“Bethy! For the last time, it’s your turn to throw out the garbage!”
17-year old Beth-Lee Mary Rodgers was sitting in her room, the door closed and her eyes, too. She sat on the floor beside her bed in a kneeling position, her mind in a state of tranquillity. A blissful image was running in her mind like a movie and she had a small smile on her face. Her aunt’s call was, thus, lost in her thoughts.
It was only when a thunderous knocking sounded on the door of her bedroom that Bethy opened her eyes, startled. For a second, she could not think at all – her mind was blank.
When she finally found her tongue, Beth-Lee opened her mouth to speak.
Only, she didn’t.
Instead, the door opened to let in a hurricane. At once, Beth-Lee leapt on her bed and fell protectively onto the violin lying on the mattress. She knew exactly what it was and what it did.
Sure enough, the little hurricane turned out to be her kitten, Millicent Andrews. Strange name for a kitten, but there you are. The tiny ball of fur landed on the floor beside Bethy and began turning round and round on the same spot.
“I can’t play with now, Millie,” sighed Bethy. “But, you do need to get out of here. My violin’s here. And what did I tell you about my violin and you being in the same room?”
As if on cue, the kitten stopped in its antics and gave her mistress a pitiful look.
“No, not this time, Millie,” Bethy said in a disapproving manner. “And how many times have I told you that?”
The little creature hung down her head like it understood exactly what the young girl told her. In fact, Bethy was absolutely sure it did understand human language. If she were to be asked how, she would say she couldn’t say how she knew. She just did.
“Bethy!” the insufferable voice of her aunt broke the monotonous exchange. “You still have to throw out the garbage bags. It’s your turn to-day.”
The young teenager looked up at the older woman and blinked.
“Is that so?” she asked. “Is it already Doomsday?”
Unfortunately for her, Aunt Stella would not take jokes of this nature. “Bethy,” she said, warningly.
“All right, all right.” Bethy unwrapped herself from her precious violin and stood, picking up the kitten from the floor in the process.
“Thank you.” Aunt Stella turned around, only to narrowly avoid bumping into a great manly chest that stood behind her like a statue. She looked up. “Ken, you really should make a better job of keeping that thing under control. Bethy spoiling it, I can understand. Not you, too!”
Ken Rodgers, Bethy’s paternal uncle, seemed to think over this matter rather deeply.
“And no,” Stella added, sternly, “don’t you dare say that it builds character. I don’t see how letting an animal run wild in a place meant for comfort builds character!”
He patted her shoulder patronisingly. “You’ll learn,” he said with a cheeky grin, which only added to her frustration.
Normally, she’d just scowl at him, mumble something incomprehensive, and walk away. But, to-day was not to be so simple, it seemed, for Stella flared up:
“Nobody in this house takes anything seriously! Nobody considers what I want! Nobody respects what my family stands for – what Issa stood for! She sacrificed her life for the sakes of miserable souls like you and you don’t even stop to think that you owe it to her?! Where are your hearts? Where is your common sense? Have you left them all when you entered this house?!”
With that, Stella stormed off, accidentally shoving Ken in the arm, but did not bother to apologise. The stress of everything that this year represented had been getting to her. For a while, she had been able to press it down and go about her chores as usual. Now though, Ken’s casual and seemingly uncaring actions burst forth her annoyance.
Bethy blinked in confusion. She had never seen her aunt in such a mood before. She didn’t know what to do. Finally, she made to follow Stella.
Ken stepped forward and shook his head at her. “Don’t,” he told her. “She needs some time. I think she’s not able to handle your decision as well as before.”
Bethy scowled at this. “This is about that?!” she cried. “Couldn’t she find anybody else to bother about it? Why me?! And why now??”
Ken sighed, as though he was tired of going over this. “You should understand how important this is to her. After all, you’re the rightful heir and the daughter of the last queen of Eshia. You’re the only child of your parents – your mother is no more and your father is handicapped. There is no one to rule the kingdom. Sure, your Aunt Stella is the regent, but her reign comes to an end with your birthday. On that day, you’ll have two choices: either accept to the next queen of Eshia or renounce it altogether and select another you deem to be fit.”
For the life of her, Bethy didn’t know what to say to this. Instead, she settled to simply stare stubbornly at her uncle.
But, Ken wouldn’t back down: “The natural choice is you. The people of this kingdom would trust a fairy to protect them – preferably the next in line to the throne. It’d be difficult for them to get used to somebody else. Trust takes years to forge.”
“For that matter,” she countered, “how are you sure that the people will accept me? I mean, I’m not my mother, right?”
“Well, you do promise to protect them, just because of who you are.”
Bethy was still not satisfied, but she didn’t say anything. She hated arguing with people, especially her uncle. Ken was her favourite relative, so she trusted his instincts to a large extent. He was dead on ninety nine percent of the time.
Still, becoming a Fairy Princess was a lot of responsibility. The girl was almost sure she was too young for such a position… before she recalled stories of Ira, the first and founding Fairy Queen of the Kingdom of Eshia.
With a heavy sigh, Bethy left her room to throw out the garbage.
She ambled into the kitchen and opened the back door. She stepped outside and looked around for a couple of garbage bags stacked one on top of the other against the wall. She picked them up in both her hands and set out towards the garden path. When she reached the front gate, she set down her bags to open it. Just as she stepped out with her bags, she spotted a familiar red-haired figure walking in her direction from her right. She raised her left arm and waved a bag at him.
“Danny!” she cried. “Danny! Just when I needed a friend!”
Daniel Stratford walked faster. “Yes, princess, what can I do for you?” He bowed low in front of her.
“Danny!” She wished she could smack her friend on the head. She would have, if not for the bags that her hands were occupied with. “It’s your lucky day to-day, for I’m not in a position to chase you down. You know I won’t become a Fairy Princess. It’s just not me!”
Daniel shrugged casually. “So, what is you?” He took a bag from her.
She flailed her arms about her rather carelessly as she walked. “I don’t know! I mean, I’m a fairy, sure, ’cause I can’t help being one, but I’m not princess material. I mean, how am I supposed to rule over an island of two thousand-mile radius which nobody outside of it even knows about?”
Daniel looked sceptically at her. “Beth, there are still people inside that island.”
“I know that, genius!” she groaned. “I mean, since nobody knows about it, nobody is going to be coming in. Which means, there won’t be any visitors or tourists coming in, which means, there is no invasion or anything godforsaken thing like that going to happen! Why should there be anyone to rule over it?”
“That’s true enough,” agreed her friend. “But, do you even remember how your mother passed away? Not to be harsh, but –”
“Yes, yes,” she cut him off. “Some vampire poisoned her with his ‘fangs’.” She made air quotes around the last word. “They’re mythical creatures, anyway. I’m sure it was just some sort of disease that man was suffering from.”
The boy stopped in his tracks, trying not to laugh at the contrast the conversation had taken. She stopped a few steps ahead of him and turned around with a confused expression.
“What?” she enquired. “What did I say now?”
Trying not to explode into laughter, he responded, “So are fairies.”
“So are fairies what?”
“Supposed to be mythical.”
Bethy now felt rather embarrassed, to say the least.
All she could do to shake it off the atmosphere around them was to let out a graceful “Oh”.
“Exactly,” he chuckled. “So, if fairies are real – and I have seen your powers – then, vampires much be, too.”
“And vampires are the most powerful rivals of the fairies.”
“One represents the darkness and the other the light, so sure.”
They walked on in thoughtful silence for a few moments.
“So, what do we do?” asked Bethy in quiet whispers. “Gather an army and surround the island?”
“For that, there should be a Fairy Princess.”
“There’s Aunt Stella.”
“A regent will do, all right. But, she’ll lose all her powers for good if she were to deprive you of your rightful position past your 18th birthday.”
“But, that’s ridiculous!”
“Also, a law of the fairies.”
Bethy pouted, at which Daniel smiled. “I like your pouts. They’re cute.”
The city’s centre of garbage dump came into their sight.
“Thanks but no thanks,” she muttered irritably. “I just don’t want to become the Fairy Princess or whatever. I’m just not up for it. I just want to be able to play my music and have a normal life with normal family!”
They were inside the compound now and approached a large bin that was still relatively empty. The others around it were almost filled to the brim.
“Wonder how many things people in Eshia throw away?” Bethy muttered quietly to herself. She picked up her bags and dumped them in the bin she chose.