With a Love Sorceress I'll Make My Romance Last!
Standing on a hill overlooking the property, I watched from a distance as Mia and her father talked on their back porch. I could see her small outline shouting at him, waving her arms, absolutely livid. Mister Faralind lowered his head again and again in response. I wasn’t close enough to hear their words, but I could tell the conversation wasn’t pretty.
A yawn sounded to my left, as Toren stretched his arms and observed the scene. “Think we should intervene?”
I shook my head. “This is a family matter,” I propped my chin up with my hand. “If we step in now, we’ll probably make things worse.”
Toren rubbed his eyes and looked at the morning sun, blinking from its brightness. “Well then, I’ll nap till they need me. I’m finally tired enough that noises won’t be a problem.”
He leapt up one of the nearby trees, circled around until he found a comfy spot, then curled onto a sunny branch.
“And you say you’re not like a cat,” I chuckled.
Toren’s tail flicked down from the tree and smacked me in the face.
Within a few minutes, the half-beast was snoring. I wondered if I should sleep soon myself, but I could see that Mia and her father had ended their conversation. Mia raised her hand as if to slap him, but couldn’t bring herself to do it. Instead, she stormed off towards one of the barns. Her father didn’t follow.
Should I go after Mia? Try to comfort her? Claire wasn’t here to tell me what to do, and I wasn’t sure if Mia needed some time alone.
But rather than guess, I decided to take some of Claire’s previous advice.
“Wouldn’t you ask a partner what she wants and listen to her answer?”
I walked over the fields and approached the barn house, knocking my hand against the wooden door to announce my presence.
Mia was curled up on the floor, her eyes puffy and red. She raised her head upon hearing me.
“Hey,” she said with a weak laugh.
“Hey,” I replied back. I didn’t enter just yet. “I wasn’t sure if you’d like some company, or if you’d rather be alone right now.”
Mia considered it, pulling her legs closer. “I’m not sure what I want either,” she sighed. “My dad’s the only real family I have, you know?” Mia bit down on her lip, trying to contain her feelings. “And to find out he’s been lying to me? Making me think we were cursed for all these years? I just…I know he did it because he thought it would keep me safe. But why didn’t he tell me? We could have figured things out together, we could have found another way…”
I slowly, hesitantly, shuffled through the entrance. I sat down on the floor and rested my back against the wooden support, still a good distance away from Mia, in case she didn’t want me to be there.
“I was mostly raised by my father too,” I admitted.
“You were?” Mia paused upon hearing this.
“Oh, but, my mother’s alive still,” I hurriedly followed, “she and my dad live apart.”
“They do?” Mia blinked a few times. “But I thought elven couples always married each other for life.”
“Uh.” I kept forgetting I was an elf! “T-they are married for life! They just live in different forests now! Being alive for so many hundreds of years, they need a break from each other sometime, right?”
Mia still looked a little confused, but thankfully she seemed to accept the story. I fidgeted against the ground and straightened my back against the wall.
“My dad always told me I needed to take charge in my life,” I continued. “He told me I needed to be the one to make plans, and make money for the household.” I folded my arms, remembering how he would yell those words at me, again and again. “I couldn’t show weakness, I couldn’t admit to fault. I was supposed to take charge, and ignore anything that got in my way. Then I’d live a good life and get what I want.”
My voice fell quiet as I added, “I remember I asked him once: if he did all those things himself, then why did mom leave us?” I chuckled softly. “He never did have an answer for that.”
Then, quickly realizing I was only talking about myself, I sat upright. “B-but I mean! We’re elves, so it’s different! I was just bringing it up because I thought it might be similar! Not that I mean to say I know what you’re going through. I don’t!” I was waving my hands like crazy. “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I just wanted to, to uh, let you know it’s okay to be upset? Not that it was never not okay to be upset! And, and…” I let out a long, long exhale. “And I’m shutting up now.”
Mia let out a small ‘pffft’ of covered laughter, as she watched my failed attempt at empathizing.
“Thank you, Roki,” she said softly, “for trying to cheer me up.” Mia used the collar of her shirt to dab at her eyes. “But right now, I’m just so mad, so upset...that I just want to yell at something, but I can’t. If I start screaming, everyone will hear me and worry.”
I raised my head. “If you don’t mind walking around the lake, Mia,” I hesitantly suggested. “I know a place that might be perfect for that.”
Gazing out into the vast field of green poles, a gentle breeze caused them to sway and creak. I’d found this little gem of a forest one night during my orchard-watch, when I asked Madam Claire if I could go for a run. Who would have expected this to be on the other side of the kelpie lake?
But Mia frowned at the sight. “Why have you brought me to the pest-plants?”
“Pest-plants?” I gasped. “Mia, this is a bamboo forest you have growing wild here!”
Mia pouted and poked one of the hollow stalks. “They’re pests to us. These things keep growing back so fast, that my dad and I can’t dig them out fast enough. They’ve totally overrun the eastern fields, making this land useless.”
“Useless?! You can eat bamboo, build from it, make houses!” My inner Japanese spirit was burning. “Bamboo forests are great!” I puffed up my chest. “Whenever my work week was awful, a few guys and I would hit the train out of town, go to this bamboo forest we knew, and just scream about our boss...at least until someone called the cops.” I put on a wistful grin. “Ah, good times.”
Mia stared at me, ever more confused by my modern words.
“Here,” I smiled, “try this.” I cupped my hands around my mouth, took in a big breath, and shouted into the silent bamboo:
“I ASKED FOR A RAISE OVER A YEAR AGO MISTER ISHIKAWA!! AND I STILL DESERVE ONE!”
A little breathless after that, I took a moment to recover, then encouraged Mia to try.
“Okay,” Mia mumbled, clenching her fists to psyche herself up. “I don’t know what a ‘boss’ or ‘raise’ is...but I just need to scream my frustrations, right?”
She took in a breath.
“DAD!” She wavered a little, then tried again, cupping her mouth. “HOW COULD YOU!?”
Her cries echoed through the bamboo branches, slowly deafened by the earth. She seemed a little surprised by the sound of her own voice. She took once glance at me, and I grinned and waved her on, telling her to keep going.
Mia breathed in again.
“WHY? WHY DID YOU LIE TO ME?” One more breath. “I COULD HAVE HELPED YOU! WE COULD HAVE BROUGHT BACK OUR FAMILY NAME! YOU STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!”
As she started repeating the word ‘stupid’ she began punching one of the bamboo stalks in front of her.
She punched it again and again, shouting, until tears came to her eyes.
She yelled because of her dad, because of the years spent thinking she was cursed, because of the family she’d lost.
I decided to join her. I yelled because of work. Then, for the year I’d spent with my ex. Somewhere in there, I think I started screaming about my parent’s divorce.
Then Mia let out an unbridled shout of frustration into the depths of the forest.
We screamed into the creaking bamboo. We didn’t have words anymore, just guttural cries.
We yelled until our throats hurt.
We yelled until we couldn’t anymore.
We yelled until somehow, we started laughing at the absurdity of it all.