Glory spent the rest of the day with a pit in her stomach. She hadn’t intentionally meant to hurt her sister’s feelings, she’d only told the truth. Sometimes, Glory forgot how harsh she sounded. It was only when she saw the look on a person’s face or noticed them having left the room that she realized she’d gone too far.
She tried to call Sylvain, but it went straight to voicemail.
“So she’s ignoring me,” Glory said. Her sister’s rejection stung. After spending five minutes crying in her car, Glory reapplied her tear-streaked makeup. She went back to work, pushing the conversation back into the furthest recesses of her mind. She’d allow herself to dwell on it while at the gym or on her way home.
When she got to the gym she walked passed the receptionist and smiled, but remained quiet. She walked straight through to the locker room and strode to the last locker on the right side of the room. Her locker. Only now, someone else’s clothes were inside. Someone who carried an imitation Louis Vuotton and still wore bootcut jeans. Glory clenched her teeth as she got ready on the other side of the room. She waited until the room was empty and sprang into action.
The women with had forgotten to lock her belongings up.
“Not locking your things up is the quickest way to get them stolen,” Glory said to the empty locker room. She pulled the woman’s stuff out of the locker walked it over to the showers. She tossed her clothes into an empty stall as she turned the water on. She smiled as she saw the clothes get damp.
Glory turned the water off and walked back to the woman’s locker, closed it, locked it, and walked back in front of her own locker just as another woman came in.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hello,” Glory said as started to slip her tennis shoes on.
Glory was on the stair climber when she heard a scream come from the locker. The woman left the gym in her sweat-stained gym clothes, carrying her wet, out-of-date clothing in her hand. She walked out with her head down. Glory smiled.
An hour and a half later, Glory was in her car and driving passed the pier. She looked out at the crowded boardwalk, thinking about the time she’d chased Sylvain out to the edge. Sylvain leaned over the pier and screamed as waves crashed against the pier’s foundation.
That day, she’d had a panic attack at school. She said she saw a troll at the edge of the volleyball courts.
Their father had to take the rest of the day off, and he yelled at Sylvain on the way home, saying she needed to stop making things up, asking her why she couldn’t be more like Glory, and didn’t she know they couldn’t afford for him to take unnecessary time off work?
“Mom wouldn’t treat me this way,” Sylvain said, her teenage voice filled with angst.
Glory winced whenever she brought their mother up. She didn’t remember her the way Sylvain did. Glory remembered a woman who was there but never present, her mind always somewhere else. She remembered her forgetting PTA meetings, forgetting her play dates or even forgetting to take them to school. In her opinion, there were a few things her mother was good at – being present sure as hell wasn’t one of them.
She said nothing as Sylvain and their father argued, and she remained silent that night when they stood on the pier with their tennis shoes slick against the wooden pier.
“I know you don’t believe me, about the things that I see. I know you think I’m crazy. But, I’m not. They are real, and mom saw them, too.”
Glory turned toward her sister.
“Well, dad says they aren’t real, that you and mom had, like, some hive mind thing happening.”
Sylvain looked at her.
“You mean groupthink?”
“Yeah, dad would quote some bull from that horny headshrinker.”
“You’re a freakin’ mess, Sylvain. Can’t you just like… stop? Like, you’re seeing these things because you think they are real, and because mom told you all these stories, but what if you stopped thinking they were real? What if you just, like, told yourself that it was all imaginary? Wouldn’t you stop seeing things?” Glory said. In her thirteen-year-old brain, this flawed logic seemed like the key to Sylvain’ problems. The opposite of clap your hands if you believe, she thought that if Sylvain was resolute in her disbelief, then her visions would go away.
She shook her head. “Don’t you think I’d give anything not to see the Fey? Don’t you think if I I could stop, then I would?”
“You’re making us all miserable because you always talk about the Folk and how mom told you what to do about them, but mom’s not here! Mom was never here, not really, she always forgot about us.”
Sylvain shook her head.
“You don’t know a goddamn thing about our mother. Everything you think about her comes from that bastard.”
“Don’t talk about dad that way!”
“I’ll talk about him anyway I want, you know why? Because he’s a shitty father. For all mom’s faults, at least she never tried to turn us into something we’re not,” Sylvain said. Glory looked at Sylvain then, her face half covered in shadows. She was shaking with anger or sadness, Glory never knew what.
Glory was so angry, so tired of her sister and her drama. She was so tired of playing second fiddle to Sylvain’s needs and failures.
“If mom was such a great mother, why would she leave us? Dad’s never gone anywhere, even though you always annoy him. You know, I think mom really left because she couldn’t handle you, and your stupid problems, and your stupid face.”
The gravity of what Glory just said hung between them, weighing heavily. She regretted her words immediately. Sylvain looked like all the air had been knocked out of her. She walked up to Glory and pushed her, knocking her to the ground.
“Hey!” Glory said. But Sylvain didn’t acknowledge this. She kept walking, soon a dark spot in the distance. By the time Glory got to the end of the pier, Sylvain was gone, and Glory had to find her way home alone.
That night when Sylvain got home, she didn’t even look at Glory. She could hear her quiet sobs in the darkness.
The sound of a car honking forced Glory out of her memories. She flipped the person off and continued home.