Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fae In The City, Ch. 12

Sharon Mary Elizabeth Dulcet Vaughn. What were my Fae parents thinking giving me a name like that?

Sharon stared at herself in the mirror of the tiny airplane lavatory until her right wing started to hurt where it was bent up against the curved ceiling. She rubbed one of her pointed elf-like ears as she stared at the sparkles in her cat-shaped eyes. The irises had taken on a deep blue with gold flecks. Her hand moved without her conscious volition to stroke the wavy brown hair cascading over her shoulders. The silky strands shimmered as her hand moved over them, like dewdrops on polished mahogany.

Her Fae self stared back at her, a hesitant smile curving baby-doll lips, not quite enough to show her razor-sharp teeth.

Fairies aren't totally hideous,” Sharon said, blinking at her reflection.

Sharon sighed and closed her eyes, focusing on the blond face she'd made up. When she opened her eyes again, she was her once again her imaginary human blonde self.

She opened the door and felt a pang of guilt at the sight of the two people waiting in the narrow aisle. The woman in jeans and a Hard Rock T-shirt at the head of the line glared and shoved her way past Sharon to get into the lavatory. The woman mumbled something under her breath as she slammed the door shut. The clack of the latch was so loud Sharon cringed.

Sharon ducked her head to avoid the man's gaze who was next in line as she made her way back along the aisle, past rows of seats packed with an eclectic mix of humanity. The cabin jostled slightly, and almost immediately a ding-dong chime sounded.

A pleasant female voice sounded on the speakers. “Hi everyone, can I have your attention please? The captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. Please return to your seat and make sure your belt is securely fastened around your waist.”

Sharon found her row, and shimmied in front of Heather. “Guess I made it back just in time.”

Heather chewed a bite of granola bar for a minute before responding. “Yeah, too bad you can't just change the weather outside.”

Are you kidding?”

Heather held a finger to her lips, then leaned in to whisper. “I think weather is one of the few arenas where witches and sorcerers have you beat.”

Really?” Sharon said, grabbing Heather's granola bar and taking a bite.

Hey!” Heather snatched it back and stared at the half-consumed bar. “That was my last granola bar, you thief! And they don't serve meals on this stupid flight!”

Sharon focused on the granola bar, wishing it whole. “There. All better.”

Heather's hand jerked. She tossed the granola bar at the cabin window like it was a flaming hot potato.

Sharon frowned at Heather. “Why did you do that?”

Heather pointed a scolding finger at Sharon. “Don't ever make food for me. Don't you know anything about Faerie lore?”

I looked up some stuff.”

Did you see the part about people becoming addicted to Faerie food after one bite?”


I didn't think so. You want me to starve to death?”

Sharon swallowed. She thought once again about how much this power scared her, and how she could screw up everyone's lives around her if she wasn't careful. She hated herself again, hated what she had become, and fought back tears. She thought about evil Chelsea, sitting in the hospital because of her. She turned away from Heather and fished at her feet for the granola bar. She found it, and focused on it, turning it into a stick of wood.

That's better,” Heather said.

They sat in silence for a while. The airplane bucked up and down. Sharon thought about the weather again, and turned to Heather. “So witches and sorcerers can control weather?”

Yes, granola thief.”

So you're saying you could change the weather outside?”

Heather shrugged. “Given enough time, and charmed circle, and a few other witches, sure.”

But given enough time, the weather would change on its own.”

Heather winked. “If you say so.”

Sharon stared at Heather as the plane rocked up and down a couple of times. She tried imagining they were in a bus on a dirt road. “And sorcerers?”

Heather paused as the woman in the Hard Rock t-shirt walked by, holding the seat backs like a drunk as the plane shuddered. She waited until the woman was a few rows away. “A sorcerer could clear this storm out in a few minutes, or make it twice as bad.”

That sounds cooler than being a witch.”

Heather glared at Sharon. “Sure. Yeah. If you don't mind being a char-burger portal to the outer dimensions, hunted by demons every day of your life, I'm sure it's a real party.”

Sharon swallowed, suddenly very happy she wasn't a sorcerer. She tried not to think about mystical creatures and other dimensions as the airplane bounced and shuddered again. She watched out the window at the wing of the plane, and blinked. Her imagination had to be playing tricks on her.

Had that been a gremlin on the wing?

She held on to the armrest as the plane bounced a few more times, and even dropped a little. There was no way she was having a William Shatner Twilight Zone moment. If there was a gremlin out there, she was determined to believe the little sucker out of existence. She closed her eyes and started quoting statistics in her mind about airplane safety as she took a deep, calming breath.

I think it's cool we're both blondes now,” Heather muttered, then did a double-take at Sharon's expression. “Are you afraid of flying?”

Sharon opened her eyes to look over at Heather. “Believe it or not, this is my first time on a plane. Not including when my parents flew me home from Scotland as a baby.”

You seem a little scared.”

The plane is bucking around like a wild horse. How can you be calm?”

Heather smiled, put on her headphones and leaned back. Sharon was about to say something when Heather finally spoke. “My aunt insisted on using a foretelling spell before I got on the plane. I already know we'll land safely.”

The plane bounced again, making their stomachs drop. Several people screamed. A baby started crying. The lights flickered and came back on, then went to night mode so only the reading lights were on. Lightning flashed outside, or maybe it was just a strobe on the wing.

Is your aunt ever wrong?” Sharon asked, noticing the man across the aisle reach for his air sickness bag.

Heather pulled a headphone from her ear and shrugged. “Sometimes. But seriously, you can't die in a plane crash. You'd wake up next to the smoldering debris field wondering what happened.”

Why wouldn't I die?”

Are you forgetting the part where you're made of pure magic?”

Sharon started chewing a fingernail, and watched the man across the aisle, hoping he didn't lose his lunch. That would be too gross. She felt like she was trying to wrap her mind around the concept of her new identity, and failing. The baby crying made it hard to concentrate on anything.

What did your parents think about you taking off to Scotland?” Heather asked.

Sharon stared at Heather for a minute, her brain trying to catch up to the change in topic. “Um. I kinda forgot to tell them.”

Maybe you can call them when we land.”

Sharon sighed. “Yeah. I forgot to call in sick at school too.”

No worries. My aunt can smooth that over.”


Just promise not to ditch me like you did today, and it'll be taken care of.”

Sharon sighed. “Fine. I won't try to ditch you.”

The plane stopped bouncing around, and eventually Sharon curled her legs up and tried to sleep sideways on the seat. Somehow, there was just no comfortable way to rest; but she forced herself to try.

At some point during the night she heard a cell-phone camera noise. A flash lit up the backs of her closed eyelids. She opened her eyes to see Heather's smile lit by the display on her phone.

What the heck?” Sharon said, grabbing at the phone.

Heather easily avoided her, laughing. “I'll show you if you chill out!”

Sharon pulled back her hand and moved a rebellious lock of blonde hair out of her eyes. She watched as Heather turned the picture toward them.

The familiar blonde face in the picture looked like some cute young actress, except for the strand of drool hanging out of her mouth.

Heather beamed. “It's a work of art! I'm calling it 'The Fairy Princess'. Whatcha think?”

Sharon glared at Heather. She felt so disconnected from herself that it took a full minute for the emotion to hit. She'd never felt so alone. She realized that she had been hanging on to Heather as her emotional lifeline, a caring friend who wanted to help. But the feeling of hurt and betrayal burned that lifeline to cinders. Adrift in a sea of emptiness, Sharon closed off her heart. In that moment, she focused on Heather's phone with the full force of her belief in her magic; and a second later it turned to stone.

Heather gasped. “My phone!”

Stone rhymes with phone.”

I can't believe you just did that!”

Sharon's eyes turned to slits. “Heather, I have a word of advice for you. Never piss off a Fae.”

(continue to Chapter 13)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fae In The City, Ch. 11

Heather sat on the bed opposite Diana, waiting patiently in the tiny dorm room. Diana's roomie Tanya hadn't wanted to leave; but when she got a mysterious text about a party down the hall, she couldn't leave fast enough.

Diana felt a twinge of guilt about the text as she sat Indian-style on her bed and shook out her hands. She cocked her head from side to side, stretching her neck.

What are you doing? It's not like the Olympics or something.”

Diana glared at Heather. “Says the armchair quarterback.”

Heather shrugged. “Are you ready, or what?”

Diana settled herself, and lowered her head. She stared at her hands and pinched her face as she focused as hard as she could. She took a deep breath and let it out. “Ready.”

Finally. Okay. Here goes.”

Just say it already!”

You don't have to get all pissy. You made me wait.”

Heather, I swear, if you don't-”

Sharon... Mary... Elizabeth... Dulcet... Vaughn.”

Diana felt the magic flow and she tried as hard as she could to hold it back. She focused her thoughts. Diana Jean Morgan. Diana... It was no use. The magic flowed past her grasp. She stared at her claws. “Damn it!”

It's the power of your true name,” Heather said, biting into a chocolate chip cookie from Tanya's stash. “So it's really hard to keep your Glamour up when someone knows it, huh?”

Diana focused for a minute until the magic flowed and she was her old self again. She leaned over and grabbed a cookie. “Yeah. I can't have some random person outing me. I need to figure out a way to keep that from happening.”

Maybe an enchanted item? We use totems to help with spells. Maybe you could enchant something with Fae magics to hold your Glamour even if you can't concentrate on it.”

Diana snorted. “Like I'd have a clue how to do that.”



Heather sighed. “I don't know. It might sound crazy.”

No, I'm ready for anything.”

Maybe you can weave another Glamour as your old one is dispelled. Like envision that everyone sees you as your old self until you can fix it.”

Diana pondered it for a second. “Okay, let's try.”

They spent the next half-hour with each repeating Diana's true name, and Diana working on her Glamour. By the time Tanya barged back in, Heather was reporting that she only saw a glimmer sweep over Diana for a fraction of a second.

Diana was frowning. It wouldn't be enough.

Hey! Those are my cookies, bitches!” Tanya ran over and grabbed the package, looking at the six that were left. She glared at Diana. “I can't believe you ate all my cookies!”

There's six left,” Heather said, her mouth full of cookie.

How was the party?” Diana asked, trying to distract Tanya.

Tanya glared at Heather until the witch got up and moved to Diana's bed. Then she sat down and took out a cookie. “It was a hoax. Someone playing tricks. A couple dozen girls got the text. So we decided to schedule a real party next week.”

Did Brit or Carmen get the text?” Diana asked, as innocently as she could.

No, just me. So what are you up to tonight?”

Diana shrugged. “Heather and I were just chatting about magic. Imagine how cool it would be if you could just snap your fingers and have all your homework done for the year.”

Oh, that would be cool” Tanya said, flicking her blond hair and biting into a cookie. “I'd become a famous movie star and have my own private island.”

Diana laughed.

They spent the next hour chatting and daydreaming, until the dorm monitors called lights out.

I'll see you tomorrow,” Heather said, getting up to leave.

Tanya closed the door behind Heather and turned back to Diana. “So what is it with you and Heather now? It feels like you're deserting the Fierce Four.”

Diana got up and grabbed her nightshirt. “Heather and I have a lot in common.”

Like what?”

Diana searched for something to say that wouldn't be a lie. “We have similar parental issues.” She hoped that would be enough to satisfy Tanya, and closed the bathroom door to change. When she came back out, Tanya was busy texting on her phone.

Brit and Carmen say Hi, and to turn your phone on.”

Diana stretched out on her bed and opened her phone. She scrolled through the texts about the mystery party and the upcoming party and who was saying what about whom. She scrolled through message after message and got caught up in yet another weekly mundane drama.

They spent the next hour texting and chatting. Diana got lost in the infectious hijinks of random funny video links and teasing wars. She tried to forget how different she'd become, and just blend. Guilt ate away at her good feelings, until she had to put up her phone. The thought of the real Diana in Scotland, slaving away for the Fae was infuriating. Especially while Diana the Fae changeling enjoyed the luxurious heritage Diana the human deserved.

Things would be changing.

Diana stared at the ceiling, not wanting to give up her life here; but she had to face the fact that it was based on a lie. She wasn't the person everyone thought she was. She wasn't even who she thought she was; and she'd have to hide her true nature for the rest of her life.

She needed to go to Scotland and rescue the “real” Diana. There was no doubt about that. But then what? What would she do when they got back here? How would she fit in?

The next day, she and Heather lingered in English class until everyone had left. Diana used a little magic to cloak them from the teacher and they had the room to themselves.

Sharon Mary Elizabeth Dulcet Vaughn,” Heather said as soon as the door closed.

Diana gritted her teeth as she worked the magic to avoid showing her Fae self, before changing back. She made the expression look like a smile.

Impressive. I didn't even see a glimmer that time.”

I'm going to need to create an identity for Sharon Vaughn. I've been thinking; and when I rescue Diana and bring her back, I can't still be her.”

But you'll have to look human.”

Diana took out the sketch pad she used for art class and turned to a blank page. She waved her hand over it and focused on a mental picture. A second later, the image of a blond girl with emerald green eyes appeared on the page as though she'd sketched it with colored pencil.

Heather stared at the page. “Who is she?”

Nobody. Me. I just made her up in my mind.”

A Blonde? I mean, you'd be hot, but you're going blonde?”

Diana focused, creating the image in her mind. She closed her eyes and made Sharon Vaughn, human person, come to life. All her school records, history, everything, basically a carbon copy of her history as Diana Jean Morgan. A moment later, she opened her eyes and saw blonde hair in her peripheral vision.


So call me Sharon Vaughn from now on, okay? As far as the world knows, Diana went to visit sick relatives in Scotland.”

And you're going to get her?”

Sharon thought about it, and decided that there was no reason to put it off. “I'm going to catch the next flight out.”

I want to go with you.”

Sharon stared at Heather, wondering how she'd gotten so lucky to have such a loyal friend. She thought about the Fae holding Diana, and what they might be capable of. “It's too dangerous.”

Do you know a spell to find something?”

Sharon pursed her lips. “You know I don't.”

Then I'm going.”

No, you're not.”

Sharon looked out the window of the airplane as she tried not to think about all the close calls she'd had so far in the day. The metal detector had gone off when she'd gone through, for some reason. She had nothing metal on her, having removed her shoes and belt and everything, so she guessed it had something to do with her magic.

Next time she'd have to magic her way around them.

The security people had wanted to give her a pat-down, but it had been easy enough to make everyone believe they had without actually touching her.

Then there was the steel boarding ramp airway from the gate, which had tested her focus to the limit. And now, she was surrounded by a cramped sardine can of humanity. At least the airplane wasn't made of steel. And the seat next to her had been vacant in the reservation system.

She began to worry about her parents and how they'd get along with the real Diana. Maybe she could smooth that over with magic too. She couldn't exactly explain it to them. Oh God. What about Bobby? She'd have to stay friends with him. Maybe she could arrange to visit for all the holidays.

That train of thought derailed when she felt someone sit down next to her. She didn't want to turn away from the window and look, thinking that if she didn't acknowledge the person, that maybe she could ignore them. Then she worried that she could somehow snuff someone out of existence by believing them away. She sighed and turned to her neighbor for the eleven hour flight.

Heather smiled at her. “Told ya I was going.”

(go to chapter 12)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fae In The City, Ch. 10

You were with Heather at that troubled teen workshop,” Diana said to Heather's aunt Jean as they entered the small living room.

Diana thought that a less nervous person might have characterized the room as “cozy”, but she felt trapped with only fifteen feet between the corners. The walls were covered with so many small oil paintings of various scenes throughout history that the burgundy paint under them was almost totally obscured. A small coffee table sat in the middle of the room, draped with lace, and surrounded by plush furniture in a tight orbit. A sliding glass door looked out on a postage-stamp sized enclosed patio with a recirculating fountain that seemed entirely too zen for the rest of the place.

Diana sank into the nearest plush chair as Heather and her aunt sat on the sofa across from her. She pondered Jean for a moment before curiosity won over manners. “I thought you and the man you were with were Heather's parents.”

Jean looked to Heather, worry creasing her brow for a moment before she schooled her expression. “That was my husband, Heather's uncle Robert.”

My parents died when I was young” Heather said, to explain the look on her aunt's face.

I'm so sorry,” Diana said. “You never told me.”

It's okay. I don't remember anything about it.”

Diana read the expressions on Heather's face and her aunt's, and knew that there was more to the story; but she let it go. She nodded and held up the tartan for Heather's aunt Jean. “You wanted something personal from my Fae parents? I think this might be it.”

Jean took the tartan, unfolded it, and moved her hand under it like a magician. She started speaking what sounded like Latin, and began to fold the tartan like origami. Several moments passed, her hands moving with grace and speed, seeming to dance with the rhythm of the words she spoke.

Diana felt herself relaxing, and then almost fell into a trance as she watched. The motion of Jean's hands mesmerized her, as the tartan started to take shape. It took on the form of a little fairy doll.

Your parents were both Fae,” Jean said, before unwrapping the tartan and starting again. Several minutes passed as the tartan took shape again. This time it resembled a small house.

They lived in a small house when you were born.”

Several more minutes passed, but the shape the tartan took didn't make sense to Diana.

You were born in Scotland.”

Diana sighed. “I knew that.”

As opposed to having been born in the Faerie Realm, dear,” Jean said. “You were born in this realm. That matters.”


You'll be weaker than most Fae, since your ties to Faerie are weaker. But your resistance to iron might be significantly better than a Fae born in their realm.”

Diana frowned. “You mean some Fae are more allergic to iron than I am?”

Jean's smile warmed the room as she unfolded the tartan and started to work it again. “It's not an allergy, dear. Iron disrupts Fae magic. And Fae are essentially pure magic in this world.”

I don't understand,” Diana said.

Jean didn't respond. She'd already begun speaking Latin again.

A few minutes passed while Diana pondered everything she was hearing. Her life was making less sense with every turn of the stupid tartan. She wanted to interrupt and ask if there was a way to control her magic, but the tartan kept folding to the words. She barely noticed when an older woman entered the room and stood off to the side.

The gray-haired woman smiled and nodded as though to the room in general, before watching Jean. Her eyes seemed to focus at the wall beyond the tartan. Diana instinctively looked there, but saw nothing.

Jean stopped, unveiling a scene that looked like a girl mopping the floor. She unfolded the tartan and shook it out. “It would appear that the real Diana Jean Morgan is alive and well in Scotland.”

Heather stood and walked over to the gray-haired woman. “Diana, this is my grandmother, Prue.”

It's short for Prudence,” the old woman said, stepping forward. She shambled, her feet scuffing the hardwood floor rather than actually lifting.

Diana rose and extended a hand to shake, but the old woman ignored it and gave Diana a hug that was tighter than seemed possible for a frail-looking old woman. She patted the old woman on the back as she gave Heather a bewildered look. “Um... okay. Hi. Prue.”

The old woman released her grip, and stepped back slightly, patting Diana on the arm, shoulder, then face. She seemed to be looking at Diana's neck until her hand reached her face. Then she looked up.

Diana stared at the woman's eyes, and frowned. They weren't focused on her, but more like behind her.

The old woman smiled as she held Diana's cheek in her hand. “It's so very nice to meet you, Sharon.”

My name is Diana.”

Yes, yes, of course. I can't imagine why I said that. It just popped into my head. This little voice. It's always saying things.”

Diana started to step back, but held herself still. “Wait. Did the voice say anything else?”

The old woman sighed and smiled, dropping her hand. Her voice took on a sing-song quality and tinge of Scottish brogue.

A wee lass is no' a son;

so a bonny name she be needin' on,

we could've debated from dusk to dawn;

but loved Sharon Mary Elizabeth Dulcet Vaughn.

Diana felt a burning tingle all over her and knew the change was coming. She envisioned openings in the back of her school uniform as the pressure on her back swelled. She felt the wings push free, and saw the claws on her hands.

Heather and Jean stared open-mouthed. Prue smiled.

Don't look!” Diana shouted. She jumped behind her chair and hid from their scrutiny. She looked up and cursed when she saw that her wings were protruding above the chair.

You're beautiful,” Heather said.

I wish you could see this, Mom,” Jean said. “Diana, you don't realize how amazing it is for us to see your Fae self. Most witches go their entire life without ever seeing a Fae. You've just graced us with a gift of great significance.”

Diana's shock at having the change forced on her ebbed as she realized what Jean was saying. She took a deep breath and let it out, only then noticing that Prue hadn't looked down where she was cowering behind the chair. “Prue is blind?”

It's a regrettable side-effect of some of the spells I did when I was younger. Magic always has a price.”

Diana tried to focus so she could return to her human shape, but she was too nervous; so she tried to distract the witches. “You can't just use a spell to make your eyes work?”

The old woman took a deep breath and let it out, lowering her gaze to where Diana had spoken. “The price would be too high, Sharon Mary Elizabeth Dulcet Vaughn. I see things nobody else can see. I willingly pay the price that everyone else can see things I cannot.”

My name's not Sharon Mary whatever.”

If you say so.”

Diana stood, her temper rising. “My name's Diana. I think enough has changed in the last week that you people could at least leave my name alone. Is that too much to ask?”

Be reasonable, dear,” Jean said, staring at Diana's wings. “Prue didn't take your name away. She gave you one you didn't know you had. Your true name.”

Maybe that name can help you find your parents,” Heather added, also staring at Diana's wings.

Diana growled low in her throat and focused, closing her eyes so she could block out her surroundings and focus. Diana Jean Morgan. Diana Jean Morgan. She felt the rush of magic flow over her and opened her eyes. Wings gone, check. Claws gone, check.

Amazing,” Heather said.

I wonder if you could emulate anyone's form?” Jean asked.

I haven't tried.”

Ooh! Do me!” Heather said with a jump, clapping her hands.

Diana sighed. “I'm afraid, Heather. I don't want to screw it up. Look what I did with Chelsea? I can't have something like that happen again.”

The girl with the bad heart,” Prue said.

You know about that?” Diana asked, checking Heather's expression.

Prue nodded. “I looked into it after Heather told us about the incident at school. It turns out that Chelsea had a hole in her heart that was undiagnosed. It was a time bomb, ticking in her chest.”

Diana's pulse jumped. “Was? As in? Did she die?”

No dear. They fixed her heart. She may yet have a full life, thanks to you.”

Thanks to me?”

Yes. My sight tells me she would have died a few years from now from a heart attack if you hadn't given her that fright.”

Diana sat back down in her chair, not knowing what to say. Prue shuffled over to the doorway. “Would anyone like some tea?”

Heather and Jean both answered that they would.

And you Sharon?”

Diana growled. “Please call me Diana. Yes, I'd like some tea please.”

I'm curious to see if you could change into me,” Heather said as they waited for the tea. “Maybe you don't have that much to be worried about after all?”

Diana thought about it, and listened as Jean and Heather talked about the potential ramifications of Fae magic and what might be possible and what might not. Eventually, she couldn't take the prodding and speculation anymore. She sighed, focused on Heather, and said “Fine!” She closed her eyes and believed. The rush swept over her.

You're me!” Heather shouted, clapping.

Diana smiled. “I feel dumber for some reason.”

Heather laughed. “Oh shut up.”

Anyway, I'm not you. Apparently, I'm Sharon Mary Elizabeth Dulcet Vaughn.”

Magic flowed over Diana, and she felt wings sprout through her uniform again. She looked down and saw claws. “Give me a break, please!”

(continue to Chapter 11)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fae In The City, Ch. 9

Diana wondered how she had ever gotten through life without magic. She passed the binoculars to Erin as they watched through the window across the quad from Chelsea's room; which was currently filled with approximately one hundred and fifty frogs. A frog was trying to climb the inside of Chelsea's window, which was unobstructed by the curtains they'd hid under her bed so they could watch the mayhem.

The giant 3-story U-shaped dorm complex around the quad was eerily quiet, as if even the birds waited with bated breath for what was about to happen. Diana and Erin's spot in an unoccupied room on the second floor of the east wing lined up perfectly with Chelsea's room on the west wing. Diana twisted a strand of her dark hair, the strange calm making her nervous.

Erin smiled behind the binoculars. “I can't believe they just had a box of frogs in the biology lab! You must be the luckiest person on the planet.”

You just don't have faith in Fairy Godmother magic.”

Erin laughed, but stopped abruptly. “Chelsea's opening the door!”

Diana squinted without the benefit of the binoculars. “She's trying the light switch?”

Yep. Good thinking, taking out the bulb on the overhead. She's walking in... going for the bedside lamp...”

Diana closed her eyes and thought about the door to Chelsea's room, and focused her magic. Close. See it closed, and stuck shut... She opened her eyes to see the door close just as the light on the nightstand came on.

Chelsea's scream echoed through her closed window.

Diana focused her thoughts on the frogs, and imagined them all attacking. Then she patted Erin on the shoulder. “Our work here is done.”

Erin's eyes didn't leave the binoculars. “I want to savor this moment. I want to watch her fall. Maybe she'll have a heart attack and die?”

As Diana imagined it, the screaming stopped; and Diana's mind screamed No! I didn't mean it!

Before Diana knew what she was doing, she was up and running through the halls towards Chelsea's room. As she ran, she imagined the frogs gone and the door unstuck. She imagined Chelsea's heart beating normally. She imagined everything being alright.

Please let it be alright.

She nearly slipped going around the first corner, where the dorm buildings intersected at the southeast. The freshly waxed tile squeaked under her Mary Janes. She could hear running and loud chatter. Her heart pounded in her chest as she ran towards the west wing. She slowed as she came to the southwest corner. She tried to catch her breath. Chelsea's dorm room was only a few doors from the corner. She rounded the corner and paused.

Chattering girls filled the hall, crowding around Chelsea's door. Diana pushed her way through, reaching the door to look in. Chelsea was on the floor of her room, lying flat on her back. One of the faculty was doing CPR while another was on the phone.

The frogs were gone.

Diana swallowed back the bile that rose in her throat.

Heather pushed her way to the door and stood beside Diana, surveying the scene. The witch grabbed Diana's arm, pulling her back away from the others. She dragged Diana several doors away so they wouldn't be overheard. She stared into Diana's face. Her whisper was urgent. “What did you do?”

They paused as the elevator door beside them opened, and a pair of paramedics pushed a gurney past them.

Diana moved them to the far end of the hall, next to a stairwell. She whispered, “Erin and I were having a little revenge at Chelsea's expense. We filled her room with frogs to scare her because of her stupid phobia. But then Erin said something about hoping Chelsea had a heart attack.”

You gave her a heart attack?” Heather hissed.

Diana's face twisted in anguish. “I don't know! I tried to make everything right, but they're still doing CPR-”

And the frogs?”

Conjured for Erin's benefit.”

Oh Diana.”

Well, what do you want, Heather? Fae are supposed to be wicked. Maybe that's who I am now.”

Is that who you think you are?”

Diana gritted her teeth. “That's just it, Heather. I don't know who I am anymore.”

Heather stared into Diana's eyes, then poked her in the sternum. “That's not true. You spent your whole life being you. You just didn't know what you're capable of. Pull yourself together.”

They looked back at the crowd of girls, dispersing under the faculty's watchful direction. The paramedics loaded Chelsea onto the gurney and rolled her down the hall, an oxygen mask over her mouth. They weren't doing chest compressions.

Diana hoped that Chelsea was still alive. Believe she'll survive. Believe!

They watched the elevator doors shut.

Diana swallowed. “I still don't know what I'm capable of.”

For the next few days, Diana avoided Erin, and tried to think happy thoughts about Chelsea. Even if Chelsea was heartless and cruel to Erin, or for that matter most of the less popular girls, Chelsea didn't deserve to die.

The gossip around school was that Chelsea had undergone emergency surgery, and she was in ICU. Nobody could reach her by phone or text or anything.

Diana wanted to pretend the incident with the frogs hadn't happened, but she was afraid of what pretending might do. Could her denial be strong enough to change reality? Then what? She lost her appetite, and stopped eating, fear coiling her stomach in knots.

She didn't want to think about anything, for fear it would materialize. She had flashbacks to the scene with Chelsea on the floor, and prayed they wouldn't come true just from remembering them. Just have to make it to Thursday night, she thought. Heather's aunt and grandmother had wanted to meet then. Maybe an older witch could help.

Diana felt so alone.

She walked the halls in a daze, barely aware of her three old friends and their repeated attempts to engage her in their banter or gossip.

Brit of the Unruly Red Hair, Carmen the Sultry Spanish Seductress, and Tanya the Token Blond gave it their all. They even threatened to eject her from the Fierce Four and find someone else.

They wouldn't understand. They couldn't. They weren't Fae.

By the time Thursday came around, Diana felt like fate's rag doll, run through the laundry a hundred times. As she and Heather boarded the bus into town, she stared at Heather with bloodshot eyes. Heather didn't seem to notice the dark rings under them from lack of sleep, or she was just being nice by not pointing them out.

Did you remember the item from your parents?” Heather asked.

Diana cursed under her breath as the bus jostled them in their seats. She knew she'd forgotten something. The tartan she'd been wrapped in as a baby was hanging in her closet. Frustration boiled in her, and she clenched her fists.

She focused her mind on the tartan, and felt the soft material in her hands. She held it up with a weak smile. “Got it right here!”

Diana stepped from the bus and closed her eyes as it roared away, glad to be free from the steel cage on wheels.

You coming?” Heather asked.

Diana opened her eyes again and nodded. “Seems like I'm getting more sensitive to iron every day.”

They walked by tiny manicured lawns and topiary decorations, which dotted the fronts of the tightly-packed townhouses on the street. Diana lost herself in the pleasant feelings that their old Victorian styling evoked. Lace curtains in one reminded her of an old dollhouse she'd had growing up.

Heather turned toward one and stopped at the door. She knocked a strange pattern of knocks, and an answering knock came from the door. She paused a moment, and turned the knob.

The door swung open, but in its place stood a shimmering phantom door. Heather walked through it, calling “Aunt Jean! Grams! We're here!”

Diana walked up to the phantom door and stared. Was this magic? She reached out with a finger, testing. She poked it, but felt nothing. She tried again, holding her finger against it for a second. Was that a tingle?

She pressed her finger through the phantom door, and watched in amazement as her fingernail grew into a claw. That claw. She pulled it back and stared at it. It was back to a normal-looking nail.

What are you doing?”

It took Diana a second to realize that Heather had spoken. She looked up and fought back the fear that Heather might have seen the claw. She searched the young witch's face, but saw only bewilderment.

Heather waved her forward. “Come on in.”

Um...” Diana gestured like a mime at the phantom door. “What's this shimmering phantom door?”

Heather gave her a confused look before her eyes widened. “You see the ward?”

Diana shrugged. “Does it look like a phantom door?”

Heather laughed. “Witches can't see magic; we just feel it.”

A middle-aged woman with blond hair walked up behind Heather, bearing a distinct family resemblance. She wiped her hands on a dish towel and smiled at Diana. “Hello Diana! I'm Heather's aunt Jean. You're welcome to come in. We won't bite.”

Diana stared at the woman through the shimmering magic.

Heather shook her head and turned to her aunt. “Aunt Jean, she can see the ward. It looks like a phantom door.”

Aunt Jean smiled at Diana. “Well, if we hadn't known you were Fae before, that certainly would have confirmed it.”

Diana frowned. “Can you get rid of the ward?”

We could, but rebuilding it would take several hours. Is there a door knob?”

Diana looked and nodded.

Aunt Jean waved Diana on. “Try it.”

Diana reached out, touching the phantom knob. She kept a light touch, but her claws extended nonetheless. She turned her hand and felt a vibration before the phantom door swung open. She stared at it a minute, then looked at her hand. Back to normal.

That's the weirdest thing I've ever seen,” Diana said, stepping over the threshold.

Fascinating,” Aunt Jean said. “You found a doorway where we had not intended one. I would appreciate if you could shut the ward behind you.”

Diana did as the woman had asked, feeling a deepening sense of claustrophobia as the door and the ward closed.

(Continue to Chapter 10)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fae In The City, Ch. 8

Diana closed the door to Erin's room and locked them in. Turning back, she stared at the girl she'd just saved from death.

Erin straightened her T-shirt and glared back. “So what's this painkiller?”

Diana leaned back against the door, wondering what to do. Could she trust Erin with her secret? Could she believe the pain away? She was pretty certain that wouldn't work. Maybe make some drug? She meandered over to the bookshelf, trying to buy time. “Okay, let's recap. Chelsea taunted you. I intervened. You thanked me. Your dad is ditching you. You tried to kill yourself. I intervened, again.”

What did you do, anyway? I took at least ten times the normal dose. I should be dead by now.”

Diana ignored her question, not sure how to answer. “So your note said your stepmother had ruined your life. How?”

Erin sighed. “She seduced my dad and got pregnant. My mom couldn't deal with the betrayal, and left.” Erin's mouth curled into a snarl. “Then Patrice – that's my Step-monster - moved in and had her baby, and married Dad. I wanted to move away with Mom, but Dad sued for custody of me and won because Mom was unemployed and they accused her of being hooked on pills.”

That sucks.”

They froze Mom out. I tried running away a couple of times, and eventually Patrice managed to convince the cops that Mom was a danger to us, and got a restraining order. I didn't know, and I ran away to Mom's... and Patrice had Mom arrested.”

Diana sat down next to Erin and put an arm around her. “I'm so sorry. That's awful.”

Mom called her parents to bail her out, and Grandma came up from Fresno. There was a drunk driver-”

Oh my God. Don't tell me-”

Erin took in a ragged breath, nodding. “Grandma died, and Mom went to be with her.” Tears spilled out of Erin's eyes, and she grabbed a tissue from the bedside table to wipe her nose.

So... your stepmother is evil.”

Erin nodded. “And Dad told me last night that they're going to move away and leave me here.”

So this isn't about Chelsea at all.”

Except that she's Patrice's daughter, no.”

Diana stood and grabbed Erin by the shoulders. She stared into Erin's eyes. “You're shitting me!”


Chelsea is your evil stepsister?”


So the Assistant Dean is your-”

He's Chelsea's dad from before.”

Diana let go of Erin and paced back and forth, wringing her hands. “So this is almost like a Cinderella story, only more tragic.”

Erin snorted. “And there's no Prince Charming.”

Yeah, well... there's that dance coming up with that stupid boys' prep school. My friends and I could scout it out and find their most eligible bachelor for you. Maybe it would be good to think about the future.”

Erin shook her head. “There's no happy ending for me.”

How do you know that? Just 'cause your life sucks now doesn't mean it can't get better. Change your stars! Make a life for yourself! Make your Mom proud!”

Chill, Tony Robbins. Who are you in this fairy tale anyway? My Fairy Godmother?”

Diana laughed for a second, then stopped and stared at Erin. “Oh shit. Maybe I am!”

Erin smiled. “Well, at least you've got the enthusiasm for it.”

Diana paced again, fretting and wringing her hands. Could it be? Could she be a Fairy Godmother? What the heck would that mean? What should I do? Should I tell her?

Tell me what?”

I said that out loud?” Diana stopped pacing.

Are you high?” Erin asked, narrowing her eyes at Diana.

Never mind.”

Why are you here, what did you do to keep me from dying?”

I was worried about you. I saw you were in trouble, so I did what any self-respecting Fairy Godmother would do. I saved your ass.”

That's not possible.”

Well, what kind of Fairy Godmother would I be if I let you die?”

Erin stared, trying to make sense of it all. “You're insane.”

Diana could practically see the wheels turning in Erin's mind. “You look pale. You want some water?”

Erin nodded.

Diana took the glass from Erin's nightstand and handed it to her.

The girl stared at the water sloshing in it. “This was empty. Wasn't it?”

Diana guided the glass, helping Erin take a sip. “I just want to help.”

Erin drank and put the glass down. “If you really were my Fairy Godmother, I'd have to tell you that you suck. If you could've stopped all that bad stuff from happening to me, then I'd want a refund.”

Yeah, maybe so. But wouldn't you rather have a Fairy Godmother than not have one?”

Erin laughed, almost hysterical. “You're crazy!”

Yeah. Well, cut me some slack Cinderella.”

I'd like to see you turn a pumpkin into a stagecoach.”

I was thinking more like turning Chelsea's room into frog central. We know how much she loves frogs.”

Erin took a deep breath and let it out, before smiling wide. “You know, I'm not sure which would be more entertaining. Seeing how you're going to find a bunch of frogs or the look on her face when she finds them. I wonder if it'll be better than the sound of her screaming.”

So your pain is gone?”

Erin sighed. “I think you're distracting me from it.”

Diana smiled and walked over to the wardrobe by Erin's bed and thumbed through the selection, which turned out to be nothing but the tartan skirts and white shirts of the school's uniform. She grabbed a set from a hanger and tossed it at Erin. “Get dressed. We're late for class and we have mayhem therapy to plan.”

Erin got out of bed and made her way to the tiny restroom. “I just need to freshen up a little.”

Diana paced the small room, finding it too small to get many steps before she had to turn. She felt the weight of the clock ticking and thought about class. “Oh, by the way, Chelsea started a rumor about you and me.”

Erin looked around the door, brushing her hair. “What are they saying?”

That you an I are lesbians.”

Erin coughed and disappeared into the bathroom.

Erin, are you okay?” Diana stepped back where she could see into the restroom. Erin was staring at her reflection in the mirror. “Are you? I mean, it's totally okay if you are. I'm not judging or whatever. But just so you know, I'm not. I mean, not a lesbian.”

Erin snorted on a laugh and pulled off her shirt before walking by Diana in nothing but underwear. She grabbed the uniform and started dressing. The seconds ticked by while Diana stared at the book case and wondered what was going on in Erin's mind. As Erin finished positioning the skirt, Diana couldn't take the suspense any longer. “Well?”

Erin sighed. “I'm not. Okay? I'm sure she's just trying to get us kicked out.”

They'd kick us out for that?”

Did you miss the part of the orientation where they talked about this being a respectable, conservative, and might I add religious school?”

Diana toed the doorjamb to the bathroom. “I slept through the orientation.”

Erin laughed.

Well at least you're feeling good enough to laugh, even if it's at my expense.”

Erin grabbed her books and opened the door. “Let's go plan, Mayhem Girl. I'm dying to see how you'll round up those frogs.”

Don't say that! Nobody's dying on my watch.”

It's just an expression.”

(Continue to Chapter 9)