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Jackie and Jill: Visions and Portents
This story is set in the Fall of 2006.
The weather was unusually warm and dry for late Fall. Jill was taking advantage of this, sitting against a leaf-bare tree, a dreamy smile on her face. She barely seemed to notice when Jackie joined her, laying on the sun-warmed ground, hands under her head. For a long time they simply sat and lay in silence.
"What do you see when you do that?" Jackie asked finally.
"What makes you think I'm not just daydreaming?" countered Jill, in a distant tone.
"'Cause you move your eyes and head, like you're watching something," said Jackie.
Jill grinned and turned to look at her friend.
"Arcadia," was her simple comment.
"No kidding? I thought you couldn't actually see it from the real world."
"Arcadia is just as real as this," said Jill, firmly, patting the ground. "It's just not as solid. It's all change."
The young kitsune regarded the apparently human girl for a moment.
"Wanna see it?" she asked, finally, holding out her hand.
"You can do that?"
Jill's grin broadened, and she nodded. Jackie sat up and took the younger girl's hand. For a long moment there was no change. Then soft, pastel colors began to overlay the harsh tones of the steelyard. These strengthened, and began swirling. Only Jackie quickly realized that the swirls were things moving, things of indeterminate form. Not so much because they were formless, as because their forms were constantly changing, flowing. Still, there seemed to be individuals, recognizable more due to mannerisms than appearance. Jackie stared for a while, fascinated. Then she looked over at Jill to ask a question. And stared. Her friend was in foxy midform, she instead of one white, foxy tail she had a large bunch of them.
Jill noticed the other staring, and looked behind her, frowning. Her expression turned to one of alarm, and she suddenly jerked her hand away. Jackie gave a little cry as she was abruptly returned to the mundane world.
"What happened?" she asked, startled.
"Nothin'," said Jill, blank-faced.
"Okay, I saw something I wasn't 'sposed to," sighed Jackie. "But I thought we were friends. Can't you be honest with me?"
Jill shifted uncomfortably, and sighed herself.
"I'm not supposed to let anybody see how many tails I have."
"It looked like about six," said Jackie, sensing weakness and applying more pressure. "Your dad only has four."
"It's seven," said Jill, with a hint of defiant pride, "I used to have eight but they took one from me after... well, you know. I made some people go crazy."
"Your dad made his high school guidance counselor have a breakdown, and they didn't take one of his tails," Jackie pointed out.
"This was different," said Jill. "Look, I really don't want to talk about it. Maybe some other time."
"Okay," said Jackie, shrugging.
She lay back down, closing her eyes. Jill stared at her.
"What?" asked Jackie, opening one eye and staring back.
"You really are just gonna let it go?"
"You asked me to," said Jackie. She closed her eye.
"Aren't you curious?"
"Yep. But not enough to keep pestering about it you if you don't wanna talk."
There was another long silence. Jill idly watched some of the other children playing for a few moments.
"Howcum you don't do better in gym? I've seen you play, and you're pretty good."
"Thanks," mumbled Jackie, sleepily.
"'Cause ever since those Swedish guys cause Exposure anybody who does better than average is tested," muttered Jackie.
"Norwegian," Jill automatically corrected. She gave a wry laugh. "Yeah. My momma keeps getting into trouble over that, and she's an international celebrity, 'cause of her medals and such."
"Yeah, but your mom is human," said Jackie. She gave up trying to nap and scooted herself upright, leaning against the tree. "I could be a werewolf."
"You will be," said Jill, nodding.
"Oh, and can you see the future?" was Jackie's half-teasing, half-hopeful counter.
"No, but you just saw that I can see things others can't. You've definitely got the signs."
"I kinda hope you're right," sighed Jackie, "and I kinda hope you're not."
Jill suddenly giggled.
"Just remembering last year. My momma flew into Boston to where dad had an art exhibit. And they arrested her at the airport. 'Cause she saw something they'd set up as a trap for fey."
"Huh?" asked Jackie, confused.
"You know how she can see things?"
"Oh, yeah," said Jackie, nodding. "I mean, yeah, I've heard my mom and dad and Lisa say that Tina is very perceptive for a human."
"Well, these feds had put up a sort of fairy filter at the airport. They had an - uhm - exhibit that was really unusual looking, and had a wizard put a disguise spell over it so it looked normal. Momma saw this as she was going to get her luggage, and went straight over to it to get a better look. Half a dozen security guys tackled her. She put most of them in the hospital, but then more showed up and pulled guns."
"Ooh, that could have been bad," said Jackie.
"Well, when she didn't show up dad tried to find out, and the airport denied she'd flown in. So he called Lisa. Lisa ran over, talked to the security people..."
"I bet 'talked' isn't exactly the right word," snickered Jackie.
"...and not only found out where momma was and got her out, but wrote about them in a magazine and got the whole program canceled and a bunch of people fired."
"Good for her!" cheered Jackie.
"But it's kinda funny, that they caught my momma and not any fey," giggled Jill. "Even daddy missed their trap, probably 'cause he was worried about checking his art stuff."
Both girls laughed a bit at that. Then there was another long silence.
"I changed 'em into rabbits," said Jill, softly and without prelude.
"Oh," said Jackie. "You can do that?"
"I can do that." The young kitsune sighed. "Sometimes when I don't really mean to. And then I got scared and changed 'em back without Glammoring them to make them forget."
"Oh. So howcum I didn't hear about this? With all this fuss about Exposure and people worried about fey and such, didn't anybody suspect?"
"I'm just a kid," said Jill. "And my parents are both famous. People seem to think that if you're famous, there can't be anything weird about you. Well, except for human-type weirdness. So the school board decided they'd just gone crazy from working too hard and shushed it up."
"So what happened with you?"
"Fighting," said Jackie, with a careless shrug. "I don't like to fight, but some people think that means I can't fight, so they'd pick on me until I hurt them."
"Oh," said Jill.
"Mom and dad went for a counseling meeting, and the guy tried to make it seem like it was all my fault. He even said that I was too aggressive because dad had taught me how to defend myself.
"Now, you know how my dad is. You can't tell he's getting mad 'till he's 'bout ready to start tearin' out throats. Momma noticed his chair arms were bending, and jumped in. Told the guy that dad hadn't started teaching me 'till I started coming home with bloody noses, split lips and black eyes, and that she'd really like to lay into him about how the school wasn't protecting kids from abuse but the lawyers didn't want them talking 'bout that before the trial."
"Whoah!" said Jill, eyes widening. "You're going to sue them?"
"Nope," said Jackie, grinning, "but my mom can bluff with the best of them.
"Anyway, they reached a compromise. No mark on my record, and I'd transfer to another school to get away from the bullies. 'Course, by that time all but the really stupid ones had learned not to pick on me, and they were still in the hospital."
"Don't brag," teased Jill.
The older girl was about to reply when the bell rang. The pair looked at each other and sighed, then rose and began walking back in.
"Hey," said Jackie, suddenly, "wanna have supper at my place tonight?"
"Long as I'm not on the menu," said Jill, in a movie western accent.
"Don't worry; you're too scrawny."
"Well, I'll ask momma. If she says it's okay, sure."
"Coolness!" yelled Jackie, grinning.
This work is Copyright 2000 to Rodford Edmiston Smith, who can be contacted at email@example.com. Anyone wishing to repost or reprint this story must get permission from the author.