Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Into the Land of the Elves: Betrayal

The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall, displaced human
August 25
4:21 PM


       I have no idea what's going to happen to me.
       I can't tell if I've been pardoned or if I've landed knee-deep in hot water. Apple Blossom told her parents everything, and then...nothing happened. It hasn't been brought up at all. In fact, absolutely nothing has been brought up, because nobody but Apple Blossom has spoken to me at all. Last night's dinner featured a steady stream of monologues from Apple Blossom and no real dialogue—just stony, one-syllable replies, as if they were no longer comfortable with making real conversation around me. I excused myself to go eat in the garden, and nobody objected. I wish they had objected. Being called out, scolded, or even yelled at would've been preferable to cold silence and blank stares.
       I'd feel so much more at ease if the news had made them head-spinningly furious, if they had flown into a rage and forcibly evicted me from the palace. At least then I would know exactly where I stood with them. It's this silent, ambiguous nothing that could be anything that scares the heck out of me. If it wasn't for Apple Blossom, this would feel nothing at all like a vacation. But there is Apple Blossom, and so it isn't all bad. She came out to check on me as I ate my dinner alone at what had once been her birthday table. She squeezed my hand and told me, “They aren't mad at you, Aidyn.”
       “Then how do they feel about me right now?” I asked.
       “Well...I'm not sure,” she told me honestly. “But I know they're not mad.”
       I felt like a pariah, but she did all she could to remedy that. This morning, we met up with Wildflower, Crystalline, and Holly Berry, who were all just as accepting of me as they ever were. We waded in the bogs and made chains out of the cranberry greens. We played in the meadows. We sailed on the Bell's Rush. After lunch in the garden, I gave Wildflower another writing lesson and discovered that she had been practicing her letters. She had a much easier time copying the ten letters of her name this time around, so that we could move on to the other letters of the alphabet. The girl was truly born to write, and every second of her hard work made me swell up with pride. Is that what it's like to be a real teacher?
       Now I've been left alone again, in the Fairy Tale Room. On the floor beside me is the little figure of Chokana, with her arms permanently outstretched to her tree elven beau. I promised Apple Blossom that I would read some more of A Dragon's Pride after dinner (which I plan to take out in the garden again), but in return, I want her to tell me more about Chokana. The Jadeites owe their existence to this unthinkable human-elf alliance, and learning that must have fueled Apple Blossom's dream more than anything. If the tree elves could align with humans, then the Jadeites could too. For heaven's sake, she even asked if I might fall in love with a Jadeite! In all honesty, I wouldn't mind it if I ever found a Jadeite man that was willing. But that's even less likely than letting Katie and her friends in here without them causing a whole bunch of trouble.
       Okay, to be fair to Katie and her friends (after all, they're still somewhat my friends too), I suppose there is a possibility, however slight. But I can't take risks like that based upon slight possibilities. I've already messed up enough. I've likely pissed off every Jadeite in the Greenwood except for Apple Blossom and her friends, and I allow this and it goes wrong, then I'm basically done for. Katie has already proven herself to be untrustworthy and irresponsible, the exact opposite of the kind of human worthy of forming alliances. It isn't going to be done.

7:19 PM

       “What can you tell me about Chokana?” I asked Apple Blossom after putting away A Dragon's Pride. “Have you learned anything else about her?”
       “I've asked,” Apple Blossom said, nibbling at the butter cookies that had been served for dessert, “but Beryl doesn't like to talk about her. She used to dodge the subject entirely until I caught her at it, and then she just told me that we'll never get anything done if I keep moving us off of the subject of the lesson. She tells me that I ask too many questions unrelated to the subject and that I have to learn to stay on one topic.”
       “But how messed up is that?” I said critically. “This is a woman entirely responsible for your history—your entire existence as Jadeites—and yet you can't talk about her? This woman is the mother of the Jadeites, for heaven's sake!”
       “I know,” Apple Blossom said, “and I want to talk about her. But I don't think anybody wants to own up to being half-human.” She rolled her eyes. “They wouldn't be able to hate humans anymore if they did that.”
       “I'm sure there's much more to it than that,” I told her, “and I don't think the humans are entirely blameless. I believed it when you told me the tree elves hated them for being disruptive and mean. Humans can't even stop themselves from disrupting other humans, and they are definitely mean. They don't know how to stay out of the way.”
       “You're not mean,” Apple Blossom said as if reminding me, “and if you'd stayed out of the way, we wouldn't be friends now!”
       Up until then, I had never really thought of what I'd done as “getting in the way.” But in reality, that's all it was! I had gone poking around in the woods one day in hopes of finding decent writing material. Some strange things happened, and instead of leaving well enough alone, I'd decided to poke around even more. I wanted answers. I wanted the why and how. Humans are always poking around because they want the why and how. The why and how make up the driving force behind every human's meddling. I'd ended up meddling in a world that was not mine to meddle in because I wanted the why and how. It was such a human thing to do!
       I'm no better than the rest of them. I hate myself.
       “Hey, Apple Blossom?”
       “Yes, Aidyn?”
       “I have a bit of a...confession to make,” I told her. “You see, that wasn't the only time I'd gotten in the way, nor the worst. I...”
       “Well, of course it wasn't the worst!” she interrupted with a giggle.
       “I had this thing I was going to do,” I went on, “emphasis on going to—I didn't actually do it, and I'm not going to do it anymore! But...” I took a deep breath. “Apple Blossom, I am not the best human, all right?”
       She tilted her head quizzically. “What were you going to do?”
       “Well...” I looked up to the sky as if it would tell me the best way to word this. “There are some things in the diary that I haven't been reading, because I wasn't sure I wanted you to hear them. Now I want you to hear them, because they'll tell you why I'm not the best human.”
       “Right now?” Apple Blossom said.
       I thought about it, then I shook my head. “First thing tomorrow morning,” I told her, “at breakfast. If I'm not awake, then wake me.”
       So this is it. I'm going to tell her. I'm going to tell a ten-year-old girl that I had plans to sell out her story—the story of her people, her history, her existence—to an entire country's worth of humans who don't know a thing about her, her family, or even that she or anyone like her could exist at all, all so I could maintain my career. Her ideal human is anything but ideal. I hate myself. After tomorrow morning, I'm going to hate myself even more.

The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall, would-be traitor
August 26
11:14 AM

      I did it. She knows it all, from every single entry that I had spent all this time skipping. She knows that I planned to use her, and she knows exactly how.
      She didn't have to wake me; I had been drifting in and out of sleep every hour since two AM, and by the usual Jadeite wake-up time of just before six, I had just stopped trying. Apple Blossom and I took our breakfast out in the garden, and as you might have already guessed, she provided one-hundred percent of the morning's conversation. When I started the reading, she interjected and commented in her usual way. When I reached the part in which I stole Chicory's jade stones, she stopped me to say, “It made me really mad that you did that.” It was as if she was scolding me, one of the many times in which I felt like the ten-year-old. “I thought you were so much better than that, Aidyn.”
       Wow. I had revealed just a few paragraphs ago that I had plans to sell her and her people out for the bestseller money, and she was more bothered by the petty thievery? “Apple Blossom, did you understand at all what I just read?” I asked her.
       “Yes,” Apple Blossom replied.
       “Then tell me how you feel about it,” I said.
       “Well...” she thoughtfully tilted her head to the sky. “You aren't actually going to tell the whole human world about me, are you?”
       “Not anymore,” I told her. “I promise that! But I was about to! I was about to do it for money! Thousands of humans could have known all about you, your family, your friends, your history, your secrets, even where you live!”
       “Thousands?” Apple Blossom's eyes widened.
       “Thousands,” I confirmed. “Not only that...” I was starting to cry, and the tears wouldn't go away no matter how much I blinked. Once again, I hated myself. What right did I have to be crying? “...I was going to tell them that I made it all up,” I went on, “that it was all a lie! I can't believe that I ever thought that would be a good thing to do! I was trying to protect you in the wrong way! The only real way to protect you would be...”
       Apple Blossom stopped me. “You were going to say that I was just a lie?” The look in her eyes could've killed me right there. “Yes, I was,” I admitted, and by then I had given up trying to hold back the tears. I was already on to tear number six or seven. “I was going to say that you weren't real, that you were made up in my head just like Uglorr the dragon, all so I could get the money and the praise from all of those thousands of humans. Apple Blossom, I am not a good person!
       She didn't say anything.
       “I am just as human as the rest of them,” I went on. “I'm not anything special! I'm not anything ideal! I...” I decided to shut up before it sounded too much like I was feeling sorry for myself when I had no right to. “I'm just...going to walk away now,” I said finally. “I'm sorry, Apple Blossom. I have never been so sorry for anything in all twenty-six years of my life!”
           I showed myself out of the garden, and she didn't object. 

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