Halfself

Evangeline Ingram

536 words
Content Warnings: abuse, bigotry, dysphoria, loss, murder of nonhumans

0. Prologue
In the beginning, there was a girl named Rosalia.
This is not her story.
It is the story of the changeling the Fae left in her place.
She was Isabella.

1. How She Knew
She knew from the burn of cold iron.
She knew from the techy unstillness of her name.
She knew from the grating voices of her parents.
She knew from the clear sweetness of the woods.
She knew from the questions she shouldn't have asked.
She knew from the questions she never asked.
She knew for a thousand reasons and no reason,
but most of all, she knew because
when she looked in the mirror, she saw a different girl looking back.

2. What She Did
She took a candle to her skin, but that didn't help.
She prayed to all the gods, but that didn't help.
She tried to be a good, obedient girl, but that didn't help.
She rebelled and threw a tantrum, but that didn't help.

After a while, she tried more useful things.
She learned to eat with chopsticks.
She learned to ignore the stares.
She dyed her green hair a woody brown.
She stopped laughing so long and loud.
It helped, but not enough, not enough. Not ever enough.

Finally, she went to demand her own place in the barrow hill.

3. Her Place
The fae refused her. They played with half-humans, not honored them.

So, she joined them as a plaything. They already had the real her, after all.

4. Her True Self
They threw her into Rosalia's cramped wooden cage.

"You idiot! You're as trapped as me, now."

"I had no choice. I was without you."

Rosalia laughed. "Without me? What's a human girl to you? Weren't you happy with my life?"

"No," she said. "It wasn't shaped for me."

"Did you honestly think I still wanted it?"

"No," said Isabella, though it would have been easier.

5. First Impressions
"Let's escape together. "

Rosalia looked at her.

Isabella coughed, and looked away.

6. Second Impressions
"...I used to dream about being you, you know."

Rosalia's lips quirked upwards.

"And I you."

Isabella's smile was pale, but it was there.

“Just like us to each assume the other had it better, huh?"

"Just like us."

7. The Fae
The fae made them play violins of flame.
The fae made them dance on broken glass.
The fae made them eat and drink.
The fae made them laugh and smile.
The fae asked, "What do you think of us, playthings?"
And together, the playthings lied.

8. Escape.
Rosalia took a iron hobnail from a dead girl's boot.
Isabella delicately unwove a lashing of their cage.
Both of them saved glass shards from their feet.

They cut themselves out with glass.
They killed their guard with iron.
After that, only obligation remained.

And so they took the iron hobnail,
And made sure none were left to owe.

9. Life
And then, slowly, they healed.
They found another home.
Isabella became a hairdresser.
Rosalia, a dancer.
They bore their scars like armor.
Eventually, they became skin.

10. Epilogue
One day, Rosalia saw a hurting, green-haired girl, and took her away with her.

She left no changeling in her place.

 

Evangeline Ingram writes other lost girls.

She has also been known to dabble in interactive fiction, visual novels, poetry, collaborative storytelling, and roleplaying game design.

Evangeline resides in Calgary, Alberta, regrettably far from her love, Katherine.

When not studying, she lives online, in a tiny world she built for herself among friends.

Others call her “ethereal”, “puzzleboxy”, and “overpowered.”

Mashable interviewed her regarding her work herding 15,000 catgirls.

Slowly, she has been learning how to be beautiful. Her body has yet to catch up.

Despite everything, she remains a very small goddess.

Seek her new works via her Twitter, @evaofechoes.