It all began when I was seven. Miss Alvin, the school principal, walked up to the microphone on the stage and introduced two special guests, “Alright, boys and girls, quiet down! Today, Linnet Elementary School is proud to welcome two local heroes…” That got my attention right away. I spent much of my childhood obsessively reading myths and legends of ordinary people going on extraordinary adventures, and up until then, I didn’t know people could do heroic stuff like that in real life! “…Officers Angelique Delbin and Dick Mazarine!” My schoolmates all politely clapped, but I probably showed the most enthusiasm. In fact, I know I did because as the two police officers entered onto the stage, Officer Mazarine glanced over in my direction and gave me a particular look. I didn’t care though, I was just excited to be in their presence! Officer Mazarine stood on stage so proudly, and his russet skin really made his blue uniform stand out! His dark brown eyes stared with intensity, and his beard made made me think of the wise men that the heroes always sought advice from in my stories. Officer Delbin almost resembled an older version of me- long, coffee brown hair, light beige skin, and a tall, think frame (at that age, I had a skinny body anyway). Her eyes were blue and mine were more of a golden brown, but other than that, I felt like I caught a glimpse of my future self! Both of them intrigued me, and I hung on their every word.
Officer Mazarine spoke first, “Okay kids, we’re here today to talk to you about the Fay Folks! Who here can tell me what a Fay looks like?” I waved my hand in an overly enthusiastic way, which made the people around me stare judgmentally, but that didn’t bother me. I wanted to impress him so badly (a feeling that would return later on in life), but he seemed to view my eagerness as distasteful (that never changed!), so he called on another student, who replied, “They have weird skin! Like it’s pink or green or blue or whatever!”
“That’s correct! What else?” Officer Mazarine tried to ignore me, but I’m sure he must have seen me with how fervently I waved my hand. He pretended not to notice and called on another student, who told him, “They have sharp ears.”
“Yes, their ears are pointy!” Officer Mazarine responded genially. “Anything else?”
Once again, Officer Mazarine overlooked my ardent gestures and called on someone else, who replied, “They have sharp teeth and sharp claws!”
Officer Mazarine complimented their contribution, “Very good!”
“Now, who knows what to do if you ever see a Fay?” Officer Delbin inquired. No one else but me raised their hand, so Officer Delbin relented, “Go ahead.”
“Don’t listen to them!” I eagerly explained. “They try to trick you into doing bad things so that when they kill you, you don’t go to Heaven or Hell, you become one of them! They won’t stop until they have enough Fay to destroy the world!”
Both Officer Delbin and Officer Mazarine bore expressions that clearly indicated that they were unwillingly impressed. Officer Delbin acknowledged my familiarity on the subject, “Uh, yeah, that’s true! The Fay Folks are extremely dangerous, so if you see one, don’t try to deal with them yourself! Find a grown up and have them call us!”
Officer Mazarine added, “That’s right! It’s our job to keep you safe! We fight the Fay Folks all the time, so if any of them show up in your neighborhood, leave it to us to handle it!” That did it. That statement sold me on the idea! The Fay Folks were trying destroy the world, and the police were the ones defending our planet against them! In my mind, they were all a league of superheroes, and I resolved then and there that I would join them! I wanted to help save the world, so I decided that when I grew up, I was going to join the police force!
All of a sudden, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and saw Miss Alvin with her old, knobby wand out pointed at me. The two police officers were still talking about safety measures, and it pained me not to have the opportunity to listen to them, but I begrudgingly went over to her. Once I reached the back of the cafeteria, she whispered, “Your father is here to pick you up.”
“Oh yeah! Mommy’s big surprise!” I recalled. I took one last look at the two officers before I skipped out of the room.
Out on the black top, I saw my dad holding up a mirror with his sleek, mahogany wand. He dressed up for the occasion, and clearly he wanted to appear nice for the occasion. He had on a svelte suit, or at least it was considered sleek twenty-six years ago, and he neatly parted his bushy, umber hair. He just started to check out the spots on his large glasses when he spotted me out of the corner of his eye. He made the mirror vanish, stowed his wand away in his pocket, and smiled at me. “Hey there! Ready to go, Shannon?”
“Yeah!” I chirpred happily as I took my father’s hand. As we walked to the car, I announced, “Guess what, Daddy! When I grow up, I’m gonna become a police officer!”
I expected him to swell with pride or excitement to hear that, but instead, he grimaced. “What? Why would you wanna do that?”
“Because I wanna be a hero and save people from the Fay Folks!” I frowned as he helped me into the car. I didn’t understand how everyone didn’t want to do that job!
“Yeah, but you’re a bright young girl, and that job is so dangerous!” my dad remarked as he got into the car.
I shrugged that notion off. “A little danger can’t stop me! I’m gonna stop those evil doers from destroying the world!” My father simply sighed and let go of the subject. I could tell he regretted delving out so much information about the Fay Folks, but he didnt’ say anything else about my decision. Perhaps he thought I’d grow out of it, but a little hint for the rest of the book, I never did!
When we got to the house, I helped my dad open the car door so he could carry an armful of roses in one hand and a dozen balloons in the other. I skipped ahead of him so that I could get the front door, and I exclaimed, “I can’t wait to see the beach! Mommy is gonna love our surprise!”
My dad agreed, “She’s never seen it either, which is why I wanted to surprise her with it for our tenth anniversary! Let’s stay quiet though so we can keep it a surprise.”
“Okay!” I quietly complied. When we got onto the porch, I totally forgot about his request. I heard some strange noises coming from inside the house, and I wondered out loud, “What is Mommy watching? It sounds gross!”
“Shh!” my father shushed me. If he had tuned in to the noises I heard, it might have made this next moment way less uncomfortable! We had no idea what we were about to walk in on!
I burst open the door and yelled, “Surprise!” I expected to see my mother watching TV on the couch or maybe just listening to it as she did chores. My jaw fell to the floor to see her buck naked with a man’s head in between her legs! I didn’t get the birds and the bees talk yet, so I had no idea why this was happening, but I got the feeling that she had done something extremely inappropriate.
I could see my mom’s golden brown eyes fly wide open through her stringy blonde hair. She brushed her hair out of her face and uttered, “Shannon! What are you doing here?”
“What are you doing?” I retorted. I seriously had no clue what she was doing, but I somehow knew that it would haunt my dreams forever! I still hate thinking about it, and this novel is the last time I ever want to remember that image again! Unfortunately, it became a significant turning point in my life, so I had to mention it.
My dad walked in and dropped everything that he had in his hands. At first, he just stared at her in shock. My mom hastily grabbed a nearby blanket and fibbed, “Oh, hey Bram! Did you know that they do gynecological exams at home?” She grinned at him in the faint hope that he bought that.
“They don’t examine you with their mouths, Trudy!” he seethed. The other man had stayed in the position we caught him in, too scared to move, and my dad asked, “Who’s that?”
The man slowly turned around, and my father instantly recognized him. “Damon? You’re screwing my best friend on our anniversary?” he roared.
Damon, without thinking about what he was saying, corrected my dad, “We didn’t get a chance to screw yet!” When he realized what he said, he winced. “Oh, sorry! I mean…” My father’s fists clenched, and my mother quickly ushered me out of the room.
As we could hear fist fighting in the living room, my mom apologized, “Oh, sweetie! I’m so sorry you had to see that!”
“But you’re not sorry that you hurt Daddy?” I challenged her.
“Actually, I think he’s hurting Damon a lot more than…” She realized what I meant and put a sympathetic hand on my shoulder. “I didn’t mean for anyone’s feelings to get hurt!”
I pushed her hand off of me and shouted, “Don’t touch me! I never wanna speak to you again!” I grabbed the bag that was supposed to be for our happy family vacation and tried to head out the door. I saw that my mother’s stance by the door would have made it difficult for me to get out, and even if I had, my father was still fighting Damon in the living room, so I really had no way out. I sat down on the floor and faced away from her until it was all over.
The neighbors had called the police, and awkwardly enough, Officer Mazarine and Officer Delbin were the first ones on the scene! They definitely recognized me, but they had too much to do to mention it. They used their exquisite alder wands to pry Damon and my dad apart. Officer Mazarine escorted Damon off of the property and arrested my dad for battery. Officer Delbin ran a background check on my mom and saw that she had a warrant for forgery. After both of my parents were in squad cars, Officer Delbin saw me standing in the doorway crying. She gave me a hug and told me that she would take me somewhere safe for the night. I slept in the Child Protective Services facility, which would scare most children, but I felt grateful to not have to deal with my parents’ drama for a while! My father got me the next day, and when we got home, we packed up our stuff and left. I didn’t see my mother much after that, and truthfully, I had never really forgiven her for what she did. My family life changed that day, but my dream of joining the police force sure didn’t! The kindness that Officer Delbin showed me in that moment really cemented my desire to work in law enforcement. I maintained that idealized image of crime fighters until I joined the police academy…