It started when I got a call from Truestone.
My magic mirror rippled like a pond when you drop a stone in it. A quiet voice intoned, "A message for Starblossom, daughter of Sunbloom, daughter of Nightbud, from the faery line of the Skyflower clan, from the faery line of-"
"Take it," I said cheerfully. I knew who it was. Truestone and I had been boyfriend and girlfriend for the past five months. He called me all the time, and I called him all the time. It was like glue. Superglue.
"Message was recorded before it was taken," said the same quiet voice. "To play message, press one. To delete message, press two. To play message later, press three. To prevent messages from this mirror, press four. To-"
"One," I said firmly. Well, so Truestone's message had been short. He was concise. It was one of the things I loved about him.
Truestone's handsome face faded onto the mirror. "Hi, Starblossom, I'm breaking up with you. It's not you, it's me. See ya."
I paused a moment.
And then I let out a scream that shook my house. I pounded the bed, angry beyond belief. How dare that idiot break up with me! How dare he leave such a short message! How dare he!
I leapt up from my bed, fanning my wings frantically to blow some fresh air into my face. I would head to his house right now. And then I would find out what he was thinking. And then I would kill him.
Or maybe get him to take me back. That would be nice too.
I stomped out of my house, ignoring the odd looks from my neighbors. I get odd looks all the time. I'm not an ordinary faery. I do things that aren't like everybody else. Okay?
Truestone's house was close. I didn't bother to knock, just opened the door and looked around.
Truestone was in the entrance hall.
They looked up at the sound of the door opening. Truestone's mouth dropped open, and his eyes widened. "Starblossom, I can explain-"
I didn't wait for his lies. I turned around and charged out of the house, tears already soaking my cheeks, and ran. I didn't care where I was going, or what I would do once I got there. It didn't matter. Why would it? What mattered?
Soon I felt earth under my feet. The park. I sank to the ground, head in my knees, and sobbed. He'd been with her all along, probably. Laughing at me behind my back. Until I got to be too much of a nuisance, and he'd dumped me.
I hated his guts. Hers too.
Eventually there came a quiet voice at my side. "Need some glamour?"
I sniffed a tear-filled yes, and took the pouch of glamour that Leafwing handed me, sprinkling it liberally over myself. No hero would want to see a faery in this state. Only fire fey and vampyres had red eyes. And not even pond fey had noses dripping with mucus. Pond scum, water, and weeds, yes. But not mucus.
Leafwing put her head critically on her side. "You might need to inhale some of that stuff, Starblossom. You'll start again at any second."
And of course that got me crying again. And not even weeping, the way Queen Clearwing does it. She has this lone, sparkling tear that runs down one cheek. Me, I cry buckets. And all the time. The Queen only weeps for real grief.
Leafwing dumped the whole pot of glamour over my head. I screamed as the glittery stuff went falling past my eyes, and choked, and finally managed to breathe in a little bit. I think I swallowed some, too. Won't that get my doctor all riled up? I put things in my mouth all the time, you wouldn't believe. I eat random scraps of paper and suck on quills, when the quills still have lots of ink on them. Once I even ate an ant.
Anyway, the glamour found the veins in my lungs and immediately went spreading up to my brain. I've heard that some mortals do the same things with various plants, trying to get the exact sensation of glamour. It doesn't work. And plus, it kills them. I mean, mortals are stupid, but I didn't think that stupid.
I felt a shimmery feeling go down me, and my lips spread in a mysterious smile. "I am ready for thee to take me to the world where I must go," I said.
"Ah no," said Leafwing, rolling her eyes. "You got the stuff on your tongue, didn't you? We'll have you talking like some scroll for a week. Or more."
"Be blessed as I go on my way," I said, waving goodbye and using the extra magical residue from the glamour to disappear backwards out of Faerie and into Twig.
What's Twig? Oh yeah. Twig is what we fey call the human world. It's The World In General, you know, so TWIG, and Twig, and so… I don't know. Moonsong came up with it. She really goes for that kind of thing, like acronyms, and anagrams, and all sorts of weird things.
Okay, so Moonsong, Leafwing, Wavejewel, and I are the only ones who use it! Big deal! Everyone else just looks at us weird, but that's because we're cool. Okay?
Anyway, I shimmered into Twig. The glamour was still working on me, shaping me to the tiny size the humans expected my kind to be.
Stupid humans. I hate being small. I hate having to wear an acorn cap and flower skirt, and live in a buttercup. It's embarrassing. I mean, why couldn't they try it themselves? Do they have any idea how humiliating it is to sing tinkling little songs and skip from flower to flower? Huh?
Then the obligatory dewdrop landed on my flower. Oh freaking joy. First I was humiliated by my boyfriend. Then I got glamour on my tongue. And now I get splashed by stupid poetic evaporation in the atmosphere.
I hate this job. I really do.
I jerked up, alert. Large, crashing footsteps in the distance were coming closer. Yep, it was the mortals, going on their stupid adventure, and they just had to cross a field of buttercups. I wonder why.
There was a brief flash in the base of my flower. The signal! I sprang into the air, tiny wings flittering hard to keep me up. Hovering is for hummingbirds. I am not a hummingbird.
There was a loud gasp from one of the stupid adventuring mortals. "It's a little person with wings who just flew out of a buttercup and is now hovering!" he said. Stupid, stating the obvious, crushingly handsome… yep. The hero.
"There were once many of these, before the awful Plague killed most of them," said another, creaky voice. Old, know-it-all, worshipped the hero. Had to be the mentor.
"But isn't the Plague just an old story?" asked the hero.
"It is not," said a voice that spoke of flames. Ooh! The dragon! I'm so awed! See my awe? I'm very awed!
"I remember the Plague well," said a smooth, shining voice. Definitely the love interest. "My people barely survived it."
I almost snorted. The love interest was one of us? Right, I'm so sure that any of my people would humiliate themselves by kissing a hero.
"This is a flower fairy," said the mentor. I balled my hands into tiny fists. Faery. Faery. My god, how hard was it to spell?
"A fairy of a buttercup," the mentor went on. "It is probably very powerfully magical. In the Old Tongue, I can ask it for advice."
He took a deep breath. "Pha'irr'i, ghi'ff u's add'vysse," his voice boomed over the hills and fields.
I whacked myself on the head inwardly. Someone was having imagination issues.
And then something inside me snapped. Maybe because Truestone dumped me, maybe because I would have to talk poetically back in Faerie for another week, maybe because I was a tiny flower being addressed by an idiot. I didn't know. And I didn't care anymore.
"First right on the left," I said. "Maybe it's a riddle, maybe it's not. Why should I tell you? You're too dumb to figure it out if I waved it in your face."
I shook off my glamour and began to grow, my wings shrinking, my ears pointing. "And let me tell you something. There was no stupid Plague. That's no elf that you're thinking of kissing. And I'm not a flower fairy."
I gathered magic around my hands, shaping it into red lightning. I was done growing. I wasn't some idea of a fairy, of a story, of a girlfriend. I was me-and I didn't care about the story.
The little party looked taken aback. The edges of the tale were shivering. There was only one thing left to do.
"And by the way," I said, letting the lightning strike them and throw them to the ground, never to rise again, "it's faery."
The story popped.
I hadn't gotten to Faerie on time-that I knew. I had done it deliberately. And now I was floating in Before-the-Making, wondering what to do.
I looked at myself. I didn't exist. I was flowing into Before-the-Making, becoming part of the basic structure from which all things are made. When the Maker decided to make something more, I would be part of it.
I could give in. I could become some ethereal soup, and wait forever to exist.
I took what was left of my hands and swept them together. A tree appeared.
My feet were flowing, relaxing into Before-the-Making. It felt so, so good to give in, at least a little.
No! I was done giving in, I reminded myself. I made grass around the tree.
The dissolving was spreading up my legs. I considered my options. I could give a little of myself to Before-the-Making. Maybe it would stop then.
I forced my belly to dissolve quickly, and sighed with relief. It had stopped for a while.
Rapidly, I made flowers around the tree.
The dissolving had started again. It was spreading up my chest, allowing me to become part of everything and nothing.
No, no, no, no! I frantically created a few more trees, but I was slowly being Before-the-Making. My arms and hands were gone, then my shoulders.
I gave up.
It was so, so good to give in. To allow others to make decisions for me. To stop being the person I am for a bit of relief.
My creation began to dissolve. The trees were first, going into nothing. Then the grass. Then the flowers.
That's when I woke up.
I like flowers. I like dandelions, especially. I like how they have thorns or not, how they're fuzzy, how they grow straight up without trickery. I like how they're a plain, real yellow, without any poetry or moonlight.
Dandelions are dandelions, and I wasn't going to stand for it.
I made myself out of Before-the-Making, just as I had been before. I could have been beautiful, and cry a single sparkling tear, and sing like an angel. I could have.
But the thing about angels is, they're just a wished dream, and sometimes you just have to be who you are.
And sometimes you have to remind people that you're you. Especially yourself.
I made a world, one little bit at a time. I made a land, one that you could stand on without falling. I made a sky, which was blue. Except when it was cloudy. Because sometimes it rains, and sometimes the sun shines, and you just have to deal.
I made little animals and big animals, from bears to squid, and watched them move. I thought about creating people.
Then I decided, later. Because once and for all, I had all the time I needed. I had the time to say that I was me.