“You’re wrong,” wheezed, Joey, still choking on the scone. “Hero? Me? Have you actually looked at me?” he laughed, holding out his arms.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” she said, playing with a new leaf on an ivy tendril. “It’s your role. It’s why you’re here and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Then we’re doomed,” he said. “Absolutely doomed.”
“You’ve done a good job so far,” she said, tickling the leaf.
Joey looked over his shoulder, then said, “Are you actually talking to me?”
“You’ve brought a lot of people together through the shop, united them. You’ve even brought Fairy to a new understanding of the way things could possibly work in the future…maybe. I mean you are Summer and Winter, in one body, and you and Sparrow love each other, in spite of the problems that raises.
“The things you’re talking about are not heroic in any way at all, Lacy,” he said, staring at her. I work in The Magical Apothecary, it’s my job to be nice to people. Sparrow saved MY life and helped my mother. No heroics on my part…none at all.”
“You just don’t understand the impact you have on others, that’s all. And, there’s no way to explain it to a…dunce…like you.”
“Excuse me? Dunce?”
“Hey, if the name fits…”
“Are you saying that I’m stupid?”
“Mmmmm…more like unaware and in denial.”
“These scones are fantastic and I like the blueberry jam as much as the strawberry.”
A tendril tried to sneak up on his food and Joey brushed it away, then felt bad and put a few crumbs on the worktable for it to play with.
“Tell me again,” he said. Just talk slower. What am I supposed to do about any of this?”
Lacy threw a napkin at him. “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
“What exactly am I doing?”
“I can’t help you. Just go back to work and don’t worry about it.”
“So, I’m not the hero?”
“No. You are the hero, just a lame and unaware one.”
“There are fairies are on the rooftops watching me.”
“They are GUARDING YOU.”
“Other fairies, I imagine.”
“Can I take a scone to eat on the way home?”
“Sure,” said Lacy. “Take one for Chester too.”
“I already gave one to him.”
“When were you born?”
“I wasn’t born, Joey. I’ve always been.”
“Must be exhausting,” he said.
“It’s that way for everyone and everything, you just don’t know it.”
“Yes. Seriously. When you die, you just go back to recharge and then wake up someplace else and your job description has changed, that’s all. Some of us, like me, for example, can remember who we are, and were, but the rest of you are made to forget everything and just believe this is your first time around.”
“Yes it is and no, it isn’t. Depends on how you see the game being played out.”
“Game? This is all a GAME?”
“What did you think it was?” asked Lacy, her elbows on the worktable, as she sipped her tea.
“Right. You have no idea.”
“I thought it was something real,” he stammered.
“Yes, well, you would be wrong about that. It seems real, and it feels real, but so do the books you read, the films you watch, and the things you make up about other people’s lives. You believe all those things in your head and think that what you see and feel is real when, of course, it’s not.”
“I know. Difficult concepts, right?”
“You know, all of you could be the same. You actually were, at one time. All humans could speak the same language, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. You could all dress alike and believe in the same made up gods and things. Nothing is stopping that from happening, right? But you all CHOOSE to be different and then you hate each other for your differences. If you all just said. ‘Hey, we’re all equal here, let’s sound the same, look the same, dress the same, love the same, eat the same, enjoy the same things,’ you COULD DO THAT.”
“I’m going to go back to work.”
“But what kind of game would it be if you didn’t kill each other and hate each other and despise your differences, instead of CELEBRATING THEM, or eliminating them, and just be one happy group of sameness, like the giraffes or zebras?”
“A peaceful one?”
“YES! she said. And none of you want that. You might say you do, but reality shows that you don’t, so this is the game you all choose to play. The Pentagon is for WAR, there is no building for peace because there’s no profit in peace and humans are all about money, power and greed. Choices, Joey. Choices.”
“Thank you for the food.”
“Anytime,” she said, waving to Chester.
“One more thing,” he said.
“Are you here to protect me?” he asked.
“We’re all here to protect you. You’re the hero, remember.”