Day 88 of 100 Word Prompts: Fireflies
Isabelle stepped off her porch at six o’clock. At exactly the same time she did every other night of the week, regardless of the season. This time, however, she wasn’t alone. Next to her walked Steven, her new boyfriend, making my stomach turn and threaten to expel everything I had eaten for dinner. Following Isabelle, as per usual, I had to deal with the near-constant draft of the male musk that came with Steven.
“Thank you for letting me come with you,” Steven said after a few minutes. “I wasn’t sure you wanted me to when I asked.”
“I wanted you to come,” Isabelle replied, looking over her shoulder. Her eyes caught mine instantly, and I saw hers widen slightly. “I’m just not used to having company on my walks is all.”
I watched Isabelle slide her arm into his. His posture straightened a little as though he needed to protect her. He was clearly oblivious. If he knew anything, he would see that it was the other way around. Without her touch, it was likely that one of the Snatchers were going to do what they did best, snatch him, and make him go away forever.
“Well, I do worry a little when you go out so late. I know you enjoy the fresh air and the exercise, but I wonder if there might be a better time of day to go out,” Steven said, looking around as the sun began its descent behind the trees. “I don’t like the idea of you out here in the woods at night all by yourself.”
“I can handle myself,” Isabelle said, casting me a look that told me not to try anything.
I pointed at my chest and mouthed the word ‘me’ questioning-like and waved her off. She did know me, after all, and understood exactly what I would do if she weren’t there to protect him. As her guardian, I get a little bit of say in who is allowed around her. Not much, but a little.
“Look at the fireflies,” Steven gawked, pointing off into the bushes.
“Yeah, their super pretty,” Isabelle replied, shooting me a glance.
My head dropped, and I took off into the bushes after the Snatchers. With quick flicks of my dagger, they yelped and darted off away from the ‘happy’ couple.
“Did you hear that?” Steven asked, looking through me.
I stuck my tongue out at him and shook my head as I flitted in front of his face. Isabelle’s eyes went wide, and she nodded her head, motioning for me to get behind her again.
“It’s not like he can see me,” I said as I passed her.
“What was that?” Steven asked, turning his head toward the sound of my voice.
“Probably just an animal,” Isabelle answered. “There’s all sorts of things out here. It’s perfectly safe, though. I promise.”
“I don’t know,” Steven said, looking back down the path. “I think it might be getting a bit too late for me. Would you come back to the house with me?”
“Sorry, Steven, I can’t. I need to finish my walk,” Isabelle said. “You can head back if you want. I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?” he pressed, trying to pass himself off as chivalrous, but I could hear the fear in his voice.
“I’ve been walking this path for more than ten years, Steven. I’ve never been more sure of anything,” Isabelle replied as she pecked him on the cheek. I made a face at her. “Just stay on the path on your way home, and you won’t get lost.”
“Alright,” Steven replied as he released her.
Isabelle sped up a little as she continued down the path. Steven had slowed her regular routine, and she intended to catch up to where she should be. If she took too long, lots of things would come through, and her night would be significantly harder. I lingered for a moment as Steven hesitated. I could see him mulling over the idea of running after her.
“Don’t do it,” I whispered from where I floated.
“Huh?” Steven said, looking almost directly at me. He took a step backward toward the house before turning. “These woods are fucking weird.”
“You have no idea,” I whispered as I flew toward Isabelle.
“What is wrong with you?” Isabelle asked as soon as I whizzed past her head, getting out in front. “I told you, he’s not ready for all this.”
“I know what you said, but it doesn’t mean that I have to listen. I’m your guardian, remember?” I replied.
“Cloudsprout, you’re hardly my guardian,” Isabelle replied. “I summoned you, remember?”
“What does that change?” I protested. “I still look after you, don’t I?”
“You do, and I appreciate it, but you are not my guardian,” she said as she flipped her hand out, snapping the fingers on her other hand. Tranquility materialized in her hand, its silvered blade catching the last red light of the sun as it dipped below the horizon.
“Fine, not your guardian, but your friend and half of the team,” I said. Tranquility glowed brighter briefly. “Sorry, I mean a third of the team.”
“I can accept that,” Isabelle said. “Now, can you stop trying to get rid of Steven and help me keep the Shadowfell at bay?”
“For now,” I replied as I flitted through the air. “I’ll scout ahead if you promise to tell him the truth.”
“Soon,” Isabelle said with a nod. “You know it’s a sensitive thing for most people. The Shadowfell and the Feywild are things that normal people don’t even know exist. It’s important to wean them onto the idea of it first.”
I shook my head and flew off toward the mist creeping over the path. She still didn’t understand. Humans either could handle the truth, in which case they knew that my kind existed, and realized that also meant that Shadowfell also existed, or they didn’t. There is no in-between. I had never seen a human come to see me later on, let alone heard of one making the transition.