choice: a faerie tale
Author's note: Began when I was 14... since then have written two more following manuscripts.
pressureIT WAS TUESDAY MORNING, ABOUT SEVEN TWENTY-SOMETHING OR SO, WHEN THE ALARM ON MY CELL PHONE BUZZED ME AWAKE. I groggily got up to get myself ready for school, trudging to my--small, but at least it's my own--bathroom.
Not only was it Tuesday, but it was one of eight school days left before school was finally over--not including Memorial day on Monday. In about two and a half months I was going to be a junior. It was definitely an upgrade from being a sophomore, but it was never going to
After my cold wake-up shower, I brushed my hair and tried to look for something to do with my face. I was no-fun-in-the-sun white; I had no freckles, no scars or anything to make my face distinct. Okay, maybe not white white, just creamy white. The really light skin only seemed to make my button green eyes seem darker, like emerald; sometimes I thought I looked possessed or something. To make myself look even lighter, I had silky, straight-as-pencils, light brown hair. Everything about me was light… even I was light. I couldn't gain any weight, no matter how much I ate; freshman year I weighed only ninety-one fricking pounds (a lot of people soon thought I was anorexic). And to top it off, I sometimes fell due to lack of proper balance because my feet are so small: five and a half size shoe--not much to walk on.
While I slowly picked through my closet, I started to think about the party I'd gone to on Saturday. I didn't know whose house it'd been, I just knew it had been fun. Most of the time I'd spent with Liz Martins, one of my three closest friends. She was a quiet smart girl who was always willing to let me copy her math homework--though she would still scold me about it. We had been talking about my… problem.
The problem was that I had a very annoying yet pleasant crush on Jake Robins. He was a very cool guy--athletic, funny, and cute--who was also one of my three close friends: problematic. Of course I wanted to go out with him, but if we somehow screwed everything up--or maybe if I screwed everything up--we might not even be friends anymore. So I'd been on the fence about asking him out and worrying about whether I will ever ask him out before some other chick did--or before he asked out some other chick.
Well, Liz and I hadn't been able to hear each other well, and we'd wanted to dance with everyone else, so we cut the convo short.
I'd said "What?!" about three times--and she'd had to repeat herself five--before I could hear her properly.
Over the bass she'd told me… "Don't worry. Things will work out. You guys have a lot in common."
With little relief, I danced afterwards, thinking about what Liz had said. Liz was my girl BFF, but Jake was my boy BFF; like, when I wanted to just mess around and act like a kid, I could do that with Jake. So he was a great guy. I mean a great, great guy. You know, that guy that gets along with everybody. Though, sometimes, he'd be that guy you see all the time--maybe even be friends with--and you just wait for him to pull you away and ask you out on a date because he's had a crush on you--or he somehow suspected that you've had a crush on him for about five years and never had the courage to tell him because you were afraid he didn't feel the same way--and when he doesn't ask you out, you start to think of him as some kind of jerk who you always end up forgiving immediately, then start to get your hopes up for the next time.
But overall a good guy. After I'd realized why I liked him so much, falling for him had been absolutely effortless.
It was the fifty percent chance of rejection that chickened me out of asking him.
What the frick? I was still looking through my closet when I heard her, my hair constantly falling in front of my face, which I constantly had to flip back like someone from a shampoo commercial.
"Amy, you're running late! Josh! You too!" yelled Sandra Santali--my mother--from downstairs.
"I'm coming!" I shouted as I threw on the first things I touched. Hastily slipping on some shoes, and simultaneously grabbing my things and shoving them into my backpack, I made my way out the door, bumping into my older brother Josh.
"Watch where you're going," he said, sounding very irritated. "You could have pushed me down the stairs." He'd only bumped into the wall, the top of the stairs being five feet away. Josh's dark brown hair was in a disarray like he'd just woken up, there were bags under his brown eyes, and the really light peach fuzz on his upper lip looked a bit more noticeable this morning. He looked like a bum.
"Don't be a drama queen," I replied as I followed him down the hallway. I knew to expect that attitude from him like it was his time of the month. Josh had also been at the party Saturday, though I barely saw him then. But, buzzing around the bobbing heads in the living room with the music blaring in our ears, Liz and I had heard that Josh had caught his now ex-girlfriend "playing baseball" with the school quarterback in one of the bedrooms. He'd locked himself up in his room all weekend, coming out only for food and bathroom necessities.
For the record, Josh was a good guy, and I'd always known Amelia Cervantes was kind of trampy and had a big mouth, so it hadn't surprised me Josh would end up being hurt. I just hadn't known it would happen in front of half the school, at a party many would remember--unless they'd had one too many drinks.
Voices floated up the stairs from the living room as Josh and I descended. No one but Liz and Jake would appear at seven in the morning--unless we were running late--which we were. They were at the door, my mother propping it open with her shoulder. She donned a baby blue bathrobe she wore in the mornings, though recently the temperatures reached about seventy before eight o'clock.
My father--Frank Santali--was a contractor for a small construction company and worked most of the day. Sandra was dubbed a stay-at-home mom. The only time I saw my father was once a week on Friday nights, where he got off work an hour early. I would only see him five minutes before I went to my room for bed; he had dinner an hour or so later than we did.
Mom smiled up at me and Josh. "About time. You all might have to run to school now." School was a long walk, and--as mentioned--we were late. Josh and I kissed her goodbye and followed Liz and Jake out the door and across the lawn.
Once we were on the sidewalk, the tension had thickened intensely now that Mom's cheerfulness was gone and we were in the heat of the rising sun. Josh walked a little ahead of us, while Liz, Jake, and I stayed safely behind him. Jake and Liz hadn't come over during the weekend; I'd warned them about Josh's unstable position.
"Hey," Jake said quietly, sneaking a look at Josh as he we walked, "did either of you do Rodriguez's homework?" Mrs. Rodriguez, our Spanish teacher, usually piled on homework with no end in sight--even if it was almost the end of school.
"Nope," I said. "That was one assignment I didn't do."
"Well, I did it," answered Liz. Of course; she was the smart one… and the pretty one. "And no, Jake, you can't copy."
"Will you all hurry up? I want to get there before school starts," Josh scolded, who was angrily speed-walking ahead of us. "Alloid's probably waiting. Ugh."
Alloid had just found a microscopic meteor that happened to be a piece of something called 'Crystalus' and wanted us to go to the tree house before school the next day. We only let Alloid stay in said tree house to hide him.
Alloid was from another planet called Actocrystailon (Awk-toe-kris-TAIL-on) and is considered an alien; he claims to be our age in his alien years. He was technically a 'Shape Shifter', meaning he could change his form on demand.
He never told us why he ever came to Earth, he just didn't seem to want to tell so much, "sworn into secrecy," he said. Alloid is a nice alien; since we had gotten to know him, he seemed pretty cool and it didn't take long for all of us to become good friends.
We had left a half hour early to be on the safe side time wise. It wasn't far but it wasn't close either.
"Is it just me," said Jake, breaking the silence, "or is the whole meteor thing a little too coincidental? I mean, he said it landed right in front of his door. Don't you think it's a little odd? Why didn't it hit the tree house?"
The tree house was in a forlorn forest that had become so small, no one went there anymore. So, summer before freshmen year, the four of us had built a little hut out of old logs. It can be called tree house, right? Since then, it has surpassed itself to resemble a mini home, equipped with a bathroom and everything, thanks to Alloid and his mysterious ways.
Before I knew it, Liz was already knocking on the small wooden door. The little ramshackle house always made me wonder how on earth it was even standing.
"Who is it?" He sounded annoyed, like we'd interrupted something. He'd been the one to invited us there.
Alloid slowly opened the door; someone of his status always had to be careful who he opened the door to, even if anyone other than us four ever visited a place no one went to. When we walked in, Alloid was no longer a blue teenager with antennae, but a man in his twenties--a good-looking one.
"Where're you off to, sir?" said Jake.
He rolled his human eyes. "I gotta go into town later." He spoke as we assembled ourselves inside. "I just wanted to give you the 411 on the meteorite so you'll have reason to come back later. One basic principle is that it's extremely dangerous--"
"You can't call it a 'meteorite' when it's smaller than a marble," Jake interrupted, gesturing to the little blue-green marble rock on the wooden table. It glowed faintly. "And how dangerous can it be, I could flick it across the room."
I clicked my tongue. "You don't know anything about this rock to know it's safe, Jake. I know it's difficult, but, please, don't act stupid," I said. "We don't have time to discuss it now, we'll come back after school."
Alloid rolled his eyes again. "Alright," he replied, "but I hope you all come back in a somewhat more pleasant attitude." He looked at Josh when he said that. "You're all sometimes very annoying."
As he looked at me last, I suddenly felt the pleasant sensation of a weight being lifted off me. It felt great, like nothing could get me down. I glanced at the others and saw everyone looked… well, relaxed. Josh's face was clear of that 'what's-that-funky-smell?' on his face.
As soon as we reached Lincoln High, I somehow knew today was going to be different.
For instance, I got an D on my Algebra II test (not my first one, by the way) but couldn't help but smile; no anger or annoyance was present. Jake had gotten a F.
At lunch there was a horrible food fight in which we ended up being splattered with unidentified flying soup head to toe and yet I couldn't help but laugh, as did Liz, Jake, and Josh. We all just laughed and hid under the table while dressed in our lunch along with everyone else. I would have been even angrier since Liz and I couldn't get the stain out in the bathroom. There were other victims who had it much worse.
After school ended, the four of us headed to Alloid's place.
After a long day of thinking about it, I brought it up. "Is it just me or were we a little too happy today?" I said, breaking the silence.
"Come on," Jake replied. "You don't suspect Alloid would have anything to do with it, do you?"
"Well can you explain why we have been feeling extraordinarily happy today, especially after we left Alloid's this morning?"
"Yeah," said Liz. "This was a new blouse that cost twenty precious bucks but is now covered in soup stains, and I don't really care."
"Well…uh…" Clearly he didn't have any response. "There can be another explanation."
"Right," I replied. "I think it was him."
When we reached the house there was a note pinned to the door:
Meet me behind the tree house
and make sure no one can see you
Josh frowned. "Why does he want us to meet in the back?" he asked as we walked around the little house. I was absolutely stunned to find Alloid standing behind a green-blue glowing boulder that reached his waist at his original five foot figure. He looked like himself except without the antennae and blue skin color.
"Alloid," I said, "please do not tell me that is the same rock from this morning."
"Unfortunately," Alloid replied, "it is. I should have told you it grows incredibly fast, but it can get back to it's original size I can assure you. The hardest part… is shrinking it, which… is why I wanted all of you to come as soon as possible. It won't stop growing on it's own." There was a moments silence involving all of us just staring, stunned, at the giant sphere.
"Well… how do you do it? The shrinking," asked Josh. He looked very worried of the answer, like he somehow knew it wouldn't be pleasant.
"Well, an organism or group of organisms with no mutated genes containing intensified astronomical phosphate would be able to--"
"In English, please, Alloid," said Jake. I noticed the happiness was starting to wear off on all of us; Liz was beginning to look nervous.
"What I mean is that, well, a human or group of humans," I noticed he had put a lot of emphasis on that part, "must acquire the energy from the rock so it will evaporate….into them. That is the only way to stop the rock from reaching exponential growth. Bigger-than-this planet type of growth."
"You make it sound like it's the easiest thing in the world," Jake interjected.
"What happens to the person who…acquires it?" asked Liz. She was twirling her hair nervously.
Alloid shifted his weight to his other foot, looking uncomfortable. "Well," there was a little bit of edginess in his voice, "the human that had acquired it--"
"Wait, wait, wait," Jake cut in. "There've been others who've done this? How could that happen? Why doesn't anyone know about it?"
"It happened years ago, I guess in your nineteen hundreds," replied Alloid thoughtfully. "My race at the time had to modify the memories of many witnesses so it seemed as if it never happened."
"What happened to the person who had already done it? How did he ever find it in the first place?" I asked.
"I can't really give you the details, for it is a sworn secrecy among many others of my kind. Our… 'researchers' you would call them, were testing it outside our gravitational barrier. It has many properties, making it the most valuable power source for my planet. During a field test, something went wrong and it… got away from us. It apparently landed in the man's yard which took us a week to find--it was only the size of a beach ball. He lived after he had acquired it, but… he disappeared. None of us could find him." There was a long pause in which we were all absorbing what had been said. Alloid shifted his gaze to each of us, worried, I assumed, about how we were all taking this.
"Before you tell us," I said in a shaky voice, startling everyone else but Alloid, "let me see if I figured all this out. You want us: Jake, Liz, Josh and I, to acquire this…this rock?" As I said it, I noticed that everyone, except Alloid, seemed to be holding their breath. When we looked up, Alloid was nodding his head sympathetically. There was a brief silence. Followed by--
"No way!" said Liz in a petrified voice, breaking the silence. "I am not going near that thing."
"You don't understand," said Alloid. We all looked at him as if we were going to say something. When no one answered, he continued. "My race will stop at nothing to find people using it for evil. So they won't find you four." When he noticed we were not convinced he rushed on. "Don't you realize what hangs in the balance, what relies on your decision? Your families, your-your countries, practically your world. It has to be gone or it will never stop growing. Then who knows whose hands it will be in." He looked us all in the eyes before continuing. "Plus, it should be acquired now, while it's still somewhat small. The bigger it gets, the more extraterrestrial properties it will emit, the kind of properties your carbon-based structure was not built to handle."
No one said anything as Alloid's words hung in the air. We just waited for him to continue, since none of us had an answer.
"Listen," he said quietly, "I know this seems like a lot, but I am only asking you to do this. This is the only way to save your race against the Actocrystailon before they come." He said the name of his race instead of saying 'my race' like he usually did. I knew now that this seemed to be important. "The man might still among us; he was detected five years ago." Alloid looked pleadingly at everyone afterwards. Josh just stared at the ground; Liz was trembling, obviously scared; and Jake, to my surprise, looked like he was pondering the proposal Alloid just gave us with a thoughtful expression.
Every single thing Alloid said didn't sound real at all. We'd accepted his quirkiness, even listened to his out-of-this-world stories of his home. But never had he said anything like that. We'd seen movies about Earth being in danger all the time. I never thought it could get wiped out by a gigantic meteor that nobody on the planet knew about.
It was as if someone else had spoken through my lips, I murmured three words:
"I'll do it."