Glory wished she had been born without a twin. She sat at her desk scowling, watching Sylain’s newest Instagram video.
“It’s ten in the morning and my apartment is completely trashed,” Vain started. “I came back from the studio and everything is destroyed.”
She waved the phone around her small apartment, where pictures lay broken on the floor and gibberish was scrawled across the walls.
“I think I caught the creature that did it, a Nautilus, and Nebula here helped me scare it off.”
Glory rolled her eyes at the mention of “the creature.” I’ll bet she trashed her own apartment for the likes, she thought. Immediately her stomach buzzed and her mouth went dry. She looked up to make sure no one was passing by her office. Then she slumped down in her chair, her brows knitting together.
“For those of you who haven’t listened to my episode about Nautili’ – link in bio – they are creatures of the Unseelie Court. They look like orange and white peppermint sticks with spindly limbs and white eyes and the worst set of teeth in the entire court, worse even than trolls. This particular fey left their signature on my wall.” The phone walked through the hall, showing the destroyed artwork on the walls and ripped up rugs. Sylvain went into her bedroom and pointed the phone to the wall above her bed. The word “Danuat” was written in dark red ink.
“Oh, hell,” Glory whispered. She knew what the word meant before Sylvain began to explain to her followers.
“If you missed my episode on language of the fey – link in bio as well – this word means ‘Sighted one.’ The sight is-”
Glory scoffed and closed out of Instagram, not in the mood to hear her sister pontificate about magical, imaginary creatures any longer. But that was how she made her money – for years now, her sister has paid her way through the world by convincing people that fairies were real and that she saw them all the time. To her almost a million followers, Sylvain Oberle was a hero, a legend, a stone-cold fox. To Glory, she was nothing more than a con artist. A grifter. A stoner who was lucky enough to have not smoked away her brain cells so she could tell a good story.
In the end, that’s all they were – good stories.
Glory knew it, their father knew it, and their mother – wherever she was – knew it too.
Her phone rang.
It was Sylvain.
“Oh, for fucks’ sake,” she said as her finger hovered over the screen. She sighed and answered it on the last ring.
“Hello, Sylvain,” Glory said, keeping her voice steady.
“Hey, sis,” Sylvain replied, sounding too jovial for a person whose apartment was supposedly just trashed by an imaginary creature.
“What can I do for you?”
“Well, my afternoon is open, so I was wondering if you wanted to get some lunch.”
Glory tried to think back to the last time she saw her sister in person. It had been Christmas – or had it been Thanksgiving? Labor Day?
Glory started to tell her sister no, that she was swamped, but her calendar said otherwise. There were no meetings on her calendar until 3:30. Plenty of time for a lunch, somewhere in walking distance. Despite this information, Glory stayed silent, hoping her sister would get the hint.
“I’ll take that as a no,” Sylvain stated.
“I didn’t say anything,” I replied.
“You didn’t have to – you’re silence said it all.”
“I didn’t say anything,” Glory said, not bothering to hide the edge in her voice.
“That’s because you know you can’t lie, especially to me. You don’t want to go to lunch with me. Fine.”
Glory sighed. “Fine. I don’t want to go to lunch with you but I’m going to meet you anyway. Meet me at the Blue Tavern at noon.”
“Fine.” Sylvain hung up.
Two hours later she was sitting at an outside table at the Blue Tavern. Sylvain was late, as usual, and Glory was about to call her when she saw her walking across the street.
She waved at Glory and walked inside. Sylvain looked skinnier than the last time Glory saw her, and she felt a pang in her stomach. Must be nice to be able to spend two hours in the gym every day because you don’t have a real job, Glory thought. Another pang, this one preventing her from meeting her sister’s eyes.
“You look tired,” Glory blurted.
Sylvain’ face fell. “Gee, thanks sis.”
“I’m sorry, you just look tired.”
“Might have something to do with my apartment getting broken into,” Sylvain said.
You mean the break in you staged? She thought.
Glory took a sip of water to keep herself from responding. Sylvain was baiting her, wanting Glory to respond truthfully only to throw it back in her face afterwards. That same roiling in her stomach, that familiar burn.
“So, what have you been up to?” Glory asked.
“Well,” Sylvain began. The waiter dropped off two waters and a basket of bread. Sylvain dug into it first, ripping the roll in half and running it through the oil and balsamic vinegar in the table. She popped the bread into her mouth and kept talking. “The podcast was recently listed on Apple’s top recommended. It’s made a few other lists, too. I just did an interview with the Daily Beast about it, and about the fey. I’ve gotten offers to join some podcast networks and…”
She swallowed the bread and grabbed another roll.
“I’m starving,” Sylvain said.
Glory sipped her water. It took everything she had not to knock the bread basket off the table. Didn’t she know that bread was pure sugar?
“So, I think I might write a book,” Sylvain said.
Glory’s eyes widened.
“Oh?” She said.
“Yes. About the fey. It’ll be like a compendium of sorts – like about the fey and the one’s I’ve encountered and when I encountered them.”
The waiter stepped onto the patio and walked toward them. Glory was thankful for his presence, unsure as she was about speaking her mind with Sylvain.
“What can I get you ladies?” He asked.
“I’ll take the salmon salad, no dressing, no croutons, no bacon. Cheese and strawberries on the side, please,” Glory said. She felt her sister’s eyes on her, judging her.
“So, you just want lettuce, onions, and salmon?”
Glory narrowed her eyes. “I asked for the cheese and strawberries on the side. So, obviously I don’t not want lettuce, onions, and salmon.”
“Ok, miss. And you?” The waiter asked as he turned toward Sylvain.
“I’ll do the Cajun pasta, please. No need to put anything on the side,” she said, and smiled at the waiter. He smiled back at her. For a moment, they were bound by their mutual disdain for Glory’s order. She scowled at them. Who were they to judge her? She was the one taking her health seriously, not being a glutton at noon on a Wednesday like Sylvain.
“Aren’t you Sylvain? You do that podcast, Bright Court, Night Court, right?” Asked the waiter.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Sylvain responded. She was beaming. Her dimples showed and she pressed her tongue out between her lips slightly. She’s flirting with our waiter, Glory thought. She looked down at her phone. She only had half an hour before she had to return to work.
“Wow, I’m a big fan. I’ve listened to every episode, and-“
“Can you put our orders in, please? It is lunchtime and one of us has to go back to work soon,” Glory said.
The waiter looked from Glory to Sylvain before pursing his lips and nodding.
“Coming right up,” he said. He walked inside, and Glory let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. Sylvain folded her arms and smirked.
“You know he’s gonna spit in your food, right?” She said.
“Well, if you hadn’t started flirting with him, I wouldn’t have had to say anything.”
“You would have said something regardless,” Sylvain responded. Glory opened her mouth to speak but stopped. Her sister was right, but Glory would never give her the satisfaction of a confirmation. She did what she always did and changed the subject.
“Well, I’ve been busy, too. Max proposed over Christmas, so I’ve been wedding planning.”
“I know, I saw your Insta story,” Sylvain said. “Congrats. Have you set a date?”
“No. But I was thinking sometime in the spring. I want a classic, elegant wedding with a band, dinner by the plate, and a long Cathedral-length veil.”
Sylvain snorted. “You getting married in a cathedral?”
“No. I want to go with the La Etoile on the pier. They have the perfect view of the ocean.”
Sylvain nodded. “And what does Max want?”
Glory paused. “He… wants what I want.”
“Well, that’s healthy.”
“Excuse me? At least I have someone in my who wants to make me happy.”
“Who said I didn’t?”
Glory scoffed. “Oh, please. If you were seeing someone they’d be all over your Instagram.”
“Glory, for a marketer, you sure don’t understand branding. All the shit I post? That’s Sylvain the Podcaster. My relationships, my struggles, that’s personal.”
“Unless it has to do with the ‘fair folk,’” Glory said in a mock Brittish accent. “Then, it’s public as fuck.”
The waiter dropped their food off. Sylvain’s pasta looked and smelled so delicious that it made Glory’s stomach twist. She picked at her salad, with its slightly wilted lettuce and its dry salmon.
“You’d think I’d know better by now than to talk to you about… well, anything,” Sylvain said.
“This was your idea,” Glory said, spreading her hands out. Sylvain sat back in her chair and bit her lip.
“Yeah. And I realize it wasn’t a good one.”
Glory’s heartbeat quickened. Tears sprang to her eyes, but she blinked them away and cursed herself for forgetting to pick up her usual waterproof mascara.
“I’m gonna ask for the check,” Sylvain said. She flagged down the waiter and told him she was late for a meeting, thanked him for his service, and asked if he could bring her a to-go box.
“Will this be together or separate?” The waiter asked.
“Together,” Glory said. She pulled her wallet out of her purse and slipped the waiter her American Express. He nodded and walked into the restaurant.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Sylvain said.
“I know. You probably make almost double what I do in a year.”
“I wanted you to know you’re not the only successful one at this table,” Glory said, though she wished it hadn’t sounded so harsh.
“Wow, ok, Glory.” Sylvain said. She crossed her arms over her chest and turned to look out at the street.
I’m sorry, Glory thought. I can’t help it, you know that. I’m a bitch and I don’t mean to be.
The waiter placed the bill before her on the table and handed Sylvain her to-go box.
“Thank you for dining with is, I hope to see you again soon,” the waiter said, though he looked at Sylvain as he did so.
She smiled and thanked him back. Glory kept her gaze on the receipt, adding and re-adding the tip amount to keep from looking into her twin sister’s green eyes.
“Well, this has been… interesting. I’m sure I’ll see you again soon,” Sylvain said.
“Probably not,” Glory replied.
She didn’t look up but she knew that her sister had shaken her head. Glory kept her gaze down as she heard the metal chair scrape against the concrete as Sylvain pushed it in. She heard the click of her sister’s boots as she walked away.
It was only when the sound was gone that she allowed the tears to flow.