Opal stepped quietly through her owner’s garden in Brightvale, knowing the small light faerie a little ways in front of her was completely unaware of her presence. Opal reached slowly into her small brown bag she was holding in one of her small green paws, and pulled out a bottle. She let a wicked smile spread slowly over her face as she stepped closer to the faerie, still completely unaware.
“Opal! Opal!” a young Xweetok cried as she raced across the garden.
The faerie turned around and let out a startled cry, her eyes wide. She immediately pushed off the rock she had been sitting on and flew off into the distance. Opal rounded on Sapphire, clearly annoyed.
“Look what you did!” Opal gestured to the place the faerie had been sitting then off in the direction it had flown, the smile gone from her face now replaced by a horrid frown.
“I... I’m sorry,” Sapphire squeaked her tail drooping and her eyes filling up with tears.
Opal turned away. She didn’t want to have the pity game played with her. She began to hear sniffling and she felt a flash of remorse for scaring her owner Lilith's newest pet. It soon faded however when Opal thought of how close she was to completing her faerie collection. She took a few deep breaths.
“Just don’t do it again,” she replied through gritted teeth.
“I won’t!” Sapphire promised, her tail bobbing up and down. “I just wanted to tell you that Lilith wants us to help with dinner.”
Opal nodded, still needing to calm down from her recent disappointment.
“Tell Lilith I will be along in a moment,” she said, waiting to hear the crunch of pebbles to know that Sapphire had truly retreated back into the house.
The noise came a few moments later and Opal wasted no time in plopping to the ground and taking her frustration out on the tufts of grass in front of her. Lilith had told Opal repeatedly that she needed to control her anger or she would be taking a trip to the pound. “You are my first Kacheek, and if the others are like you I most definitely will not be getting another,” Lilith had told her once. The words had stung Opal, but she hadn’t admitted that then. Or now, for that matter. Opal heard the voices of Lilith and Sapphire drifting from the kitchen wondering where she was. To avoid any further visits from them, she got up and went in the house.
Opal sat scowling at the dinner table, listening to the grand plans Lilith and Sapphire were talking about. To Opal they seemed like a gigantic waste of time. Why anyone would want to go visit Maraqua then immediately swim to Tyrannia was beyond her. And of course when Opal asked, she got the ‘No duh’ answer of
“To compare the cultures and experiences of the two very different places,” Lilith and Sapphire had said together.
Opal had just nodded in reply, slightly stung about them planning a trip without her.
“It will be great,” Lilith said. “We can get some one on one time.” She smiled at Sapphire and Opal noticed there was no smile directed to her.
“Why don’t you just drop me off at the pound on your way there so you don’t have to deal with me anymore!” she screeched, standing up and glaring at Sapphire and Lilith.
Lilith exchanged a glance with Sapphire; it was one of annoyance.
“Opal, you treat us horribly. And those faeries you keep catching! They don’t like being stuck in those bottles, especially when you are around!” Lilith said, rather calm for how worked up Opal was.
Opal let out a scream and threw her plate at the wall where it smashed into a million pieces. Sapphire started whimpering and Lilith sat there, completely shocked. Opal didn’t care. She stomped past her supposed owner and her supposed pet friend and into her room. She slammed the door shut and completely ignored the photo that fell from the wall. She ran over to her bed and flung herself on it sobs vibrating in her chest and soaking her sheets. Memories flashed through her mind; each and every faerie that she had caught. Lastly she came to the one she had tried to catch earlier, and how it had been ruined. Opal started to cry harder and didn’t stop until the comforting blackness of sleep closed around her.
Opal awoke to discover she felt like a rock. Her throat ached from last night and her head felt heavy. She blinked a few times to fully wake herself up and noticed that a light faerie was sitting on her window sill. Excited she reached for a glass bottle, but before she could grasp it she heard the faerie speak.
“No. Opal, I have had enough of your ways.”
Opal turned her head slowly, shocked that it was talking to her. When her eyes met the faerie’s, Opal realized the faerie was pointing on the ground, more specifically Opal’s shadow. It was different, though; it had an outline of eyes and it moved on its own but it never strayed from Opal, even when she leapt out of bed in surprise.
“That is the shadow that lives in you. It now lives apart from you and will continue to do so until you invite it back,” the faerie whispered before standing on her tiny legs and flying out the small quaint window.
Opal felt a strange happiness at the faerie’s puzzling words. She was... free? She hadn’t even known that a shadow so dark lived in her, yet there it was. Opal cautiously crept into the hall and down the stairs. The food from last night’s episode had been cleaned up, but some bits of glass remained on the floor. She quickly swept the glass with the broom from the small cupboard under the sink and with a sudden burst of kindness, she set the table for breakfast. Her shadow followed her around the kitchen, a scowl deepening on its dark face.
It wasn’t long before Opal heard soft footsteps in the hallway upstairs and soon a shadow appeared in the stairwell. Lilith and Sapphire stepped into the kitchen with a reserved look on their faces that soon turned into faint smiles when they saw the table.
“Good morning, Opal!” Sapphire chirped, clearly ready to forgive her sister.
Opal smiled hesitantly in return, not sure how her family would react to her change of heart. So far they seemed accepting of it, but things could change.
“That’s very nice of you to do this, Opal...” Lilith said quietly. “I was not expecting it,” she added, causing Opal’s stomach to lurch.
Breakfast was eaten in silence, no one sure what to say, and it occurred to Opal that Lilith and Sapphire were afraid to talk in case she got mad. They were afraid of her? Opal shook her head to get rid of those thoughts and forced an exaggerated smile on her face
“I thought we could go shopping to get you two ready for the trip,” Opal announced.
“That’s a good idea; we really could use some more things,” Lilith thought out loud as she cleared all the dishes.
Sapphire's eyes lit up. “Wonderful! Let’s go!” She bounced out of her chair and towards the door, only pausing to grab Opal’s and Lilith’s hands.
Opal huffed along, slightly regretting her offer to carry all of the shopping bags. She was certainly reaping the rewards, though, from her new attitude. Lilith and Sapphire had started treating her like they treated each other. Sapphire had asked Opal for her opinion on which hat to buy and Lilith had bought Opal a new pair of shoes after Opal had mentioned how much she loved them. Finally the trio reached their goal, a small round table outside Pizzaroo. Opal gratefully set the heavy bags down and plopped into a chair in between Opal and Lilith.
“Do you mind if I choose for you two?” Lilith eventually asked after a moment of rest. “I know how indecisive you can be, Sapphire,” Lilith said a playful glint in her eyes
“It’s fine!” Opal and Sapphire answered cheerfully together, then glancing at each other and bursting into unexplained fits of laughter.
They managed to calm down by the time Lilith got back with their food and they were able to thank Lilith without their words supplemented with giggles. Opal had taken a few bites of her pizza when Sapphire reached for a napkin, hitting her drink in the process and causing it to flood Opal’s lap with sticky liquid. Opal jumped up, her eyes narrowed at Sapphire, when something caught her eye.
Her shadow had a broad smile on its face and had faded to a gray. She felt a flash of fear and grabbed a bunch of napkins, ignoring Sapphire’s hurried apologies. She smiled lightly at Sapphire.
“Don’t sweat it, Sapphire,” she assured her sister and next to her she heard Lilith let a held-in breath escape.
Back at home Sapphire dashed upstairs with their new belongings and Opal heard them being put away and friendly chatter floating around the house. She collapsed in a chair and gazed out a nearby window. Today had been so pleasant; she couldn’t stand thinking about how she had treated Sapphire and Lilith in the past. She thought about how they had ignored her past actions and treated her with utter kindness. Opal felt a rush of affection for her family and smiled to herself.
The sound of rushed footsteps soon interrupted Opal’s thoughts and she looked over to see Sapphire’s eager face.
“Yes...?” Opal asked quizzically almost laughing at the look on Sapphire’s face.
“I just remembered, will you water all of my plants when Lilith and I are gone next week?” Sapphire asked
Opal stared at Sapphire dumbfounded. She still wasn’t going? They were still leaving her behind? Even after today?! Like someone had lit a candle inside her Opal felt a hot rush of anger.
“No, I will not look after your stupid plants!” she screeched, her eyes flaring as she glared down at Sapphire’s shocked face.
Opal suddenly felt dizzy. She saw everything speed up. She was yelling at Lilith, she was sitting in front of Dr. Death, someone new adopted her, then abandoned her. The cycle of adoption and abandonment repeated itself until it stopped with one image. Opal was sitting in a cage at the pound, the residents around her changing at lightning speed. She blinked...
And found herself sitting in the chair again with a disappointed Sapphire in front of her and an angry Lilith at the bottom of the stairs.
“Excuse me,” Opal pushed past Lilith and ran to her room.
In her room, Opal surveyed everything, her eyes at last resting on the collection of bottles with faeries in them. Opal scooped them up and ran back down the stairs and into the garden. Without second guessing her decision, Opal removed the stoppers from each of the bottles and let the faeries out. She watched happily as they flew away, probably to join their friends or family, Opal thought pleasantly. After the last one had vanished from sight, Opal looked to the rock where the light faerie had been sitting yesterday, knowing she would be there. The faerie smiled at Opal, her musical voice floating in the breeze.
Opal didn’t reply; she knew she didn’t have to. She merely smiled at the faerie and stepped back into the house, looking behind her to see her shadow still outside slowly fading into nothing.