Chapter 1-Faery Good Pies
The aroma of sugared pastry and honied berry wafts through the air around me as I pull my baked pies from the oven tucked in the corner of my kitchen. Five other strawberry pies already rest in a row on top of it waiting to be properly wrapped for tomorrow’s sales.
They’ll be placed in my checkered pink, white and red painted fridge in just under an hour.
A whistled melody filters through the air.
“Good morning, Frittle!”
“It smells wonderful over here,” she beams.
She watches the steam drifts up off the pies. The vapor turns her skin a slightly darker pink than it naturally already is. I set my last pre-made pies on the counter so they too can cool a little bit before I wrap them for the fridge. For convenience sake, we fae do use more modern methods of baking our desserts thanks to the humans and their technology.
“You have any leftovers? I’m in the mood for some pie and my cakes are tasting so bland to me lately!”
I laugh while pulling out the last sliver on a plate for her. “Sure do.”
She rests her elbows on the counter of my food stand window while gobbling down the last piece of the unsold pie I had set out for today. Frittle lives in the tent beside mine with her family.
We’ve been childhood friends since as far back as I can remember. Her wings are a pale green with golden specks splattered across them. Frittle’s skin is as pink as a rose in the rain. Her green eyes twinkle in the light of the setting sun while mine are dull cloudy grey.
She smiles. “Thanks for the treat, Sadie. See you tomorrow.”
“Yep, see ya!”
I try to smile as I clean up the mess from today’s baking, but I just feel like every day is the same. When I get my pair, I can’t imagine it will really be that different. Sure, Frittle and I used to squeal over getting our own pairs. Now that we’re older though, some of our generation isn’t in tune with the ways of the older folks, but we’re a minority. I doubt they will trash the pairing system any time soon.
I open the fridge and pull out some spring greens. With a hum, I get to work chopping the dark green leaves just like I do every evening. Once I chop them all up, I toss them in our wooden family bowl. It’s surprisingly one of the only things my brother managed to salvage from the fire.
The sound of male voices approaching my tent makes me turn around and frown. Doesn’t he know to tell me before inviting his friends over for dinner? We don’t have enough food for them all I note as I see them trod up to our tent like starved wolves from the window.
“Shurik!” I holler in frustration but quickly become mute seeing Ivan walk right inside our tent behind the last of his friends.
He knows I like Ivan. Oh, and, I didn’t have time to clean up everything. Shurik knows I clean up half my mess before we eat dinner. I save the rest to clean after dinner since I usually make a mess preparing our meals.
The five rowdy faery men sit down at our kitchen table carried away in their conversation about work. Ivan and Oliver sit to Shurik’s left and right at the round table. Ivan is Strawblood like me. Crantz and Jerome are of Strawblood too, but Oliver is a Rasblood with redish pink skin like my brother.
After working and glamouring themselves all day, they have their wings out on display like me. It really makes them all squished around the table and Crantz and Jerome haven’t even sat down yet. They walk by me and open the kitchen cupboards getting plates for themselves and the others at the table.
Then they grow quieter as the last two of their group sits down and they look up at me expectantly like the annoying sprouts they all are at heart.
“We’re hungry and the humans ate everything today. Can you make more food?” Shurik asks me, but there’s a level of command behind it and his question comes off as an order.
I frown feeling angry at him for bossing me around and bringing unexpected company into our small tent. He isn’t my parent. Yet, he normally talks to me like he is. It’s degrading since Shurik’s no more of an adult than me. Well, I suppose he is, but he sure doesn’t act like it.
He knows I’m too shy to argue with him in front of his friends. I sigh hearing them resume their loud bantering about their food stands, and of course, their own pairs too.
I used up the last of our greens for the salad and dumped them in our family’s bowl. The bowl is overflooding with the leafy greens now. I manage to set it in the middle of the table without dropping it. Then I bring over a pitcher of strawberry vinaigrette dressing, giving them forks as well so they don’t have to eat with their hands.
“Can we have some pie, please! Pretty please?” Crantz asks me with puppy dog eyes. All the boys look up at me with fake pouting lips. If only their pairs saw them acting this ridiculous.
My face turns a little red and feeling nervous, I clutch my towel in my hands when Oliver scrunches his eyebrows together while pulling something out of his mostly eaten pile of greens. A long hair comes out and he looks at me with a tight-lipped smile trying to hide his laugh.
Shurik is the first to start barking with laughter and the rest follow suit. My hands holding the towel I used to wash and dry the greens tremble. I fly out of the small claustrophobic room, landing underneath the canopy of my bed in the back of the tent. Not long after, I hear the fridge being opened and the freezer. It’s not very long until I also hear them loudly talking about my pies as they greedily eat them up.
To distract myself from becoming more upset, I pick up my journal and use the glow of my wings to sift through the pages of my drawings for a while. Soon enough, the voices of the guys become white noise as I scan over my childish drawings.
Shurik had gotten me this journal, I quit using it once I realized the reality of my situation.
To think in just a few days, I’ll be getting my own pair. I don’t dream of meeting my pair and living up to my fair’s creepy traditions like I used to. I just can’t believe random fae get paired and then automatically fall in love all just because of some stupid tradition.
On our twenty-first birthdays, we go to our individual strawberry plant pots that we’ve been taught to keep and grow since we were born. Then we are to pluck the ripest berry and count the seeds! It’s pure lunacy and whoever has the same number of seeds is our pair and we bury our fruits together to make a sprout. It’s so stupid.
When I was younger, sure I swooned over the imaginative pair I’d be destined for. Now, I glare down at my ideal pair scribbled onto the faded parchment of my journal my fifteen-year-old self drew. I want nothing to do with this life, but I don’t know what to do.
Most of the other families get along really well so I think that may have a lot to do with why no one else makes a stink about the pairing, but a few. A frustrated tear plops down onto the page and dribbles down onto the old drawing smearing the image I drew years ago. Bitterly, I close the book and glare over at my brother’s empty bed.
I don’t hear the guys anymore in the kitchen so I get up and make my way over. Once I step into the kitchen, I falter at the sink. Then I reach over the counter with a huff while barely managing to reach the shutters over the edge of my food stand for the night. They didn’t just eat one or two of my pies. They ate all of them.
Usually, I only close the shutters once everything is cleaned, but I’m too irritated to wish to see his usual friends who pass our tent for a chat with him around this time. The food stand window shutters shut with a clank when I pull the shutter string down. Then I turn on the faucet and pick up my oat soap and barley oak brush to take care of all the dishes.
“What’s wrong, sweetie pie?” my brother’s voice rumbles from the table.