Aiden Moray prepared dinner in his typical suburban kitchen; dark wood cabinets, tile floor, an electric, self-cleaning stove, and a green, mythical creature sitting on a stool in the middle of all that modernity. He pulled the venison steaks from the refrigerator and set the broiler on preheat.
The tip of the green humanoid’s sinuous tail twitched as she watched him, perched on the tall chair in the center of the room; her soft, leathery wings tucked tightly behind her as if they strayed too far, she might damage them. Her gold cat-like eyes followed every movement that Aiden made.
He wiped his hands on a towel. “Siamura, would you like to cut up the carrots?” He indicated a half dozen of them by a wooden cutting board.
She climbed off the stool, her vertical pupiled eyes flicking between him and the cutting board. She was only five feet in height, yet her folded wings stood a foot above her head. Her pale, emerald skin shimmered in the sunlight. She peered out the window overlooking the quiet cul-de-sac as if an attack were imminent. Her long tail tapped around the stool as she left it.
Aiden wrapped an arm around her and her wings. “Relax, you’re safe here.”
Her long, pointed ears snapped up, the ends of which were almost even with the top of her head. “I like it not. The electricity makes mine skin itch and everything is so loud.” She spoke with an archaic European accent, at once melodic and startling.
He gave her a gentle squeeze. “I’m glad you’re here with Blaev. We agreed to split our time between here and your world, remember?”
She began to wash the carrots at the sink still looking out the window in front of her. “I would rather we stay in mine forest.”
Aiden grated some cheese. “When you get more familiar with life here, it won’t seem so strange. You might even grow to like it.”
She grumbled as she shook her wings, sounding like heavy curtains drawn aside. Siamura was a mearoch, or forest spirit, the ending ‘ch’ was a hard sound like the Scottish word, loch. Her skin was vibrant olive green with a pair of deep emerald swirling designs on both the left and right side of her torso. She wore a black form fitting halter top and shorts which revealed those swirls traversing her trim midriff from top to bottom. It was all he could do to get her to wear that much as loose or bulky clothing hampered her wings and tail. Her narrow tail curled high behind her as if sniffing the air. It would come as a disappointment to her detractors that her tail resembled a cat’s, covered in pale downy fur over her green skin, and not ending in a barb like a demon’s appendage.
She began to slice the carrots. “Thee is not going to have any guests over?”
Aiden put the cheese into a bowl. “Of course not. You should be comfortable.”
The microwave beeped and Siamura jumped in the air, hissing like a cat, baring her upper and lower fangs. Her wings couldn’t fully spread out and hit the cabinets on either side of her. She floated a couple of feet from the floor barely missing the ceiling and the recessed fluorescent lighting.
Aiden bumped into the counter behind him almost dropping the bowl he was holding. He sighed deeply. She was always skittish on the Earth side, too many things upset her. It had taken him a year to get her to come to dinner a second time at his house. He pointed. “It’s the microwave.” He reached for her hand.
She allowed him to draw her to the ground. Gently he helped her to fold her wings. Smoothing her shoulder length, raven hair behind her long ears, he kissed her. “I’m here.”
She wrapped her arms around him. “I am sorry. I do not think I can do this.” She laid her head against his chest. “This was a mistake. I cannot abide by these infernal machines.”
Aiden rubbed the black fur between her wings. “Hey, you’re doing great. You made peace with the toaster remember? And you like the refrigerator.”
“But it is so loud. I cannot…” Her voice trailed off.
“It’s okay.” He picked her up in his arms, not because he was a muscle-bound strongman, but she, as a member of the fey, barely had any mass at all unless she concentrated on it. She weighed as much as a large sack of potatoes, maybe twenty pounds or so. Of course, it helped his self-image as an early forties father with a slight paunch and thinning brown hair. He carried her past the kitchen table and into the nearby family room. Sitting on the couch, he held her in his lap. He wiped her tears.
“I should have remained with the trees.”
“You can’t hide there forever. I’m going to help you through this.”
Her large cat-like eyes focused on him. “Aiden, they will kill me. I cannot fight millions of humans.”
He brushed her dark hair back behind her long ears and kissed her forehead. “Shhh. We’re not going to fight them.”
“They see me as a demon. What does thee expect to happen?”
“We don’t fight them. We have to educate them, but not today. Today, we’re going to have dinner, like any other family.”
He picked her up again and carried her to the kitchen. He set her on her feet by the microwave. Taking out the packet of rice he had cooked earlier, he filled a cup full of water. “Okay, touch the water.”
Siamura stood beside him and stuck her finger in the water but watched him carefully as if he were a magician performing a card trick. He placed the full mug in the microwave. Every time he hit a button to set the time on the machine Siamura flinched. Her ears lay flat behind her head.
The microwave began to hum. “Siamura, it’s okay.”
She frowned at the device. “Why does it have to make those sounds? It is disturbing.”
“To let you know that you pressed the buttons properly.”
“And now it makes an abhorrent wheezing noise, like an air sprite with a lung disease.”
“I didn’t think air sprites could get sick.”
“They cannot. That is why the sound is so wrong.”
The microwave beeped three times and the light inside turned off. Siamura jumped again, just not as high, flexing her wings. She hissed at the offending device, baring her fangs, with her ears back.
Aiden held up his hands, at least she didn’t nearly hit the ceiling this time. “Better. That was better.”
She closed her mouth and scowled at him. “Thee mocks me.”
He opened the door and picked up the mug. “Here, feel it. It’s hot.”
With one ear cocked forward, she touched the mug. “Hmph, iron-feathers. Anyone can do that.”
“Without fire or magic?”
She folded her arms, drawing her wings in tight, her tail snapped behind her. “Thee is a scoundrel, Aiden Moray, not to allow mine magt.”
He laughed. “No one on Earth can use magic or magt, in your words, so we have different methods.”
They finished preparing dinner with Aiden trying to get Siamura familiar with the appliances. Every time she came, he would work with her, but she came to the Earth side so infrequently that it would take her a while to re-acclimate to the modern ways of doing things.
Siamura called the children to dinner. Blaev came running down the stairs as any ten-year-old would, full of energy. Blaev was a small girl with dark blonde hair falling to her pale shoulders wearing a plain tan shift that stopped at her knees. Her older brother, Tyler, trailed behind.
“Mom! Dad!” she shouted. “I beat Tyler at the racing game!”
Tyler, seventeen, with a lock of brown hair perpetually over his left eye said, “Yeah, but I didn’t use magic either.”
Blaev stuck her tongue out at him. “I still won!”
Aiden smiled. “Come on, let’s eat.”
Tyler sat at the table. “You’re not supposed to use magic to change the game.”
Blaev plopped into the seat opposite her brother. “Why not? It’s more fun that way.”
Tyler grimaced. “It’s cheating.”
Siamura threaded her tail out the back of the dining room chair as she sat. “Thee was able to influence the electric game?”
Blaev nodded while spooning some carrots onto her plate. “Yeah, it’s kinda like talking to the trees but you push on the switches harder and then things change.” She looked up and sighed. “And Mom, it’s called a video game.”
“Does it not use electricity?”
Tyler served himself a steak and passed the plate to Siamura. “Well, yeah, but nobody calls it that.”
The mearoch stared forlornly at the plate of steaks. “Why did thee cook all of the meat?”
Aiden said, “I only seared the outside. You should try it.”
She grumbled, “I tried cooked meat centuries ago.” Despite her reticence she picked the bloodiest steak and put it on her plate.
Aiden grinned to himself, remembering three years ago when she first arrived to Earth; teaching Siamura how to eat using a knife and fork and not to cram too much food into her mouth at once.
Siamura raised her wine glass. “It was not that funny.” She had the ability to eavesdrop on Aiden’s thoughts in a limited manner.
Tyler looked between the couple on opposite ends of the table. “What?”
Blaev chimed in, “Yeah, what?”
Aiden said, “Just remembering teaching your mother proper table manners.”
Tyler laughed. “Oh yeah, I remember.”
Blaev pouted. “Well, I don’t!”
Tyler continued, “It was three years ago, before you were born. Dad was teaching Mom how to eat, and it was breakfast so there were all these sausage links on a plate. So, Mom grabs them in her hands and stuffs them in her mouth. She looked like a chipmunk with cheeks full of nuts except it was sausage.” He laughed again. “And Dad was just staring at her not knowing what to do. It was priceless. I was trying so hard not to crack up.”
Blaev stared at each of them in turn. “Really?” She started to laugh too.
Siamura’s ears laid flat. “I thought the sausage would escape.” Aiden detected a glimmer of a smile on her lips.
Aiden laughed too. Their dinners together only occurred on weekends which made him cherish these events even more. Blaev was doing so much better. He felt bad scolding her about her manners and had to remind himself that though she looked ten, she was actually three years old. As a member of the fey, she matured much faster than a human would. Conversely, even though Siamura wasn’t Tyler’s biological mother, she was fiercely protective and determined to teach him the ways of the fey. It gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘mixed family’.
After dinner they sat on the couch and chairs in the living room where there was a high twenty-foot ceiling to watch as Siamura played with lights and shadows, projecting images onto the walls of the room telling a story of elves and demons. Aiden felt other minor spirits that she had summoned to assist in the light show. He could feel them flitting about the room, but he knew Siamura had them well under her control. Her powers were odd and mysterious, but she would never harm him or the children, he knew that.
When Siamura had finished, Blaev yelled, “Do it again!”
Siamura laughed. “We should be returning…”
Aiden said, “Stay here. It’ll be fine.”
Tyler interjected, “Yeah, you guys have to stay here for once.”
Aiden snatched the end of Siamura’s twitching tail and petted the tip. “I’ve caught a tiger by the tail, now you have to stay.”
She grinned and rolled on top of him. They ended up on the floor. “Ha! Now I have captured thee.” She kissed him.
Aiden grinned. “I still have your tail.”
They stayed the night.