Little Fairies (Part 6)

Nixie was awoken by her six thirty am alarm. It should be a sin to be up so early on your birthday but for some reason, school was somewhat important to her. At least that’s what she told herself in order to get out of bed and stalk like a zombie to the bathroom. She secretly hoped her mom would forget it was her “special day” and she made a plan to leave before her mom could apologize for last night’s embarrassing encounter with a plate of chocolate chip pancakes like she was still eight. Actually chocolate chip pancakes sounded so good and she wasn’t too old for a sweet breakfast like that but she would rather starve than talk to her mom about what happened last night. She decided she would stop by the diner on the way to school since Paula always gave her free pastries. the perks of your mom working at a diner. Nixie never turned down free food.

Luckily for her, Serafina was too hungover to get up on time but that only meant she would have to get Tania to school herself. She rushed her little sister out of the house so they could grab their pastries before school started but Paula did her one better. She remembered her birthday and made them sit down for a real breakfast on the house. Nixie was not about to refuse an actual meal so they grabbed a booth and ate fast. At this point, she didn’t even care if she was late to school but she knew if Tania was late on her watch, her teacher would inform their mom and she was trying to avoid Serafina for as long as she possibly could. Somehow though, Tania made it to school on time and Nixie wore a proud smirk at her small accomplishment.

In the school hall, her eyes met with Charlie’s as he stared at her while his friend talked his ear off about something that obviously meant nothing to him. She could tell he was going to try to talk to her before the next bell rang so she quickly shut her locker door and raced to class before he could escape his friend. He rolled his eyes at her elusiveness and walked to class in the opposite direction.

After second period, she stole away across the soccer field to hide behind the trees, her usual spot to smoke between classes. None of her so-called friends even cared she was finally sixteen and she wished she could just disappear like Easton had. If she was going to get through today, she would need a little help. She sparked a joint that she hid in her backpack and breathed deep, releasing the stress with each long exhale. She liked to imagine that the smoke drew out all the bad leaving only good in its place. But she barely got halfway through her therapy before being interrupted. She heaved a sigh of pure annoyance at the realization that she had no privacy anywhere in this bleak world.

Assuming it was Trevor trying to bum a hit of her weed, she didn’t even turn around to tell him off. “Get lost, Trevor. I’m not sharing shit with you on my birthday.”

“Sucks to be Trevor,” the voice replied and she spun around to see his face.

“What are you doing out here, Charlie?”

“Looking for you. Did you say it’s your birthday?”

“No.”

“Fuck, I feel bad. I didn’t know it was your birthday.” He could kick himself for ending their night so abruptly over her age. If only he knew, maybe they would’ve stayed out all night and skipped school today. He looked at his phone and decided it wasn’t too late. “Let’s get out of here.”

She looked at him with confusion scribbled across her face. “And go where?”

“Wherever you want. Come on, they won’t miss you in third period.”

Anywhere was better than here and she deserved to have fun on her birthday. Besides, he kind of owed her for shutting her down so quickly the night before. It might be nice to watch him attempt to make it up to her. “Ok, let’s go.”

He smiled and didn’t dare to ask to help her finish the blunt between her fingers. He did however, offer to carry her backpack for her.

“It’s ok, I got it.” She lifted it up and swung it around her back.

It looked heavy and he couldn’t let her carry that around, not with him by her side. He was raised better than that. “Give it here.” He pulled it off her shoulders and held it high. “Holy shit. What’s in here? You carry this much stuff around everyday? No wonder you look so miserable all the time.”

“Give it back. I can handle it.”

“No. Fuck that, you’re not carrying this thing at all today. No girl should have to carry anything on her birthday, especially not all this crap.” He carried a backpack on each shoulder and they walked across the soccer field just as the coach was bringing a P.E. class outside.

“Where are you guys headed?”

“Nowhere,” Charlie answered with a sly grin.

“Just be back for practice, Charlie.” Coach Peters could care less if they skipped school just as long as Charlie didn’t miss soccer practice.

“We’ll see.”

“What do you mean we’ll see? We need you out there.”

“I have plans.” He looked at Nixie and then back at the coach.

“So hang out and come back. You got a few hours.”

He turned around and said, “I need the whole day. You never ditch a lady on her birthday.” Then he turned back around and kept walking.

“Damn it!” Coach Peters was angry that he couldn’t threaten to kick him off the team like he could do to all the other players who took it seriously. He knew Charlie didn’t care to play soccer, he only joined the team as a favor to him. Coach really needed him since he was the best player on the team. He could literally use him for any position which made him valuable anytime a player got injured in the field.

“You don’t have to spend the whole day with me.”

“I want to.” He looked at her and suddenly thought that maybe she didn’t want to spend the day with him. “Unless you don’t.”

“You mean I don’t have to leave with you and have fun all day?”

“Get in the car before I change my mind.” He threw their backpacks in the trunk and tried to figure out where he would take her first. Then he remembered how much she loved the beach but hated how crowded they can get so close to summer. It was time to ask Uncle Ben for a big favor.

He dialed the number and spoke quickly while Nixie waited in the car. She saw him leaning against the driver’s side with the phone to his ear. Who was he talking too? She didn’t care, he was getting her out of this hell hole which made him her personal hero. Still, she wondered where he would take her and if he would turn her down if she kissed him again. She didn’t get it. He seemed so into the kiss and then he wasn’t. He couldn’t be that loyal to a friend who would just up and leave without an explanation. Could he be that much of a gentleman that he didn’t want to take advantage of her? He did carry her backpack which doesn’t seem like much but in this day in age with guys far from chivalry, it was hard to ignore such a gesture. Easton never carried her backpack or books for her. If Charlie isn’t careful, he may find himself a slave to her every whim and maybe this time, neither of them will hold back.

The Reckless Sick (Born Broken)

The heavy door slammed shut behind her and Levi shot his head back in her direction.

“Hey, you came.” He gave her a cheesy grin and held out a bottle of beer as she walked towards him.

“No thanks, I don’t drink.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t want a beer belly.”

“You won’t get a beer belly from one beer.”

“I bloat easily.”

“Okay..” He rummaged through the snacks she brought trying to decide which to eat first. He finally started with a bag of chips. It seemed fitting since she wasted his salty snack the first time they met. She even got the right flavor, maybe she was paying more attention to him that day than he thought.

“You come up here a lot?”

“Yeah, sometimes you just need to get away from everyone and all the beeping machines and shoes squeaking down the halls.”

“I get it.”

“Do you? I thought you just got here.”

“Yeah, and I already hate it.”

“Why are you here?”

“Why are you?”

He untied his hospital gown and Harla had an instant flashback of the sight of his bare ass walking down the white halls. But he didn’t show her his backside this time. Instead, he pulled the gown down far enough to expose the ugly scars on his chest.

“Whoa! What happened?”

“Heart surgery.”

“My god, that looks terrible. Are you ok now?”

“I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out soon. Probably not though.”

“What’s wrong with your heart?”

“Everything. Congestive heart failure from a ventricular septal defect.”

“English?”

“I have a hole in my heart and it has trouble pumping blood adequately.”

“Seriously? Damn. How many times have they, um-”

“Cut me open?” He pointed to a fresh scar on his chest and continued, “This is number four and only I’m seventeen.”

“How did you get a hole in your heart?”

“I was born with it but it wasn’t detected until I was three. My birth-mom was high on cocaine a lot and gave birth to me at home. It wasn’t until my grandmother, her mom, took me to the hospital because I was breathing erratically and they found a pretty big hole in my heart. They filled it but the damage was done, it already caused heart failure. I’m lucky to still be alive.”

“That’s insane. So Dianne is your adoptive mother?”

“Yeah, my grandma couldn’t afford to raise me with all the medical procedures I needed so they had to put me up for adoption. She still comes by to see me, not my mom though.”

“I’m sorry, Levi. It’s not fair that you have to suffer because of her mistakes. But at least you have a great mom who loves you and you made it this far. You’re still alive, that’s a good thing.”

He grabbed another bag of snacks, cookies this time, and sipped his beer. “I don’t know how alive I really am, I can’t do normal things like everyone else. I’m stuck with this stupid, weak heart and a pacemaker.” He glanced at the ground and noticed he was the only one eating. “Are you gonna eat something so I don’t feel like a fatass eating everything by myself?”

“Nah, I’m not hungry. Just ate dinner and I don’t really snack.” She wished she was in a bathroom right about now to throw her dinner up. She couldn’t believe how good he was at distracting her from her awful habits.

“You don’t eat snacks? That’s weird. Who doesn’t like snacks?”

“Some people.” Crap! She’s going to give her secret away if she’s not careful. There’s no reason anyone else needs to know why she’s here. It’s bad enough that her parents know, if it were up to her, they wouldn’t know a damn thing. But she had to be careless and overdo it. Now she’s stuck in a hospital against her will. If it weren’t for Levi, she would be planning her great escape right this second. “How did you get beer anyway?”

“I got friends in low places.” He smirked and she caught a glimpse of a small dimple in his left cheek that she hadn’t noticed before. “So you’re going to make me drink and pig out alone? You’re great company, I’m so glad I asked you up here today.”

His eyes squinted at her from the last of the bright sun rays reaching the top of the building. She watched them sparkle in the light. Even through the tiny slits of his eyelids, the lustrous blue gleamed and she was momentarily entranced by their luminous glow. If that didn’t deserve a drink, what did? She argued with herself and finally grabbed the beer from his hand and took a sip. She looked back at him expecting to receive a smart-ass remark about drinking from his bottle after he offered her a fresh one but all he did was wink at her. Just that simple gesture alone sent flutters throughout her stomach and chest and she knew this boy would spell trouble for her. Still, she scooted closer to him and leaned against his wall. Then she reached for the cookies and took the smallest of nibbles. She didn’t even notice that he slid his arm around her until she leaned back again and her head gently rested on him and not on a hard, concrete wall.

Smooth move.

They shared the beer and cookies watching the sun as it set beyond the city of skyscrapers, its brilliant colors reflecting off glossy windows before fading into the night. She was ready for some trouble. Bring it on, Levi.

Little Fairies (Part 5)

When Nixie walked in the house, it was quiet and she knew her mom was out working her night job. It seemed so empty without Serafina’s giggles as she so often watched her favorite sitcoms late at night. Nixie almost felt like she was the only thing that held a breath in this tiny house and she checked on Tania as her paranoia grew at the thought of her mom leaving her little sister home alone like this. Once she heard her light snores, she felt an instant wave of relief and went straight to the bathroom to take a quick shower.

Meanwhile, Serafina was halfway through her shift at Tease n’ Please, the local gentlemen’s club where she moonlighted as an exotic dancer for quick cash. Being the sole provider of two girls proved to be difficult when she worked day shifts at the diner alone so she found it necessary to pick up a night job. That’s where she makes most of her money and when she pulls out a handful of tips from her purse, she easily passes it off as tip money from the diner. Even so, she finds it difficult to make ends meet and Nixie finds herself doing the bulk of the housework while her mother works long hours earning extra cash.

She’s no fool to her mother’s true vocation, however she goes along with the charade as saying it out loud would only bring her disgust and humiliation. It’s not in her mother where she finds her disgust but in the repulsive thoughts of the dirty minds of men who show Serafina gratitude for the sight of her beautiful body in the form of crinkled cash. Nixie gathers that her mother hates it too from her crying outbursts and the pills she takes to control them.

Since she started her second job, though it may be her main source of income, she’s been exceedingly unhappy, breaking down at the sudden thought of her sad existence. Fearful of the example she sets for her teenage daughter, soon to be sixteen, she often denies the closing hours plastered on the front doors of the little diner thankful her daughter hasn’t tried to challenge her on it. She tells herself every month that it’s her last but the bills are so overwhelming and the pay is too good to pass up. ‘Just another month’ turns into five more just to keep up with every white envelope withholding large past due fees with her name printed on each.

It was easy for Nixie to pretend that her mom wasn’t stripping for dirty money from nasty men downtown since Serafina was good about separating her home life from work but tonight she would break that unspoken agreement between them. She stumbled through the front door with a strange man following close behind her, his hands gripping her small waist and a wicked grin resting along his sly face. The problem was, she was expected to encourage men to buy drinks all night at the club as part of her job and she was warned not to turn down a drink if offered making it very hard to remain sober by the end of her shift. Usually, her friend Tina accompanies her to the nearest late night cafe to sober up on coffee before they head their separate ways for the night. But Tina called out sick and Serafina was a vulnerable mess without her friend to steer her away from men with bad intentions looking for a free release. Being the first time she’s come home wasted and with an unknown guest, she was far from stealthy, unable to keep from waking the girls.

Fortunately, Nixie was quick to check on Tania to reassure her that everything was ok and she should close her eyes again. She waited a moment while her little sister drifted back into a deep sleep as the soft music playing from the pink boombox on Tania’s nightstand lulled her. Then she closed the door quietly behind her. She turned to face her mother who was shushing the man very loudly, unaware that she was the one making all the noise.

“Mom, what are you doing? Who is this?”

“It’s ok, sweetie. He’s just a friend.”

“Well, your friend has to leave.” Nixie faced the man who smelled of cigarettes and booze and said firmly, “Get out.”

“Nixie! Don’t be rude.”

“Listen, little girl, she invited me here and I’m not going anywhere until she says so.”

“Mom. Tell him to leave now or I’ll call the cops.”

“Can you calm down? He’s harmless. We’re just having fun.”

“You don’t even know his name, do you?”

“Hey, I’m the mom. Now go to bed, young lady.”

“It’s Bailey.” The man offered his hand as if Nixie would touch it knowing where he just came from.

“Bailey?” She scoffed. “I’m pretty sure that’s a girl’s name.”

“Nixie, seriously!”

The man chuckled, “It’s ok, I get that a lot.”

“It’s not ok. Apologize to him right now.”

“Fine. I’m sorry you have to leave now,” she said pushing him back out the door. “Bye.”

She slammed the door in his face, locking it and stomped off to her room without another word.

“What the hell was that?” Serafina stormed in her room after her.

“I just saved you from a possible rape, you’re welcome.”

“It’s not rape if I’m willing.”

“Go sober up before you embarrass yourself anymore.” With that, she shut her bedroom door on her mother and sighed heavily at how terrible this night turned out.

As if being used by Trevor and rejected by Charlie wasn’t enough, she now had to add her mother’s late night escapades to the list of unfortunate affairs that riddled her night. She wondered if anyone would remember her birthday tomorrow. What a sweet sixteen it’s looking to be.

The Reckless Sick (Anywhere But Here)

“Are you crazy? I’m not staying here that long!” Harla protested at the unfavorable news.

“Sweetie, calm down. People can hear us.” Margaret was always worried about reputation and the impression her family left on others.

“Oh, my God. I don’t care if people can hear me, I’m in a freakin hospital. If we go home now, we’ll never have to see anyone here again.”

“Harla, we’re not going home. You have a problem, ok? You’re sick.”

It shocked Harla to hear her father raise his voice to her even if it was slight, he was usually so quiet and often avoided arguments. But this was different, she deceived them. She hurt not only herself but those closest to her and to his chagrin, she didn’t seem to care. Who was she? He felt as though he didn’t know her anymore. Maybe he never did.

“Dad, I’m fine. I promise to keep it under control from now on.”

“Under control? Do you even recognize yourself? Because I don’t.” He glared at her in complete disbelief before walking away.

“Dad?”

“It’s just hard for him to see you like this, sweetie. You could be more compassionate to his feelings after all you put him through.” Margaret stood silent, studying her daughter’s frail state. She blamed herself. How could she not notice such drastic changes in her daughter’s attitude and form. Anyone on the outside looking in might gather that she hardly cared enough to know what was going on in her own home. She decided she had to fix her family. “I’ll talk to him, you just relax, dear. And please eat something.”

It was difficult for Harla to feel empathy for very long when everyone kept telling her to eat. Is it really a sickness if you have control over it? Does she have control? She was starting to believe her parents might be right which was a dangerous thing to admit in her mind. No. No! She’s not sick. She wouldn’t admit to anyone, especially not herself.

Suddenly, she noticed something. She looked around the room and realized she was alone again. Well, if she was going to be stuck in this godforsaken hospital, she might as well explore further outside her room than she was able to yesterday. She stealthily snuck on the other side of her door and past the nurses, as if they cared enough to pay attention to patients walking around aimlessly. They weren’t her babysitters. Her sly maneuvers were unnecessary but still, she felt as though her parents would pop out of any corner and ruin her moment of short-lived freedom. She walked along the halls swiftly unsure of what it was she searched for. If she found a door that led to the outside world, that wouldn’t be so bad. And now that she wore actual decent clothing, she would fit right in with the everyone else. Just as she spotted the elevators and started towards them, a nurse darted around the corner and sped past her pushing a child in a wheelchair causing Harla to back up abruptly and bump into yet another person.

Will not a day go by that I don’t bump into somebody in these wretched, white halls? She thought to herself.

“Sorry, I’m a known clutz in these halls,” she explained before turning to face the person she backed into and immediately recognized him as the original boy she bumped into just the day before. “Oh, my God, again? I’m really sorry.”

“Hey, it’s cool. Look, no chips. We’re good,” he said with a cute chuckle, holding his hands up on display.

“Why are you still in your hospital gown?”

“It’s comfy. No, I’m still recovering from surgery and it’s really hard for me to dress and undress myself. Then the family wants to help and it’s just a nightmare.”

“Gotcha. Wow, surgery. That’s serious.”

“Nah, not really. I get out of here in a week. What about you?”

“My parents are making me stay here for another three days.”

“That’s not so bad. Where are you headed?”

“Trying to escape,” she admitted with her eyes on the elevators.

“Already? Damn, you’re impatient. How about I show you around and you won’t cause a panic from being M.I.A.?”

She shot another glance at the elevator door as it closed and sighed softly. “Sure, exploring a hospital sounds fun,” she spoke in a sarcastic tone.

“Eh, it’s no rave but it beats lying in bed all day.”

After an hour of Levi showing her the entire pediatrics ward and introducing her to some of the other teens admitted there, he walked her back to her room where her parents paced frantically fearing the worst.

“Harla! Are you crazy? You can’t just up and leave every time we walk away. You were gone so long this time, I had the whole hospital searching for you,” Margaret scolded dramatically until she saw Levi walk up next to her daughter. “Who is this? A new friend?”

“Yes, and you’ve already done an awesome job at embarrassing me in front of him so thank you for that, Mom.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I was just showing her around and we lost track of time.”

“Well, you’re very polite. Maybe some of your good manners will rub off on Harla.”

“All right, we’re done here. Bye, Levi.” With that, Harla closed her room door on him before he could respond. Then she turned to her mom in disapproval. “That was thoroughly humiliating.”

“Harla, that was extremely rude. That poor boy was so nice to you and you just slammed the door in his face. Well, there goes your only chance at a good friend. I mean, my god.”

“Dial down the exaggeration, Mom, he’ll be back. Where else is he gonna go, honestly?”

The next day was slightly more tolerable for Harla since her parents had to go back to work. They were reluctant to leave her alone in the hospital but the nurse assured them she would be fine. Margaret tussled with the idea as if she had the choice to stay but finally she left and Harla was instantly relieved. She roamed the halls freely uncertain of where to go.

Anywhere but here please.

Surprisingly she didn’t see Levi and she wondered if her mother was actually right about driving him away with her unpleasant attitude. She rolled her eyes at the very notion of her mother’s dramatization of the situation being even remotely accurate. As luck would have it, she returned to her room to find a piece of paper taped to the wall by her bed with a note scribbled on it.

Meet me on the roof after dinner and bring snacks. You owe me. – Levi

She smiled as she read the note. It was early and she found herself counting down the hours until dinner for the first time ever. After she ate a few bites of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, she grabbed a few bags of chips and cookies from the snack machine and raced to the roof. Her mom was right about one thing, he was her only chance at friendship right now and she’s never had a real friend before. She tried not to pity herself as she opened the large door leading to the roof. She felt a cool breeze blow through her tiny figure as the door swung open and her first sight was Levi sitting up against the wall watching the sun set in the distance.

The Reckless Sick (Running On Empty)

Running On Empty

The weekend holds so much promise of careless mischief and wild teen parties for the small town kids of Whisper Woods. They’re scattered throughout town catching late night movies, laughing over burgers and shakes, cleverly sipping vodka from water bottles in the neighborhood parks, beating high scores at the local arcade or making out in the alley behind it. Everyone has a safe place to commit the oldest sins. One girl in particular prefers her vices done alone in the privacy of her own home.

The savory smell of roast beef and steamed vegetables filled the air, casting a powerfully blended sense of utter starvation and dizzying nausea on Harla as she sat motionless, afraid to make the slightest movement for fear she would faint right out of her seat. She stared off unaware of her fingers picking at a loose string hanging over her lap from the tablecloth set before her.

“Sit up straight, Harla,” Margaret commanded in a soft yet firm tone.

“Sorry, Mom.” She sat up briskly without a second thought and felt a wave of vertigo overpower her every sense.

Don’t faint. Don’t fall down.

As if she could control it with her thoughts alone. Just then, her mother set a plate of food in front of her, smiling briefly before sitting down across the table. Her portions were significantly less than what was served on the other plates. Margaret noticed Harla hasn’t had much of an appetite lately and preferred not to waste a perfectly good meal on her knowing it would only end up in the trash. Harla looked at the meat smothered in a hearty gravy, trying to hold back an obvious look of disgust. She couldn’t fathom how it could look so delicious and so revolting at the same time.

“Eat, girl. You’re too skinny. Isn’t she too skinny, Margie?” Richard pointed out blatantly.

“Oh, leave her alone. She just has a small frame. She gets it from me.” Margaret shot a proud smirk around the room as if waiting to be praised for her slender figure.

That was Richard’s cue, “Of course, darling. You look wonderful.”

Somehow, conversations in the Fox household always revolved around Margaret. She was quite the attention seeker, no doubt leaving Harla feeling like an old, faded piece of furniture discarded in the back of the most unused room in the house. Her mother’s ego was far too sickening to withstand any longer and she quickly shoved every last piece of food in her mouth before placing her plate in the sink and making her way to her bedroom in a very rhythmic and rehearsed walk so as not to draw attention to her swift exit. As soon as she made it to the room she locked her door and waited, finding anything around the room to distract her for just a moment longer.

As soon as her parents turned on the television, she snuck quietly into the bathroom just down the hall. She closed the door gently making no sound at all, she had it down to a science. Where to step in the hallway without making a creak, how slowly to turn the door knob so it didn’t click, waiting for a loud commercial break when her parents would talk amongst themselves so her heaving couldn’t be heard by even the most sensitive ears.

She stared at herself in the mirror. It was more of a glare actually as she detested every flaw she could think up. She studied her figure, lifting her shirt up midway to see her flat belly starting to sink inward. She thought she would be satisfied with the image staring back at her but it wasn’t enough. Why did she still look so big? Why could she pull at her skin when there was barely a trace of fat? Nonetheless, she was proud of herself for sticking to her guns and refusing to give up so easily. Soon, very soon, she will be beautiful enough. She will be so thin that there will be nothing left but skin and bones and for some reason, that’s beautiful.

But tonight, she would overdo it and life would change instantaneously.

Margaret and Richard laughed at a silly ad playing on the television when they were startled by a loud bang from inside the hallway bathroom.

“What was that?” Richard asked as if Margaret would know more than he in this instant.

Suddenly, Margaret’s face transformed and she wore a worried expression as she blurted out, “Harla!”

They rushed to her bathroom, opening the door so abruptly that it bumped forcefully against Harla’s leg. They pushed the door open a little wider to find their daughter passed out on the floor with the stench of vomit emanating from the toilet bowl and polluting the air.

“Oh, my God! Harla, wake up! Wake up, sweetie, wake up now.” Margaret was immediately hysterical, holding her daughter’s listless body in her arms and lightly tapping her face.

“Honey, calm down. We need to get her to the hospital. She could have a concussion. Get her a bag ready, I’ll carry her to the car.” Richard lifted his daughter with ease, giving no thought to her lightness as he strapped her in the car and sat in the driver’s seat trying with all his might not to look back at her lying in the backseat unresponsive. He was weak though and he turned his head briskly. It was a huge mistake, the biggest because as soon as he laid eyes on her face, the tears streamed heavily down his face and his head bobbed as he cried for the first time since his mother died when he was only thirteen. He couldn’t bare to see his little girl like this. Even if she was no longer his little girl, she was still his and still she was. Margaret practically threw herself in the car, glancing briefly at her husband. She did a double take when she saw him silently sobbing with his head resting against the steering wheel. He turned and gave her a look of defeat.

“Oh, Richie. She’s going to be okay but we have to get her there quickly.” She tried to sound brave but the tears falling from her glistening eyes spoke otherwise. She had never witnessed him cry in the whole nineteen years they’ve been married and it scared her to see him vulnerable.

He wiped his tears away with his jacket sleeve and shifted into gear. The car bolted out of the driveway, screeching down the street of their quiet, little neighborhood. He drove like a madman, marking the streets with his brand new tires.

“Careful, Rich! She’s falling off the seat.”

“Well, pick her up.”

Margaret climbed in the backseat to sit with her daughter, holding her close and checking for a pulse every few seconds. The trip felt long and she thought they would never reach their destination. Finally, they arrived at the nearest hospital and pulled up to the front so fast, he almost didn’t see the wheelchair rolling out of the doors with an elderly lady in it. He flew out of the car and opened the back door to help his wife and daughter out. They rushed her inside leaving the car running just out front with the doors wide open.

“Rich, I’ve got this. The car.” She pointed just outside and his attention shifted.

Soon they were impatiently settling in the waiting room to hear news of their daughter’s condition. After an hour, a Dr. Peck called them to the back to see her.

“Your daughter is going to be fine, the blow to her head wasn’t too bad but she is very weak. It’s not surprising since her blood work shows a loss of vital minerals. We have her on an IV in the pediatric ward where she’ll stay for a few days if you decide to keep her here. I recommend that you do. She’s suffering from slight malnutrition and drastic changes to her diet can be dangerous.”

“What? That can’t be. She eats every meal. She doesn’t eat a lot but she does eat,” Margaret assured the doctor. It was apparent they didn’t know what was going on right under their noses.

“Did you know your daughter has an eating disorder?”

“Oh, God.” Richard dropped his head in his hands.

“No. No, Rich, it’s not rue. It can’t be.” She gazed at her daughter in the hospital bed, disbelief was written across her face as she put the pieces together.

“She admitted it to one of the nurses when she came to. I don’t think she was aware of her surroundings though and she fell back asleep soon after.”

“I told you she was too skinny. I knew something wasn’t right.”

“No,” Margaret whispered to herself. She couldn’t believe any of this was happening. She never saw it coming, never noticed the signs. What kind of a mother doesn’t see the signs?

“She’s in a bad state but it’s good we caught it before she could experience serious risks such as heart failure…” The doctor’s voice trailed off. Margaret couldn’t hear anything, just the sound of her own heart beating fast. She placed her hand on Harla’s chest timing her faint heartbeat to her own. Looking closely at her, she could see just how thin her daughter really was and closed her eyes in anger for not seeing it sooner. She planted herself in the big chair next to her daughter’s bedside in hopes that she would be the first person she sees when she wakes up again. All she could do now was wait.

 

To be continued..

Little Fairies

I remember the first time I realized fairies were just a myth. I was twelve. I know it sounds ridiculous to believe in mythical creatures at that age but if you grew up with a mother like mine, you would’ve believed in them too. She used to take me and Tania in the woods behind our house at dusk and we would chase them around the brush trying to capture them in mason jars. She made us believe they were real. It was like the magic sparkled in her eyes and you couldn’t deny her truth in the moment.

One time, when I was ten, I told her they were just fireflies. She told me if I kept the jar by my bed at night, they would turn into fairies but only when I fell asleep because we weren’t supposed to know that they existed among us. It wasn’t until I was twelve that I pretended to sleep, I was so good at it that I almost believed it myself, and I watched the brightly glowing jar carefully in the mirror across from my bed. The fairy never appeared and I knew it wasn’t due to my performance, I was dedicated. I opened the jar and held the flickering light in my hand, studying it meticulously. The last of my hope spilled from my eyes and slid down my cheeks as I realized it was just a bug, nothing more. That was the last night my mom lied to me because after that, I never trusted her stories again.

I worry about Tania and how her eyes still light up when Mom tells her stories of the fairy world. I can’t tell if she’s just humoring her or if she still hopes there’s a fairy land somewhere out there. Maybe she needs those stories to make up for our troubling reality. I know I did. I don’t know why I’m reminiscing, I guess I just hate being lied to and ultimately disappointed.

I miss when times were simpler and I called on the fairies for their magic and strength when Mom would spiral out of control, breaking vases and flower pots around the house and cutting her feet on the scattered shards, leaving bloody footprints and tiny puddles of lost tears on the floor for me to clean. Then she would mourn her dead plants and apologize to them when she finally left her room days later. She would hold me tight and cry in my hair, promising never to skip her medication again and whispering over and over, “I thought I was okay. I’m not okay.” My eyes would swell while I held back my tears, knowing the moment wouldn’t last long. But I believed her then. I believed in her. And then I gave up on her.

I stopped crying over those incidents when I stopped looking to the fairies for help. I just grew up and learned to deal with problems instead of wishing them away.

“Supper’s ready, Nixie.” Serafina stood at Nixie’s bedroom door, smiling fondly at her oldest daughter.

Nixie closed her journal and set it down on her nightstand. There was no need to hide it, her mom never went through her things. Serafina was a strong believer that every girl was entitled to her secret thoughts and she encouraged Nixie’s independence. In fact, she envied it since she herself harbored an unhealthy fear of being left alone to waste away while the world around her carried on without her. With Nixie pulling away and slipping further through her fingertips, she clung tightly to Tania’s adolescence, feeding into her innocence in hopes that she would never leave her. But all little girls grow up and she knew she would have to face her mountainous fear someday. Just not today.