Thursday, February 4, 2010
Gemma first appeared in an unpublished short story, “Wings”, then in OGW 9/24/09 and 10/29/09. Gemma’s mother abandoned her when she was a child. Mom was addicted to smoking faery dust, and now that Gem’s an adolescent she has what all the daughters of dusters got – wings. Horrified and outcast, Gemma left home for NYC to find her mother, and herself.
Gemma: Fear wrapped around my neck like Samantha, Ian’s pet python, gone wild. Tightening, then loosening so I could almost taste air again… and then tight again, choking me.
Gemma, get a hold of yourself, the reasonable, somehow calm me said inside.
Aaaaaaaa cough cough gasp Aaaaaaa… (sound fading out to nothing) said the real me, the anxiety-driven, wings-fluttering, freaked-out me.
“Are you gonna knock?” said Iris.
“She’s chicken,” said Lola.
“Just knock,” said Ian.
“I’m here for you no matter what,” said Luke.
“Knock!” everyone shouted at once.
I did. I thrust my arm out and rapped hard on the door twice, paused, and then a third time. All the voices in my head were quiet. I was alone in the hall outside the fifth floor walk-up. My knock seemed to linger in the empty air. When the air stilled, I knocked again, more gently, calmly this time because I was sure no one was home.
“Who is it? Who’s out there?” said a gruff voice, and I jumped back. “Who are you?” said the voice. Old woman? Old man? I couldn’t tell, but I imagined a milky eyeball pressed against the peep hole.
“Gemma,” I said. “Um, it’s me, Gemma? I’m looking for my mother?”
“I ain’t her. Go away!”
“I’m here for you,” Luke said in my head before I could run.
“Oh. Um. Do you know um Belle um Green? Or, I mean maybe she calls herself Belle LaGuin? I was told, well, I mean, I heard she lives here?” I pulled my jacket closer, forgetting for a moment that Luke and I had cut out a hole for my wings and they were out there for anyone to see now.
I am looking for my mother, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of! I thought, and with that, my wings beat, and I rose up off the floor. Gemma, me, adolescent faery. On my own in New York, and doing fine. I pounded on the door this time.
The door opened a crack. “All right, all right. Just come down from there. I’ll tell you what I know.” A gnarled hand appeared around the edge of the open door, and a long finger with a sharp, yellowed nail beckoned. “Come on, quit your lollygagging and get in before someone sees you. This is a nice neighborhood.”