For: Darling (fading fairytales)
Prompts: cracked mirror, indigo-painted nails, a bonfire party, and candy-canes with funny/quirky messages.
Notes: I hope you like it! It turned out a lot more personal for me than I thought it would. And I know you wanted ToddxNina/Alicia but I really couldn't do it. I'm sorry :( Happy Halloween!
She moves into the neighborhood with ballet slippers on her feet and indigo on her nails, already completely comfortable in her skin whereas so many of her peers were not.
She is twelve; we are eleven. She is in the 7th grade; we have just entered the 6th.
Her name is Skye Hamilton, and we are in love with her already.
She is immediately adopted by Danny Robbins and Nina Callas.
On Fridays, Danny's mother picks her up and takes the three of them to the movies.
On Saturdays, Nina's mother picks them up and takes the three of them to the mall.
On Sundays, they disappear into Skye's house for a long brunch and, if we're lucky, a couple of hours spent jumping on the trampoline.
There is nothing more beautiful than Skye Hamilton pirouetting across her trampoline.
Skye's bedroom has two windows. One is directly across from Derrick's playroom. The other looks down on Josh's bedroom.
The two of them watch her at night, and that's how we find out that she's not always happy. Sometimes she'll close her laptop with tears streaming down her face, leaving a shadow of mascara on her cheeks. Other times she'll be screaming into her phone, literally screaming, her face growing pinker with every word.
We wonder what Nina and Danny are doing that makes her so miserable.
But that's all we can do.
For a whole year, we only see her through Facebook photos, as she is in high school now and we are still in middle school.
She laughs. She is always laughing. Laughing at Target. Laughing at Forever 21. Laughing at Nina's 14th birthday party. So happy that it hurts.
If she is screaming, she is doing it in another room. And most of the time, her room is dark and she is at Danny's.
When we finally arrive freshman year, she is glowing.
Danny has a car now, and Skye flits around with the grace of somebody with plans every night and an 11 p.m. curfew.
She dresses up for every pep rally. She cheers at every game. She stuffs her face at every restaurant. She is a different kind of happy now, a happy that indicates that she is secure in her friendships, secure in her place in life.
She is Danny's right-hand woman. She helps him bake goodies for their lunch table. She plans his parties. She even calls him to wake him up in the morning. She follows him everywhere.
She loves him.
She is Nina's best friend in the entire world. She is by Nina's side for every shopping trip, every test, and every party. The two of them speak in the complicated language of Girls: one parts squealing and two parts inside jokes.
When people say Skye's name, it is usually immediately followed by "and Nina and Danny".
The three of them will be together forever, and we, the ones that so diligently watch her, will never get a chance to get close to her.
The summer between 9th and 10th grade for us, my brother Harris hosts a bonfire party in the clearing behind our house.
Danny and Nina show up. Skye is nowhere to be found.
"A wedding," my mother finally volunteers before retreating back into the house. "Her cousin is getting married."
Danny and Nina look lonely without her.
And then they meet Ryan Marvil.
Ryan is loud and curvy and confident. Skye is quiet and lithe and a little co-dependent. If you asked us to compare, Skye would win.
We, however, are not Danny and Nina.
The change is gradual. Ryan starts getting invited to Nina-Skye-Danny functions; we can tell by the look on Skye's face when she comes home. Nina and Danny start to type more inside jokes and post more links on Ryan's wall than on Skye's.
We know it's over two weeks after school starts. Because instead of getting a ride home from Danny, Skye shakily steps onto our bus and sits in the very back, head down.
We remember the screaming and the black river of tears on her face, way back when. We want to say that this, the bus ride of shame, is another one of those moments. But we know better. And it hurts us all.
Her Friday nights are now spent in her room. Every so often she looks up from her computer and glances at her phone.
One Wednesday night in the middle of October, she glances up and catches Derrick staring at her. She waves.
She is so lonely.
Her hair loses its sheen. Bags grow under her eyes. She eats her lunch in the multimedia room. She stops going to football games and doesn't dress up for pep rallies.
Ryan has taken her place.
One night, Josh hears a sound like broken glass.
The next day, there is a broken mirror sitting on the Hamilton's curb. Skye returns to school a day later with two white bandages covering her palms.
She says she tripped and fell. We know she smashed the mirror on purpose.
"We should do something," Chris insists. "She knows we exist—she waved to Derrick. We should do something."
I glance to the 10 boxes of candy canes stacked to the right of my bed. The sophomores of student council, myself included, are responsible for passing out the candy grams this year.
We take one box, hide it under my bed, and send the rest back to school.
One a day, we decide. One candy gram a day, dropped into her locker at 7:15 AM exactly. Each will have a different message.
One a day, we decide, until things get better.
Derrick immediately grabs hold of the pen and writes, "We love you!" Translation: "I love you." Josh snorts and grabs the pen out of his hand.
"Everyone's probably telling her that right now," says Josh. "Including her new doctor."
Josh had been coming out of the dentist's office in the Westchester Professional Medical Building last week just as Skye had slipped into psychiatrist Dr. Mindy Baum's office. She goes every Thursday for one hour and comes back looking exhausted.
So we go for attacking Danny and Nina instead. The first message attached to a candy cane says, "Well, they sucked anyway." The second tells her that they "weren't worth it. At all."
I deliver the blow with, "Friends are supposed to make you feel comforted and safe. Did they?"
We check her Twitter that night. All it says is, "They were good people. But no, they didn't."
In March, old Mrs. Regina Crane from down the street dies. We have no time to grieve—we've already had to buy two more boxes of candy canes to keep continuing our inspirational messages for Skye.
Over the next two weeks, Regina's son, a one Mr. Landon Crane Sr., begins to clean out and sell her old things. Then, the first week of April, he, his wife, and his son—Mr. Landon Crane Jr.—move in.
Landon Jr. transfers to our school.
Landon Jr. is in Skye's grade.
Landon Jr. is in me and Skye's study hall.
He watches her, but she, so wrapped up in her misery and candy canes, does not notice.
At night, Landon diligently works his way through the three His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman. Skye positively adores the series; we smile as we recall her obsession with them in the eighth grade.
This is perfect.
"He sits to the left and one behind you," I write on her next candy gram. "He's halfway through The Subtle Knife. Say something."
I want to stand on my desk and cheer as she slowly turns around and says, "What part are you at?"
Life doesn't stop for anybody. Not for Skye, not for Landon, not even for us.
The summer between 10th and 11th grade for us is dedicated to Landon and Skye. They wake up each morning take brunch in Landon's backyard. This is followed by long drives and short bounces on her trampoline.
He intuitively understands that she does not need a boyfriend right now. She just needs a friend. And when he asks her where the long scars on her palms came from, she tells him the truth.
"There was this boy and this girl," she explains. "And they stopped talking to me. I wasn't sure why, but one night I just decided that it was because of my appearance. So I smashed the mirror."
He leans in close and whispers something in her ear. She blushes.
We let her keep that one to herself.
The first day of senior year for her, we send her one last candy cane.
"I hope you live a life you're proud of," it says. "If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."
We note at the bottom that F. Scott Fitzgerald came up with that one, not us.
Nonetheless, she takes the message, scribbles a small message at the bottom, and tapes it to her locker.
"I did," she writes. "And I can't thank you all enough."