Anna went instead upstairs, and sat on her bed. She hugged her knees, burying her face in the denim of her jeans, and she cried.
What of my parents? she thought. I know they are human - can it be that they are not truly my parents, after all?
She thought back to her conversation with Spook. It seemed like so long ago. Was it really only that same day?
No, it can’t be. Anna looked at the clock. It was one in the morning. It was yesterday. I knew it must have been.
She looked down at her hands. They seemed pretty ordinary but she thought back over the last few weeks and knew they were far from it.
So this was why she could control elements? And yet she had only been able to do this since her thirteenth birthday - it must have been some sort of coming-of-age. She thought of what she had done last night, those creatures she had killed.
“These are not ordinary hands,” she stated aloud. “They have killed.” She looked at her laptop, but couldn’t face the idea of turning it on. She didn’t want to interact with the world just yet; didn’t want to act human.
Because I’m not, she realised. This is why I have never managed to fit in. Her tears were almost dried up, and she realised that she was thirsty.
“I’m not leaving this room,” she told herself, and started to look around for some water. A bottle caught her eye. It’s probably ancient, Anna thought. But she was thirsty and it was all that she could see. She pounced on it.
It tasted like the elixir of life to Anna’s sore throat, and she drank it greedily.
“There is no way that was ordinary water,” she said, staring at it in amazement as she felt her energy return and her morale improve.
“It was fairy water,” a voice from behind her said. She jumped and turned around.
“Who are you?”
Anna was addressing what appeared to be a short, stout man. He appeared to be translucent.
“I’m a ghost, my daughter.”
“I’m not your daughter!” Anna exclaimed. The old man shook his head.
“No, I know you are not. But you are fairy, and all those who are fairy are my children.” He paused, possibly in wistful recollection. “But as I said before, I am a ghost.”
“I can see that,” Anna said. “What are you doing here?”
“Those who have just found out their heritage are often distressed, confused or dangerous,” he replied. “I am here to help you should you become any of those things.” Anna nodded. That made sense.
“Thanks, but I’m okay,” she told him.
“I hope you stay that way, too,” said the man, and was gone.
Anna started to think.
If my parents aren’t my parents, why didn’t they tell me I was adopted? Did they even know, or was I a … changeling?
Who are my parents?
And if they’re not my parents, why have Angie and Greg looked after me all this time? Could they possibly not have been aware of what I was?
She looked up, her heightened sense telling her that someone else was present. It was the ghost of the old man again. She smiled, but it was a sad, sad, smile.
“What is it?” Anna said, not rudely, but not in the most polite way.
“I’m here to help you learn to use your powers,” he said. “You must learn to use them properly, or they could be very dangerous.”
“I don’t want powers!” she said, and she knew that she was lying to herself. Inside, she did want them. She wanted to be strong, and not always to need protecting. But there was absolutely no way she was about to admit that.
“You will need them, though, child, for many great battles lie ahead.” He spoke like an old book, and Anna felt her attention wandering.
“Please, if you’re going to teach me, can you get on with it?” she said, her voice irritable, although she was wary of offending him.
“You need to learn respect, young lady,” said the man, affronted.
“I know, and I’m sorry,” she said, with a sigh. “But I’m sort of irritable at the moment. Please forgive me.” It was hard to be humble like that, but she managed it, even succeeding in forgetting her parents.
“Very well,” the ghost told Anna. “We will begin at once.”