What Happens In Fairy School
A collection of short stories
Truth Hurts Sometimes
People don't like to hear the truth. They expect people to be truthful with them, to honor what they say, and all that. But they don't really want it. They'll pick one truth, one that doesn't hurt too much, and hide behind it like a mask until it isn't a truth anymore. It's an escape. People are so addicted to lies—lies they hear and believe because they don't understand truth, or lies they tell themselves so they don't have to face the truth—that they are trapped. And what truth might save them from the lies they're trapped in, might also hurt them.
It's a sad thing, but it's true.
I don't have the luxury of hiding behind lies, or of seeing things how I wish they could be instead of what they truly are. I see what is, and there is no veil to hide me from it. All I have to do is look at something—anything or anyone—and I know everything true about them. It isn't fair. It's painful.
But I can't escape from it. As beautiful and incredible as truth can be, it is also a painful and tormenting burden to bear.
And I alone must bear it.
I looked up from my book, startled by someone yelling my name right into my ear, and turned my head to see one of my classmates grinning widely at me. It was Jasmina, a fairy in my class level. She hadn't yet discovered what fairy she was, and was very distressed about not knowing. It was obvious to me. Any truth was obvious to me. But she didn't want me to tell her, saying if she couldn't figure it out for herself, then she didn't really know who she was. I thought it very wise of her. She'd learn a lot from the experience.
"LJ are you still studying?" She asked, tossing her short red hair out of her face with a shake of her head. She was taller than me—though most fairies are—and a cute heart-shaped face with bright red eyes to match her almost blood-colored hair. Even her outfit was red, but her skin was very pale, and seemed to offset it fairly nicely. Despite her striking and slightly shocking appearance, Jasmina was a very likeable girl, and most everyone enjoyed spending time with her.
It was probably because she was the Ruby Fairy. Rubies were such bright, cheerful, likeable gems. But then she didn't know what fairy she was, and neither did anyone else.
How could they not know?
I sighed and smiled at her, forcing myself not to think about it, not to think about how frustrating it was when people couldn't see what was right in front of them.
She giggled and messed up my shaggy blonde hair with her hand. "Oh LJ," she said. "You have that face again. You really need to learn to hide your thoughts better. Everyone knows what you're thinking just by looking at you."
I wondered what she thought I was thinking about, but I couldn't deny what she was saying. I knew any time someone spoke the truth—whether it was the absolute truth, or just the truth as they knew it. In this case…yeah she was right. I was way too easy to read. But how could I not be? I was the Truth Fairy, for crying out loud. I couldn't lie even if I wanted to. Heck, when someone lied, I found myself coughing in an attempt to keep myself from saying something like "That's not true." But I couldn't always stop the words from coming out.
"It's Roomies tonight," Jasmina continued, completely fine with the fact that I still hadn't answered anything she'd said yet. "We're supposed to ask a date out for our room mates, and I have to ask someone for Penny." She winked at me. "What do you think? Has anyone asked you yet?"
Ah, Roomies. A school dance where you asked a date out for your room mate. This Semester it was the girl's turn to ask a guy for their room mate. I cleared my throat. "I haven't been asked yet," I said quietly. I didn't really want to go to a dance. But if it was Penny…
I glanced across the Cafeteria, where Penny was sitting alone, by the window, staring out at the shapes of the shadows on the ground. She was the Insecurity Fairy. Which meant that, simply because of her nature, she was insecure around everyone, and couldn't get along in any kind of society. She was completely and utterly alone, and not just because no one understood her or wanted to become friends with her, but because she didn't even understand herself.
"Would you go with Penny? I've asked three other guys and…" Jasmina's face fell. "I thought that maybe you would…you know…understand?"
I smiled up at Jasmina from my seat. "Of course I'll go with Penny," I said cheerfully, using my hand to brush some of my hair out of my face. It was all a mess now, thanks to Jasmina, but I was getting used to it by now. Nearly five times a day, somebody came up to mess up my hair. Seriously, why would they do that? Well…I knew why. I just didn't like to think about it. I hated that all the girls thought I was just so cute. "I'll go tell her right now."
Jasmina threw her arms around me suddenly, gripping me in a tight hug. "Oh LJ, you're the best!" she squealed. In my ear. Ouch.
"Heh…it's nothing. I'm happy to go with Penny. Thanks for asking for her! You're a good room mate not to give up after the first try."
Jasmina pulled back, looking at me thoughtfully for a moment. Then she smiled faintly. "You know, it's weird," she said in a quiet voice. "People say that kind of thing all the time, but you're the only one who ever completely means what you say. It's kind of…nice. Thanks." She winked at me, messed up my hair again, and skipped off, her sparkling ruby wings fluttering with excitement.
I ran a hand through my hair with a sigh as I stood up, not sure whether to be annoyed or not. I gave up on being annoyed when my eyes drifted back to Penny. For such a sweet, adorable girl, it was such a pity that she just couldn't make friends. She wouldn't let anyone in, too afraid that they would be fake, or that they'd be cruel to her in the end. At the rate she was going, she'd wind up graduating from Fairy School with no friends, being bitter against everyone for the rest of her life.
Maybe I could change that.
I walked across the room, my eyes locked onto her face. She was a fairly powerful fairy, and anyone who came near her felt instantly compelled to spurn her and leave as quickly as they could. It was one of the powers that she couldn't turn off—at least she hadn't figured out how to yet. I wondered if she ever would. But I kept going, fighting the urge to turn and leave the closer I got. As long as I looked at her face, and saw the hurt that was hiding inside of her, I would be able to resist.
At least, I hoped so.
I was three feet away now.
Now I was right in front of her, holding my breath.
Her insecurity was strong, like an inescapable aura strangling me. I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could, and the longer I stayed there, the harder it got. Her aura made me feel insecure about talking to her. I kept thinking that she'd just be too afraid to go with me, that I was making a big fool out of myself for even coming to stand in front of her.
But I stayed there, rooted in place. I was transfixed by the sadness in her face, the frailness of her mouth as she bit her lower lip. She turned to look at me with her wide, green eyes, wondering why I hadn't left yet.
I smiled at her.
"What do you want?" she asked, her voice wavering slightly.
The sound of her voice warred against my own insecurities, and I fought a blush from creeping to my cheeks. It came anyway. "I was wondering," I forged on, drawing on my own magic to keep from turning and running away like a dog with its tail between its legs. "…if you would like to go to Roomies with me. Ru—I mean—Jasmina asked me for you." I caught myself before I said "Ruby" as I was tempted to call her all the time. It just fit her better than Jasmina did, and as long as I was using my magic, truth came out of my mouth much faster.
Penny's eyes widened further, if that was even possible. "You want to go out with me?" she asked. And for a second, her smothering aura of insecurity died down a bit. But then it shot right back up. "Why, so you can make fun of me?"
I sighed. "No of course not," I answered irritably. It was getting harder to fight her! "I think you're a very beautiful girl, and I'd like to go on this date with you. I'd like to be your friend." My eyes flashed as they bored into hers, and I hoped I didn't scare her or anything. I just wanted her to know that I was telling the truth.
What a laugh. I couldn't do anything BUT tell the truth!
She seemed very surprised, and her aura died down altogether. For a moment, she just sat there with a stunned expression on her face, unable to believe what I said was true. But how could she deny it? She knew who I was.
I took the opportunity to reach down and take her thin hand in mine, and I bent over as charmingly as I could and kissed it. I looked up and smiled at her, relieved that I didn't have to fight her insecurity for the time being. "Please say yes, Penny," I said gently. "I meant every word of what I said. You are a sweet, gentle, and beautiful girl, and I'd be lucky to be your friend. Please?"
I was aware of several people watching us, as was she, but I didn't care. I was concentrating on Penny.
She shivered, and closed her eyes, her hand limp in mine. "You're just saying that," she whispered.
"I can't just say something," I whispered back. "I don't say anything I don't mean."
"You're just asking me because you pity me. You think I'm miserable, and you feel sorry for me. This isn't because you want to be my friend."
I shuddered as the half-truths rammed into my chest like a punch. She was right…at least partly. I did pity her. I did feel sorry for her. I knew that she was miserable, and that if she didn't have any friends, she would be miserable forever. But that wasn't the sole reason why I wanted to go to Roomies with her. My main reason was that I was angry.
It wasn't fair! She should have to go through this, just because of her power!
But what could I do about that? Only she could change who she was; only she could accept that her power was Insecurity, and turn it around to negating insecurity in herself and others. But she was too insecure to try. Her eyes opened, and they met mine sadly. We just looked at each other, each seeing into the other. I could see all of her truths, and knew that she could see all of my insecurities, even the ones concerning her.
She shook her head minutely.
"Penny," I breathed, my hand tightening on hers. "Listen to me. Please!"
She shook her head, harder this time.
"You're right, I do feel sorry for you. It hurts me to see what you're going through, okay? I don't want you to suffer. I don't want you to be friendless! But that isn't why I'm asking you. I do want to be your friend! Sweet, gentle, insecure, shy, Penny! I want you be your friend! It's the truth!"
She shook her head again. "I don't want to go out with you."
Her words stung me a bit, and I let go of her hand to step back.
It was true.
"Why?" The word was out of my mouth before I could stop it, even though I already knew the answer.
"Because you're you. You can't help who you are any more than I can. You have to come here, just as I have to be insecure for the rest of my life. And I don't want to be your friend."
Now I was the one biting my lip, hurt by her words.
She wiped a tear from her left eye. "I'm sorry LJ. You're sweet, but you're the Truth Fairy. And I can't…I can't handle you. I can't handle your insecurities. They're too…" she groped for a word, and couldn't find one. She looked at me helplessly to finish for her.
I nodded slowly. "I'm sorry you feel that way," I said quietly. "I was really looking forward to dancing with you." I backed up a couple spaces, fighting her words internally. My insecurities were hurting her. That's what she was saying. And her truths were hurting me.
I was about to turn away, about to give up, when a strange feeling came over me. It was completely irrational, but it was powerful. It was like I was blinding myself to everything she was begging me to understand; shoving the truths that hurt me inside out of the way. My jaw stiffened, and I stood up a little straighter, looking down at where she sat with determination in my eyes. Before I could stop myself, I reached down and pulled her to her feet, her hand once again clenched in mine.
"Penny," I said firmly, staring confidently into her wide eyes, "your room mate asked me to be your date for Roomies, and I said yes. So you're going with me, and that's final."
Her mouth popped open, forming a small "o" in surprise. She was speechless.
"I'll come pick you up at your room at 7:00. Okay?" I lifted her hand to my mouth, kissing it gently, and let a charming smile light my face. "And remember to dress nice. It's a formal dance."
Dropping her hand, I turned and walked away. I felt her eyes on my back—as well as everyone else's in the room—as I made my way to my dorm room, and I wondered what she was thinking right now. I didn't even know what I was thinking. I just felt…
Crazy. I felt like I was going crazy.
"Whoa, LJ, that was…" the Sound Fairy flew up beside me in the hallway, his eyes wide with shock. "I can't believe you did that after she turned you down like that. I mean…wow. Can't you tell when to give up? She doesn't want to go out with you!"
I winced as his words stung me, hating that they were true. In fact, they were truer than he could even imagine. Penny was far too gone to allow anyone in now, and I was quite possibly making it worse for her. And she would probably end up hating me for it. I leaned against the wall for a moment, feeling drained, and offered a painful sigh. "Truth hurts sometimes," I whispered, knowing that even the softest sound would be heard by the fairy who walked beside me.
He shook his head and slapped my shoulder. "It usually does," he agreed. "And all the rest of the time, it's too valuable to be revealed."
"Containing truth hurts," I mumbled sourly. "And I've got thousands upon thousands that I've got to keep contained. In fact, truth always hurts, especially for me. I can't escape it."
"Well you know what they say. The truth will set you free."
I didn't comment, as I left the wall and heading into my dorm room to escape everything that was making me feel miserable. But my answer was still ringing through my head.
Yeah, but it doesn't free me.
LJ © Hagelins
All of these fairies © Hagelins
No stealing. =P