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Ethereal (adj.): extremely delicate, light, not of this world
Ever since we were children together, we’ve known. We’ve known there was something different about the way that we always seemed to know just what the other was thinking, even before it bubbled from their lips. The way we could talk using colors and not sounds. The way that, when one of us was sad or lonely or scared, the other would feel it, a fluttering in our ribcage just beside our heart.
Because Jesse and I are not like other people. In fact, we’re not people at all.
Humans have called us many names, in their hushed, fireside stories. The Fair Ones. The Good Folk. The Fae. But when my brother and I were brought to this world, already more one than two, our mamas called us Lys and Jesse, and that was good enough for us.
Mama Wren said when we were born, we emerged out of an egg, one after the other. Mama Tess said when we cried, the rest of the world fell silent. And, even though we didn't quite belong here, our mamas took us in and loved us and gave us a childhood that sang.
When summer came, we would run through meadows, flitting about like sparrow-larks until our feet rose up off the ground and we flew.
In fall, we would lie on our backs, marveling up at the cerulean sky, leaves intertwining in our hair until our dark locks shone amber and gold.
And in winter, our mamas would spend hours trying to still our trembling bodies, not at all made for this world of gobbling cold. As we huddled yearningly by the fire, we would whisper together without any words, paint pictures with thoughts as the brushes. We would close our eyes and twirl again in the land where the faeries dance, with blossoms and berries kissing our cheeks.
Because in those days, we were inseparable.
And then came the summers where I would flicker with the fireflies, letting the moonlight play with my hair. Then came the falls when I would ride the crisp wind for miles, gasping at the fragile beauty of the world below. Then came the winters when my mamas would tell stories, warm voices rising and falling, keeping the cold at bay.
Then came the days when I wasn’t enough for Jesse anymore.
Because all of a sudden, Jesse woke up disenchanted by the glorious world before him. He didn't want to sip at the sunshine or marvel at moths or clamber through the branches until we tasted the sky. All he could think of was the first land, the other land, where pixies whirled and sprites would whistle, where the rustle and flutter of wings drowned out everything gentle. Every season, every moment, he anguished over finding a way home.
I tried to reason with him. Tried to show him the minute perfection in a beetle’s glittering shell. Tried to hand him the wild thrill of lightning, streaking its way across the sky. But Jesse’s eyes were glazed, his ears stoppered, the stone wall in his mind an immovable barrier that my words clattered against insignificantly.
The realm of the humans was lifeless, he said, to a noble son of Faerie. Why should he waste another second dallying in its lowly midst?
After that, we didn’t converse in silence anymore.
And then, after months of discourse, of a terrible hurt in my veins as we became more two than one, I woke up one morning to find the bed beside me empty, and I knew I was truly alone.
I ran to my mamas to tell them. We tore our way out to the fields. But after hours of desperate searching, tearing apart all the hollows and glens of my childhood in our frantic hunt for answers, we found ourselves back on our porch, watching the bleeding sun stain the darkening sky. I could feel the hollowness in my bones of a separation that would never be undone. And, pressed between my lovely mamas, their helpless calling swallowed up by the biting wind, I wept.
Because, unlike Jesse, I couldn’t leave this simple, radiant world behind.