Diana stared in shock at Heather, not sure what to say.
Heather looked around, and found a stick on the ground. She picked it up, and held the knife to it, whispering in Latin again. Then she looked up at Diana. “You don't like my knife, because it has iron in it.”
Diana shrugged. “Who likes getting poked with something sharp?”
“Okay, lie to me. Tell me it's not Saturday.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Just say it.”
Diana tried to form the words, but she couldn't. “I don't need to lie to prove anything to you.”
Diana narrowed her eyes. “Whatever. I don't need to lie.”
“Fae can't lie. One last test.” She put the knife away and held out the stick, which now had a sharp tip. She held up the totem, which was glowing soft pink again. “Hold the totem and poke yourself with that stick in the palm, like I did. It's enchanted sharp like my blade, so it won't hurt. It's not iron. One drop of blood. If the totem glows the color of Fae, we'll know for sure.”
Diana stared at the stick. Heather might be crazy, or maybe she really was a witch. She seemed to know about Fae, so that could help. Unless... “Before I do this, are witches and Fae mortal enemies or anything like that?”
Heather smiled wide. “Totally the opposite! Witches have to work at making magic, and Fae are practically pure magic without lifting a finger. We'd pretty much worship you, if you're Fae.”
“How could I not know?”
“Fae magic works on belief. Fae can make things true just by believing them to be; and that power is part of why Fae can't lie. If a Faerie lies, the lie could become real; and there's some cosmic unbalance thing that could happen then. Everything in their nature is tied to believing the world as it is. If you're Fae, then you convinced yourself the world was what you thought it was.”
Diana hesitated, staring at the stick. “I don't want to be anything but normal. If I'm really Fae, my whole life will change. My parents...”
“It'll be okay. I can help you.”
Diana scrunched her eyebrows together. “How could you possibly help?”
Heather smiled wide. “With magic. Now poke your palm, you big chicken.”
Diana shivered at the thought that she could still go back to the way things were if she refused; but no. She had too many doubts to go back. Her reality had already shifted. She took the totem and held it up in her palm. She pointed the sharp tip of the stick into her palm and pressed gently. A tiny bead of blood welled up.
The totem glowed green.
Heather smiled and took the totem back, stowing it in a pocket. She grabbed the stick and whispered something, turning it to ash in her hand. Then she stared at Diana with a huge smile on her face. “Told ya.”
“So I'm Fae?”
“Yep. Most likely a changeling if your parents aren't Fae too.” Heather's eyes darted around, then she grabbed Diana's arm. “We'll talk later. For now, we need to get back.”
Diana ate with her family at the picnic table farthest from the main group, but not so far that she couldn't see Heather's table. Heather-in-disguise and her mother were both smiling and staring at her like star-struck groupies. Diana ignored them and focused on her family, seeing her parents and her brother in a whole new light.
Her father paused between bites of his sandwich, apparently noticing the look on her face. “What's on your mind, sweetie?”
Diana shrugged and took a bite of her sandwich, but he kept watching her. She took her time chewing, stalling while she decided what to say. When her mouth was empty, she sighed dramatically. “Dad, I don't think you want this particular drama.”
She watched her dad take another bite, wondering how long she could keep this from them. She loved them with all her heart. Dad always had the answers, and Mom... Mom was pushy and a little overbearing, but she had a lot on her mind with her work. Diana thought about how annoying Mom was, but how those lectures always seemed to connect with her mom's manic desire to see Diana become successful. Bobby tried to be annoying any way he could, but he'd practically worshipped her growing up; so he was probably just trying to be different now. The idea of losing them made her stomach churn and her heart sink; but if they were human then somewhere they might have a real daughter that was missing out on their love. What could she do? The Fae stole children and replaced them, and Diana might have unwittingly had a role in the most hurtful act ever perpetrated against these people.
She had to make it right.
“Mom, Dad, I have something very important to ask you.”
“What is it dear?” her mom said as they put down their sandwiches.
“Do you know anything about Fae?”
“We used to read stories to you when you were younger, I think a few had fairies in them,” her mom said.
He gave her a quizzical look. “What are you getting at?”
She held up a hand. “Please, I just have to ask you: Mom, Dad, are you Fae?”
Her mom rolled her eyes. “I thought we were actually getting someplace here. We're not here to play games.”
“Please just answer, Mom. Yes or no?”
“Of course not. You're being ridiculous. Fae don't actually exist.”
He shook his head and smiled. “No, honey.”
She nodded. She thought about all the times they'd handled metal and how they hadn't complained about pain, and how they had ignored her grumbling about it or let her use the real silverware. Also, they couldn't lie if they were Fae. At least according to Heather.
“Are you going to tell us what this is about?” Dad asked.
Diana nodded, and took a deep breath. She let it out slowly, and held out her empty hands. She cupped them in a dome over the table and concentrated on a Monarch butterfly. She felt the tingle in her hands and behind her eyes, and believed. She looked up at her family, who were staring at her, waiting; and opened her hands.
The beautiful butterfly she'd imagined into existence flitted up into the air between them, then landed back on her hand.
Her brother was the first to speak. “Cool!”
“Where did that butterfly come from?” her dad asked.
“The same place the frog came from, Dad.”
“And where was that?” her mom asked.
“I created them.”
Bobby pushed his paper plate aside and put out his hands. “Can you show me how?”
Diana looked at him and sighed. “I don't think so, kiddo.”
Dad's look of amazement had turned thoughtful, then worried, then doubtful, then disappointed.
She reached for his hand and clasped it, causing the butterfly to flit away. “Dad, I just found out what I am today. I swear. I can't lie to you. I never have; so you know I'm telling the truth.”
Diana's mom had a stern look on her face. “Young lady, that was a cute trick, but I don't see what your game is.”
Her dad just stared at her with a deep sadness in his eyes.
“You don't believe me.” She said, looking from one to the other.
“I do!” Bobby said.
Diana's mom made a very unladylike snort and looked at her husband. “I, for one, would prefer you focus on the real world young lady. Daydreaming and practicing tricks to support a childish fantasy won't serve you well in the grown-up world.”
Diana stared at the woman she'd only ever known as Mom. “I think I was switched at birth with your real daughter.”
Diana's mom stared at her for a minute before breaking out in laughter. Her dad sighed.
Diana pulled back. “What'll it take to prove it to you? You want to see the wings and pointed ears?”
“You have wings and pointed ears?” Bobby asked. “Where?”
She glared at him. “Not now, Bobby.”
Diana stared at the sparkle in Bobby's eyes. “If I show you right now, everyone will see.”
Bobby looked around at all the people and nodded, then rested his face in his hands to stare at her, a goofy grin on his face. “This is so cool. My sister's a fairy.”
“She's not a fairy.” their mom said, shaking her head.
“You have to admit she's entertaining though.” their dad said before finishing off his sandwich.
A portable loudspeaker shattered the moment. “Okay people! Let's gather for the afternoon session!”
(go to Chapter 6)
(go to Chapter 6)