Monday, April 16, 2012

Fae In The City, Chapter 5

Chapter 5

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.”

Show me!”

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)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fae In The City, Chapter 4

Diana stared at her computer screen, and re-read the paragraph on Wikipedia.

Much of the folklore about fairies revolves around protection from their malice, by such means as cold iron (iron is like poison to fairies, and they will not go near it) or charms of rowan and herbs, or avoiding offense by shunning locations known to be theirs. In particular, folklore describes how to prevent the fairies from stealing babies and substituting changelings, ...”

Diana's hands stung with the remembered pain of a hundred incidents throughout her youth. Every time she touched bare steel or iron, she'd felt a static jolt; as though she'd scuffed her shoes on carpet, even though she rarely dragged her feet. Chain link fences, galvanized bars on the jungle gym, even stainless utensils; though she'd sort of built up a tolerance. If she held on too long, her hands would feel raw; so she took breaks and ate sparingly, or ate finger foods. Coated or painted metal didn't hurt, and some places had utensils with non-metallic handles; and she recalled enjoying those places more. Did that mean iron was poison?

She shook her head. No, that couldn't be right! Wasn't there iron in blood? She bled red, just like everyone else; she knew that. Didn't that mean she had iron in her blood? And she'd been able to eat meat all her life; didn't that have iron in it?

She felt more confused than ever. Or maybe Wikipedia was wrong. But then why did it always hurt to touch bare steel?

Diana slapped her laptop shut as she heard footsteps coming up the stairs, and shoved it into her bag. She cast a nervous glance over at the tub, wondering if it was really cast iron. It was all coated with porcelain though, so it shouldn't hurt. She got up and ran her hands over the chrome-plated valves. No zing. She ran her hand over the tub, and got a strange feeling, like her stomach had butterflies in it.

Diana pulled her hand away from the tub. The sensation of unease in her gut stilled. She stepped farther away from the tub, toward the door. Was something bad about that huge concentration of iron? Did that mean she was Fae? If she was Fae, was it possible that she was a changeling? That she'd been a substitute for a stolen baby? She started to feel dizzy, like the room was spinning out of control.

Get a grip,” She told herself, steadying herself as she stepped to the door on shaky legs. She opened it as her brother was about to knock.

He looked up at her, surprised. “You ready?”

She nodded, fighting back a wave of nausea.

Come on, let's go.”

She glared at Bobby. “You're going too? Why aren't you staying here and ignoring the plight of your oppressed sister?”

A wicked grin slithered onto his face.

Oh shut up.” She shoved him aside and shut her door, trudging down the stairs.

Bobby followed, a spring in his step as he bounced back and forth behind her to see the expression on her face. “I wonder if this workshop will make you nicer.”

I'm already nice.”

All set?” Diana's dad smiled as he hit the remote and the car chirped. It was like one of those annoying yippy dogs, barking at its master.

Diana shrugged as Bobby ran around to the passenger side. She didn't have the energy to fight the turd for the side with better legroom. She suspected Bobby's obnoxious smile was an attempt to goad her into challenging him. Mom and Dad were dressed in suits as usual; and Diana wondered if they felt she was under-dressed in her Uggs and jeans shorts. She almost laughed at how little she cared, compared to what was going on. She got in behind her dad, noting the metal on the door. Not bare; that was good. She still got that strange feeling though, the one from the tub. Then she realized it was how she usually felt in the car. Was that feeling about iron? “Dad?”

Her dad started the car, and turned to face her as he backed the car out. “Yes honey?”

What's this car made of?”

It's really strong steel, so we'll be safe if we get in an accident. This model has one of the highest safety ratings on the road.”

It also has glass, and leather and stuff.” Bobby said, adding “Duh.”

Diana squinted her eyes at Bobby and faked a smile. “I just thought, you know, that maybe it was aluminum or something.”

You're such a girl.” Bobby said, turning on his Nintendo.

Actually, it has an aluminum engine, Bobby,” their dad said.

Diana rolled her shoulders, feeling claustrophobic again; only now, the awareness weighed on her more heavily. So the car was a big steel cage. Steel was made of iron. Just because she felt bad being in the car for a long time didn't make her Fae, though. Other people didn't like being in cars for a long time. It was possible that her whole family was Fae, but they hadn't told her. But her dad had told her flat out that he didn't have wings and pointed ears; and they didn't seem to mind long rides in the car.

Maybe she was having stress-induced daydreams.

They pulled into a park nestled into a small valley, and followed the road which led to a small parking lot. Cars occupied almost all of the two-dozen spots. They took the last spot and got out of the car.

We're late already,” Diana's mother said, setting a brisk pace toward an assembled group of people.

Diana counted twenty kids her age, each with at least one parental-type chaperone. A few looked like they had silver spoons stuck up their butts, and some looked like they were trying to join a rap group. A couple wore all black leather and black makeup, including a guy with a piercing in his eyebrow. Diana wondered if the piercing hurt. Only three of the kids were dressed casually, but each had a sneer that said they didn't care.

They spent the rest of the day sitting on logs and listening to psychobabble from a guru on the topic of raising better teens and being better teens. Diana was certain that the man hadn't actually raised any kids of his own. All his ideas sounded like they'd work great on lab rats in a perfect world.

Diana tuned out the conversation and focused on a group of ants, watching them move crumbs toward a nest a few yards away. A butterfly flitted around a few people, and landed on her hand. She watched it for a minute before it flitted away again. Nobody seemed to notice except her.

She wondered about the frog again, and focused on a spot in the grass behind a log. If she could make a frog appear in school, what about now? She closed her eyes and thought about a frog, and opened them again.


She looked around, and saw one of the goth girls smiling at her. For some reason, the girl looked familiar; but she couldn't recall ever meeting a goth before. The heavy black makeup distracted her, so she tried to imagine the girl without it. Could it be? Heather? Why was she here? Then Diana remembered her texts. Don't conjure anything else.

Diana smiled back at Heather-in-disguise, wondering why she shouldn't conjure anything else. Maybe it was some witch rule. Was it possible that she was a witch like Heather, and she'd dreamt the wings? If the body she thought she had this morning meant she was Fae, then what would Heather do if she found out?

The instructor's voice broke through Diana's reverie. “Okay, great work people. Let's take a lunch break. We'll reassemble in an hour.”

Everyone got up and started for the table with all the picnic food set out.

Diana gravitated to Heather so they would be next to each other in line. She whispered to Heather. “What are you doing here? And what's with the goth makeup?”

Heather whispered back. “We need to talk.”

So talk. What are you doing here?”

Someplace private. Follow me.”

Diana watched Heather walk toward a group of trees with thick underbrush and look around. Diana's parents were schmoozing with another power couple, dressed in suits like theirs. Bobby was busy loading a plate with food. She followed Heather into the trees. Safely behind cover, Diana whispered. “Why are you here?”

My aunt used magic to find out where you'd be. We arranged to be here. You need training in magic before you start using your powers, or you could become a danger to yourself and others.”

Why do you think I'm a witch and the frog was somehow magical? You're kinda freaking me out here.”

I was there in the locker room. I felt the magic from two aisles away.”

Diana furrowed her brows.

You know, that tingle you feel that creeps up your arms and makes you shiver?”

Diana felt a shiver just from recalling that feeling.

Listen, all we need to do is one little spell with you to tell for sure that you're a witch.”

Heather produced a tiny wreath of vines, woven with what looked like human hair. A gold wire wound in and around also, and wrapped a small gemstone. She held it up and whispered something that sounded Latin. The gemstone started to glow. She handed it to Diana. “Hold this in your right hand.”

Diana held it, staring at the glowing gemstone. Real magic? Was Heather really a witch? Or was there a hidden battery and light?

Heather pulled a small knife from her pocket, holding it and whispering like she had with the totem.

What are you planning to do with that?” Diana asked, taking a step back.

I just need a drop of blood to activate the spell.”

Diana stared at the blade, shining and sharp. It had some symbols etched into the metal. Was it steel? “No way. Get that thing the hell away from me!”

Heather tried to grab Diana's wrist, but Diana jumped back.

Oh come on, you big baby.” Heather held out a hand.

You're not a witch. You're nuts.”

Fine. Hand me the totem and I'll prove it.”

Diana reached, then hesitated. She tossed the totem, not wanting to get too close.

Heather caught the little mini-wreath and held it in her outstretched palm. “It's an enchanted blade. It doesn't hurt at all.” She gently pressed the tip through the middle of the totem and into her palm and pulled it out. A drop of blood welled in the wound but disappeared as the wound closed.

Diana felt the same odd tingle she'd felt when the frog appeared. The gem in the totem started to glow a warm blue.

Blue for witch. See?”

Diana stared as Heather wiped the blood off the blade with a cloth and held up her palm. There was no sign of a cut. Magic! Heather really was a witch?

What would the stone do if you weren't a witch?” Diana asked.

It wouldn't change. Just stay pink.”

What if you were something else?”

Heather snorted. “Like what?”

Well, if witches exist, what about angels? Demons? Werewolves? Vampires? Fae?”

Heather narrowed her eyes. “So you think you might be one of those, instead of a witch?”

So they all exist too? For real?”

Heather looked around, making sure that nobody was nearby before speaking. “I can't tell you unless you take this test.”

I can't,” Diana said, tossing the totem back.

Heather caught it. “Why not?”

I hate needles and getting poked with sharp things that make me bleed.”

Heather blanched, and almost dropped the knife as her arms went limp at her sides. “You hate iron.”

Diana clamped her mouth shut, realizing she might have said too much.

Heather covered her heart with her hands and stared at Diana like she was meeting Mick Jagger. Her voice was a choked whisper. “You're Fae!”

(Go to Chapter 5)