Isabel Seed

The problem with life, Mabel thought, was that it was either entirely too fast or too slow. Mabel wasn’t a huge fan of rules, but she liked for there to be some sort of equilibrium. There should be a narrative pattern, a logical progression of events. She did tend to take a savage sort of glee in the way she lived her life- the dead mother, the absent father, the daughter with wild hair and wild eyes who draped herself and her long, long limbs over the hoods of cars as she drank wine. Mabel saw a type of art in her slow spiral. She was cinematic in her destruction. Dead girl walking. Dead girl laughing loudly in the early hours of the morning, dead girl running, dead girl staring blankly and uncomprehendingly into a mirror before flying into a fit of rage and smashing it. Mabel felt like a leaf, buffeted by the winds of her feelings.

In the fairy world, everything fit. Everyone was beautiful and cruel and they preened, took the same fascination in the artistic decay that Mabel did. Mabel thought maybe she was one of them. Mabel thought that this beautiful and terrible world, where flowers bloomed from hollow eye sockets, was where she belonged. She fit there better than the real world, anyway.

Mabel had always known how to hurt people and hated that part of herself. Even the people she loved, especially the people she loved, she had the recipe for their downfall in the back of her head. Mabel never ate meat. She painted her mouth a bright pink and ate lavender glazed shortcake and sugared violets and salads sprinkled in flower petals. Mabel had wild, wiry hair that couldn’t be tamed and Mabel had such thin, delicate hands, and Mabel had a part of herself she was trying to kill that wanted to kill. She tried to make herself soft. She tried to make herself harder, so that people would have a warning. Stay back, she chanted in her head,
stay away from me.

In the fairy world, Mabel was the softest thing there. Her exoskeleton got torn away, the soft meat of her exposed, and she built herself back up. All of the hardness she had built up around her in the Real World was just a child’s clumsy crayon imitation of a Monet. Mabel saw the Fair Folk, beautiful, always so beautiful, with their heads thrown back in laughter and smears of blood decorating their mouths. You are more like Us than you are like Them, they murmured into her ears, before spinning away, their wildness on full display. Mabel felt comforted by their wickedness because it felt like a truer reflection of herself than any mirror could deliver.

Mabel felt every rejection she ever got like a blow to the heart. If someone said, oh your teeth are crooked it was because they could see her soul and knew she was wicked. If someone said I want to break up, I’ve just been feeling really distant lately, it was because Mabel was unlovable and terrible and her heart was too twisted and cruel for anyone to want and she was stupid for falling anyway, because she should’ve known they would just get bored of her. Mabel could never read other people. Mabel could never really make friends. Mabel was always, always alone and Mabel deserved it, didn’t she, because of her terrible mouth that never
 stopped and her terrible brain that thought such treasonous thoughts and her heart that felt so much that sometimes all Mabel could do was lie, festering, in her body that she wanted to tear to shreds.

Mabel fit in the Fairy World, because everyone was terrible and had cruel and twisted hearts and everyone had wild eyes and they danced in a furious way that Mabel had felt but never been able to express. Mabel danced until her feet were raw and bleeding into the earth, danced until she had spots on the edges of her vision. When she passed out, somebody would drip nectar onto her tongue, push honeycomb through her lips- they smoothed hair from her sweaty brow with cool hands and then danced off, easily bored. Mabel thought she had always been closer to fae than to people anyway. Mabel thought she had never been a real person anyway.

Ana Limon had such a pretty voice though. Ana Limon left voicemail after voicemail to a girl she didn’t even know into the phone. Ana Limone confessed secret, seething anger that Mabel had clutched close to her heart as evidence of her badness. Ana Limone spoke like she was giving Mabel little gifts of herself, gifts Mabel knew she didn’t deserve, but that Ana apparently thought her worthy of. Gradually, Mabel started to feel as though she was. Ana was not the type of person to give herself away to people who did not deserve her. Mabel loved Ana, and in doing so, she was forced to cultivate a grudging acceptance of herself. Everything was circular, was the thing. Mabel had all of Ana’s voicemails and she had none, she had the deep love and she had the emptiness of the heartbreak to come clutched in
her chest. Mabel could see the map of how everything would fall apart, but she couldn’t stop herself from falling. At least Ana was up there and Mabel was sideways. At least it could never happen. There was nothing so bad about a crush that couldn’t happen. And there she was, looking beautiful and out of place among the strange flowers, the cruel crook of a house that wanted to eat it’s occupants. Everything was circular. Mabel had only just met her but she was in love. The rounded shape of her face fit perfectly into a hollow little space at the bottom of her ribcage. It felt like someone had knocked over a cup of coffee in her heart. Someone had flooded her throat with spicy honey that made her throat tingle. Someone had softly massaged oil into her roots as she sat back and enjoyed the tingling feeling. That was what Ana was. Mabel dropped her flowers and flung herself into Ana’s arms that were waiting for her, ready to hold her.

Mabel felt like maybe she could bring herself to be a person for Ana.