This is a regular column featuring original fiction by and for high school students, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.
She watched the boy grow up. He never said much when he was around her, just sat and fiddled with his hair. He was always talkative around his caretaker though, chattering away. She didn’t particularly like him, but he was the only one that ever bothered to spend time with her—even though that was his job.
She wondered if she’d ever be free from this prison—but at least she could still hear and see, could still feel the roof under her claws and her backside. It was impossible to break the curse—the one who did this to her didn’t even know how to. She had almost forgotten what it was like to move, to feel the ground scrape against her feet, to eat and feel the skin break under her teeth. And swimming. How she missed feeling the water support her, as if it could also lift her worries away. But she hadn't swum in a very, very long time—and she doubted she ever would again.
Dorian didn't mind polishing the gargoyle. When he was little, the snarling leviathan had terrified him—but he was sixteen now, almost seventeen and nothing frightened him much anymore.
Except for cats, but there were barely any in The Carcein, so he needn’t worry about those. The Carcein, an all-boys orphanage, was located in Kalmavere, a vast city composed mainly of buildings carved out of stained glass. Dorian had been found outside of The Carcein when he was a baby and was taken in. There were a total of thirteen employees at The Carcein and each employee was assigned to look after a group of six boys. Each of the boys was assigned a job at the orphanage and Dorian’s was to polish the gargoyle. Usually, every year a boy received a new job, first starting when they were ten but Dorian’s had never changed. Since Dorian’s job was so easy, the majority of the boys resented him. Dorian didn’t mind very much, he had never taken a liking to any of the others anyway.
Iciann, Dorian’s caretaker, always warned Dorian about Kalmavere. He assured him that nothing special was outside and even if it was, what could a scrawny boy like Dorian do? No, it was best to stay inside The Carcein. And although Dorian did agree with him, he could never quell the slight curiosity he had of wanting to see outside. He daydreamed about it often, of scrambling over the massive wall surrounding The Carcein and walking around Kalmavere. He imagined talking to people and buying whatever he wanted. He would be able to go anywhere and explore.
But he knew that he would spend most of his time at the ocean. Dorian had read books about the ocean and stared at the illustrations of it for hours. He loved how it changed color depending on the weather and the time of day and how it was vast and dangerous. It was incredible how so much life was in it but to find it, one had to look beyond the surface.
He didn’t mind staying with Iciann and he hoped that if he was adopted, that his new family would take him to the ocean. But every time a couple interested in adopting a boy came, Dorian was always busy. He was either polishing the gargoyle or nobody had woken him up when the couple arrived. He knew that the boys weren’t doing it on purpose—they never woke him for anything.
Dorian massaged his sore fingers. He had been rubbing at a particularly tough water-stain for five minutes and decided that he better give up. Slouching against the gargoyle, he stuffed the rag in his pocket. Dorian yawned and rubbed his legs for warmth. The thin grey pants he wore were only good when the sun was out. He curled up on the edge of the roof with his forehead resting against one of the gargoyle’s claws, and dreamt.
The gargoyle is shaking. That was the first thought that entered Dorian’s mind when he awoke an hour later. At first he thought it was remnants of a dream, but after sitting up and looking at the gargoyle, he realized it really was vibrating, as if something inside was trying to break out. The garnet the leviathan was carved out of began to crack, splitting along its teeth and tail. Dorian scooted backward, looking around the sleepy Carcein for any sign of an earthquake or giant. Finding nothing, he continued to watch the gargoyle. It began to tremble faster and the cracks crisscrossed its whole surface. One of the spikes along its back flew off, and Dorian ducked just before it smashed his nose. He scrambled off the roof, hands trembling on the rungs of the ladder. Once safely on the ground, he leaned against the grimy building, fixing his gaze on the overhang the roof created. There was a crack, like the sound of ice shattering on an otherwise silent night.
“Boy, what are you doing? Help me down!” A sharp voice said. Dorian froze—that had come from the roof, from where the gargoyle had been.
Dorian remained where he was, feeling shock encase him like stone. Had he gone mad? Was he still dreaming?
“Did you hear me? I haven’t walked in a millennia and I don’t think I can come down on my own,” said the voice. Dorian thought it sounded like a girl’s voice, with a harsh undertone. Tentatively, he stepped out from under the roof’s edge and looked up.
A girl who looked around his age was standing on the roof, glaring down at him as if all her problems were his doing.
-- Emma Lee