January 2019 Short Story
She believed in me in a way no one else ever has and no one else ever will, and I betrayed her. The worst part is she doesn’t know. She still thinks I remained neutral. I don’t have the heart to tell her I chose a side.
My mother and father always stayed out of the politics of the fairies, but I couldn’t do it. And what’s worse is I’ve sided with the fire fairies, not the water fairies. My betrayal would kill her. So far though, she hasn’t found out. Now if I can just get through this lunch with my sister without dying from boredom, I can get back to my assignment.
The not-so-cold war between the different fairy factions has been going on for centuries. Humans don’t know about it, but it’s going on around them every day. San Francisco happens to be one of the more active fronts at the moment. In particular, the water and fire fairies fight over the city like it’s the only thing that matters to them. The other factions, earth and air, fight over other places, more in the middle of the country.
At the moment, I am working with the fire fairies to make it look like the water fairies have become lax in their duties. Last week, I made an oil tanker spill, damaging water and wild life. That kind of incident gives the fire fairies an advantage in the political arena. They can claim the water fairies are not capable of protecting this city the way it needs to.
I am actually a water fairy, but I can’t stand by and let them ruin the place I love because it turns out the fire fairies are right. The water fairies don’t have control of this city, not even a little bit. Crime is at an all time high. Pollution is out of control. Those humans who are supposed to protect the other humans, don’t care. Police, doctors, firemen, and most of the other civil servants have stopped trying. Disease is running rampant. The bottom line is, something must be done.
The only other problem is that while the fairies are jockeying for control of the city, they don’t seem to care what harm they do to it. If we aren’t careful, there won’t be a city left when the battle ends.
My sister, who is droning on and on about her job, is oblivious that there are larger problems at hand than her regular dry cleaners closing down.
I have a lot on my plate right now. I am trying to work out how to sneak into a water treatment facility, and at the same time, go about my business without my mother noticing my comings and goings.
The latter is easier said than done. Ever since my mother retired from her job, she wants to know my every movement. I still live with her. Unlike my other sisters, I never moved out. She would be so disappointed in me.
“And that’s why I think I’m going to try the new store on 10th street,” my sister said.
I honestly had no idea what she was talking about. “Sounds like a good idea,” I said.
She got quiet for a minute. “What’s going on with you? You are quieter and more distracted than normal.” She squinted her eyes and looked me up and down.
“Nothing is going on. I am fine.” I gathered up my cell and put my purse over my shoulder. “Thanks for lunch, but I really should be getting back to mom. I don’t like to leave her alone too long.” I used our mother as a means of escape as often as I could. My sisters probably knew that’s what I was doing, but they weren’t going to call me on it because then I might ask them to help out with our mother.
I left the restaurant feeling frustrated. I needed to keep my life and my other life separate but I didn’t know how much longer that was possible. The real question was whether I should go ahead and tell my mother that I was working for the fire fairies or let her find out on her own. Either way, that conversation was not going to go well.
In fact, it could be really, really bad. When fairies get emotional, they can have trouble controlling their emotions. My mother, in particular, was prone to control issues anyway because she had Alzheimer’s. She sometimes acted like a young fairy first coming into her power; she would forget to reign in her magic once she started unleashing it. And to make matters worse, my powers were no match for her.