I’m sitting back out on the balcony thinking about Martin while Orchid is at the table inside, pretending not to watch me while she sews a new skirt for an upcoming summer dance.
If I was still with Martin, the summer would mean different things for us. No dances with rigid rules or ceremony, but time together doing whatever we please. How much I’d rather be doing that instead of sitting around my house.
I stare out at the sunset, lost in thought when I hear the horrible sound of glass shattering. I leap to my feet and run inside. Orchid is standing in a small sea of glass, holding a broken picture frame.
“I am so sorry,” she says when she sees me come in.
“It’s okay, Orchid. Which picture is it?” I ask as I walk toward her.
“I am not sure who he is, but tis the picture of a male standing behind you on a swing.”
I reach out and take the picture frame from her and take the picture out of the broken frame. The picture of Martin and me isn’t harmed, but I’ll have to find a new frame.
“Who is he, Heather? I have never seen him before.”
“And you never will,” I say softly as I crush the picture to my chest. “This is a picture that one of Martin’s friends took of us while we were together.”
“That’s the human boy who kept you away for so long? He does not look anything like how the Council describes humans. This boy is almost handsome,” Orchid says as she steps around the glass.
“Almost? Replace that word with very. And Martin didn’t keep me away, I willingly stayed with him. I didn’t want to come back, but the Council made me.”
Orchid laughs. “There you are again with your silly human words. ‘Didn’t?’ What does that mean?”
I look back out the window. “It’s just like saying did not, but a quicker way to say it.”
“Are there more words like that? Methinks that ‘twould be rather fun to use words like ‘didn’t’ and ‘would’ve’ in everyday speech. Do humans do that?”
I nod, distracted. “Everyone there does. It’s not as bad as the Council makes us think,” I say as I turn around and face her. “Humans are a lot like us. Granted, there are still differences, but they’re not all monsters like the Council wants us to believe.”
“I know this, Heather. Do you forget that my mother was a human?”
I shake my head. “Of course not.”
Orchid takes my free hand and leads me back out to the balcony and sits down on the floor in front of my swing. “Heather, my mother died when I was very young, so I could not learn about the human ways. Can you tell me about your time with them? And about Martin?”
I sit down in my swing and look down at the picture. “I’m not sure, Orchid. There are still things that I haven’t come to terms with, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to talk about everything yet.”
She grabs my hand and looks up at me imploringly with lavender eyes ringed in darker purple. “Please? I want to hear the story, and I promise that I shall not tell a soul, not even Indigo.”
I sigh and look down at my friend. “Okay. But please, don’t say anything until I’m finished. I feel like if I get started, I won’t be able to stop until I’m done.”
Orchid nods excitedly and spreads her long skirt over her legs.
I lean back against the soft wood backing of my swing and stare at the boy in the picture. “It’s a very long story, but it all started with me trying to escape from the council.”
“But no one can do that, my father was an example.”
I ignore her outburst and continue. “I had to try. I was tired of everything they stood for and what they made me do, and that was when I left, and headed to the southwest, my Council position. I was walking with Lily, my second-in-command in my region when I first heard about dryads living among humans undetected.”