Friday, March 14, 2014

As Perceived by Crystellen 9

“My daughter has something she wants to say,” Mom said, once we returned to the room where Losten laid.

No I don’t, I thought.  You have something you want me to say.

I stepped forward from behind Mom and glanced down at the coffee table that sat between myself and Losten.  “I’m sorry for what I did to you,” I managed to say. 

“Go on,” Mom said.  “Tell him you regret it.”

I looked over at my mother.  It was one thing to force an apology out of me, it was another to force me to lie all together, especially given how much my family talks about truth and honor.

“I can’t say that,” I managed to say, after a few seconds.  It would be a lie.  I mean, I regret that he suffered.  I don’t regret peering into his mind to keep us safe.”

“I apologize for my daughter’s rudeness,” Mom said, a bit too quickly in my opinion.  “I assure you, this is not how our family treats visitors.”

“What an ungrateful little hussy you are,” Emerys shouted.

My sister’s comment stung.  It was one thing to not be appreciated by my family, but another to be called that.

“If you had been more careful of who you show your tail too,” I replied, louder than was wise, “I wouldn’t have had to do what I did to your boyfriend.”

“So, this is all my fault?” my sister retorted.

“Ladies,” my mother said, but it was of no use.  Emerys shouted something again about how she wished I would behave like a lady and I retorted that if she had used her wits, she would have suspected her boyfriend too.

Our quarrel was interrupted by none other than Emerys’ beau, who shouted, “I accept!” 

My mother, sister, and I grew quiet. 

“What?” Emerys asked.

“I said I accept Crystellen’s apology,” Losten replied.  “On one condition though, I want to know why you suspected me.”

What?  He accepted my apology?  I opened my mouth and then shut it.  After a long pause I finally spoke.  “You accept my apology?  After all I did?  And pried into your thoughts?  You accept my apology?”

He nodded.

This guy must be totally into my sister, I thought.  I wouldn’t have accepted a half-hearted apology if I was him. 

“Wow,” I finally managed to say, “you must really like her a lot to be that forgiving.”

“Crystellen!” Emerys snapped.  “What did I say earlier?”

I looked at my sister and then back at Losten.  Oh yeah, I thought, I’m supposed to behave like a lady, per my sister.  Em gave me an unpleasant stare.

“I thought it was too coincidental,” I replied.  “She saved you, then you just happened to be in her class, you just happened to tutor her, you just happened to start dating.  It seemed too much like something out of a fairy tale.”

“What’d you think?” Emerys inquired.  “He purposefully crashed his car into the James River so we could meet?”

I looked over at her.  Hadn’t we been through this all ready?  “Yes.  If I wanted to find a mermaid, that’s what I would do.  Fake a car crash.  Get rescued.  Maybe even find some way to take pictures of the mermaid.  And, then try to track her down later.”

“Well, I’m not a Manicotti,” Losten said, “or whatever those pasta people are called.”

“Besides,” Emerys asked, “don’t you think I would have figured out if he was?”

I looked at my sister.  “Do you really want me to answer?” I replied.  “I saw how you looked at him when you two danced.  You were no longer objective.  After he saw your tail, I realized that I had to take measures to protect you.”  To protect us all, I thought.

“Protect me?  I don’t need my little sister to protect me,” my sister replied.

I didn’t speak.  I saw no reason to have another argument with my sister, and I couldn’t see how speaking further would do any good.  Plus, I had probably said too much, since I just revealed that I had spied on them at the dance, which my sister all ready knew.

Finally, Losten turned to my sister and spoke.  “How did she see us dancing?  Was she there?”

“Not exactly,” Emerys said.  “Do you remember the nosy fish I referred to when we were dancing on the dock?”

He nodded.

Oh, great, I thought.  Now she’s going to tell him about her pet name for me.  I rolled my eyes.  Me and my big mouth. 

My sister continued.  “I present to you the nosy fish, my sister, Crystellen.”

Losten looked at me.  “You watched us dance on the dock?” 

I nodded.

He glanced back at Emerys.  “Did you know this at the time?”

Emerys nodded.  “We can sense another mermaid, but only if she has her tail out.  I knew a mermaid was near, and since my sister was in the water that night, I thought it was her.  I figured she was just a nosy teenager spying on her older sister.  I had no idea she suspected you of malice.”  After a moment, Emerys grinned.  “My nickname for her is nosy fish.  She really hates it when I call her that.”

Thank you for telling him, I thought.  You could have just kept that part to yourself.

“I saw the way you looked at him,” I said.  “I had to protect you, the way you used to protect me.”

“I never put cassidium in anyone’s food,” Emerys said.  She glanced at me and then Losten.  “And I never will either.” 

I stared at Emerys’ beau for a long time.  I really had made him suffer, and as it turned out, rather unnecessarily.  “I’m sorry for the pain I put you through,” I managed to say.  “I hope you understand I had no other way.”

“Yes, you had another way,” Mom said.  “You could have told me your plans, which I would have told you were a bad idea.  Then, after you met him, you could have told me if you still had concerns.” 

Mom proceeded to tell the story of how Grammy poisoned my father, which I had heard before.

“So,” she continued, “picture your poor father in agony the next time you consider using it.”  After a minute she asked, “Where did you even get cassidium anyway?”

I motioned upstairs.  “Years ago, Grammy showed me where she kept it in her trunk.” 

Mom started towards the door when I continued.

“I used up the last of it.  Grammy just showed it to me.  She didn’t know I was using it.  That’s why I guessed at the dosage.”             

“I’m still going to talk to my mother.”  Emily turned to him.  “Once again, Losten, I’m sorry for what my family has done to you.”  She turned and left the room.

Do I still have to stay, I wondered, now that Mom’s gone?  Emerys ran her hands through Losten’s hair and rubbed his cheek.  I figured this was as good a time as any and quietly exited the room.

Monday, March 10, 2014

As Perceived by Crystellen Treasure 8

I sat on the couch for over an hour before my mother finally let me be excused.  Somebody needed to make Losten’s supper, but since my mother insisted that she do it and banned me from the kitchen, I convinced her to at least let me head upstairs.

I’m not sure why Mom relented, but I, for one, had grown tired of Emerys’ hate stairs.  Didn’t she know I was just doing this to protect us?  To protect her?
I laid down on my bed and stared at the ceiling.  Why didn’t Emerys understand how obviously contrived this situation had appeared.  A guy she saved just happened to be in her class.  Just happened to meet her in the library.  Just happened to offer to tutor her.  Just happened to ask her to a dance.  Just happened to start dating her. 

I don’t think the circumstances could have been more contrived.  So, of course, I wanted to peer into his mind.  Someone had to keep us all safe, and given the way she talked about him, it certainly wasn’t going to be her.  I think he would have had to hold up a big sign that said, ‘I’m the Manicotti’ for her to suspect him.
Em, I thought, why couldn’t you be more like me?  Why did you have to get yourself so wrapped up in this guy that you could no longer be objective?

A tear ran down the side of my face.  I wiped it away with my hand.  Oh, great.  Just what I need everyone seeing.
I laid there for a long time before Mom appeared at my door.

“Young lady,” she said, “it’s time for you to come downstairs and apologize.”
“Apologize for what?” I replied.

Mom gave me an unpleasant stare.  I knew that my remark would cost me an extra shift in the water, but I got tired of no one appreciating what I’d done to keep us safe.
“Come, young lady,” she said.  I knew protesting would only make the inevitable worse, so I got out of bed, changed into some blue jeans, and followed her downstairs.