Nicola Hodges There are only two kinds of people who can drain your energy: those you love, and those you fear. In both instances it is you who let them in. They did not force their way into your aura, or pry their way into your reality experience. QUICK FACTS APPEARANCE PERSONALITY HISTORY SOCIAL ET CETERA
NAME: Nicola Hodges
AGE: 32

HEIGHT: 5'9"
WEIGHT: 132lbs
HAIR: Shoulder length; brown
EYES: Blue

SEXUALITY: Heterosexual

OCCUPATION: Instructor and advisor at the Bennet Institute.
HOMETOWN: Basildon, England
PARENTS: Alister Woodworth (father; deceased) & Elaine Moffat-Woodworth(mother; 61)
SIBLINGS: Imogen Woodworth (sister; 24)

LIKES: Gardening, swimming, traveling, Brat Pack movies, Scottish accents, chocolate covered biscuits
DISLIKES: Tequila, germs, losing arguments with her husband, eggplant
If you were to ask her husband the best way to describe Nicola's appearance, he would most likely smile doofily and say that she is the prettiest in the land. If you were to ask her, she would probably laugh once, wave you off, and say that she is nothing special. Tall for a woman at five foot eight, she has brown hair that curls when it wants to, and frizzes in the humidity. She has blue eyes that sparkle when she laughs, and look like the ocean during a storm when she's angry. Her face is both soft and angular, with high cheeks and a square jaw. She looks, all in all, outstandingly British. Her complexion is so fair that even the mention of the sun will make her go pink, and when she exerts herself the flush will stay on her cheeks for an hour afterward. Her smile is wide, and when she really grins her nose wrinkles up just a little. She likes to say that she once had the body of a runway model, but decided somewhere down the road that a plate of fish and chips or a bar of chocolate mattered more to her than being able to see her ribs, and she is one of the lucky ones who looks just as good in jeans and a plain white t-shirt as she does in an evening gown.
Once upon a time, in the grey and dreary town of Basildon, England, a baby girl with a shock of dark hair was born in the creaky upstairs bedroom of her grandparents house. Nicola Lynda Woodworth arrived nearly a month early, but when she entered the world with a screech of protest, she was surprised the doctors with how robust and ruddy she was. And she was vocal for a preemie; her mother likes to say that Nicola spent the first month of her life screaming, and the second month sleeping it off. Rinse and repeat for the first year, almost.

Nic's childhood was a happy one. Her parents adored her, and doted on her without spoiling her. When she was eight, her sister Imogen was born, and to little girl this sweet, pink baby was brought here for her. Gennie was a doll for her to play with. There was no sibling rivalry, no bickering, and the Woodworth house was a happy and quiet one. It was noted on several occasions that Gen didn't scream the way Nicola did, and thank god for that.

When Nicola was ten, she casually brought up at the dinner table that her teacher's colour had changed. Curious, her parents asked what she meant by that, and while building a volcano from her mashed potatoes, she explained that everyone had a colour. And her teacher, who had been happier lately, had changed from a kind of turquoise to a greyish blue. Bemused, her mum asked her what colour she was, and Nicola finally looked up from her dinner with a cheery smile and told her that she was golden yellow, and that dad was 'kind of green, but also kind of purple'. A year ago, Elaine had given her daughter her old mood ring from the seventies, so both adults just assumed that she was making up colours, based on people's attitudes, and cross-referenced by the mood ring guide that came folded up in the box.

Several months later, Nicola came home from school, looking very upset. When her mother asked her what was wrong, she explained that her teacher's colour had been getting progressively more grey lately, but today it had been completely black. Like she was surrounded by a 'painted rain cloud'. Elaine tried to explain to her distraught daughter that the colours didn't mean anything, if they were really there. She gave Nicola a hug, some Arrowroots to share with Gennie, and went to go and make an appointment for Nikki with the optometrist.

The very next afternoon, Nicola came in crying. Her teacher, the once turquoise woman who brought the fifth year class candy the first day, had died. What she didn't know, and would not find out for many years, was that Mrs. Harris had been depressed for a long time, and had taken her own life. And somehow, Nic knew that the change in colours had something to do with her beloved teacher's death. She just knew it, but she didn't know how she knew. Call it her very first instinct that was stronger than 'I don't think I'm going to like eggplant because look at it that is gross'.

After the situation with her teacher, Nicola decided to keep the colours she saw a secret from others. She hadn't missed the look in her mother's eyes when she'd talked about Mrs. Harris, nor could she forget the multiple vision tests she'd had. The pressure test, in particular, had been traumatizing. To this day she gets a bit funny when things come near her eyes. Nic became a little more solumn, her own colour dimming a little. She was not a moody child, exactly, just a serious one. Her parents noticed, naturally, and the worried creases between their brows took to deepening when they watched her play with Gennie with less enthusiasm, or pass up a trip to the park. They didn't know that she passed these trips up because she had no desire to see anyone else with that black cloud painted around them. It was too much for a child of nearly eleven to handle.

Over time, however, her cheerfulness returned. Time heals all wounds, after all, and Nicola was a naturally happy girl. Moodiness weighed her down, and unknowingly her own colour had shifted a little. It had become duller, the way she herself had become duller. But as she approached her teenage years, she found that keeping herself at a distance from other people was just too difficult. She was a social butterfly at heart, flittering around and perching lightly on the lives of people she cared about, leaving a lasting impression on them. Elaine and Alister were relieved to find that their daughter was coming out of that dark spot, and easing into the happy life she'd had before.

Fast forward three years. Nearly sixteen, Nicola was a busy young woman, juggling as active a social life as she could while still taking a twelfth year English course, and studying for the GCSE. She had a boyfriend, a sweet boy who lived across the street, and walked her home from school each day. For a teenager, the age where everyone was meant to feel miserable, Nic was surprisingly happy. She still enjoyed the company of her parents, and was outstandingly patient with Imogen when the little girl, whose colour had changed over time from the white innocence of babyhood to a rosey pink, would come to her bedroom when Nicola was meant to be studying. She was always quick to paint her sister's nails, or help her mother with dinner, or go for a bicycle ride with her father. Life really couldn't get better. Until the day that her father came home from work, looking tired and pale. And surrounded by a haze of black. A stab of fear so acute it actually hurt rocked Nicola, and she spent the rest of that afternoon and evening practically glued to her father's side. She asked him a hundred times if he was feeling well, and was always assured that he was fine. He was just tired, it had been a long day at the office. That night, after Alister had gone to bed early, Nic sat up in bed, too shaken to sleep. She sat there, holding an old doll her father had gotten for her when she was six, watching the colour of the sky outside her window change. She sat there until she heard her mother's panicked voice, down the hall. It was half four in the morning when Alister suffered a heart attack that killed him before the paramedics could get there.

After a long, hellish day full of telephone calls, tears, and neighbours bringing over casseroles and boxes of cakes, Elaine and her daughters sat in silence in the kitchen. Every so often, one of them would make a remark about how Daddy wouldn't want them to be sad, or recalling a happy memory of him, and after tearful laughter, or just tears, they would fall silent again. An hour and a half into this routine, Nicola brought up the fact that she should have known this was going to happen. Because his colour had changed, just like Mrs. Harris' had so many years ago. Her mother bade her to stop that nonsense, that this was not the time, nor was it appropriate to bring up the ridiculous colours. When Nicola insisted, saying she had seen the blackness enveloping her father all the previous evening, Elaine slapped her hard enough to leave a mark on her daughter's cheek. In a low voice, she told Nicola that she didn't want to hear anything else about colours, ever again. Stricken, Nicola ran up to her room and didn't come out again until the funeral, three days later. She didn't speak to her mother, save for what was necessary, for another week after that. Only Imogen, the sweet girl who was still very much Nicola's doll, was spared the wrath of the distraught teenager.

It was also Imogen who told her that she not only believed Nicola when she talked about the colours, she had also looked it up online. A month after their father's death, when things were very slowly starting to get back to normal, she brought Nicola printed pages from their computer. Pages printed off a website about auras, and the people who were able to read them. She excitedly pointed out the fact that Nic was by no means the only person who could see the colour of a person's aura. And she told her, with all the earnestness of a child who was desperate to do something right, that she would go to their mother. She would tell Elaine, who had forbidden the talk of auras, that her beloved big sister was not lying. And while the little girl did so, choosing to tell their mum when they were out at the shops, Nicola poured over the printed pages. She read them over so many times she had them memorized. A full sheet of printer paper was dedicated to what the different colors of auras meant. Her father's green aura with the purple swirls had meant that he was peaceful, content, but sometimes jealous. He was faithful and wise, and very capable. The black that had taken over that last day he'd been alive was simply the imminence of his passing. A warning, of sorts, to anyone who was able to sense it. Reading that caused the grief that Nicola had pushed back while she'd been upset with her mother to resurface, and when Elaine and Imogen returned from shopping, they found the girl sitting in Alister's favourite old recliner, weeping. Grocery bags were dropped in the foyer, and the entire family huddled into that big chair that smelt faintly of cigarettes and bacon crisps, crying together. It was the beginning of the Woodworth's healing process.

It also marked the beginning of something else in Nicola. She did research, as much as she could handle with her exams coming up, about auras. About other people who could sense them. And how she could use it to help other people. Because there had to be some way that seeing those beautiful swirling colours surrounding people could benefit them in some way. She began to look at her friends and family more closely, even going so far as to chart any changes to their auras. If dark spots appeared, she would immediately pull them aside and talk to them. Everyone noted how attentive she was, and commented about how sweet and compassionate a girl she was. Not wanting to explain the auras to people who might not understand, or who might think she was crazy, she simply deflected their compliments easily. Peace was beginning to return to her life, though she would forever mourn her father. His passing left a dark spot on her own aura, a splotch of inkiness just over her heart.

The rest of secondary school passed by with no further results. Her mother had begun working, and found that she quite enjoyed not being a stay-at-home mum. Imogen was like a beacon of light and happiness, and had a different house to spend time at after school each day, and a new best friend every week. Nicola's smile had lost the sadness that had lingered there since her father's death. She had begun tending his beloved vegetable patches in the garden, and found that she quite enjoyed working with her hands in the dirt. By the time she was eighteen and ready to sit her A-Levels, she was a vivacious, happy woman who was looking forward to university, and moving on to the next step of her life. She never stopped watching the auras of the people she loved, but she became less obsessed with it. Her notebooks filled with charts and notes were tossed into the big bin when she was cleaning her room out in preparation to move from her mother's house, never to be given a second thought. And while she was sad to leave her mum and sister, she had been accepted to the University of Manchester. And she was excited to move on to the next stage of her life. So it was with many tearful hugs and promises to write and call that Nicola piled into her beaten up Honda and began the four hour drive that symbolized the start of her new life.

Nicola had known that she wanted to be a teacher for several years, so she began the grueling process of getting her degree. There was more than one occasion where she would be in the university library, scrambling to finish a paper that she had put off for too long, and all she wanted to do was give up. The memory of her father was a constant inspiration, because if she had ever told him that she wanted to give up on something, he would level a look on her that said more than words ever could. And so she toughed it out. And the friends that she met on campus more than made up for the occasional coffee fueled all-nighter in the library.

It was one of the girls in her small circle of close friends that put the idea of teaching abroad in her head. After all, she reasoned over coffee one day, they always talk about needing teachers in the States. To say nothing of the fact that Americans loved British accents. And while she had giggled with the rest of the group, that had planted a seed in her mind. What if she did travel to find a teaching job. What if she weren't trapped in grey, dreary England for the rest of her days? What if she went out and had an adventure?

Of course, it wasn't as simple as just jumping on a plane and going to America. She had to jump through a circus' worth of hoops to get her visa, including making sure she had a job lined up in the States. And so, after successfully getting her Bachelor's degree in Psychology, she planned a trip to the States. To pacify her mother, who was rather tearful at the thought of her baby living halfway across the world, she bought three tickets, and made it a family trip.

The three of them made it to Louisiana unscathed, for the most part. It was just before Mardi Gras, and the entire city was a swirl of colour and noise. It was overwhelming, but addicting, and she fell in love immediately. While her mum and sister were at a local voodoo museum, Nicola began looking into teaching jobs in the area. The stars were in her favour, it would seem, because the third school she went to was looking for a fourth grade teacher. She spent a good portion of the rest of their vacation applying for the job, attending interviews, and finding out the channels to go through in order to get her working visa. She managed to enjoy most of the trip, but found herself on complete edge, waiting to hear if she'd gotten the job. Because New Orleans felt right to her. It felt like it could very well be home, some day.

Nicola and family were in a cab, en route to the airport to go back to England, when she got the call. Come September, she would be the newest member of the Mahalia Jackson Elementary School staff. Overwhelmed with happiness, her mother had to tell her that it wasn't a smart plan to abandon their flight right then and there.


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