Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

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  • Published: 30 Jul 2013
  • Updated: 30 Jul 2013
  • Status: Complete
I've seen them ever since I was seven. It started with the books. Then I started seeing them in real life. That's when I knew it wasn't just the nightmares.

Now, seven years later, can one person change everything I thought I knew?

~~~

For the City of Bones Competition :)

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1. Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

The day Cassie burst into the kitchen crying was the first day that impacted my life.

 

“Martha! I’ve seen them! I’m so sorry I said all those things – they’re real!”

 

My older sister, bigger, better and so much cooler than me; begging me to forgive her. What to do? Forgive her of course.

 

I’ve seen them ever since I was seven. It started in books – big leather bound books that had sat on the shelves next to the front door. But when I started having nightmares, they all disappeared from the shelf. All fingers pointing at Dad. From that point on, I began to see them in real life. When I screamed in Maths at school, jabbering and pointing at seemingly empty space, Dad realised it was a big problem.

 

By the time I was nine, I had seen the inside of four different psychologist’s rooms, but nothing changed. The last one I saw tried to tell me that it was something my brain made up to fill up the gap where Mum once occupied. I yelled at him until my throat was hoarse. I have never been to a psychologist since, and five years later, I see them more frequently than ever before.

 

My sister Cassie; the favourite; the normal one; took pleasure in taunting me and my ‘condition’. I’m sure she revelled in the glory that her sister was mentally deranged.

 

But I’m not crazy. They are real. Even Cassie came to her senses after a while. People just don’t open their eyes wide enough.

 

‘See what?’ You’re asking. The faeries. That’s what.

 

Not the pretty ones from twee children’s tales. These ones have ragged wings, tattooed limbs and often a knife in their belt. I’ve never seen them harm anyone, but I wouldn’t doubt their ability. Sometimes I wonder whether they see me. Always in the corner, alone and quiet – the one who has no friends because she is regarded as crazy. Maybe once in a while, their eyes just stray to mine, but flit away when they see me stare back.

 

When Cassie sobbed and snotted into my jumper that day, I realised that I wasn’t alone in this strange limbo between modern day and faerie land. There could be others who were like me. Rejected from society because they have a gift no one else seems to possess.

 

Four days later, I met Aden. I’d seen him around school every now and again but paid little attention to him. The rain had thundered down that day, obscuring everything which wasn’t within three feet of you. All of the other people had retreated inside, preferring dry activities to soaking ones. I had managed to find a small bench in the corner of the playing field.

 

My shoes were coated in thick mud and I sighed. Dad is going to be livid. That was when I saw the faerie. It was dancing and playing in the rain like no other one I’d seen. Mesmerising and just a little beautiful.

 

A soft voice in my ear. “What are you staring at?” Startled, I had whipped my head around so that my sodden hair had lashed the stranger in the face. He started chuckling. His laugh was contagious. Shortly after, he told me his name was Aden. He had an oval face and dark hair which was slightly flatted due to the virtual monsoon around us. He had long lashes and deep green eyes. Soppy stuff.

 

Just when I thought Aden would loose interest in me and go back inside for favour of normal people, he said something which rocked my world, upended it upon the ground and stamped on it. “You can see him too?”

 

The faerie must have heard my gasp at this point, and took off from the ground. It vanished through the raindrops, leaving behind the distinct scent of burnt toast.

 

My voice shook. “You... you can see him too?”

 

“I thought I was the only one!” Aden looked as happy as me. His smile was nice, I thought, as shivers wracked my body. “Here, you’re cold. Take my coat.”

 

I started to protest. I’m not a fan of cliché romance. But when he wrapped me in his still-warm coat, it acted like a tonic. The smell of sawdust and cinnamon floated up to my nose and I felt like a child again.

 

“Can we meet up somewhere proper to talk about this?” I asked Aden.

 

“Somewhere ‘proper’, Miss Martha. Now where would that be, may I ask?” He faked a posh British accent.

 

“Anywhere, as long as it’s secluded and warm and not in school,” I answer in a stilted Scottish accent. It feels nice to talk to someone who isn’t swearing at you or talking to you like a baby, or both.

 

Since then, we have met up at the cafe next to the theatre at least twelve times. One time he kissed me, but that’s irrelevant for now. The beginnings of a plan, sketched on napkins, over two drinks of raspberry milkshake. That is what brings us to the now.

 

The night is dark and we have our natural cover. Winter nights begin so early. Dad thinks I’m at a friend’s house for tea and Aden’s parents think he is on a school trip.

 

We’ve been over this at least one hundred times, and the plan is etched into my memory. It’s hard getting over the school fence, but once we are through, it will be a doddle. Aden’s dad is a self-employed carpenter. That mean that Aden can pilfer a few things here and there from his shed, without being detected.

 

One of these handy things is a tree trunk stool. With the inside hollowed out, the stool is light enough to carry yet it looks natural enough to leave in the woods by the fence. The school fence is as high as two small men perched on top of one another. I’m not very tall and Aden is only a little above average height. Hence the stool. The second handy thing is the tree itself. It stands just to the left of our position, but a large branch extends to where we stand.

 

I signal to Aden. Not like anyone would be wandering these parts of the town at this time, but the coast is clear. I step onto the stool’s broad surface first. Aden steps up behind me and lifts my foot up high. I jump at the same time and thrash for the tree. By some miracle, the girl who is pathetically awful at sports manages to pull herself onto the branch first time.

 

I carefully manoeuvre myself so that I am comfortably weighted to pull Aden up without falling back down my self. “On three,” I whisper down at him. He nods nervously. “One, two... three”

 

He jumps and I grab his hand. I can feel myself slipping. My eyeballs feel like they’re popping out with all the effort I am giving. It’s no use. Aden drops back down. “Try again” I try to say but my voice is hoarse. This time when Aden jumps, I am ready. He’s over in just under ten seconds and we plop soundlessly into the school grounds. Well except for me – I sort of crash onto the ground like a baby deer.

 

Almost as if summoned, the sky unleashes it’s burden and we are soon soaked to the flesh. However cold and miserable, this is exactly what we were hoping for. Rain.

 

We make our way to the historic bench, connected by our hands. His hand is supple and warm and I don’t feel like letting go. I can see his smile through the soggy darkness.

 

We locate the bench in the rain and sit, removing the contents of our bags. A reinforced net from Dad’s fishing kit, a knife from Aden’s dad’s shed and some crushed extra strong sleeping tablets. Oh, and some toast.

 

We’re catching a faerie.

 

Of course, hoping that the sleeping power will knock the faerie out, seeing as it’s a big dose for a small creature. Faeries like toast. So the epic combination: Sleeping powder on toast. I presumed a lot of things, so this still could be a complete failure. Yet the faerie we saw before seemed to be intoxicated by the rain. Maybe it will be the same this time.

 

Aden carefully places the drugged bread directly in front of us, about a metre away. This is the part where we have to keep very still and quiet. We wait. Two beings in the shadows, obscured by the cover of blackness. The rain falters and stalls, but it doesn’t stop, merely getting lighter.

 

I begin to think it won’t come, but then I hear it. A whispery wailing sound – one that has haunted me for years. It’s here. The very same one. And we’re going to catch it!

 

I squeeze Aden’s hand, oh so gently. He knows it’s here. The moon takes this chance to play ball and emerges from behind a cloud. Ghostly light illuminates everything with a silvery lining. The faerie either doesn’t see us, or doesn’t care. I guess the former.

 

With a delicacy no creature like that could seem to have, the faerie plucks a crumb of toast from the wet gluey substance that once was bread. It appears to like what it tastes and goes back for more. Soon, at least half of the toast is eaten. By that time the faerie is swaying. I can see it’s black eyes search the surroundings. It knows it’s been drugged. Finally it’s eyes rest on mine. It snarls before passing out. I shiver. Mean little creature. We need to be careful.

 

Aden picks up the body and rests it in the net – securing it with a knot. We have got what we came for. Now that we have it, I know what we could do. We have immense power at our finger tips, but do we use it? The media would be on us like a swarm of bees. We’d be famous. We could prove we were not mad after all. Show the world who –and what – lives in perfect harmony with our seemingly normal existence.

 

This side of the fence is easier to climb, as the tree trunk grows in the school grounds.  We haul our catch over and one by one, we’re free. We did it.

 

“What shall we do?” I ask.

 

“It’s your decision,” Aden replies, before leaning down to kiss me.

 

And do you know what I chose?

 

Look around. What can you see?

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