“She says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars.”
~Neil Gaiman, Stardust
“Focus, Lilly! What’s wrong with you today?” Killian asked. “You’re distracted by something. Are you hurting from your injuries?”
“No, it’s not that. Those were healed a long time ago,” I answered, placing the weights down on the ground. “I’m just… frustrated by things going on right now. I’m sorry though. I’m not meaning to make things difficult for you.”
“You’re making things difficult for yourself, not me,” he said. “Why don’t you take the day off? Sort out whatever it is that’s bothering you. Besides, have you gotten an outfit for the party tomorrow?”
“Did no one tell you?”
“Uh, no? Maybe whatever party it is, I didn’t get invited to it?”
“No, no, you were definitely invited. I was talking to Caleb about it.” Killian appeared extremely perplexed by the whole situation.
“Whose party is it?”
“Esmeralda’s,” Killian responded, seeming rather shocked I didn’t know that. But how could I know it if no one had told me about it? It seemed odd to me that I’d been forgotten to be invited when apparently I was. It would be hard to show up at a party if I didn’t know I was even invited to it.
“Maybe I should go talk to Esmeralda?” I suggested.
“Yeah, go talk to her. And seriously, take the day off. Your progress, despite what you believe, is going well. It won’t hinder your development if you miss a day. I’ll let the others know. Just have more faith in yourself about this, all right? I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I thanked my instructor and hurried to my apartment. My kittens were waiting for me on their new play scape that had been provided by Dylan. He’d taken a fancy to Toulouse, making me wonder if that was because the cat’s fur matched the color of his fire.
They followed me into my bathroom where I hurriedly showered and got dressed before going to talk to the queen. I wanted to look put together on the outside even though I was a mess on the inside. I remembered a quote I once heard: “It’s important to look your best when you feel your worst.” I certainly was feeling down in the dumps at the moment but those thoughts could be saved for later. Right now, I needed to figure out what this party was that I’d been invited to that I didn’t know I was invited to.
I made my way to the top floor of the building and knocked on the queen’s door. One of her guards opened it, asking, “Do you have an appointment?”
“No, but it has something to do with her party tomorrow?” I replied, feeling slightly embarrassed. For all I knew she could be in the middle of deciding the fate of this planet and I was worrying about a party.
“Gregory, let her in. Lilly Snow is always welcome to chat with me. She may be the future ruler of this country for all we know,” Esmeralda insisted. Gregory the Bodyguard moved aside, allowing me entrance into the queen’s sweeping, luxurious living room. The queen herself sat on the couch reading some papers but she gave me a kind smile and asked, “What can I do for you darling? I thought you were in training?”
“I was. Killian gave me the day off. Um, he brought up a party and said that I should be getting ready for it. He said I was invited but I have no idea what he’s talking about,” I confessed. “If I’m not invited, then that’s totally okay. I’m not much of a party person anyways so don’t feel bad if-”
“You’re most certainly invited,” Esmeralda cut me off, looking confused. “I wonder why you didn’t get your invitation. Do you have something to wear?”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s black tie, so a nice cocktail dress or floor length gown will do.”
“I mean I think the transporters brought back my entire closet but I can check. If I don’t?”
“Then I’ll have Iris take you to go find a dress. She loves shopping for this kind of thing.”
“What is the party for exactly?”
“My two-thousandth birthday.”
“Your two…” I trailed off, not just in shock by her age, but also by knowing from Caleb that two-thousand was old on this planet. Not many people lived to be her age. It was kind of like hitting one-hundred and ten on Earth. It was almost unheard of.
“I know, I can’t believe I’ve hit that age myself,” Esmeralda chuckled.
“I want to age as gracefully as you,” I stated quite bluntly. Regaining my composure, I said, “Okay, I’ll check my closet for outfits for tomorrow night and I’ll let Iris know if I need help shopping.”
“Wonderful! I look forward to you being there.” The Queen paused for a moment before adding, “Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine,” I replied casually. “Why?”
“You seem quiet. I won’t pretend that I know you well, but from what I do, you seem quieter than usual.
“Oh I’m just tired. Between training and learning everything I can about this place, I’ve probably been running myself down.”
“Don’t run yourself down too much. You need to be at the top of your game next week.”
“Why? What’s next week?”
“It’s… a surprise of sorts. Now, if I didn’t have to go over this report, I would chat longer but this is requiring my immediate attention. Would you like to have dinner soon?”
“I would love to, Your Majesty.”
“Please, it’s Esmeralda to you. I’ll let you know when my schedule is clear for a night and we can get to know each other without others around listening in.”
“I look forward to it. Thank you for all your help.” I waved goodbye and hastily made my way out of her apartment over to mine a few floors down. I threw my closet open and stared at its contents. The transporters had brought everything, including all my fancy dresses. I went for one of my simpler dresses. It was flaming red in color with a thin, sparkling, bedazzled strap going over the shoulder with matching strips of fabric on the torso. It was fit at the top but became looser just below the hips. A little sexy, but still classy. I paired it with some black peep-toe stilettos and approved of my choice. I decided to skip eating in the dining area with my friends. I had leftovers from yesterday, and by yesterday, I mean in the wee hours of today when I got hungry and bought a pizza.
I ate a couple slices, quickly feeling full. I didn’t eat as much anymore which kind of surprised me. Back on earth, I was always hungry, always getting these random cravings, especially at night. Not so much here. Maybe it was because I was exercising a lot more, or maybe it was the changes my body was going through now that I was on this planet.
By now it was only six, but it was getting dark out. They were in their winter months according to Caleb so the days were short. I made myself a to-go cup of hot chocolate and decided to go up to the rooftop garden with a book in hand. It was a quiet place that not many people went. Maybe they didn’t know it existed, maybe they didn’t have time in their busy schedules, or maybe they didn’t enjoy it. But I did, and it was for all the better that it wasn’t busy. As much as I didn’t mind talking and being around people, I savored my alone time
Unsurprisingly, no one was up there. I took a seat on the cushy bubble-swing next to the small, fish-filled (at least they looked like fish) pond underneath the willow tree and opened my book. For a while the chapters flew by and before I knew it, I was halfway through the book. But it was near this point that my concentration started wandering elsewhere and eyes wandered to the stars.
It dawned on me that I’d been on this planet for three months now without so much as an inkling to knowing what my power was. I was starting to believe I had no power whatsoever and that some terrible mistake had been made. Maybe they’d mistaken me for a different Lilly Snow, the right Lilly Snow. Maybe it was just a coincidence that the roommate of Vivienne- who definitely was meant to be here- had the same name as the one in the prophecy. It’d be a hell of a coincidence, but it was possible…
I was grasping at straws but I was trying to rationalize a lot of things, particularly the direction my life had taken. In comparison to Vivienne, my life was a mess. She had her powers, she had a job, she even had the possibility of a future boyfriend. How she’d gotten through to grumpy-cat Chad Calhoun was beyond me, but she’d managed it. They’d been hanging out almost every day so I rarely saw her because if she wasn’t at work, she was with him, and if she wasn’t with him, she was asleep in her apartment. I missed her, I needed my best friend to vent to, but I didn’t want to rain on her parade. She dealt with enough problems working in the hospital where they had a constant flow of people coming in with injuries, some of which were quite gruesome. Vivienne had enough on her plate; she didn’t need my problems added to it, nor did she need her free time occupied by something so dreary.
There was Caleb. He’d proven himself to me multiple times that he could be trusted. He’d also proven that he cared for me, especially after that incident with the crash. But I knew he was beating himself up over not being able to find out what my power was and I didn’t want to add insult to injury by telling him all my insecurities about it. If I did, that poor boy would probably never sleep until he figured it out and he didn’t sleep enough already. That boy runs on caffeine…
Dylan was another candidate, but I suspected he had issues keeping things to himself. I had a feeling if I told him what was going on with me, that the secret would somehow makes its way to either Caleb, Vivienne, or both, and I was trying to avoid either of them finding out. But Dylan was good at cheering me up. His happy-go-lucky demeanor always lifted my spirits, whether it was because of a funny joke or him setting Chad’s pants on fire.
Then there was Esmeralda. She’d taken an interest in me like no one else here, with the exception of Shane (but he’s another story I’ll go into in a moment). But she was a queen with an entire planet to run. This incredible woman was not just running a state or a country or a continent, but a planet. And to think that I or Vivienne was one day going to be her successor? It was a lot to take in. The last thing Esmeralda needed was the worries of a newbie.
Then there was Shane. That smug, handsome, egotistical… bastard. That was the only way I could describe him. If he didn’t have such psychopathic tendencies, I might actually like him. But he’d taken this bizarre interest in me, trying to talk to me whenever we were near, and while I know he would absolutely love to know what was going on inside my head, I knew it was an awful, terrible, horrible idea to let him in. Thankfully we just saw each other at meal times because he only trained with Chad and he was only allowed to be out as long as Chad, Dylan, or Caleb were escorting him. Caleb avoided this duty as much as possible, using his lab as an excuse because he said there was no way in hell he was letting Shane into his lab (well… he didn’t put it that nicely. He used an expletive or two). So it was mainly Chad and Dylan watching over him. The latter treated him the same as he treated everyone else, but even I saw a little bit of wariness in my friend’s eyes towards the elder Calhoun brother. I visibly saw how Chad tried to steer his brother clear of any interaction with Vivienne, but that was difficult at meal times considering we all ate with each other.
I really wished I had my mom to talk to right now… but she was a galaxies away, having no idea her daughter was actually on another planet, the subject of a prophecy with possible powers.
I wished I had a boyfriend. If I had a boyfriend, he’d be wondering where I was right now. He’d be walking up the stairs to the rooftop garden with an intent to find me, knowing that I’m trying to find some peace and quiet from the world, the only exception being him. If I had a boyfriend, he would come sit down with me. I’d lean up against his chest and tell him everything going on in my mind. He would listen, maybe have some advice, maybe not, but he’d make me laugh, he’d lift my spirits in a way that no one else could.
But I had no boyfriend. I had no one looking for me right now. And despite having so many people in my life, I suddenly felt extremely alone on this new planet. I had no super power, I wasn’t a super genius. I was just… me.
On earth that had been okay, because I knew that despite not having things some people did, I also knew that I had things a lot of others didn’t. I knew that there was always going to be someone prettier or wealthier or smarter or more charming than me. But here on Vasileia, I felt that everyone here had everything that I didn’t, that I was inferior to all of them. I had no place being here. I had no place on a planet full of these super humans who had a war to fight. I had nothing to offer them, to help them, so what use was I to them? My DNA might be the same as theirs, but maybe something had gone wrong. Maybe I was a Squib like Filch was in Harry Potter. Maybe I had the Sight like Sophie in the Mortal Instruments- aware of all the power around me but not being able to possess that power myself.
I did not belong here, but I had to act like it. I had to be fine because as much as I believed in free will and that you have the ability to choose where you go in life, I also believe that certain things happen for a reason. This had to be one of those things because I know for a fact I didn’t choose this.
My Vasileian phone vibrated, breaking me out of my anxiety-induced, self-pitied thoughts. It was from Caleb, asking if I was okay. I replied I was fine, despite the wrenching in my heart telling me otherwise. His response was that he was wondering since I hadn’t been at dinner. I told him I had some leftovers in my fridge and that I didn’t want to waste them. That was the truth, maybe not the full truth, but the truth nonetheless. There was a brief few moments where no response was received, and I figured he’d gotten his answer. But then he messaged me back asking if I wanted to join in on the ice cream party consisting of him, Dylan, Chad, Vivienne, and Iris. I wanted to be alone, but knew it wasn’t good for me to. I’d just continue thinking all the negative thoughts and that wasn’t going to do anything for anyone, especially me.
I met them all downstairs. They were all chatting together, waiting for me.
“Hey, we ready to go?” I asked, giving Caleb a smile.
“Hey! There you are,” he said. “Yeah we’re ready to go.”
“Awesome. Lead the way.” My friends and I set off for dessert and in that moment, I realized that while maybe I didn’t have everything they all did, whether that be super power or super intelligence, I was still a part of their group. They saw something in me that I maybe I didn’t see myself but something that I needed to. But for the time being, I was going to ignore that. I was going to live in the moment for the first time since I’d been here and stop wallowing. There would always be time for that. I may not always have time to spend with all my friends together in one group.