Chapter List

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Grey Nights Chapter Two

Chapter two 
During dinner we were all quiet. I stirred my chow mien with my fork, not really hungry. I was too excited. Tonight was the bonfire and the official day of the summer solstice. Most years this was the day he came to me, but not every year. Some years he came a few days later, with no explanation. Only that he had other duties to attend to first. Today held almost nineteen hours of sunlight, and the day when I had to be least afraid. Supposedly, but I had already seen one darkling today. And in the sunlight no less, which was against the rules. Even the shadows were almost nonexistent. Unlike Garrick and his kind, darklings couldn’t stand the sun. They were scary but being under Garrick’s protection meant they would never hurt me, just haunt me. It was always a bit terrifying, but I knew tonight I would be safe again. I might be anyway. Soon after me and Pheona’s incident, our parents had come home with dinner. We hadn’t had another chance to talk, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk to her about it just yet. I had decided to wear a purple turtleneck (to cover my growing bruises) and a pair of my most flattering jeans. I couldn’t wait to get out of here. After about fifteen minutes of silence. I stood up and grabbed my plate.
“Ok, I have to meet Maizy at the bonfire soon.”
My mother glared at me and held up her fork.
“Your sister only comes home once a month, do you need to go out tonight?”
“What?” I shrieked. I had spent so many nights being stuck at home, safe. Safe from the darkling, in my room. Sleeping with the lights on; afraid to turn my back. This was my first chance to go out, like a normal teenager. It was the longest day of the year.
“I’ve been looking forward to the bonfire for months,” I said. I dropped my plate back on the table. “You can’t make me stay at home; I’m almost eighteen.”
“Gabrielle,” my mother said in her most stern voice.
I looked at my father who just continued eating. I knew why he wouldn’t look me in the eyes. Sadly, I knew my parents too well. They needed me to stay at home so they could go out for drinks or whatever it was they did, and they couldn’t leave Pheona at home alone.
“Seriously?” I told him, stomping my foot a few times. I let out a sigh and spun around towards my room.
“You guys are barhopping idiots! Go out to your stupid bar and drink, do the only thing your good at!” I screamed in anger as I slammed my door shut.
I laid down on my bed and screamed some more into my pillow.  I knew I was acting like a typical teenager, but I didn’t care. Afterwards, I listened to my heartbeat racing. Just lying there hurt. My parents didn’t care about me, they didn’t even care about Pheona. Why else would they send her away? I already knew the answer. So they wouldn’t have to deal with her.  I sat up and strained to hear their voices from the dining room.
“Don’t mind her, Pheona; she’s just a spoiled hormonal teenager. She wants to see you,” my father mumbled.
“Pheona…” I heard my mother’s voice drop to a small whisper. “You two could have a girl’s night and spend quality time together. Your father and I have some last minute work to do at the office anyway.”
I moaned loudly and made an angry fist at the wall. They couldn’t see me, but it still made me feel better. I knew it. They didn’t have work to do; that was always their excuse. They tried to be good parents, they told lies to make themselves feel better. Sure they may stop by the office, if only to pick up a file or some money. They were both accountants and did payroll for most of the business in Clearwater, but their job didn’t take up that much time. Everything was basically computerized these days and all it needed was a human to input the amounts here or there.
I threw the closest thing to me at my bedroom door and screamed again. As my small stuffed rabbit hit the door, I threw myself back on my bed and started to sob. It wasn’t fair. They didn’t care about me. Even now, Pheona was only home for a few days and they weren’t even planning on staying home with her. It was always the same. I never could go out on weekends because we spent them visiting Pheona. It was always “Pheona needs this” or “Pheona would want you to do that.” I mean Pheona and I hadn’t lived in the same house in over ten years. She had come home for a few years when she turned eighteen, but her mental stability from her drug and alcohol abuse took a turn for the worse so they sent her back.
I heard the loud rumbling of an engine and tires backing out of our driveway. I didn’t feel bad for feeling so selfish about Pheona. I saw her every week and she never talked to me much less looked at me until today. She was an adult, an incapable one, but still a grown woman. Each week I sat in the corner, my parents sat with Pheona on her bed in her padded room, sometimes we were allowed outside if the weather permitted. They talked to her about all of the fun things she was missing out on, as if that would suddenly make her sane.  It was pathetic.
My bedroom door swung open and I shot up.
“Grab your coat.” Pheona threw my light gray jacket at me and I caught it with one hand.
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” I said bluntly.
“You are and you will, today is the solstice and the one day I don’t fear as much. You are taking me out.”
“No,” I said, throwing my coat back at her. “ I am not going anywhere, you tried to kill me earlier, have you forgotten? Plus mom and dad would flip if they knew you left the house without them. You’re not allowed outside the home, remember?”
Pheona laughed, throwing her head back so her black hair fell behind her shoulders it was now combed and not so stringy looking. She was strangely beautiful, I noticed, but in a scary way. And though I had never noticed it before, usually because her hair was lifeless and looked uncombed and she hid under layers and layers of loose clothes, she looked young. Her skin was so pale and tight on her body, slender and small. She pulled off what I never could: the allure of mystery and desire. Pheona wore a pair of skin tight black leggings and a black cardigan that looked a little too big for her.
“Going through my closet?” I asked her. She gave me a secret half smile and pressed her hands over the cardigan to try and make it tighter.
“I’ve got a fat sister,” she said and turned around to walk out. I let my mouth drop.
As soon as I knew she was gone, I walked to my full length mirror and turned around to examine myself. Sure I was about five sizes bigger than Pheona give or take. But I was also a stunning 5’9 and Pheona barely made it over five feet. I wasn’t large, but very muscular. I had taken dance lessons my entire life, and I still did every summer when I could find the time. I loved to dance. Anything from ballroom to ballet or jazz, made me feel more alive and connected to the world that anything else I had experienced. I loved the movement of feeling free. I still remembered the first time I had danced. I was about seven and I had danced with the sprites in the woods behind my house. They had spun around, jumping and swaying with the melody of the wind and the songs of the insects. They twirled around and beat on the rocks, all while stroking the trees and caressing the wind with their palms. I remember how beautiful they looked with their long flowing hair braided loosely with flowers, and green vines that wrapped around their body like clothes.  Oh how much I wanted to be as carefree as they were. I know better now; I can never be a sprite. I am just a human gifted and cursed with the sight.
A loud crashing noise knocked me out of my daydream. I let out another small sign and ran out into the hall in search of the source. Everything seemed normal. The hallway was empty, nothing on the ground or out of place. I knew better than to search it out, but something felt wrong. A small chill ran up my spine that made my whole body shiver with an addicting fear.  Pheona could be in danger, or better yet trying to kill herself. After that run in with the darkling earlier, I wasn’t about to take any chances.
“Pheona?” I whispered. The house echoed back emptiness. Nothing. I took a small step back towards my room, when another crash in the spare bedroom made me jump. Without thinking, I ran full speed towards the sound. The bedroom door was wide open, and inside I saw Pheona armed with a silver throwing star and an empty glass bottle. She was alone, but my heart was beating wildly. I was glad she was okay, but scared out of my wits. I placed my hand on my heart and gave myself a quick second to catch my breath.
“What is going on? You about gave me a heart attack,” I cried, still trying to slow my heart down.
Pheona pushed her dark locks behind her ear and plopped down on her bed.
“Gaby, what is this? A breeding ground for darklings? Why the hell are they even able to come out in the sunlight anyway?”
I raised my eyebrow. I had wondered the same thing but there was no use going crazy with wonder, Garrick would explain it all soon.
“I have no idea, but they seem to be staying in the shadows. They looks…stronger. I don’t know. I shook my head in confusion. I knew they wouldn’t hurt me, they wouldn’t risk angering Garrick like that. It was only fear they wanted, it was what they liked.
“I guess we need to discuss that.” I walked across the room and rested my head on the wooden doorframe. As much as I didn’t want to talk about it, the truth was out and it was inevitable. It seemed as though deep inside I had always known. It didn’t feel like such a shock, only a sweet relief.
“So we both can see them, how long?” I asked her.
“For as long as I can remember,” she replied. I narrowed my eyes at her and inched closer to the bed where she sat.
“I was six; can you see the others too?”
Gaby looked up at me. “What others?”
“The good ones,” I stated.
“There are no good ones.”
“There are.” I sat down on the bed, and Gabby moved up off the floor to sit next to me. She was my sister, but this felt the most honest conversation we had ever had together.
“They are wonderful,” I explained. “Beautiful and full of light. Honest and good, they are everything humans can never be.” I could hear the awe in my voice, and for a moment thinking of them made my whole body warm. There must have been a dreamy look on my face, because when I looked at Gabby her eyes were wide with shock and disbelief.  She wouldn’t understand. She could never understand what Garrick meant to me, what he had done for me.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Pheona laughed, she fell back on the bed in a shaking fit. She wrapped her arms around her waist like she would split apart at any second.
“They have you pegged for some sort of idiot, well… you are an idiot. But really?”
Offended, I stood up. Who was she to act as if she knew even the tiniest thing about me?  I started to pace the room. It was the smallest room in the house, so I didn’t have much room. The spare room was decorated with pink and yellow cottage like flowers. The comforter, the wall boarder, the pictures; the flowers were everwhere. It was all too sappy.
“Screw you.” I pointed my finger at her like a parent scolding a four-year-old and started for the door. Pheona’s attitude was becoming increasingly annoying.
“Wait!” she called out after me. “Show them to me, these… good darklings.” Their name came out sarcastically and I knew right away that she didn’t believe me.
“How could something so evil have an exact counterpart?”
I thought for a second. It was a valid question. Yet it was true, the fey were the exact opposite of the darklings.
“Okay, but you have to tell me what you were doing in here.”
“Warding off a darkling.”
“With a bottle and a ninja star?”  I raised my eyebrow, this time I was the one in disbelief. I point to the two objects on the bed.
“The silver star distracts them; the bottle is filled with sun essence.”
“Sunlight?” I smirked. “Where did you learn these little tricks? Usually I ignore them and they mostly leave me alone.” I shuttered as I said the word mostly. They did mostly leave me alone, but not always. Using a star and a bottle seemed like the most ridiculous way to ward off a darkling, but you work with what you got.
“Well when your family abandons you and leaves you locked in a cushioned mental cell most of your life you learn a few tricks and you learn to defend yourself.”
Her remark hurt, though I was not the one who sent her away. I did feel bad that I had the chance to do things that she would never be allowed to experience. And I’m sure she stemmed a lot of jealousy on her end.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled.
“Don’t be,” she said. “I snuck out lots of times and tonight we are going to the bonfire you were throwing that tantrum over.”
She picked up a set of car keys to Dad’s old pickup truck and threw them at me. A little harder than need be. I caught it in my left hand a few of the keys pierced my palm. I winced and moved the keys to my right hand. She was strong.

“You drive.” she said, smirking as threw her dark hair over her shoulders. “Because I don‘t know how.”

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