkward situation. I ran across the 

street to hide in the bathroom until all possibility of running into James had passed. I could make my own way home. 

I knew I'd have to face James sooner or later. We were neighbors, after all. But I preferred it be on my terms, when 

I wasn't still wondering why in the world I couldn't, for the life of me, remember getting on that bus. 

The bathroom didn't offer much clarity either. In fact, it only increased my confusion and terror. Almost the moment I was through the door and could see my reflection in the mirror, I discovered I not only couldn't remember how I'd gotten on that bus, but judging from the state I was in from head to toe, there was obviously a whole lot more I couldn't remember. I was a disaster! I mean, I'm not the cleanest person in the world—I'm not one of those OCD people who can't stand to have even one hair out of place—but I am pretty neat. What I saw staring back at me from the bathroom mirror, however, was ANYTHING but neat. Seriously, my hair was full of leaves and mud. There was even some blood in my hair—which it definitely was, because there's no mistaking blood on platinum hair, my friend. 

That wasn't all! My face was caked with dirt—or dried mud, really—as apparently I'd been crying at some point. There was more blood at my throat, and after a lot of panicked scrubbing with those cheap, brown, sandpapery towels they have in public restrooms, I soon discovered the blood had come from a thin cut just above my collar bone. 

Then there was the bracelet. I don't know what your own experience has been with this kind of thing—this could happen to you all the time—but I personally have never had a completely unrecognizable piece of jewelry randomly show up on my wrist. Until it did. This wasn't just a tiny little friendship bracelet—one of those barely there contraptions. This was a full-on rather expensive looking cuff. Silver, with a lot of strange engravings and empty stone settings in it, except for the two settings that did have stones. You know what, I'll just draw it for you here so you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Anyway, I'm standing in the bathroom, freaking out about my face, and trying to fix my hair when an episode starts to hit me. 

They always come the same way. First my vision starts to go; then the dizziness comes. The next thing I know, I'm seeing something—something impossible. My therapist is the one who calls them episodes. I prefer to call them visions because they kind of play out like mini movies, mini movies I happen to be trapped in and experience things in that could never in a million years happen in real life. I even have my own guide in these visions. She's a tall, red-haired woman with odd violet eyes and a face that looks strangely familiar.

Now I'm not going to go into details about what I saw—you'll find out soon enough—but to make a long story short, I woke up shaking on the disgusting bathroom floor with my hand full of a wad of sopping, soapy paper towels. Visions have caused me to collapse in weirder places, believe me, and with witnesses. It's always the worst when there are witnesses. But this one seemed different somehow. For one thing, there weren't any supernatural elements to it.

 Thankfully I was still the only person in the bathroom, so I pulled myself together, finished cleaning up, and walked out to the curb, where I ran right into a frantic James Riley, who'd been, to quote him directly, "Lookin' up and down every street from here to Cabot's" for me. Why on earth had he gone to Cabot's? Did he think the first thing I'd do when I got home was go for ice cream…by myself? 

I'll admit I did feel a little guilty for worrying him so much, but how was I supposed to know he still cared enough to worry about me? He obviously didn't care enough to write or call the past nine months. I tried to avoid making eye contact with him for as long as possible, which is pretty hard when you're the only two people around. But what do you say to someone who you once knew as well as you know yourself and who knew you the same way? Especially after there had been nothing said between us since what happened last summer? 

By the time I finally got up enough nerve to really look at James, my looking quickly turned to staring—gaping really—at the extreme difference nine months had made in him. Seriously. James had always been big. In fact, he looked like a Viking, if I'm being honest, with his flaming red hair, especially when he started growing facial hair his junior year of high school. And let's not forget that James had always been really, well, muscular for a guy his age. But a year ago you could still tell he was a kid, you know? Now he looked like a man, chiseled jaw and all. Which was probably why they agreed to hire him at the Belmont Fire Station—not because of his chiseled jaw, of course, but his size. I mean, at 19 he was Belmont's youngest fireman on record, and potentially their largest.

 We couldn't just stand there gawking at each other forever, so James grabbed my bags and shoved them in his trunk. After opening the door for me, he paused a second, like he wanted to say something, but he just mumbled something that sounded like, "Good to have you back, Nor." And that was it. To say the drive home was as awkward as I had imagined it would be was the understatement of the century. 

If only I'd known what was waiting for me at home, I would've dragged that drive out for hours. I would have told James all about Dunstan and the awful last nine months, would have asked him why he never wrote to me. I would have even breeched the extremely painful topic of Gram Riley's death, just to buy back those hours, those minutes, even those seconds before heading home. Because then, in my mind at least, Uncle Jack would still be alive. 

But that isn't what happened. Instead, James and I drove in silence, neither of us saying a word. When we turned onto Barbara Road, the police were swarming the big house on the hill—invading the only home I'd ever known. As I stepped out of the car, I already knew they were waiting for me, waiting to inform me the only family I'd ever known was dead.

I fainted when they told me. Maybe you'll think that was a bit much? After all, Uncle Jack and I were never that close. It's hard to get close to someone who's never around. But that's not why I fainted, and it wasn't because I was having another vision or anything either. I fainted because of the vision I'd had in the bathroom earlier. I didn't tell you before because I didn't want to scare you, but the scene the red-haired lady showed me in the restroom was the exact scene I saw at home—of Uncle Jack's death. This, dear reader, was the first time the red-haired lady showed me a vision that came true.

Somehow, I already knew it wouldn't be the last. 

Copyright 2021 by The Flower Letters

Thank you so much for diving into the first Chronicle of the Norah Aven Chronicles! We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into the series. This is more than just a story; it's an immersive experience tailored for both the young and the young at heart.

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