The Summered Fey

May 1, 2017

“Jen! Come back! I didn’t mean it like that!” Jonathan yelled as I walked away.
Jonathan was the heartbreaker at school, drawing girls in and breaking it off before it got serious, but somehow this jerk is my best friend.
We grew up in a small town called Windolsmith, located on the edge of a large forest that no one dared to enter. I met him when I was seven, back when I was wild as ever, my obsidian curls unkempt with twigs and leaves stuck in a tangled mess. My mother believed I belonged to the people of the forest because I never looked like her. Everyone in town, including my family has peachy flesh, the color of a nail polish that was white but has aged over time, while I stand a foot taller than all my brothers with long blackened limbs and ivy eyes.
Jonathan was the first person brave enough to befriend me and the first that made me feel like I belonged. He never fit in either, but his caramel skin and piercing grey eyes won everyone over but me. Constantly, he’d follow me around like a lost puppy until I finally invited him to play Adventurers. From the moment the sun touched the dew on the leaves until the streetlights came on, we would play at the edge of the forest.
I don’t know how it all led to this.
“Jen, come on…” Jonathan begged as he followed me off the school campus, his chucks slapping the wet pavement as he chased me.
“F*** off! I’m not a toy, you perv!” I snapped as I fumbled with my headphones in my pockets but the wires were twisted. Grabbing the discarded cigarette in my pocket, I stuck between my lips and lit it. The taste of tobacco instantly calming me.
He had asked me to be his date to prom, not as friends, but as something more.
The slapping on the pavement stopped and the clouded sky was blocked by foliage. Just to escape him, I walked into the forest: The forest that no one left alive and festered with dangerous creatures called The People of the Forest. For once, it was quiet and I was left to my thoughts.
Thick roots jutted from the ground and patches of flowers, I have only seen from the edge of the forest, bloomed with the tenacity of a thousand men. The birds called me deeper into the forest and for a moment, I felt lost in a peaceful void, forgetting the warnings my mother would whisper and the countless times she burned me with hot irons.
As I stepped past the trees and into a clearing, I stood among people-like beings dancing in gorgeous sparkling dresses adorned in gold plated leaves as they drinking from goblets of gold. Their ears pointed in sharp points and their beautiful features made it seem like a dream.  A woman in a glittering green dress and bark skin approached me, leaning close to my face as if to study me.
“Jen? Is that you?” she said in a soft tone, her ivy eyes piercing me. I pulled my face away from her before the woman smiled and pulled me close. She pushed a goblet into my hands and pulled me into the crowd of dancing figures. “My child, you have returned!”
“I’m sorry...but who are you?”
“I am your mother,” the woman laughed, pushing the goblet to my lips, the sweet nectar falling upon my tongue like warm honey. “I am the one who birthed you. My child, you have finally returned to the summered fey.”
I stared at the lady in confusion but then the similarities started to appear in my blurring vision. The black curls and skin, but her skin was a glossy bark with blossoms sprouting from the cracks. A smile cracked my face and my body became hot and fuzzy as my mother, my true mother, pulled me into the crowd of dancing figures. Never before have I experienced a moment so blissful in a place where I truly belonged.
When my blurred thoughts cleared, I stared down at a weighted sword,  studying the intricate sketched leaves and vines forged in the neck of the sword.
Where was I?
“Do it.” The Queen of the Seelie Court said in such a sweet voice but I could taste the bitterness of her words. Looking over my shoulder at my faerie mother, her twig fingers gripped her dress as she smiled at me. Somewhere inside me, I knew this was the only way I could be with her, but how? I felt like I had woken up from a deep slumber that never happened.
“Jen….please… Drop the blade, come back home with me…” Jonathan begged with harbored gasps, ripping me from my thoughts. My grip tightened on the sword. Do I go home with Jonathan? Back to the place I never belonged? But he always made a place for me.
The court screamed at me to finish him.
“SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!” I screamed.
This was all a game for them: a game of life and death. I could feel their eyes on us as we circled each other, our blades covered with each other’s blood. Sweat dripped from Jonathan's brow to the earthy ground, and without hesitation, he lunged at me. I stepped to the side and hit him across the back with the flat of my blade. This was my moment. I couldn’t go back. As if acting on it’s own, my hand plunged the sword deep into his back, the sound of his spine popping echoed in my head as it separated. The smell of blood filled my nostrils, the iron smells piercing my core as I watched his body slide off my sword and fall to the ground with a thud.
The Queen chuckled as the court let out a deafening roar of approval. My skin prickled with pain as my mother placed a crown of brass thorns on my head, each thorn tearing at my flesh.
“Our new champion…” The Queen announced as I forced the rest out of my mind. Under the noise, I cursed myself to remember everything. To remember the prickling pain of the thorns, every detail of my best friend’s death, and the sensation of my human features dissipating along with my mortality.

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