Nanig, who must have thought he (or she) had said all that needed to be said, stared at me expectantly. I had a feeling that if I could see the Brownie’s face, he’d be grinning like a little kid who had just been praised by the teacher. Of course, tired as I was of not being able to see the thing, and now assured that it wouldn’t maul my face, I reached for the light on my bedside table.
Nanig was three feet high, and covered in a very light smattering of light brown fur. It’s large leaf-like ears rose perkily above it’s round head. I had been right in assuming it was only humanoid, it’s eyes were a muddy shade of yellow and looked very feline, in both the shape and pupils. It looked at me with a very earnest expression, its’ face ageless. It’s body was sturdy and squat, and it was wearing clothes that looked as if they were made out of newspaper; A simple shirt, a jacket, and ragged breeches. His long bird-like feet were bare. In his hand, he held a cute little weather-beaten brown cap. All in all, the little Brownie gave the impression of being harmless and a people-pleaser.
“Um right, Nanig? Could you tell me something?” I grabbed my beaten leather journal out of the bedside table along with my fountain pen, I was going to have to look deeper into this whole ‘caster’ business. Hell, this whole HOUSE needed to be figured out. “What’s a caster?”
The brownie hopped up and down excitedly and flapped its’ hat in the air. “Oh, miss don’t you know? Casters are humans with Other blood in them; Don’t they teach anything in those human schools nowadays?”
“What’s Other blood?” I hurriedly scribbled it down and waited pen poised for the next tidbit. My heartbeat quickened with excitement at this sudden change of events. You never expect anything like this to happen to you, and when it does, it’s as if your whole world changes, like an extra color you hadn’t noticed until just then adds itself to the spectrum.
“Other blood, you know!” Nanig waved his hand impatiently. For someone who had been so worried earlier, he was quite sassy. “The fey, the dryads, nymphs, and so on? That’s other blood, and you smell as if you’ve got a bit over half, miss.”
Brownies can smell measurements apparently. I scribbled down everything he said and made a separate caption for the things I wasn’t quite sure about. After thinking about it for a moment, I added Mystery man to the list. “Ok, so I’m a caster, but I can’t possibly be a half, half, Other thing. I mean, my dad was human; he served in the military and everything! And if I have a bit over half, that would mean mom has some Other blood too, right?”
“Right, some folks with Other blood don’t get the gift though, not sure why.” He scratched his chin and his leaf-shaped nose wrinkled thoughtfully. “About yer dad, did he die in service?”
“Yeah, he did actually, while he was away in Europe, I think.” I frowned suspiciously, what was he about to say? I was fully prepared to choke a little Brownie if he bad-mouthed my dad, even if I had only know him for a little while.
“Ah, the old country… I have a feeling yer dad is still living, miss.”
I shook my head. “No way, he died during a negotiation gone bad, he would never leave us, leave mom, like that.” Heart constricted at the thought. I remembered all those years when my brother and I had to drag mom to bed after she’d drunk her way through three bottles of wine, the nights where we had to comfort her while she cried herself to sleep. If he were alive, powers help him. I was going to make him regret doing that to mom.
“Well, How queer would it have been if he had stayed around, yet while your mum got older, he’d stayed 20 something?” Nanig rubbed the side of his nose in that way that you only see in old movies and read about in even older books. More often than not, it was the motion the wise character did to signify they were spot on about something.
I called Bullshit on that one.
“I’m sure it wouldn’t have been as bad as all that! Mom still looks like she’s in her 20s and she’s 45 for crissakes! He could have stayed around a good long time. But you know what? He abandoned us, or you say he did. If you’re right, my life just got twice as many times fucked up as it already was, so thank you, Nanig, thanks a bunch!”
When I saw the poor thing’s face, my anger quickly drained away. Geez, I had yelled at the poor thing and up until now he’d done nothing but help me. “Sorry, my dad’s a sore spot with me. I shouldn’t have take it out on you, dude. “
The Brownie shook its’ head, and smiled brightly. “At least you didn’t hit me! Most brownies I know would’ve gotten beaten soundly for sharing their opinion like that! You’re a kind mistress, that’s for sure.” Nanig’s head suddenly swung towards the window, his ears twitched madly and then he rose on his knobby legs. I followed his gaze to the window and saw the first signs of dawn. Had we really talked for that long?
“Hey nanig, I have to get back to sleep, I have school in the morning. Would you do me a favor?”
“Anything for you, miss.” He smiled that eager smile again and bobbed a slight bow my way.
“Could you find me more information on casters? Some books, maybe?”
“I’m on it, miss!” and then he dissolved. I added my father’s name to my book with the word ‘Alive?’ next to it, laid it on the bed beside me, turned off the light, and sunk into oblivion.
My alarm began to play the Pokemon (original, of course) theme song in my face. Usually, I would enjoy the song; even sing along, but today was not a good day. I reached blindly for my iPod and ripped it from its’ dock. It was mercifully silent once again. I lay there for a moment, half-drifting back to sleep when a pillow landed against the side of my head with a Whump! I shook my head and was pelted with the pillow once again, this time I almost got to say hello to the floor.
“I’m awake! I’m awake, stop it, Nick!” I know he’d heard me, but he continued to gleefully beat me anyways. This of course meant war, so I grabbed a pillow and retaliated. After about 10 minutes of pillow war, Nick declared a truce and plopped onto my bed. He was dressed in what I liked to call ‘Punk chic’ that day. His long hair was pulled back in a low braided ponytail that fell to right between his shoulder blades. He had snakebites and was wearing a pair of black rings in his lips this time around, In his left eyebrow, he had two studs. On each of his ears, he sported 4 piercings. As for his outfit, he was wearing dad’s old bomber jacket, now covered in extra zippers, and metal band patches, an old Sex Pistols shirt, black faded jeans, and his scuffed engineers’ boots.
In short, he looked like Bedford’s worst nightmare.
“Didn’t mom tell you to tone it down a bit?”
“Yes and I did,” He smirked. “On the first day. She said nothing about the rest of the school year.” He did have a point. It was hard to believe that he was in the top 10 percent of his class if you simply took in his appearance and not the brain behind it.
“You do realize your teachers are going to wet themselves in terror, right?”
“Oh yes, I look forward to it!” Nick looked at his watch and then out the window. “We should get going, Ad. Dress warm by the way, it’s snowing out there.”
I squealed (Yeah, I can’t believe I did it either, a teenage girl actually squealing) and ran into my closet. I was busy sorting through my many jackets when nick called “I’ll be downstairs in the car.” I quickly shimmied into a pair of jeans and ran into the bathroom. After sticking at least 10 barettes into my hair and pulling it back with two elastics, I gave my teeth a quick once over and ran back to my closet where I finally decided on my red button down shirt and pinstripe blazer. After almost running out the door and forgetting my shoes, I ran back upstairs and hopped into a pair of boots. I literally tripped down the stairs and out the door. The events of last night momentarily forgotten.
Most people would feel pathetic at having to bum rides off their younger brother, but I was just glad I didn’t have to walk in this mad weather. We had been lucky enough to reach the school’s parking lot. Nick, being the hardcore rockstar he is, gave me his gloves when he noticed I had forgotten mine. He grunted in embarrassment as I hugged him.
“You’re an artist, Ad. I’d rather you didn’t lose a finger or two.” He waved good-bye at me as we went our separate ways. I laughed to myself as almost every head in the hall-way turned to watch the tall black punk make his way to Advanced Calculus. He stuck out like a sore thumb. A pierced to hell sore thumb.
School let out early that day due to an impending blizzard. I walked outside, and was about to make my way over to nick’s old Honda when a guy on a sleek black motorcycle cut me off. Both the rider and his bike contrasted sharply with the snowy landscape. I tried to pass him, but he only blocked me again.
“What the hell, dude? Let me by!” I made to go around him again, and he stopped me AGAIN. What was going on here? Of course, I froze when I heard the tell-tale chuckle.
“You know, you should really do something about that temper.” Mystery guy pulled off the helmet and gave a perfect shake of his head. “It’ll get you in trouble some day..”
I looked around for nick, but everything had gone strangely still. Even the wind had stopped. I turned and spotted a couple coming out of same door I had, but they were frozen in place. The girl’s mouth partially opened in what looked like the start of a laugh, and the guy grinning stupidly. I turned back to him, to see he was watching me intently.
“Ok, I’ll bite. What’d you do?”
“Haven’t you ever heard that time stops when you fall in love?” He grinned that same impish grin and I frowned back. How lame.
“Yeah right, try again.” I rolled my eyes at his corny lines and fought the urge to push him off of his bike. Patience Adelle, learn his name and his angle first.
“Oh, and here I thought all teenage girls were romantics! I froze time, Ms. Debbie Downer.” He waved back at the same door and I saw my brother right behind the laughing couple. “I didn’t want your brother to interrupt us.”
“Well, you see, we need to have a chat, you and I.” He fetched another helmet from a saddle bag and handed it over to me.
“No, let’s just chat here. Now way am I getting on a bike with a complete stranger.”
“But what about our hot kiss two days ago? I think that qualifies us as acquaintances at least.” I blushed and gasped indignantly, which just made him smirk even more, Jerk. Either I was desperate for answer, or suffering temporary insanity, but I climbed on behind him.
“Hold on tight now, wouldn’t want you to take a tumble.”
He kicked the bike into gear and began to weave through the many cars in the parking lot. Trying to ignore the fact that I was pressed against him and holding on for dear life due to my fear of losing my face and a few teeth to the asphalt, I screamed as he suddenly picked up speed and shot off down the road.
“Are you insane?!” I shouted into his ear.
“No, I’m Ezell Foss.” and then he cackled insanely. Oh lord, what had I gotten myself into?