After dessert Arssaya went up the stairs all the way to the attic; she didn’t trust Rayanna. She could have told her parents everything but Rayanna would squeal on her if she told her father that he was harboring a malicious Fairie who wielded curses. She saw Rayanna riffling through one of the boxes; looking at the old, broken mirror above the old nightstand. “Hey what happened here?” Rayanna ignored her. “Hey!” Arssaya swept right up to her and put a hand on her shoulder to get her attention. The fairie grew as stiff as a board. “Jeez, you are such a freak.” Arssaya commented. Then she noticed the drawing lay out on the blue sleeping bag Rayanna had borrowed. Her face tightened at the sight of it, and unwelcome feelings were stirred up.
“Looks an awful lot like yee,” Rayanna commented.
“It’s just one of Nick’s silly little drawings.” the blond scoffed.
“A gift, then?” the fairie nodded, Arssaya swallowed remembering Nicks words. “I drew what I see when I look at you, now you can see it too.” She shook her head snatching it up.
“Hasn’t anyone told you it’s rude to go through people’s stuff?” the blond snapped.
“It’s also kept me alive on occasion.” the fairie commented.
“You broke that mirror, didn’t you?” Arssaya glared at her.
“I lost me temper.” the fairie said in a detached sort of voice.
“Well go get a dust pan and clean it up before someone cuts their foot.” Rayanna shrugged, got up, and headed out of the attic. Arssaya grabbed the picture and studied it. Nick used to do a lot of superhero sketches in middle school, he even wrote his own short comic issues. Where the villains had the faces and personas of hated teachers and bullies, Princess Powers and Captain Overbite were always ready to save the day. After her and Nick’s falling out, she found it tapped to the inside of her locker. Smiling bitterly she turned it over, to reveal another sketch. A Princess Power’s drawing but her normally warm red eyes were hard and cold and she was dressed in a black leotard, a cruel smile on her face as she blasted innocent civilians who cowered in front of her. One of her dainty feet pressed on the chest of Captain Overbite near the gaping hole in his chest with Princess Powers’ black gloved hand was clamped around a bloody heart. Arssaya scowled, crumpling up the picture and tossing it back into the box where it belonged. She didn’t know why she kept that hateful drawing but she couldn’t bring herself to throw it away. Now, through, the picture was especially chilling since she actually did have dangerous powers now.
“Don’t be stupid, it’s just a dumb picture,” she berated herself. “Drawn by an immature whiny, middle school boy.” she added to make herself feel better. Then her eyes landed on the picture from her first grade birthday party. ”Hey let’s play princesses!” Lilly crowed. She fixed her blue overalls and started pointing to kids. “Matt, you can be the king, Cassy you are the queen, Thomas, you can be the prince.” She batted her eyes at him and giggled. “The rest of you can be servants.”
“Um, I want to be a knight.” Nick interjected. The other kids laughed.
“Fine, you can be the evil wizard.” the dark haired Lilly waved a hand dismissively.
“No....I want to be a good knight.” Nick stomped his foot.
“What about Arssaya?” Cassy asked. Lilly’s green eyes narrowed. Arssaya felt a tentative hope rise in her chest, they were actually considering her.
“Arssaya is the monster” she declared. Her heart sank. Everyone laughed, except Nick. Arssaya wanted to disappear into the grass.
“But I don’t want to be a monster, I wanna be the princess.” she insisted.
“We’re only letting you play, because it’s your birthday.” Lilly interjected.
“Don’t get greedy.“Cassie added.
“B\ut I have the crown.” Arssaya argued. Lilly snatched her paper crown and put it on her own head.
Arssaya gasped. “Hey! My daddy made that for me.” she protested.
“Hey, that was mean! Why can’t she be the princess?” Nick was indignant. “And why can’t I be a knight?”
“She looks too ugly to be a princess, look at those eyes.” Lilly answered.
“I don’t want to play with you anymore. You’re no fun.” Nick told her starting off. “Come on Arssaya.” Arssaya stood there staring at him. His face fell. “Arssaya?”
She looked at him. “I want to play with them.” Arssaya informed him feeling slightly bad.
“But they’re being mean,” Nick sounded puzzled. Then he shrugged. “Alright, see you later then.” He brightened and ran off toward his grandmother.
“Good, I don’t like him, he’s weird.” Cassie stated wrinkling her nose with distaste. The other kids nodded in agreement.
“Nick isn’t weird, he’s nice,” Arssaya argued.
“You want to play with us right?” Lilly turned toward her.
“I...” She was cut off.
“Then you have to agree, or you can’t play with us.” the other girl declared.
“Can’t play with us.” The other kids interjected in unison.
Arssaya turned to Lilly. “Okay, Nick is weird.” she stated.
“And he eats bugs.” added Max.The other kids let out moans of disgust.
“But he does’n...” Lilly gave her a sharp look. Arssaya gathered her conviction. “Nick eats bugs, he likes to chew on beetles and swallow worms!” she declared with conviction. The other children made gagging sounds. Lilly looked satisfied, Arssaya felt relieved.
“Well what are you waiting for, monster? Kidnap me.” the dark haired girl ordered. Grinning, Arssaya grabbed the other girl’s wrist and ran off with her letting out exaggerated demonic laughter. Lilly let out high pitched screams, as the other children gave chase yelling “Kill the monster!” Ironically she’d spend the rest of elementary school running away from other children. Only this was the last time she ever felt joy instead of fear while doing so.
“Arssaya, ya okay?” She was startled back to reality by the return of Rayanna with the dustpan. She nodded and the other girl started sweeping up the glass.
“Hey Rayanna? have you ever done something b-- you know that you really regret?” Arssaya asked her the girl froze
“Why are yee asking me this?”
The blond felt embarrassed. “Just wondering, but I’m guessing by your silence that’s a yes.” she said, feeling better that at least she wasn’t the only one.
“When yee live as long as I have, the list just gets longer every hundred years.” Suddenly, her eyes looked less like a teenager and more like an old women’s.
“Well if you could change one thing what would it be?” Arssaya asked.
“None of yer business.” the Fairie girl said crisply. Then she resumed sweeping. ?
The night went by and passed and during the middle of the day, Arssaya stood on the patio, cell phone in one hand magazine in the other. Her skin was lathered in sunscreen, she wore a brimmed hat, turtleneck, and long jeans, her ever famous sunglasses covered her eyes from the sun’s brutal rays. “And the dog caught the hare by its neck!” Rayanna barred her own teeth. A few of the kids jumped, “the dog played with the hare biting then petting. ” Rayanna had offered to watch the children while their parents and a few teenagers helped Arssaya’s arrange the house inside to create more room and discuss practical options for stable housing arrangements. “The hare said “I wish you’d decide, if you are my friend why da yee bite me? If ya are my enemy why da yee caress me?“” Rayanna then switched back to Spanish repeating the line.
Then she paused. “Can anyone tell me what this fable means?” the Leanansidhe asked the children.
The kids thought about it. Gabriel Garcia raised her hand and said. “The dog is a bad friend,” she stated.
“Aye,” the Leanansidhe responded. Arssaya flashed her cell phone at them taking a picture. Despite the limitations of her visions she had gotten pretty good at guessing distances. She looked at her phone and frowned, it was still kind of off but she knew it was as good as she was going to get. She uploaded it to the Leftist Liberation page Misty had created for them. It came with articles about the latest of local and social injustice and also strongly suggested links to videos. Arssaya didn’t always read the articles due to her having to copy and paste the article to a word document and enlarge the type until it filled the screen. Although she was still better than Lanika who never read them at all, she claimed they were depressing rather than uplifting.“What did yee da?” Rayanna blinked furiously.
“I took a picture,” she responded.
The Leanansidhe, still looking annoyed, turned back to her audience. “The dog is a false friend; never trusts anyone who hurts ya no matter how nice they might act afterwards. If they hurt ya once they’ll da it again.” Rayanna fixed her victorian dress. Then the grownups exited the house, Mr. Whitney in the front.
“Thank you so much for looking after them,” he said.
“They weren’t any trouble,” Rayanna winked. “In fact they’re far more well behaved then I was.” Honestly, could she suck up any more?
“So any luck?” she asked.
“There may be an apartment not far from here; I can move at least three families into. I don’t want to raise anyone’s hopes.” he admitted looking crushed at the thought of not being able to keep his promises. Arssaya felt a bit bad, her dad already worked pretty hard and had done a lot to support her and later her stepmom. This obviously meant a lot to him.
Rayanna looked at him. “I’m sure something better will open up,” she said.
“What about you?” he asked. “You haven’t talked much about your family situation.” Arssaya froze, maybe she’d get more information about her. “Ta be honest I’m looking fer me brother, once we’re united yee don’t have ta worry about me.” Rayanna promised.
“Is there an adult in the situation?” Mr. Whitney asked.
“Miss Fox,” Rayanna answered.
“She a social worker? Aunt?”
Rayanna paused. “A social worker sounds like her.”
There was a pause. “Do you know how to contact her?” Mr. Whitney asked. “Phone, email anything?” Rayanna shook her head. “Could you take the kids inside?” he asked her, Rayanna frowned but did so. He turned to Arssaya, frowning “Is she a runaway one of your social cause projects?” her father asked his tone slightly angry.
“You’re the one taking in strays, is she not acceptable?” the teenager snarked.
“She’s a minor Arssaya it’s different! If she’s a ward of the state then we could get in real trouble.” her father explained.
“I don’t know, we found some creep chasing her. Nick, Lanika and I decided to help her out.” Arssaya answered.
“Does Fox even exist?” he asked her.
“Biacaneve said some things about her.” Arssaya made a face.
“Let me guess not a good person?” he asked.
“Well she’s not a social worker.” The teenager joked, trying to brighten the mood.
“Wait, is she a vampire too?” her father asked.
Arssaya who was terrible at lying cracked. “I don’t know but she’s not human actually”
Then Rayanna came out of the house. “Mr. Whitney, Miss Dubois would like ta talk ta ya,” the fairie girl informed him. He went into the house giving Arssaya the ‘this conversation is not finished, young lady’ look. Rayanna went over to Arssaya’s chair which was located in the shade.
“Pity yee can’t join in because of the sun,” she commented.
“I’m good.” the albino stuck out her magazine to show how well off she was.
“Doesn’t look very enjoyable,” the fairie commented.
“Neither is getting sunburned, I’m very sensitive,” she explained.
: How come?” Rayanna asked
“So albinism doesn’t exist among fairies?” Arssaya asked curiously.
“No, Sometimes the Seelie Court soldiers lose leg or limb or on occasion, a hand and if our healers can’t fix them we send them to live out the rest of their days in Limbless Village.” Rayanna explained.
Then what Rayanna said sunk in. “So you segregate your injured!” Arssaya was appalled.
“Of course, no wants ta look at them,” she said in a matter of fact way.
“That’s wrong!” the albino stated.
“It’s a decree by the King, there’s no helping it. Of course some like the Dullahan run off and join either the Hunt or the Unseelie Court. The Hunt will take ya as long as yee can still fight, and the Unseelie Court has always taken anyone: and I mean anyone.” Rayanna responded snatching Arssaya’s magazine.
“Hey Ray give it back! Ray!” She gave chase around the yard until Rayanna climbed the peach tree which her sperm donor, Melinda, had ordered planted. Within minutes she was walking on the branch arms spread wide.
“You’re going to fall!” Arssaya shouted.
“Most likely.” Rayanna agreed, bare foot and delicate, she looked like a strong breeze could blow her over. Dress blowing about her slender ankles as she waved the magazine at Arssaya tantalizingly.
“I could just get another magazine,” Arssaya huffed.
“Why don’t yee?” Rayanna challenged.
“I’m too lazy, now give it back!” she whined.
Rayanna flipped through it. “Science Fiction and fact for the sci-fi fan,” she read raising a questioning eyebrow.
“Ever since I was little I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a world beyond the stars,” Arssaya admitted. ” I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. Then I realized we were light years away from contact with any life forms, if there are any, and that dream kind of ended in a whimper.” she sighed. ” Now I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Everyone seems to have all these big causes and plans and I’m not even sure if I’m going to pass high school” Arssaya admitted.
Then the window opened “Arssaya wash the car!” her stepmother yelled. “Can’t I do it later?” she called up.
“Now!” her stepmom called back.
“All right, jeez!” she exclaimed. Rayanna swung down from the tree and landed next to her.
“I’ve never washed a car before,”
Arssaya looked at her. “Are you serious?” She nodded. “Come on.” She took Rayanna to their garage which was big enough to fit at least three cars in it. Then she filled the bucket with soapy water and a rag. “Here, you scrub the car like this,” Arssaya used the rag in circular motions. “Now you try.” Rayanna took the rag and mimicked her.
“Yee know, I’m not the best pupil either,” she said.
“I find that hard to believe,” Arssaya responded.
The other girl paused. “Well, creepy guys chasing you aside, it seems like you’re one of those girls who just has it all,” Arssaya answered. ” mean you’re gorgeous and you’ve got this air of mystery, you seem to have this really exciting life and if anyone messes with you, you can just snap your fingers and turn them into a newt.” She paused again. “Me? I’m washing the car.” Rayanna dripped sponge water on her. “Augh! Augh! Why did you do that?” she demanded
“Yee have a bit of ingratitude right there needed ta be washed off.” Rayanna responded.
“Oh yeah?” Arssaya dripped water on her back. “I believe I’ve been challenged!”
Rayanna smirked and splashed more water at her. “Oh, it is on!” Arssaya tried to grab the sponge but the shorter girl kept a hard grip on it. ” Cheater.” She went out of the garage and returned with the hose turning it on and blasting Rayanna who ran around the garage trying to dodge the blasts. She ran around until she slipped and fell on the ground. Arssaya rushed over. “Are you alright?” she asked. Rayanna burst out laughing so Arssaya blasted her full on.
“Ahhhhh!” she cried out
“Looks like I won.” Arssaya crowed, then she extended a hand to help the other girl to her feet and got the whole bucket of soapy water dumped on her for her troubles. Luckily, her sunglasses protected her eyes.
Rayanna looked at her smugly. “Yee underestimate me, madam.” Then she hopped to her feet and picked up the hose.
Now Arssaya backed up. “Now Ray, let’s talk about --.” Too late, she was soaked even more. “Okay, now we’re even!” she exclaimed as Rayanna shot another blast.
“Aye, we’re even,” She held the hose down. “Unless yee don’t want ta stop.” she offered. Arssaya thought about it. Despite how unpleasant being wet was there was no denying it had been awhile since she had actually enjoyed herself this much. She picked up the sponge flinging water at Rayanna. “The water goddess rises out of the sea to defeat the evil water squirting squid!” the Leanansidhe exclaimed.
“Wait, who’s the squid?” Arssaya demanded.
“Squid attack!” Rayanna yelled joyfully shooting her with more water. “My goddess is going to bring you directly to your knees!”
Arssaya got into it. “Is that a promise?” Rayanna purred fluttering her eyelashes.
“Not like that!”
“Not that I’m against it, I mean, if you’re into that.” the other girl sputtered in response.
Rayanna blasted her again. “Yee have obviously never been teased,” she realized.
“Yeah, let it be said Arssaya Whitney can’t take a jo--” Rayanna turned off the hose around to see Nick trying not to stare at anything below the neckline.
“I’d be offended if yee didn’t look.” she flirted causing him to flush.
“Pervert!” Arssaya was disgusted with them both.
“So what brings yee here?” Rayanna asked him.
“Arssaya and I had a tutoring section, Lanika won’t stop nagging me.” he grummbled.
“Okay, let me go change. Rayanna, you can clean the car.” She turned and walked out of the garage. As she left she heard Nick say.
“You don’t have to do everything she tells you.”
Rayanna’s response was ” She’s in charge, yee always da what the one with power says. Arssaya felt her heart sink. She thought they were having a good time but Rayanna really just wanted to pacify her as if she was some petty tyrant. That was how it was; people were either afraid of her or wanted to stay on her good side because of who she was. Even Lanika, she suspected, had only wanted to be friends in the beginning due to her status. Nick had been selfish, refusing to put his wants and needs aside for her, acting cold and not giving her support when she had needed it. Rayanna hadn’t seemed disgusted or scared of her and the way she talked to her as if she wasn’t important was frustratingly compelling. Maybe there’s some way to change that. she thought to herself.