Fire and Air
“Miha! Wait up!”
The tall, graceful fire faerie turned back to catch sight of her best friend running to keep up. Laughing, Miha started to run as well, easily outdistancing Jolie. She relished the feel of the wind caressing her hair, and closed her eyes in ecstasy as she continued to sprint at a breakneck pace.
Thump. Miha fell to the ground and opened her eyes. Jolie was standing in front of her, pale azure wings fluttering slightly in the wind. Her arms were crossed, and her face bore an expression of bemusement.
“No fair taking to the skies,” Miha complained. “You air faeries can fly faster than any of us.”
“Not my fault I’m air,” Jolie laughed. “You wish you were as good as me.”
Miha narrowed her eyes, focused on her friend’s hair, and whispered, “Fireball!” Her body glowed for an instant, and energy seemed to pull her forward. Fire rose out of her fingertips and condensed into a ball of roaring flame, which soared toward Jolie’s curly blond head.
The slender air faerie ducked just in time, unfortunately. Unfortunatelier, the fireball continued forward with no intention of stopping. Unfortunateliest, it came to rest in an earth faerie’s hair.
The victim started shrieking and dancing around in a panic, flapping her hands around her head. “Someone help me! Hurry!”
Miha rolled her eyes, stretched out her hand, and with a quick inward roll of her wrist and a clenching of her fist, the flame extinguished themselves. A thin wisp of smoke rose from the earth faerie’s scorched head.
Jolie edged closed to Miha and whispered, “Now would be a fantastic time to leave.”
“For once, I completely concur.” The two faeries, fire and air, took to the clouds and soared away.
Laughing, they alighted a short distance away, in Jolie’s back yard. Beautiful blooms covered the thick green grass, and the air smelled of something sweet and pure.
Miha and Jolie split a cookie between them and giggled about the incident as they lay in the grass, arms outspread and hair spilling over the ground like a waterfall. Auburn mixed with blond in a sea of color.
“I wonder if we should set something on fire,” Miha mused presently. “It would be quite amusing.”
“No, Miha. You already did that once today. I thought we set a limit.”
Miha giggled and rolled over onto Jolie’s cloud of fair hair. “Ow! Get off, you Elephante!” They wrestled for a few minutes, laughing and gasping for breath the whole time. Jolie finally pinned her friend to the ground and sat on her stomach. Miha’s left wing was bent at the tip and she had twigs in her hair, but she didn’t care. She was here, with her best friend, in a place where time had no meaning and nothing mattered except being here, as the best of friends.
Jolie rolled into the grass and propped her chin on her knuckles. “That’s the best part of being friends with you,” she stated.
Miha did the same. “What is?”
“The fact that we don’t even have to be doing anything special, and we’ll still have fun doing it. We don’t even have to be talking. We could be completely silent, and I would know that we were having a good time just being quiet together.”
“I wonder why that is,” Miha mused.
“I guess friends don’t need to be doing anything exciting to have fun,” Jolie answered. “They could be doing anything and still enjoy it.”
“Then why do those Ubers always look so bored? They’re best friends, too.”
“Yes, but the Ubers aren’t true friends. And they’re not even uber faeries, technically. They’re just next in line for the job,” Jolie explained, referring to their school’s most popular clique, the Ubers.
“I wonder what it would be like to give out quests like the real ubers do,” Miha dreamily replied.
“Boring. Half the time the people refuse your quest. Or they’re rude. Or they just want a prize. Or something of the sort.”
Miha laughed. “Jolie, it’d be fun. Can’t you see that?”
“I’m just saying, it’s not for me. I’d rather be having fun with you than hanging out with those stupid Ubers.”
Miha and Jolie headed inside, arm-in-arm. As Jolie crafted fruity faerie fingers for their snack, Miha curled up in a cozy wing chair, dreaming of becoming part of the Ubers. Of course, Jolie would be with her. And they would have the best of times.
If only they were good enough.
* * * *
“I can’t do it!” Miha cried out in frustration. Flames licked the tips of her fingers and burned twin paths up her arms. “I’m never going to get this spell!”
Her teacher shook her head. “You will get it if you only try, Miha. I know this is one of the more complex spells, but if you attempt it with your whole heart, you can do it.”
“But I can’t,” she muttered. “I’m never going to get it right.”
“Just try it again, Miha. And then we’ll take a break, all right?”
They were outside. Miha was in the Advanced class, for the more gifted faeries. Jolie was in it too, but the class had five different sections, for the different types of young faeries. Dark faeries weren’t taught at the academy; instead, they attended a private school elsewhere. The Advanced class was held outdoors, for the purpose of expanding the reach of certain spells. And this particular one had Miha drained.
“Come on, Miha. If you do this correctly, we’re done for the day, okay?”
Miha groaned. She was about to start the spell when she saw the Ubers passing by. Would they notice her?
The group stopped a short way off. “Try to get it right,” Miha’s teacher urged. She left to greet the fire faerie of the Ubers, who happened to be her daughter.
Miha gritted her teeth. If she ever wanted to get noticed by them, she had to get this spell right. Summoning all her strength, she lifted her arms toward the skies.
Flames surged from her fingers and spread in a sheet across the pale blue sky. Miha could see nothing but red, stretching as far as the eye could see. She held the spell for as long as she could, and with a crackling noise, she clenched her fists and the flames vanished into pearly grey smoke.
Miha was exhausted. The young faerie couldn’t possibly do that again.
But the Ubers had noticed from the moment the spell began. They surged around her in excitement, babbling all the while. Miha relished the attention and basked in the glory of success.
The noise died down suddenly. The leader of the Ubers, a tall and slender light faerie, held out a hand to stop all activity. “It’s quite obvious that you’re very gifted, and have a lot of potential. And so we invite you to join our group... and become an Uber.”
“You mean like... as in going to be a real, live uber faerie when the present ones step down?” Miha stuttered.
“That is exactly what we mean.”
“Hold on a second!” The current fire faerie of the group pushed through the others. “She can’t possibly be in the group. I’m already the next fire uber!”
“Really,” the leader sneered. “Can you do what she just did?”
“Of course I can!” The fire faerie tossed her head and angled her arms toward the ground. Flames scorched the grass a few feet in front of her and died down moments later.
“You look very capable indeed, Pyra. Perhaps you should teach the same spell to the younglings. Oh – they already know that one, don’t they?” The light faerie was talking about the very youngest of faeries, at the age when they left their parents.
The comment about the younglings and the spell was true. Miha had known that spell for years.
“Do go away, Pyra. You’ve been replaced.” The group turned its back on the outcast and walked away. Miha just stood there, watching the ex-Uber hang her head and start to sob.
“Come on already!” The light faerie beckoned to her impatiently and Miha followed. “Now then. What’s your name, fire faerie?”
Miha whispered an answer and the light faerie sniffed in disdain. “It will do until we give you another. I am Aretha, and I am the leader of the Ubers. For obvious reasons, of course.”
Miha nodded in submission, thinking only of what she would say to Jolie later.
* * * *
“...and then they invited me to be in the Ubers!” Miha screeched.
“I’m so glad you finally got that spell. We should celebrate!” Jolie was ecstatic for her friend’s success in regards to her powers.
“I know. Invitation to the Ubers, is, like, admission to Queen Fyora’s court!”
“I mean, you’ve been trying to get that spell for weeks now,” Jolie continued. “None of the other fire faeries can do that yet.”
“And they want me to have lunch with them tomorrow!”
“Wait... what?” Jolie finally tuned in to her friend's last remarks. “We always eat lunch together.”
“But this is the Ubers we’re talking about! I mean, if I hang with them, I’ll get to give out quests and be the uber fire faerie! Won’t that be amazing?”
“I don’t know, Miha. It seems like you’re willing to give up an awful lot just to be popular.”
“Give up what?” Miha scoffed. “I was nobody. There was nothing TO give up.”
“What about our friendship?” Jolie’s voice was quiet and pleading. “I don’t want to lose you to them. We’ve been friends for too long.”
Miha paused. “I know what this is REALLY about. You’re jealous, aren’t you? You want to be in the Ubers and you can’t stand it that I was invited instead of you!”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“I can’t believe it! You’re jealous of my success, and you want it all taken away from me. Well, it won’t happen!” Miha unsnapped her friendship bracelet, the one Jolie had made for her when they were both younglings, and threw it to the ground at the air faerie’s feet.
And then she left.
* * * *
“You have a new quest!” Miha chirped. “Where is my Scarf?”
The young Aisha squealed in excitement and darted off to find one. Miha plopped down on a tree branch and propped her head in her hands. Being an uber faerie was great. It was everything she had hoped for and more, but something was missing that couldn’t be replaced.
The Aisha was back. He had a scarf in his small paws and held it out to her. “Here’s your scarf, miss.”
Miha smiled softly and blessed him. “Would you do one more thing for me?”
“Sure. Like what?”
“Would you grab me a piece of paper and a pen? Preferably one that won’t melt.”
He was back moments later with her supplies and she blessed the little Aisha again. “Thanks, little one.”
She tapped the pen against her front teeth for a moment, wondering what she would say. It’s been years, thought I’d see how you were doing... Hey, thought I’d say congrats on that book you wrote... What’s new and exciting in your neck of the clouds?
Miha put the pen to the paper and scribbled, with all the care of a friend,
I’m sorry, and that’s all I can think to say.