The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall, friend of the Jadeites
Today Katie Met Apple Blossom
I got out of bed, dressed, and went out to the mini forest. I had to find a place that was far enough away from the magnolia archway and far enough away from any sign of human civilization. Two days ago, I told Apple Blossom that she and Katie could meet out there in the mini forest. “Do you really want to meet Katie?” I had asked, whispering so that Wildflower, who was sitting nearby and writing away, would not express a desire to get involved. “Do you really and truly want to meet her?”
“Yes,” Apple Blossom said hastily, “but...only if you’re there with me.” Her eyes darted around nervously. “Silly girl,” I said, tousling her hair. “Of course I’ll be there with you! Do you think I’ll just scurry off and leave you two alone?”
Of course, Apple Blossom didn’t really think that. It was just that she was beginning to have second guesses about meeting a strange human, even if it was one that I knew personally. I assured her that I would be right there, that she could stay close to me if she wanted to, and that Katie would never know the location of the Greenwood. They would meet for ten minutes and I would be timing them by the clock. Katie would probably ask questions, and Apple Blossom would not have to answer them if she didn’t want to. Also, she had to let her mother and father know that she would be leaving the Greenwood with me, but that we would not be setting foot in the human world (I consider the mini forest to be a sort of borderland; not human, not elven, just a world of its own). I would make sure that she would return promptly after the ten minutes were up.
Apple Blossom accepted these conditions, and when I called her up that evening, so did Katie. She was practically bouncing off the walls (in fact, I think I actually heard her bounce), screeching, “Oh my goodness, I’ll get to see the elf? You’re gonna take me to see the elf…a real, live elf?!” She had certainly changed her tune about the veracity of elves. “Don’t talk about her that way,” I told her. “She isn’t ‘the elf,’ I told you her name is Apple Blossom. And you won’t be there to gawk at her, do you understand? She wants to meet you, and I assure you that she will likely do most of the talking.”
Katie’s lunch break is at twelve-thirty, so we’ll be meeting anywhere between twelve-forty-five and one-o-clock. After that, I’ll be going right to the Greenwood from there—after making sure that Katie has fully cleared out, of course. So I have about an hour and forty-five minutes to get some work done on the computer and pack up my things.
Katie arrived at my house promptly at twelve-forty. I had was waiting for her on the porch. “I brought lunch,” she said. “Do you think the elf might want anything to eat?”
“If you have grapes, she’ll definitely want some of those,” I told her.
“Aw man,” said Katie, “I only have strawberries.”
“She’ll happily take those too,” I said.
I led Katie down to the mini forest and to the sunny, flowery clearing that I had selected for our meeting. I had told Apple Blossom to stay out of sight until we arrived. “I’m here, Apple Blossom!” I called out. “You can come on out now!”
Cautiously, she emerged from behind a cluster of inkberry bushes, her wide eyes fixed on Katie. She was wearing one of her good dresses—purple chiffon, with the shape and design of a violet petal—and the flower crown I had made her for her birthday. On her feet, which were usually bare, she wore gold lace-up espadrilles. All of a sudden, I felt hopelessly underdressed. Slowly, as if trying to avoid stepping on hot coals, she crept over to us. She had none of the pep in her step that she had at our first meeting; it had been her birthday then, and she had been full of the excitement of the celebration. But when she stopped at Katie's feet, she bounced on her heels a bit and managed a cheerful, “Hello!”
Katie was stunned. For a few moments, she could only stand there and make a bunch of ridiculous gasping sounds, with her mouth hanging wide open like it had become unhinged. Apple Blossom took a step back, and I nudged Katie's shoulder. “You're scaring her!” I said sharply.
“I'm sorry!” Katie said breathlessly. “It’s just…I can’t believe that there is a real elf standing right in front of me right now!” She knelt down to eye level with Apple Blossom. In her eternal good nature, Apple Blossom smiled back. “Don’t worry,” she chirped, “I’m real!”
“You are real!” Katie exclaimed, and she reached out to touch her face. Apple Blossom yelped and took a few rapid steps backward, and I pushed myself between the two of them. “Don’t touch her!” I hollered. “What is wrong with you?!”
“I’m sorry!” Katie said again. “I don’t know what’s come over me! I feel as if I must be dreaming.”
“I don't feel like a dream,” Apple Blossom said, peering out from behind me. “though I suppose it doesn’t feel like anything to be a dream. Are you Aidyn’s friend?”
“I’m her best friend,” Katie said, still a bit stunned to be speaking to an elf.
“You’re her best human friend,” Apple Blossom corrected her. “I’m her best Jadeite friend. Do you see her every day?”
“I used to,” Katie said bitterly. “I guess now she sees you every day instead. What’s a Jadeite?”
“That isn’t right,” Apple Blossom said. “You ought to see your best human friend as much as you see me, Aidyn.”
“I’m only one woman, Apple Blossom,” I told her. “Between my work and Katie’s work and coming out here to see you and your friends, I’ve been having a lot of trouble making time for her. Anyway, she just asked what a Jadeite is, so why don’t you tell her?”
I must have been afflicted with a serious case of the stupids to actually come right out and say that in front of Katie. As Apple Blossom explained Jadeites and tree elves to her, I could tell that she was only half listening. The other half was seething. She looked at me out of the corner of her eye, and I could read her thoughts. One of the main reasons we became best friends is that we have an uncanny ability to read eachother’s thoughts. Now, her thoughts said, You can't make time for me because you want to prance around in elf lands all day? You're too busy for me, but not too busy for them? I hadn't been going out of my way to see things from Katie's point of view. I had disappeared for nearly a month, blown off all of her attempts to reach me, and now I had this entire secret fantasy life that she had been excluded from. Of course she was trying to push her way in! She wanted to be a part of anything that I was a part of. It's always been that way.
Unfortunately, there's no safe way for her to do that. First and foremost, I have to consider the well-being of the Jadeites and their Greenwood. Who's to say that letting Katie in wouldn't set off a domino effect of human after human? What if she let it slip to Janelle or Hannah and got them interested? What if she let it slip to one of her co-workers? And even if she didn't, I have a strong feeling that the king and queen wouldn't take kindly to her being around, nor to me for bringing her around. Apple Blossom could charm them into accepting one human, but not another. It simply cannot be done.
I hadn't done a very good job of checking my watch, because the next time I did so, I realized that a whole fifteen minutes had gone by. “Your time is up,” I said to Katie. “Actually, it was up five minutes ago. You have to go back to work, anyhow.”
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Has it really been that long? You're right, I do need to go back to work!” She turned to Apple Blossom and laid a hand on her head.“Apple Blossom,” she said, “you are truly the most interesting character I've ever had the pleasure to meet!”
“And you are the second kindest human I've ever had the pleasure to meet,” Apple Blossom replied with one of her characteristic smiles. “I'm starting to think that the bad ones are really only stories.”
“Well,” Katie said, “you be careful out there. There are some pretty nasty humans in the world...but there are some pretty nice ones as well.” She gathered up her things and stood up, brushing blades of grass off of her jeans. “Bye-bye, Apple Blossom! You take care of Aidyn for me, all right?”
“I will!” Apple Blossom said with a giggle.
“Wait for me by the bridge,” I told her as I began to lead Katie out of the woods. I was suddenly feeling kindly towards Katie all over again, and I felt bad that there was no real way that she could ever be included in my adventures. Ever since we became friends, Katie had been included in just about everything. Now, here's the first thing that she has to stay out of and away from. I know that it makes her heart hurt. I shouldn't have been so nasty about it.
“Katie is so nice, Aidyn. I don't understand why you don't want to be her friend anymore.”
Apple Blossom is one of those people who can either build you up to the top of the world or bring you down to the level of an earthworm. She will make an excellent queen someday. “Well, I've changed my mind about that,” I told her. “Katie and I are going to go on being friends.”
“That's good,” Apple Blossom replied.
“But you know that I can't bring her here,” I cautioned.
“I know,” she said with a sigh. “But I wish you could.”
Beside me, Wildflower was writing away. She had been so quiet that I had forgotten she was there. “Are you sure we should be talking about this in front of Wildflower?” I asked, lowering my voice to a whisper.
“I think so,” Apple Blossom said. “I think that Wildflower ought to know that somewhere out there is another nice human, just like you.” She lowered her voice to a whisper then, and said, “But she doesn't need to know any of the details.”
I looked at Wildflower, who was so absorbed in her diary that I wasn't sure if she was even listening. That's why she surprised me when she set her pen down for a moment, looked as us both, and said enthusiastically, “I'm going to write about the nice humans.”
“You are?” I asked.
“I am,” she said with a nod, and returned to her silent journaling. And just like that, it all came to me like fireworks going off in my brain. Wildflower wanted to write about nice humans—a subject that was virtually nonexistent in Jadeite writing—and just like any writer, she would need source material. Katie wanted to be included in my adventures in the land of the elves, and I wanted a way for her to be included without intruding upon the Jadeites' territory. Katie was, at least according to Apple Blossom, a nice human.
Katie could help me provide that source material!