Monday, January 11, 2016

Into the Land of the Elves: An Alliance and a Dream

The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall, displaced human
August 24
5:50 AM
An Alliance and a Dream

       I'm sure that this would have been the best sleep I ever had, if I could sleep at all. The mattress is thick and cloudlike and I just can't figure out how they managed that without memory foam. It's the nicest mattress I've ever lied down upon, with the softest blankets I've ever snuggled under. But except in pitiful fragments, sleep has not been happening.
       After several prompts from Apple Blossom, her mother, and her father several times throughout the day, I still haven't told either one of them about what Katie did. As much as it makes me a terrible person, I just couldn't get the words out. They just locked themselves up inside of me and there was nothing I could do to free them. Eventually, they all stopped asking, and I was allowed to run home and get my luggage. I half-expected to find Katie standing on my front porch with Hannah and Janelle, all three of them giving me those disgusting looks of faux concern. But thankfully, I was greeted by an empty house and was able to pick up my things in peace.
       I think Apple Blossom would be a lot more excited about my staying over if the situation were different. If she had any other opportunity for me to stay over for any other reason, she'd be bouncing off the walls about it all day and night. But yesterday, with the thought of this mysterious problem that's made me cry and that I won't even talk about, she walked around in a somber state, her natural bounciness snuffed out like a candle flame. Everytime I met her eyes, they looked upon me with genuine worry, silently pleading for me to just open up and tell her so that she could stop making one dreary speculation after another. It just about killed me to see her so dejected.
       It's dawn now, and the Jadeites are waking up. Last night, I learned that Jadeites are like birds; they go to bed as soon as the sky grows dark, and they rise at the crack of dawn. Like birds, they're chattering happily as they get ready for the day. Apple Blossom should be awake soon, if she isn't already, and I think now is the time to tell her the truth. Then, hopefully, I will be able to get some real sleep...

10:47 AM

       I found Apple Blossom sitting on her bed, still in her nightgown, playing with a little wood-carved rabbit toy. When she saw me, she flew off of the bed and wrapped her arms around me. “Good morning, Aidyn, good morning!” she chirped like a merry songbird. “I was just about to go and see if you were awake yet...and look, you are!”
       I'm not supposed to be,” I told her. “Humans aren't exactly early risers. But I couldn't sleep last night, and...”
       Apple Blossom looked at me with concern—real concern. “Oh dear! Why not?”
       “Because I have something to tell you,” I continued, “something that I should have told you yesterday.” I sat down beside her on the bed and I took her hand. “This is very serious, Apple Blossom, and it's not going to be happy news. But I need you to pass it on to your parents, all right?”
       “All right,” Apple Blossom said with a nod.
        So I told her everything, from beginning to end. I even showed her the texts, after explaining a little bit about how text messaging works. I made it very clear how much of it was my fault, and that if I hadn't told Katie anything in the first place, none of this would be happening right now. In the end, I was in tears, and Apple Blossom had been moved to silence. I couldn't deal with silence at that point in time, especially not out of her. “Please say something!” I pleaded. “Say anything!”
       “I don't know what to say yet,” she told me. At least it was something. I decided maybe it was best for me to go. “I'm going back to bed,” I said, wiping my eyes with the back of my hand. “I've...I've told you everything I needed to tell you. Like I said, humans shouldn't be up this early. And Apple Blossom, I'm...” I felt more tears coming on, and I choked back a sob. “I'm sorry!”
       “Wait, Aidyn!” she called out as I headed for the door. Of course, I halted. “What is it, dear?”
       “Maybe you weren't wrong,” she said. “Maybe even Katie wasn't wrong.”
       “Say what?” was my flabbergasted response.
       “I said maybe you weren't wrong, and neither was Katie,” she repeated herself. “Maybe we're wrong...about humans, I mean. Maybe we've been wrong all along. Maybe this is only a bad thing because we made it a bad thing. Maybe...maybe it's good that the humans want to know us so badly, and maybe we ought to just let them!”
       “Oh no,” I said, shaking my head. “Apple Blossom, you're thinking dangerously. You weren't wrong about humans, not at all! Don't you think that what Katie's done is enough proof of that? She's gone and done what she wanted, without any regard at all for your safety and protection, and that's the kind of thing that humans do all the time! Now those two people she told could go and tell three other people, and then those three other people could go and tell some of their friends, and then...”
       Apple Blossom stopped me. “Aidyn, I let a human in, and I ended up making a great friend—no, a best friend. I let another one in, and I made another friend.”
       “Katie is not your friend!” I said abruptly.
       “I want her to be!” Apple Blossom said back. “And she wants to be, too! That's why she told her friends about me! Aidyn, everybody wants their friends to get to know their new friend! I certainly wanted my friends to know you. That's why I brought you to my birthday party, and there was another reason, too.”
       “There was?” I asked. I thought I had the whole birthday party thing all figured out. “What was the other reason?”
       Apple Blossom took my hand, then, and squeezed it tight. “To form an alliance,” she told me with queenly solemnity. “Ideal alliances are formed on special, honored days, when the entire Greenwood has come together to celebrate. The princess' birthday is one of these days, and it was just my luck that the human I had been waiting for came around right then! Aidyn, I've always wanted to meet a human. No matter how scary they were, no matter how many times I was warned to keep away from them, no matter how beastly and dangerous others told me they were, no matter how horrible they looked in books, I have always wanted to meet one for real. When I was younger, I would wait out by the gate—I was too scared to actually go outside of the gate—and watch for them. I told myself that if one of them came around, I wouldn't run away. I would stay there, and if they didn't talk to me then I would talk to them.”
       “You are a very, very brave girl,” I said with reverence.
       “Well, nobody came around,” Apple Blossom went on. “Not until my birthday. The day before, we received news that a human had been tagged outside of the gates, and I consulted the guardians immediately. I reminded them that the next day was my birthday, and in the spirit of the occasion, I wanted the gates lifted just this once. I told them that for my birthday, I wanted to just see the human. I didn't tell them that if you were a nice enough human, I wanted to bring you into the kingdom. If I told them that, they would never have agreed to lift the gates, and besides, I wasn't ready to expect a nice human. Actually, I didn't really expect for you to come back around—most humans don't.
       “So on my birthday, I sneaked away from the party and I waited out by the gates, just as I had done on so many afternoons when I was very young and wanted to catch sight of a human. The gates were raised, just as I had requested. I was glad that the guardians had let me have my birthday wish. And then I saw you, Aidyn. It was as if a creature out of a storybook had come to life. Except you weren't like the humans in the storybooks, not at all!”
       “And you weren't scared of me?” I asked. “Not even a little bit?”
       “Well, yes, I was a little scared,” she admitted. “But it comforted me that you weren't the ugly, hulking beast I had half-expected. Really, you weren't so very different from us Jadeites. I was surprised to see that you were only about as tall as my father, and that you had such a pretty face.”
       “Well, thanks,” I said, tousling her hair.
       Apple Blossom looked up at me with all of the solemnity that a little girl could manage—which, in Apple Blossom's case, was quite a lot. The girl was practically a queen already. “I knew then,” she told me, “that the stories had been wrong, that we had been entirely wrong about humans. You weren't a beast. As I got to know you, that became more and more apparent. You were simply a creature from another world, not quite so different from us as I had been told. You could be kind. You could be friends. You weren't angry, or hateful, or destructive. From that day on, I thought it was silly that Jadeites hated humans so much. I didn't want to hate humans, and I didn't want everybody else to be so afraid of you. I wanted to put an end to it! And now, I don't think it was an accident, Aidyn; you came in on an honored day, returning even though no other humans ever had. The guardians even lifted the gates for know, if it had been any other day, they would never have done that, no matter how I asked. It all had to be for a reason. I think it had to be for a reason that you're as kind as you are, and that you were able to win everybody over in the way that you did. I feel as though it wouldn't have happened with any other human.”
       “It's only my nature, Apple Blossom,” I told her. “Besides, I don't believe in fate or in destiny.”
       “I do,” Apple Blossom said, “and now that things have happened the way they have, I think I was destined to put a stop to this foolishness about humans after all. I think we're supposed to form an alliance. I think we were always supposed to form an alliance. So if we're going to form an alliance, we might as well start with your three friends. They want to know me, Aidyn, and I want to know them.”
       For a few moments, both of us were silent. Really, I had run out of things to say. Apple Blossom's heart was definitely in the right place, but she was playing with fire. There was a reason for the Jadeites' (and the tree elves') hatred of humans—I didn't think so before, but now I knew. Katie had given me that reality check. Humans were selfish, impulsive, and therefore dangerous. To align with them would be dangerous. Apple Blossom had a bad idea with good intentions. But the only thing I could think to say about it was, “You know your parents would never agree to that.”
       She nodded. “You're right,” she said, “so this is going to take some time. But I'll start by telling them what you've told me. You wanted me to tell them, didn't you?”
       “Yes,” I said, “please do.”
       “I will,” said Apple Blossom. Then she chuckled. “You know, you told me this wasn't happy news, but it turned out to be very happy news after all! This could be the start of something wonderful, Aidyn, for Jadeites and for humans!”
       “Maybe it could,” I said, and we left it at that. This could be the start of something wonderful, or the start of something terrible, and we had no real way of knowing. What I saw as a horrible mistake, Apple Blossom saw as the first step to making a dream come true. But even so, she was playing with fire. I had no way of knowing what Katie and the others' true intentions were, and even if they were good, they say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Apple Blossom may be the poster child for that little aphorism.
        Or else, she may be the one to avert it. I don't think I'm ready to find out, nor is the Greenwood. I think for now, it's best that I continue to lay low. 

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