Immediately, I knew something was up. My parents were waiting for me on the front porch.
What now? I demanded, fed up with all the recent craziness in my life.
Dad waved me over from his lawn chair with an unreadable look on his face. Regret? Sadness? Anger? I couldn't tell.
I pulled up next to them, dismounted, and nudged my kickstand into place. "What's up?"
Mom sighed and looked at Dad. "Go ahead," she said like she finally lost an old argument. Dad nodded and faced me.
"Sit," he said and motioned to the porch swing next to Mom. He turned his lawn chair to face us. "Okay, so..." he started.
"Is this about the prank?" I asked in irritation.
Dad looked surprised. "Well... yes... How did you--"
"Well it's not funny!" I said angrily. "I don't know how much you paid Aaron to talk and do all that creepy shit--"
"Watch your mouth, young lady," Mom warned with a pointed finger.
Dad's face was one of total bewilderment. "Aaron who?"
I rolled my eyes. "Tor."
His eyebrows went up a few inches. "Tor? Like Daniel Tor?"
"What?" I had no idea who he was talking about.
"Ah, nevermind," he said with a wave of his hand. "It was just a guy I worked with ages ago. Anyway, back to the prank--and no, I don't know anything about this Aaron guy. "
I rolled my eyes. How could he not?
"Well, anyway, when we found out Marian was prego," he flashed a grin at Mom, "we decided that, for the good of our child, we were going to raise them without the, uh, stresses of--well--this family."
I gave him a blank look.
"As you know, our families" he pointed at himself, then to Mom, "don't exactly get along."
Yeah, that was something I'd known for a long time. Holidays used to be absolute nightmares. That is, until my parents put their foot down and made all holidays a "just-us-and-our-daughter" thing to prevent the disasters that usually ensued when both sides of the family got together.
"Honestly," Mom added, "it's a lot like Romeo and Juliet."
Dad nodded. "Our families are... they've been at it for years. Centuries, more like it."
"More like eons," Mom muttered.
Dad cracked a smile. "Yeah. It's pretty childish." He grinned sheepishly. "My side of the family thinks her side of the family is ugly, and her side thinks my side is self-obsessed."
"And what does this have to do with anything?" I asked impatiently.
He grinned and said, "Brace yourself." I waited for him to get to the point. "This guy right here," he said pointing to himself with his thumb, "is a Fairy." He nodded, then added in an undertone, "Well, one-fourth, but still."
I accidentally choked on my spit. As I was sputtering, I tried to wrap my head around what he was trying to say. Is Dad coming out of the closet???
Dad chuckled. "I know, right?"
"So..." I said slowly, my mind reeling, "are you two getting a divorce?"
"What?" he asked, clearly lost.
"You just said that you're gay," I reminded him shortly, "so are you going to divorce Mom and go find a boyfriend or whatever?"
Both parents were silent for a few seconds. Then Mom's eyes bugged out and she exploded in laughter.
"I--I'm sorry!" she wheezed through fits of snorts and gasps. "Sorry!" Her face was a red that almost matched her hair color.
Dad gave her a dirty look, but his glare soon thawed into a reluctant grin. "Shut up," he told her with a light push to her knee. He closed his eyes as he tried to regain his cool. "That's not what I meant," he said with a hint of a smile. Mom continued to giggle.
"Then what do you mean?" I demanded, raising my voice. "Sorry," I added at a much quieter volume, "But would you just get to the point?"
"My grandmother was a Fairy." He rubbed his forehead and continued, "Fairy as in a winged elf-like people, not a homosexual." He gave Mom a pointed look.
I groaned. When is everyone going to stop this crap, 'cause I'm getting real tired of it. "Yeah," I replied sarcastically, "and I'm a unicorn. Mom's a freaking vampire."
Dad raised an eyebrow and Mom made an offended noise. "I am one-eighth Gargoyle, thank you!" She sat straighter on the swing, quickly adding, "And proud of it."
I studied her for a few seconds, wondering why she looked so serious.
"Okay, hun," she said and slapped her legs, "it looks like you're going to need some proof." She raised her eyebrows at Dad.
"Do I have to?" he whined. He held his hands up when Mom narrowed her eyes at him. "Okay, okay," he said in defeat. He rose from his seat and went inside.
"Well, come on," Mom said as she got up and followed him.
I sighed and followed, wondering if anything could possibly make the day any more crazy that it already was.
I followed Mom to Dad's workshop in the basement. Unfinished furniture pieces and wood shavings covered most of the available space, leaving a few bare patches and a narrow pathway.
"What are we doing here?" I asked in a bored tone.
"Shut up and watch," Mom replied quietly, pointing to Dad. He was bumping around in the dark, searching for the light switch.
Suddenly, light flooded the corner. Dad surveyed his piles of reject work and took out an unfinished rocking chair and set it down in one of the clear areas. He started to hum an oddly familiar tune. I realized it was the one he used to get me to sleep when I was much younger.
"Watch the chair," Mom whispered.
I frowned. Dad was just running his hand over the wood. Nothing was happening.
I opened my mouth to protest being there, but a movement caught my eye. I focused on the unfinished back of the chair, where Dad's hands had just been. Little tendrils of green were sprouting from the wood and reaching for his hands.
I watched in awe as he made them follow his movements and wind up and down, connecting the top and the seat of the chair. They continued like that for several more minutes, twisting and writhing while becoming thicker and browner until they were finally still.
The result was a stunningly beautiful design that melded together with the existing wood. I gaped at it, wondering how what had just happened was even possible.
"Oh, dear, hold on," I heard Mom say. I looked up in confusion to find her rushing over to where Dad was now kneeling on the floor.
"Take it easy," she murmured as she helped him to a nearby bench. "You know magic takes a lot out of you."
I blinked. Did she say magic?
"Yeah, I know," he replied faintly. "I'm fine. Just a little… tired." His eyes closed for a moment before meeting mine. "See, Aubie?" he asked with a tired smile, "I've got Fairy magic."