When I got back to my apartment that evening, I had someone waiting for me just outside my door. I gave the extremely handsome, but obnoxious young male an evil glare, before ignoring him completely.
“You’re not going to say hello?” Caspian asked in his deep voice. I was just about to unlock the door, but thought better of it and turned to him, meeting his enchanting green eyes.
“Hello Caspian, come to offend me some more?” I asked sourly. He sighed and shook his head.
“You’re impossibly self-centered to be a nymph; I thought the lot of you was supposed to be kind and gentle.” He said and raised an eyebrow at me. I snorted.
“Well it skipped a generation.” I snapped and unlocked the door. Caspian suddenly made an involuntary movement, making me stop myself from opening the door.
“Is there a reason you’re here?” I asked, eying him suspiciously. He didn’t answer.
“Will you quit the silent act already; it doesn’t make you irresistibly mysterious or anything. It just makes you pathetic. Why are you here?” I snapped, anger flaring up in me. Caspian looked surprised at my sudden outburst.
“You’d be grateful if it turns out there’s another shadow in your apartment.” He said leveled. I stared at him, wondering what was up with this guy.
“You were worried about me?” I asked confused. He rolled his eyes.
“Do you… want to come inside?” I asked unsurely, not really knowing how to handle this awkward situation. Caspian sighed.
“I’ll make sure the apartment is safe, and then I’ll go.” He said and came towards me. I opened the door up wide, and he walked in before me, switching the light on. The apartment was empty. Caspian stood in the middle of my living room, looking quite like a god. I sighed and walked in.
“Would you like something to drink or…”
“Elizabeth, you really should go back to the Valley.” He interrupted.
“I know, and I would if I could.” I answered, suddenly feeling very vulnerable.
“You can’t go back?” He asked shocked now. I shook my head.
“Once I left, they said I would not be able to come back unless I had news from the sea nymphs. The elders want to end this war, but they are unable to leave the Valley, so they send younger nymphs instead.” I told him. He didn’t like that, I could see his green eyes become angry.
“So the elders think of the younglings as disposable, because?” He asked. My eyes widened.
“Well they are the elders after all; they have far more knowledge than we younglings will ever have. They are the ancients, they have seen the…”
“Yes, but how much longer will they be able to hide away in their precious Valley? Their lifespan is soon at an end, and then it will be the younglings who will carry the knowledge of the nymphs. This didn’t even occur to you?” He asked angrily. I was gaping like a fish on land now.
“I… what are you saying?” I asked. A low growl escaped Caspian as he started to pace around the room.
“I think your elders knew perfectly well that you would never be able to communicate with the naiads. They don’t want to end the war; they just want to get rid of all the younglings who think differently of the situation than they do.” He explained. I gasped, considering his point. It could be the truth. I had begun to question the war and its ideology. It had seemed as if the naiads and the dryads only fought because it seemed a good thing to be doing.
“You see what they have done, don’t you?” Caspian asked. Staring into my eyes. I nodded.
“They have done it before. I thought it was normal procedure, and that the Elders wanted to create peace. But once the younglings come to the human world, something is here waiting for them.” I said. Caspian nodded.
“It seems like it. I don’t think the naiads are behind the assaults though. It’s not their policy, or their way of doing things.” He said. I shook my head, finding it odd as well that the naiads would send a shadow after me. It didn’t make sense.
“You knew this? That’s why you’ve been protecting me?” I asked. Caspian looked uneasy, but nodded. I tilted my head to the side.
“That means I’m not the first nymph you’ve ever met. Why are you protecting me?” I asked intently. It didn’t make sense.
“It doesn’t matter.” He said and turned away, longing to be out the door. I could tell he thought his job here was done.
“It matters to me. I want to know why you’re guarding me. Why you’re here.” I insisted. He shook his head.
“I can’t tell you. Good night Elizabeth.” He said, and was out the door before I could even summon up a reply. I stared at the open door, wide eyed and confused. This was not what I had expected to find in the human world. I didn’t even know what he was. It seemed as if every time I met him, he gave me another ten questions I did not have the answer to.
“May the forest damn you Caspian Riverton.” I snarled in frustration, and slammed the door shut, hoping he had heard me. I kicked off my sneakers, and flung my parka into a corner. Walked over to the couch and very un-nymph-like, I flung myself down on it, and fell asleep. For the first time ever since I left the Valley. The noise from the city around me was like a lullaby rather than a death metal song. I was so tired I could even have slept on the bus.
The next morning, I woke up, after a night filled with nightmares about a shadow strangling me to death. It was the Saturday I was going on a “pretend” date with my friend’s brother. As planned, June showed up on my door step, taking me downtown for some serious shopping. I hated shopping, which I had learnt was almost a sin if you were a female. I didn’t understand that. It seemed as if humans enjoyed placing each other in labeled boxes, but they complained when they realized they had been labeled. The humans were such strange specimens; I didn’t even know where to begin on describing them. No matter how much it pained me to admit it, the humans seemed more complicated than nymphs. Nymphs were born with the knowledge her or his ancestors had obtained throughout centuries, so we knew exactly what we were supposed to do, when to do it, and why. Humans on the other hand were born without knowledge at all; they had to be taught to live from their very first day. They even had to learn how to eat; they didn’t know how to speak, or how to get dressed. It even seemed as if some of the humans were born without common sense, and had never been taught it either. Some didn’t know how to interact with another human. From my point of view, they were babies throughout their entire lives, stumbling, falling and getting up again. Every new step a human takes is an experiment; they never know what may happen.
Even when I looked at my friend June, I saw a child. It might seem a little strange of me, to say that I was born fully taught about life, now that I’m walking the streets of a unknown town in a human world, having no idea what to do. Well, I never predicted that I would almost be banned from the Valley (if what Caspian said was true) and I certainly never knew I would be in such a difficult situation. So perhaps I’m the child here, no matter how much older I am than all the humans in this mall combined, this is completely new to me. It may help me understand the humans even more.
“Hey, you’re spacing out on me again. Come on, that shop over there looks promising.” June said and grabbed my hand, dragging me along. I had noticed that humans liked to drag their friends around by the hand. Especially June did this a lot, it didn’t bother me, but I just… didn’t understand why she did it, I would’ve been able to keep up with her on my own.
We entered an overcrowded shop filled with all the kinds of clothes I just couldn’t understand that human girls would show themselves in. Skintight dresses that inhibited any kind of movement, skirts that hung so low on the hip and crept so high up on the thigh you might as well wear it as a belt and high heeled shoes with heels so narrow you could murder someone with it. I wrinkled my nose in distaste; June seemed to be of the same opinion as me though, luckily.
“Ah, well I can’t picture you in any of this. Let’s go next door.” She said and again grabbed my hand, helping me out the door.
The shop next door did actually look a lot more promising with airy dresses in comfortable and light fabrics (perhaps not fitted for a January date, but definitely lovely). June grinned and started to look around the shop. I wasn’t sure what she was hoping to find, or how she’d like me to look for her brother. He was in a rock band, perhaps she wanted me to look like a rock chick? Suddenly she got a self-satisfied look in her eyes and held up a deep blue, knee-length dress in a light fabric. I liked it; it was a little more than casual, but perfectly alright to wear to a casual date. I tried it on my long frame, and it fit perfectly, showing off my long legs.
“Well that was easy.” June said and grinned when I had paid the dress and we were walking back to her house to get ready for my date. She had volunteered to help me get ready. I feared that “getting ready” meant applying make-up. We stopped by another store on our way back. It was a shoe store. June looked around.
“You shouldn’t go for high heels I think. Perhaps a pair of ballerinas would fit.” She obviously spotted a pair, because she rushed across the floor and grabbed a pair of black ballerinas with small studs on it.
“These are perfect; they’ll rough up the outfit amazingly.” She said eagerly. I smiled and nodded, doing whatever would please her. I found my size, and was about to pay, when June shoved me gently aside and smiled.
“They are on me.” She said and paid. I was confused, was she giving me a gift? For what? Usually when nymphs give presents, we expect a favor in return, so therefore we usually never like to accept gifts. A gift is like a contract, and it’s impossible to give it back if the favor the other asks of you is too great. I felt uneasy taking the bag when I knew that June was most likely expecting something in return from me, but she didn’t mention it, not at all.
When we got back to the Sanders residence, June and I occupied the large bathroom. We had exactly one hour until Darin came back from band practice. June brought in a CD player, and pressed play. Tunes from one of the few bands I actually knew of; The Beatles, streamed out of the speakers, getting us both in a good mood. June brought my hair up into a ponytail, and looked at me.
“I don’t think you need any make-up, you’re very naturally beautiful.” She said.
“Thank you. I’m not a big fan of make-up.” I said and smiled. She nodded.
“Me neither.” She seemed thoughtful. “Would you like to take a shower?”
“I showered this morning, I don’t think it’s necessary.” I answered. She nodded.
“Well, all you really need to do is get yourself into that lovely dress, so what are we going to do until Darin comes?” She asked.
“Well, you could tell me more about you.” I suggested and stripped out of my jeans and t-shirt, and dragging the dress over my head, letting the fabric fall down around my body. It floated like water on my skin, very comfortable, and practical in case I suddenly needed to run very fast.
“Oh, well it’s not much to say, I guess. I think I’ve told you the most important things.” June answered, before her eyes lit up, like they did when she got an idea.
“You could tell me more about you. I don’t know anything about you.” She said nodded, agreeing with her own idea. I hadn’t really figured out things about myself, in case anyone asked. It would be difficult to hide my nature forever of course, because I wouldn’t age like the humans did, I just hadn’t thought anyone would take interest in my previous life.
“Well, I was born in Kairo, in Egypt. My mother was Egyptian and her name was Isis, my father was an Englishman; called Charles. When I was nine, we moved to Oxford, where we lived happily for a few years, until my parents died in a car accident when I was fifteen. I jumped in and out of several foster homes, until I wound up here, with the Bravehearts’.” I said and smiled awkwardly, knowing that the spontaneous story of my “life” sounded a little thin. I would need some thinking time to make it more believable. June gasped.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. It must hurt to talk about it. You didn’t have to tell me if it’s too painful.” She said devastated. I smiled and shook my head.
“Don’t worry, I’m alright. I just wasn’t aware that my life sounded so dramatic until now.” I said.
“Yeah, tell me about it, my parents died in a boat accident too far off the coast that the coast guard could reach them before the boat sank. They could only find my father’s… body… though. So somehow, I have a slight hope that perhaps my mother survived somehow, and is out there somewhere.” She paused and looked at herself in the mirror. “Perhaps she’ll come back one day. If I believe that, it makes it a little easier to handle, all in all.” June sniffled and turned away from me. I felt like I was intruding her personal space by being in the room when she was in such a vulnerable state. Another thing my nymph mind couldn’t comprehend. We are very personal creatures, and don’t share our pain with anyone, not compared to humans who turn to each other for comfort. So I don’t really know how to support anyone feeling down.
“I’m really sorry.” I murmured, and I was sorry for her loss. My parents were still alive in the Valley, but I didn’t have the same relationship with my parents like it seemed that humans had. All the nymphs were my brothers and sisters, it didn’t matter who the parents were. Though, I could imagine that losing a parent was like losing a brother or a sister in my world.
“Come on, enough personal stuff for today.” June said suddenly and smiled at me cleverly. She turned up the volume as one of her favorite songs of The Beatles came on. Only a few seconds later we were both dancing around the bathroom, shouting: “I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus, goo goo goo job!”
“Wow, you look great!” Was the response from Darin as I came down the stairs in my new dress and the ballerina flats. I smiled at him and glanced up at June, who was waving me well away on my “pretend” date.
“You don’t look half bad yourself.” I replied, seeing as he was wearing a black shirt instead of a regular t-shirt, dark jeans and spotless checkered Vans. I grabbed the black winter coat June had lent me, because she thought my parka would be wrong with the dress. I had to agree. Darin grabbed his own black jacket and smiled at me as he held up the door for me.
“Where do you want to go?” I asked once we were out of the house.
“There’s a silent restaurant just down by the water, we can walk there.” He said.
“Thank god.” I said.
“You don’t like cars all that much, do you?” He asked. I shook my head.
“I’m not fond of the smell. They smell so… much like metal.” I answered. He laughed.
“You’re a strange little thing, aren’t you?” Darin was a little too observant to my liking, but yet again I found it charming that he paid attention to me. And the fact that he had found a restaurant we could walk to, counted for more than a simple compliment. His golden eyes smiled at me, and his black hair was stylishly ruffled. This would probably be my best human evening yet. Oh how wrong you can be sometimes.