Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 180,843,691 Issue: 399 | 2nd day of Swimming, Y11
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Portraits


by ginny_invisible

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Two little girl faeries dance in the pitch blackness of the wild reaches of Meridell. Their hands are linked and they turn and spin until they fall, laughing, onto the dew-speckled grass.

     The deep, silence-filled darkness of the moonless night plays shadows onto their faces. They laugh at the deep pits made by high cheekbones that makes them look like monsters. Pale white skin turns black-grey in striping glow as fireflies paint a moving canvas behind the black tree silhouettes, and both girls are just little shapeless, colorless shadows on the hill and you can't tell them apart.

     ---

     These girls are supposed to be up in Faerieland, learning magic, practicing their spell-casting skills, learning how to walk and talk while they want to sing and fly.

     These girls don't have their heads in the purple-pink clouds, stained with perfume and sticky magic and sweet smiles. These girls are down in the real world, running and dancing and being young.

     These girls sink their teeth into Hubert's Hot Dogs and feed Kadoaties and pray for a Faerie Paint Brush at the wishing well. These girls climb deep into caves in rocky Tyrannia and swim through the waters of Maraqua.

     They see the end of another day but they don't see it as such. They see it as the sun going down when it will go up again and again and again because these days will last forever. They hug and laugh and make up songs because who wouldn't?

     These girls make friends with Acaras and Bruces and Zafaras and Draiks. These girls help out at the Soup Faerie's kitchen and tease the reclusive Turmaculus. They scream and act frightened but they're really not. Nothing will ever happen to them.

     These girls weave friendship bracelets out of Lutari Beads and walk barefoot in Mystery Island beaches, letting their toes burn in the white sand.

     ---

     "Kaye, sit down. I know you're young, but you need to understand this. You're a dark faerie. You need to let go of the light and embrace what is you. No one says you need to be evil. No one says you need to let go of Neopia. You just need to stop finding pleasure in the surface world, and go deeper to find the magic inside of you."

     Kaye rolls her eyes and stretches. She doesn't feel like a dark faerie. She just feels like a faerie--just that. One who wants to run and play and forget about this magic. Let be what is.

     "Come on, Kaye, one more time. Look at this orb. I want you to point your finger at it, and concentrate all your energies on lifting it up. Look at the purple and black inside of it. That is what is inside of you--find the connection, and focus it to where you want it to go."

     She closes her eyes, and tries. She knows what she is meant to do. But she just does not have the incentive. It is not in her. She twirls the friendship bracelet around her wrist.

     "Can you let go of that stupid thing for one minute?" The dark faerie opposite her leans forward, temper at boiling point. "You know you and that light faerie butterfly are never going to work out. That's what's distracting you, right?"

     No, it's not. It's me. It's the fact that I want to dump all this stupid magic. I'm still young. I need to live in myself.

     Kaye is silent.

     "You're a dark faerie. She's a light faerie. We hate them. Why can't you get it? You may be all buddy-buddy with them now, but you're going to grow up eventually, and then you'll realize. You'll see." The faerie presses her black lips together, and her identically colored nails pinch Kaye's arm unintentionally. "Except I don't have time to wait, so you're going to have to get a grip and pay attention now."

     Fingers rip off the bracelet and brightly colored red, yellow, and green Lutari beads scatter, bouncing, on the floor.

     ---

     Kaye and Summer are sprawled in someone's Neogarden, crushing tomatoes and carefully pruned flowers. Their mouths and cheeks are stained purple with smoothies from the Super Happy Icy Fun Shop, and their breath is minty icy mingling with pepper sauce hot. They're breathing hard from whatever they were doing--why bother to remember, anyway, that way you can just do it again.

     A piece of blank paper is laid out between them, "Poem" written at the top and underlined twice in two different colors.

     "By Summer and Kaye," Summer writes in an orange pen.

     "What about something about Neopia? We could sing about all the different worlds."

     "What rhymes with Maraqua?"

     That stumps her. "I don't know."

     Summer writes one word down. "Promise."

     The lines seem to write themselves after that, two little girls scribbling down lines in blue and green pens.

     Poem

     By Summer and Kaye

     Promise

     To crawl and walk and run till I can't see

     To fly up so high the light can't touch me

     To spin around holding hands till we fall down dizzy

     To always have time and never say sorry I'm busy

     To cry and laugh and sing and dance

     To take every risk and try every chance

     To be what I am and what I am not

     To break all the rules and never get caught

     To stay best of friends forever and ever

     To never say "no" and never say "never"

     ---

     Little girls are outgrowing their dresses, learning how to fly, learning how to sing, and in learning the words to the song they learn how many words aren't in it.

     They grow so big that they don't fit in the simple little world they were in before.

     ---

     Kaye smiles at a yellow flower, which had perked up when Summer walked by, and it wilts. Her smile dies off, and she runs a little to catch up to her friend.

     "Hey, Summer, how're your magic lessons going?"

     Summer smiles easily back. She is taking to the magic thing better than Kaye is. "Pretty good, actually. Want to see?" Without waiting for an answer, she thrusts her hands in front of her. An explosion of light gushes from her outstretched, pale hands, emanating out in a white-yellow glow, touching everything.

     Kaye's eyes blink and burn. She's blinded for a second and she covers her face, crying out.

     "Kaye! Kaye, are you okay? I'm sorry--I didn't think--"

     Kaye removes her hands from her face and exposes a carefully smiling face. "Yeah. Sorry. My eyes just aren't adjusted... I spend so much time in the dark place where my mentor likes to teach magic..." Actually her eyes hurt, stinging, but she clenches her hands so they don't go up and rub.

     If you touch it, it will make it worse, she's always been taught, so she doesn't say anything.

     Summer skips ahead, delicate light faerie wings lifting her off the ground a little. "What do you want to do today, Kaye? We can go to Brightvale--we haven't visited the old kings in a while. Or do you want to go for a swim?"

     Kaye doesn't say anything. Where she wants to go is the quiet, tall black trees of that secluded area of Meridell they used to visit so much, just the two of them, but lately Summer's been all for the happy, bustling areas, with people and noise and smells and tastes in the air. The burning sun and the perfectly-tinted baby blue sky smiles down at her and Kaye wants to hide.

     ---

     Summer flies high over the Lost Desert. Kaye is a little ahead of her; she's always been the better flier. This leaves Summer space to think without Kaye deciphering her every facial feature.

     Kaye's been down lately, and Summer doesn't know why. They've been best friends ever since they were little, and now they seem to be growing apart. Summer hates it, she hates it like a light faerie shouldn't ever hate--as her mentor repeats over and over again. Summer wants to hide with Kaye high in Haunted Woods trees, making ghost noises at passersby and giggling, and not care whether this is what a light faerie ought to be doing.

     She looks down at herself. Do they look different? Of course they do. Summer is wearing her blonde-white hair carefully up, pinned into place just how it should be. Her dress is blue and flowing, with an extra smokey white layer that makes her feel like she could float above Neopia and just disappear. And Kaye up ahead has her black hair with dyed pink highlights spikily loose, falling unruly locks onto her shoulders and back. Her black tight dress looks uncomfortable to be out flying under the hot sun.

     Are they different? Before, Summer might have said "of course not". But now she has doubts. And she hates it. She repeats the word over and over again, letting it burn in her mind and eyes.

     HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE

     ---

     "Summer, look." Kaye crouches down as they walk by the border of the Haunted Woods, glaring at a little patch of grass. Summer stops as well, bemused. "Watch." She puts her hands out, willing it, wanting it. Slowly, the plants wither and blacken and die. She looks up, grimly pleased.

     She's not a failure, so far behind her friend Summer who's moving objects and orbs and healing Neopets and shoving it all in her face. No, Kaye is something too.

     Summer's face is horrified.

     "Kaye! How could you do that?"

     "What?" Kaye jerks upright, startled. "I just--"

     "You just killed that grass! How could you do that? Why did you? It's wrong and you know it, Kaye." Summer's face is now twisted in a sort of anger.

     "It's just grass." Kaye's irritated as well now. Does Summer have to win every single competition? If Kaye can actually do some magic now, then it's horrible, immoral magic. "The point is--"

     "The point is, I don't know whether you care more about your famous dark faerie powers or our friendship, Kaye." Summer turns and walks away, dissolving into bright white light before she gets a few steps away.

     Kaye stands there, staring. What does that have to do with anything?

     ---

     "You got it, Kaye! I'm so proud of you!"

     Kaye has now lifted the orb, and she's successfully made the glass dissolve into nothing and release the swirling black vapors into the air. She wipes her sweaty forehead and stands back as she raises her hands, conducted the black smoke up and to the blue-bright daylight that shows the exit to outside.

     "You're finally getting it, Kaye, this is good. You've made good progress."

     Yes, I'm finally getting it. I'm finally getting it.

     ---

     It's night. Kaye's going out for a walk in Faerieland, and she wishes she were elsewhere. She never liked the fluffy pretty clouds, even when she was little. At least it's dark; she loves the silence and the beauty of nothingness.

     "Kaye!" Summer runs up from behind. "I wondered where you were; I went to your mentor's and she said you were taking a walk. I wanted to talk."

     Kaye turns.

     "Look." Summer looks penitent. "I know we haven't been talking a lot over the past few months. But we used to be really good friends, and it's a shame we're not anymore."

     Kaye doesn't respond, so Summer continues.

     "I think the real problem is your dark faerie instruction, Kay-Kay."

     What?

     Summer lets loose in an explosion of fast fast words. "My friend Isa told me that lots of dark faeries are taught to be really, really seclusive and withdrawn from everyone. Just like you are. Also I think they're teaching you to be evil and dark and everything, and it's horrible, Kaye, don't you see? They're teaching you to hurt and be gloomy and everything when you know you really want to follow the light and act for the good of Neopia."

     Kaye looks at her, astonished, yet she still cannot say anything.

     "Sweetie, all you need to do is embrace it. You can switch sides, I'm sure you can. And then you can do light faerie magic like I do, and we can be best friends again. Don't you see?"

     Kaye finally pries open her mouth. "Summer, they've brainwashed you."

     Summer looks offended. "No, it's you who's been brainwashed. Look at you. Creeping around in the dark when you should be asleep. This whole place needs to be lightened up." Light begins to glow from her hands.

     "No! No, it doesn't!" Kaye sends an answering shadow, smothering the tentative yellow spark. "The dark is beautiful, Summer." She gestures around. "It's not evil. It's good too. You just want to smother everything in your own light and burn away everything else. I'm not following along, Summer, I'm being myself."

     "But it's not yourself!" Summer now sounds dejected. "Don't you see? We used to have such fun--"

     "Yes, we did, but we were little then," Kaye cuts her off. "We're older, and don't say it's just me--it's you too. I'm a dark faerie, and you're a light faerie. We're never going to be able to be friends, and we were lying to each other."

     Summer gives a sad little smile at her and walks off, perfect blonde hair twisted up into a knot. She never even tried, Kaye thinks. She just wanted to pretend to so she could stick to her own little ideas of "being good".

     She knows what Summer is talking about. All those moments, all that fun, she remembers it too. Small faded portraits of the two friends laughing, hugging, splashing in Maraquan waters. But all they are and will ever be are portraits because they'll stay in the frame, in the past.

     When you grow up, you learn your limitations; you learn your part in the play and learn who you are and who you can and cannot be. You learn.

     She doesn't even like Summer anymore, really. She's just a stupid little light faerie who clings to her high-and-mighty ideals, who won't see the beauty in silence, who won't even consider someone else who might have the audacity to think she is right too.

     Kaye smiles, a bitter smile, a dark faerie smile, and continues her walk.

The End

 
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