Sunday, December 28, 2014

Into the Land of the Elves: My New Decision

The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall: author, mentor, researcher
July 30
6:22 PM
My New Decision

            On the desk in front of me sit three small stacks of pictures: tree elves, Jadeites, and humans. The pictures of tree elves and Jadeites are photocopied from books that I took home with me; you don’t need a card to check out books at the Grand Greenwood Library, but you do need to have them signed out at the front desk. The librarian refused to sign the books out to me. She just sat there gawking as if I was an unusual animal (and to her, I suppose I was) and clasped the books protectively as if I might have been thinking about stealing or burning them. Apple Blossom had to sign them out for me.
            Tree elves and Jadeites have the same skin tones from milk-white to rosy pink, small builds with petite frames, pointed ears (though the tree elves’ ears are slightly larger and more pointed), and clean, unblemished faces. The Jadeites’ hair ranges in shades from golden blonde to greenish blue, and the tree elves sport the more conventional colors of blonde, brown, and auburn red. I had learned that prolonged access and exposure to the jade essences caused the change in hair color, as well as a slightly greenish tinge on the skin of Jadeites that did not exist in the tree elves. The tree elves’ eyes are nearly universally blue, and the Jadeites’ eyes are nearly universally green. The eyes of a Jadeite are large and round like perfectly cut gems, while the eyes of a tree elf are smaller and more teardrop or almond shaped.
            In comparison to humans, both Jadeites and tree elves have two arms, two legs, five fingers and toes, heads of hair, and distinctly human facial features. Jadeites and tree elves are short, with willowy builds—if you can compare the build of a human to a tree trunk, then you can compare the build of a Jadeite or a tree elf to a flower stalk. The rounded five fingers of a Jadeite compare more to a human’s than the gangly, pencil-shaped digits of a tree elf. The arms and legs of a tree elf are slightly longer than those of a Jadeite, their feet are pointy and oddly diamond-shaped, and their hair is stringy and unkempt in comparison to the more well-kept hairstyles of Jadeites. The Jadeites and tree elves bear the same heart-shaped faces, though the tree elves’ chins are pointed slightly.
            The Jadeites are certainly closer in appearance to humans. It doesn’t surprise me, considering the tree elves were older and less evolved and still likely flaunted the characteristics of their dryad ancestors. But Jadeites have our hair, fingers, toes, noses, eyes, mouths, teeth, and language capabilities. Somehow, I don’t feel that is a coincidence…

7:15 PM

            The books explained why Jadeites fear a creature so similar to themselves. It isn’t our appearance that frightens them, but our tendency to be horrid to anything that isn’t one of us. I certainly know better than to go rampaging through a forest full of elves, beating and destroying everything in sight. None of the people I know would ever behave so despicably (or at least, I hope not!).  But the Jadeites in general possess a sort of childlike naivety that leaves them vulnerable to the other, much less desirable sort of people. I always knew that such a sort of people existed, hopefully far, far away from my little speck of the world. But I never dreamed that there could have been enough of them to taint the Jadeites’ perception of the entire human race for decades. And yes, it has been decades—centuries, even. It wasn’t only recent texts and children’s picture books that depicted us in such ways. There were plenty of old books written over a hundred years ago in that library, featuring the “tan-skin beasts” in all their infamy. There has to be a reason, hasn’t there? What could have possibly provoked these hostilities? As much as the Jadeites swear by it, I refuse to believe that there was no provocation at all—it would go against everything I was taught about human nature. Could the Jadeites have tainted the relationship with humans, or was it the other way around? Did it begin with the Jadeites, or with the tree elves before them, or even longer ago? Could there have been a war, a misunderstanding turned into a conflict, a communication gone horribly wrong? What kind of royal family did the Jadeites have when it began? Did it have anything at all to do with the striking similarities?
            There is just so much that I don’t know, and I feel as though that maze full of books couldn’t possibly have all of the answers.

10:17 PM

            This is the first time I have visited the magnolia archway at night. The Grand Elder Guardian is absent from his web, which glistens in the starlight along with the magnolia leaves. The white blossoms that had adorned the trees the day I met Apple Blossom are long gone. It’s rather dull, but a peaceful place for thinking when there are too many things on the mind.
            My tag says that I am the fifth human to come by the Greenwood, and Apple Blossom had told me on that first day that only one of the other four had returned, and they had been deterred by the Grand Elder Guardian. What if they, like me, had not been deterred? What if they had gotten through, or ran into Apple Blossom? Would they have treated her with kindness and become her friend, or would they have…no, I refuse to think about that.
            An awful thought has been lingering in my mind all day, and I know I won’t get any sleep until I get it out. What if publishing this diary the way I want to ends up attracting the kind of people to the Greenwood that the Jadeites—and I—dread? What if publicizing the story of the Greenwood to a wide audience ends up contributing to its destruction? Of course I would try to pass it off as fiction, but that wouldn’t stop people—especially children—from getting curious. How many children waited for their Hogwarts letters or spent Christmas Eve waiting for the Polar Express to show up at their doors? How many people traveled to the nothing-special city of Forks, Washington simply because Twilight told them that Bella and Edward live there? How many tourists swarm forests, lakes, parks, and villages around the world, hoping to catch a glimpse of some mythical creature that dwells there according to a story? Even the people who know that stories are only stories, and don’t really believe (or at least tell themselves that they don’t) tend to take part in order to experience some of the magic. The fact of the matter is that I can pass it off as fiction all I want, but it won’t stop anybody who’s really keen on traipsing through the forest hunting for Jadeites. 
         My diary contains a truly wonderful book, one that I’ve already read over and over and enjoyed every word of. It just fascinates me how much of a real, viable story this diary turned out to be long before that was my intention. But still, I am beginning to think that it is best if I never publish it. As the only human entrusted with the Jadeites’ friendship and their information, it’s my duty to protect them from any “tan-skin beasts.” Their protection is so much more important than anything I could get from publishing their story, so this is how it is going to be.

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