Into The Fray

Deep in the heart of the brilliantly green Florida woodlands, where thick tangles of vines and trees make it impossible for a normal human to penetrate through, a creature lies that’s always sparked fables and fantasies into the minds of little girls.
They look like humans in some ways, but their bodies are much more slender and delicate, their ice-clean skin masking thin bones and long elegant fingers. Their hair is wildly long and unkempt, with ragged split ends from years of growing. Minuscule upturned noses sit below brilliant jewel-colored eyes, and a small mouth often holds a tiny, mysterious smile.
They’re fairies.
But they’re losing their wings because of us.
* * * * *
A blue jay, in a lovely shade of cobalt, sits on an open white windowsill. She chirps a few harmonious notes and waits patiently on tiny stick feet as a tall figure in a flowing cyan dress enters the room.
“Hello there, my beauty,” she gently holds out a slender white finger before stroking the jay’s tiny head. “How wonderful it is of you to visit me, sweetheart.”
She nudges the bird’s ankle signaling it to hop onto her hand.
“Now, aren’t you going to sing for me?”
The jay chirps twice.
“No? Why’s that, Marjorie?”
The jay cocks her head to the side, as if she doesn’t understand.
The girl sighed and set Marjorie down on her bureau. She was already losing her ability to communicate with birds. It had only been a mere week since her forest village had been destroyed, and she’d been forced to join the rest of human society.
That also meant that, slowly, she would become one too. In fact, legend had it that once a fairy’s wings shriveled and fell out, they were a human forever.
“Frayelis!”
The fairy groaned and threw herself onto the edge of the bed, burying her head in her palms. She pulled her shiny leaf-like wings backwards to avoid sitting on them.
“Frayelis! Get down here! We’ve gotta go!”
The last thing she wanted to do was leave her bedroom.
Frayelis sat up there, on the edge of the bed, listening to her father’s voice being drowned out by Marjorie’s persistent chirps.
Finally, she heard footsteps stomping upstairs, muffled by the carpet, and her squeaky door swung open. In the doorway was a raven-haired man dressed in a business suit. Frayelis figured had concealed his wings under the suit, but his facial features and pale skin were still nearly identical to hers.
“Frayelis, honey, we have to go.”
“I don’t wanna go to school!”
Her father stared at her for a moment, his emerald-green eyes locked with hers, before finally clearing his throat and saying, “Fray, dear, we no longer have any choice. I have to go to work, and you have to go to school.”
“I miss the woods.”
“I know, hon. We all do. But the woods and our village are gone, okay? Be lucky that we get a chance to start a new life here.”
“But I don’t feel lucky! I feel trapped in his stupid house posing as a stupid human girl. Why should I join the other girls as school? The humans were the ones that took everything, everything away from us! They tore the woods down. Just to build more for themselves.”
Her dad was silent.
“Get in the car, Frayelis.”
Sighing, the teenage fairy scooped Marjorie up and set her on the windowsill, watching the little bird fly away. The jay had been her pet back when she lived in the woods, and Fray was very careful not to let her stray too far from their new ‘human house’.
The fairy fluttered her delicate wings and flew, downstairs, grabbing her knit sweater off a hook in the laundry room.

“Make sure it covers your wings, Frayelis.”

“The hell with my wings.”

“Frayelis!!”

“All right, all right,” Fray yanked the door open in an irritated manner. She swept her hand, motioning her dad to step outside.

“And no more flying, Fray.”

In the car, Fray sat emotionless, a cold glaze over her eyes. She was staring out her window at the human world, one that she’d had little contact with before. She saw buildings and neighborhoods and kids walking with books.

I’m gonna have to be one of them, Fray mumbled in her head. I’m gonna have to be a damn human now.

“You can decide how you want to handle this, Frayelis,” her dad said from the driver’s seat. “You can be whoever you want to be as a human. You can choose to change.”

“Nobody will ever change me,” Fray muttered.
* * * * *

“Class, we have a new student today,” Mrs. Eaton announced in her loud teacher voice, motioning for a thirteen-year-old girl in a bright blue dress to come to the front of the classroom. “This is Frayelis Bradshaw.”

Fray watched the students sitting in their seats intently, as if she was burning a hole through each of their heads with her gaze. A few of them looked at her strangely, while others sniggered about her first name.

“Call me Fray,” she hissed, as if she were flinging her words like knives. She them calmly walked back to her desk and took a seat.

Mrs. Eaton grabbed a small black remote off her desk and turned in a small blocky television to the morning announcements.

“Pssst!”

Fray twisted her neck around. Behind her was a pale, skinny girl with long brown hair, with a cheesy but friendly smile on her face. She pointed down, “You dropped your pencil.”

“Thanks,” Fray muttered, kicking the pencil across the aisleway.

When Fray sensed the girl was still looking at her, she turned around. The brunette smiled, revealing two rows of pearly teeth.

“I’m Diane,” she greeted. “It’s nice to meet you, Frayelis.”

“Call me Fray,” Fray muttered through clenched teeth. She then spun back around in her seat, cutting off all conversation between her and the brown-haired girl.
* * * * *

At lunchtime, Fray sat alone. She was at an outside picnic table, near a large, lumbering tree with Spanish moss hanging from its branches. It gave her a strange sense of happiness to be by this tree. It reminded her of home.

Three kids, two boys and a girl, walked over and plopped themselves down on the bench across from her. Judging by the smiles on their faces, Fray could tell they weren’t here to make friends with her.

“Hey there, Frrrrrayelis,” the first boy, a skinny redhead, hissed the r in her name, trying to stretch the word to exaggerate its silliness. The other two giggled.

Fray didn’t say a word, biting angrily into her sandwich.

“How are you today?” the second boy, who had curly black hair, spitted out before cracking up laughing. Fray continued eating, her face eerily expressionless, eyes boring anger into the three taunting teenagers sitting across from her.

“Why are you dressed like that?” the girl, a blonde, reached for Fray’s blue dress. Fray responded by smacking the girl’s hand away enough to make her skin sting.

“Jeez,” the blonde’s thin eyebrows dipped, rubbing her red hand. “Are we a little touchy there, Fuh-ray?”

More snickers from the boys.

“You’re so pale,” the curly-haired boy commented. “Don’t you ever go out in the sun?”

“You look like a ghost. With long auburn hair.”

“Your ends are all split,” the blonde commented, wrinkling her tiny nose. “When was the last time you got a haircut?”

“She’s probably never got a haircut.”

Fray couldn’t take it anymore. She was shaking with her fury. Her blood felt like a warm coke bottle dropped on the floor; bubbling fizzing until it finally let loose and exploded-

“SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Fray shrieked into their faces, her screams carrying across the pavilion. Soon, the eyes of fifty middle schoolers were staring at her, in total silence. Embarrassment flushed Fray’s face.

She dropped her sandwich and ran.
* * * * *

After school, Fray walked home instead of taking the bus. She couldn’t take the awkward silence and embarrassment of having to face the three dozen kids on that dirty yellow pollution maker. It was better to walk three miles.

It was just too bad she was banned from flying.

Frayelis walked with her shoulder slightly hunched, books pinned to her chest, her pace quickened with the fear of clashing with one of the three jerks she’d encountered at lunch.

She was never going to change. No one was every going to change her.

“Hey, hey you!”

Oh God no…

She could hear the soft footsteps of three teens strolling behind her.

Fray didn’t dare turn around, or even glance in their direction. All she wanted was for them to shut up and leave. Anger burned her skin and made her normally pale face redden.

“What the hell was up with you at lunch?”

“Yeah. We were only trying to be nice to the new girl.”

“Aw, c’mon guys. Let’s leave her alone. She probably thinks she’s too good for us.”

Fray continued walking, listening to the three voices behind her take turns at bouncing angry words at her, trying to make her blood boil, hoping for a reaction. Well, she’d already given them that once, and she sure wasn’t going to give it to them again.

“Hey, check it out!” Fray heard the crunch of springy branches and figured the curly-haired boy was digging around in the bushes.

“What the heck are you doing, Ethan? There’s nothing back there!”

“C’mon, keep walking!”

As the other two stopped, aggravated at their friend, Fray kept walking. She heard their voices drown out and get fainter and fainter as she got farther and farther. Thank goodness they weren’t breathing down her neck anymore.

“Look at this!”

“Whoa! What is it?”

“It looks like a bird’s nest!”

Fray froze in her tracks. Slowly, cautiously, she turned her head around.

“What kind of bird do you think they are?”

“I dunno. But it looks really pretty,” the blonde-haired girl snatched the nest out of Ethan’s hands. “Maybe I should put it on my dresser at home. Oh, look at the eggs; they’re so tiny! They’ve got little black spots on them!”

Fray’s body went numb. She knew exactly whose eggs they were.”

“Give those to me!!!!” she roared, charging at the three teens like a bull. She made a grab for the nest, but the blonde girl had a solid grip.

“Hey! Get away, you creep! I found them, not you!!”

“Shut your stupid face up and put them back!!!!!”

The two girls fiercely yanked on the little nest, with Fray desperate to get Marjorie’s eggs safe and away from Blondie.

However, when the blonde-haired girl yanked too hard on the nest, she ended up jerking out a handful of springy branches. She looked up at Fray in raging anger, the twigs balled up in her fists.

“If I can’t have the nest,” she let the crumbled sticks slide out of her hands and fall to the ground. “Then you can’t either.”

She yanked the remains of the nest from Fray in one swift tug and dumped it upside-down onto the sidewalk, smashing and splattering each of the three little eggs.

Fray’s heart burst, like someone had been murdered.

“NO!!!! YOU IDIOT!!!!!!” In a flurry of spiraling anger and emotions, a fist flew into the blonde-haired girl’s face. She crippled to the ground, unconscious. Blood drained freely from her bruised nose.

Fray was trembling from shock and horror, realizing what she’d just done. She stared down at her fist, then up at the two stunned boys, before gathering up the remains of the nest and bolting down the sidewalk.
* * * * *

“She won’t get expelled for this, will she?”

Principal Thompson, a plump woman with round glasses, pursed her lips and examined a sheet of paper, “No, she won’t.”

Fray’s father let out a deep breath of relief. Fray sat next to him in the Principal Thompson’s office, slumped in her chair, twiddling her thumbs nervously.

“Frayelis?”

Startled, Frayelis looked up.

“Would you mind telling us why you did this?”

“Did what?”

“Punched Jessica Limbaugh in the face, please.”

Fray sat silent.

“Fray, answer me.”

“Because she crushed Marjorie’s eggs.”

“Excuse me, what?”

“My bird, Marjorie. She laid a nest and Jessica smashed the eggs on the ground.”

Fray spoke without a hint of expression or anger in her voice. She talked in a low but unhappy monotone.

“Your bird?”

“She’s a blue jay. I’ve watched over her for the past three years.”

Principal Thompson paused, adjusting her glasses, which dangled from a beaded chain, “Well, I am very sorry about that, dear, but that is no excuse for your actions. You do realize that you fractured Jessica’s nose.”

Fray said nothing.

“Although I will not expel her,” the principal turned back to Fray’s father. “She will be suspended for the next to weeks and must write a letter of apology to Miss Limbaugh.”

“She owes me a letter of apology.”

“Excuse me?”

“For smashing Marjorie’s nest. She should apologize, too.”

Principal Thompson straightened the papers in her hands, “We are here to talk about your actions, Frayelis. Not Jessica’s. You may give her the apology letter when you return to school, which I expect you to do.”
* * * * *

At home, Mr. Bradshaw sent Fray straight up to her room. She sat in there for a while, flopped on her bed, thinking about the deep pit she’d just dug herself into.

What a stupid way to start off middle school; suspended for two weeks. If would take her months to pull back up the grades to cover for the assignments she was going to miss. Plus, she would have three new enemies waiting for her when she returned.

Fray took her sweater off, exposing her long wings. She stretched them out; enjoying the free feeling she got from doing so. She glanced over at her windowsill, her heart sinking. Marjorie wasn’t there. Perhaps she’d abandoned her, too.

There was a knock on the door.

“Frayelis?”

Fray decided that ignoring her father wasn’t going to do her any good, “Come in.”

The door slowly creaked open, and her dad shuffled into her room. Fray was sitting on the edge of her bed, her eyes staring down at the ground.

He sat next to her, and they sat for a moment in awkward silence.

“All right, Fray. I think it’s time we had a little chat.”

Fray pulled her legs up onto the bed, “Talk.”

“Don’t give me attitude, young lady,” her father gave her the warning eye. “You know very well what you did wrong today. But I think we need to get past that, because I believe that’s not what’s going on.”

Fray looked up at her dad, “She crushed Marjorie’s eggs.”

“Marjorie’s a bird, Frayelis. What are you going to do when she dies? What are you going to do if a raccoon eats one of her eggs? She’s a wild animal, Fray, and you can’t control what happens to her.”

“Wait, so are you defending Jessica?”

“No, sweetheart. What she did was very wrong. But I know why you’re angry. You feel like Marjorie’s all that you have left of the village, don’t you?”

A tear slid down Fray’s cheek. Her dad sighed.

“In a few months, our eye colors will fade. Our skin will darken, and our wings will fall out. And when that happens, you have to realize that we’re not fairies anymore. We’ll be humans, and what choices we make now will affect us for the rest of our lives.”

Fray thought about Diane, the brown-haired girl. The one that had tried to be her friend. Why the heck had she blown her off? If she kept pushing away, then she’d live the rest of her life as a hateful human longing to be a fairy when she knew she could never be one again.

“Nobody’s going to change me,” Fray muttered.

“You keep telling yourself that, Frayelis,” her dad replied as he slowly started to walk out her bedroom door. “You see how far that gets you.”





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback