Thursday, July 30, 2015

Into the Land of the Elves: Number Six

The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall, human by blood only
August 11
4:42 PM

Number Six

             I understand. I understand why the Jadeites and the tree elves hate humans; pushy, demanding, overbearing, impulsive, obnoxious, entitled humans. I have no doubt that it was the humans who provoked the animosity. Humans provoke everybody and everything. It’s all that they know how to do. They strong-arm their way into where they’re not wanted or welcome. They are mindless pack animals of the highest degree, and anything out of the ordinary that goes against the pack is cause for endless scrutiny and absolutely no respect or privacy. Nobody is allowed to have secrets among humans, unless those secrets are approved. Nobody is allowed to have a personal life, unless that personal life is approved. Nothing is left alone and everything is there to be disturbed. Meanwhile, the Jadeites just go with the flow, perfectly content to leave anything alone that does not pose a threat. They never feel the need to impede upon others’ lives, and have the ability to show that they care for others without scrutinizing them like a bug under a microscope. That being said, there’s a point when “caring about someone” becomes more about appeasing the feelings of the “carer” than about the well-being of the person they claim to care about. That’s never a problem with the Jadeites, but among the humans it is far more common than it should be.
            The Jadeites are naturally inquisitive, and yet they never feel the need to know everything. They know that it’s better to leave something alone than to upset it and yourself in an attempt to know everything there is to know about it. Not everything needs to be known, everything has its secrets, and the Jadeites understand that it’s not necessarily your place to uncover those secrets in the name of knowledge. When does the pursuit of knowledge become less about the information and more about what you gain from it? I know that when I discovered the Greenwood and the Jadeites, my desire to learn everything about them was entirely based around personal gain. Of course, the genuine curiosity was there, but for the most part I just wanted the information necessary to publish my great novel. It wasn’t until I abandoned these prospects and focused all of my time with the Jadeites on just being a friend that they actually began to accept me. Of course they didn’t trust me, an outsider who was forever jotting everything down in a notepad, poking her nose into everything and trying way too hard to see too much. It even got to the point where I was stealing from them just to find things out that I wasn’t meant to find out in the first place!
            That’s the way humans are, I realize now. They are inherently self-absorbed creatures that think it is their god-given right to push their way into anything they want to, even if it means disrupting the peaceful lives of others. They may call eachother friends, they may claim to care about eachother, but in a way even their friendship is tainted with selfishness.
            Apple Blossom and I were playing tag near the magnolia archway, and I still don’t know who had the greater advantage there; my legs were longer and could work like springs if I really wanted them to, but Apple Blossom maintained her usual fox-like swiftness. In the end, I think we may have had an equal advantage as well as equal difficulty in trying to keep up with one-another. Apple Blossom had tagged me as I was attempting a flying sprint through some huckleberry bushes, and she darted off as quickly as she had shown up. I did my best to follow after her, pumping my legs as fast as I could. “I’m gonna get you, you little fox!” I said in the voice of a crooked old witch, and her giggling gave away her location just as I had planned.
            We made our way through a grove of boxy cedar trees, when all of a sudden she halted in her tracks as if an actual witch had hit her with a petrifying spell. “What is it?” I said, slowing down to a jog as I caught up with her. “Apple Blossom, are you okay?” I laid my hand on her shoulder and felt her trembling. Something was rustling around at the magnolia archway, and I followed her terrified eyes to see what it was.
            It was Katie! Katie was right there, ducking her head under the guardians’ webs and even picking them aside with her fingers as if she had any right to! “Get behind me, Apple Blossom,” I said urgently, but by then she had already scurried behind one of the cedars like a frightened rabbit. I looked around for the taggers, but if there were any around, I couldn’t see them. A guardian must have jumped at Katie, as she shrieked and frantically beat at her arm and shoulder. “Get off, get off!” she hollered, and nearly tripped over a fallen branch in her desperate attempt to shake off the spider. She was a total wreck, and I knew I had to do something about her before she got hurt or alerted any other Jadeites to her presence. I darted over to the Grand Elder Guardian’s lowered web and called out, “Katie!”
            She spun around abruptly, and without thinking about it I crawled under the Grand Elder Guardian’s web and searched the ground for the spider. If Katie had killed a guardian of the Greenwood, she was going to be in the deepest trouble of her life. Thankfully, I found it rapidly crawling away from her foot and I scooped it up. “What in the world are you doing, Aidyn?” Katie asked as I examined the spider for injuries and gently set it back on the branch of its magnolia tree. “Are you trying to be a spider whisperer now?”
            I whirled on her. “I thought I told you not to come looking for me, fool!”
            “That’s exactly the kind of thing you say when I should come looking for you!” Katie insisted.
            I was about to fire off something absolutely filled to the brim with curse words, when I heard the rustling of a cedar tree and I turned around to see Apple Blossom crawling out from her hiding spot. My heart stopped. In that moment, I hoped that I had spontaneously developed telepathic powers. Go away, Apple Blossom! I willed with my mind. Please go away! But there she was. Katie was looking right at her, and she was looking right back. She took a few steps forward and peered through the threads of the Grand Elder Guardian’s web. “Do…do you…know Aidyn?” she asked in a shaky little voice.  
            Instead of answering her, Katie turned to me. “Aidyn, who in the world is that?” I wanted to push her away, but I knew that wouldn’t get anything done. She’d just push back, and right now she was getting dangerously close to the web of another guardian, all set and ready to tear it down. “She’s an elf, Katie!” I said abruptly.
            “You’re lying,” she hastily retorted. “Who is it really?”
            “Katie, she’s a freaking elf!” I rubbed my temple with the tips of my fingers. “What else would she be?! Do you think this is an elaborate prank or something? You think I just dressed up some random little girl, took her out into the woods, and planted her here on the off chance that you would come out here and find us? Look at her, Katie, does she look entirely human to you?!”
            “But there aren’t any elves!” Katie insisted. My god, how could anybody be that stupid? “Katie, you’re looking at one!” I said, raising my voice in total exasperation. “There’s…” But I was interrupted. Something zoomed past me, making a “whoosh” in the air as it ran by. I looked up, and all I saw was a blur that darted past Katie and disappeared almost as soon as I had laid eyes on it. Katie yelped and lost her balance on her right foot, and I reached out to hold and steady her. Apple Blossom’s eyes were fixed in the direction in which the thing had run off. “Something just pulled at me!” Katie cried. “It grabbed at my pants leg and pulled my ankle!”
            “Roll up your jeans,” I instructed her.
            “Aidyn, this is crazy!” she complained, but she followed the instruction anyway. “Oh, there’s something stuck to me!” Reaching into the fold of her jeans leg with two fingers, she pulled out a round, flat green jade stone. For the second time that day, my heart stopped. I looked to Apple Blossom, and her eyes were as wide as an owl’s.
            “What is this thing?” Katie looked at the jade as if it were so much more than a jade. The jade was carved with a few scribbly lines, just like my own, and I didn’t have to know the language to know what they meant: the number six. Katie was the sixth human to come by the Greenwood, the sixth human to be tagged.
            “Katie,” I said with all of the urgency I could manage, “just forget about it! Don’t worry about what it is, all right? Get rid of it, and most importantly do not come back here! You can’t come back here! They don’t like having humans around!”
            “But you’re…” Katie began, and I held up my hand to stop her. “I’m different, Katie!” I told her. “It’s different for me! It’s not going to be different for you! Please just stay away!”
            “But how can I stay away?” Katie asked, looking upon the little tag with a curiosity that infuriated me. Would nothing I said penetrate her thick skull? Was she going to assert her ability to meddle around where she wasn’t welcome no matter what I told her? She had no right, and I was one hundred and ten percent done with her. I grabbed her by both arms, and she yelped. “Aidyn, what the hell are you doing?!” I gave her a hard shove that sent her stumbling backwards and tripping over herself in a desperate attempt to regain her footing. Apple Blossom shrieked, and I must say that until then I had forgotten she was even watching. “Get out of here, Katie,” I said, and for a second I was horrified by the sound of my own voice. I had no idea that I could sound so wrathful. Katie took a few steps back before stopping in her tracks, looking at me like a child who had suddenly and unexpectedly been spanked. “Aidyn, what is going on with you? Why are…”
            “I said GET OUT!” I charged her like an irate moose, and she ran off, spouting off obscenities that turned to unintelligible hollers in the distance. Apple Blossom began to sob, then, and my fury melted away as I ran to her side to comfort her. “It’s all right, sweetheart,” I said as I held her and stroked her hair. “Don’t cry, dear. Everything’s okay now.” But I felt like crying myself, because I knew that everything was not going to be okay. Katie isn’t going to stay away. She will be back and she won’t care about all of the trouble she will be causing, because that’s the way she is. That’s the way that humans are.
            I hate them too. 


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