alexconall: the Pleiades (Default)
Alex Conall, social justice bard ([personal profile] alexconall) wrote2013-07-29 11:02 am

Where Should This Music Be? [sponsored by [personal profile] jb_slasher, from the July Fiction Fishbowl]

Karen just wants the whole issue to go away. So she's twenty-four, and her father's forty-seven. Big deal; her mother's fifty, so if there's a time limit on getting married and having a kid, twenty-three isn't it. And Karen's said so, several times.

But the nagging, however well-intentioned, continues. You're my only child, Karen. I want grandbabies, Karen. Isn't your life missing something, Karen?

(Karen wouldn't mind a kid, but she doesn't know how hard it'd be for a single black woman with an income like hers to adopt a child and she's pretty sure that wouldn't shut Mom up anyway. As for men and sex, or for that matter women and sex, or people of nonbinary gender and sex, well, her life is not missing anything, thank you very much.)

Karen meets Rosa in the library, under Fiction: M: Karen trips over an untied shoelace and sends her small tower of books tumbling to the ground. "Oh, Seanan McGuire!" says the brown woman, maybe black or Latina, as she helps pick up the books. "I love her. Have you read her before?"

"No, but she comes highly recommended," says Karen. "And if the recommendation's deserved, I won't want to stop at the first one."

"At least you have six books already," says the woman. "I had to wait six months for the fourth one, and again for the fifth, and a year for the sixth...I'm Rosa."

"Karen," says she, and rebalances the books so she can shake Rosa's hand. "Pleasure."

Two months of weekly two-person book-club nights later, Rosa asks Karen a peculiar question: "Do you believe in fairies?"

Karen eyes her copy (she had indeed liked McGuire enough to buy the series) of A Local Habitation. "They're fictional," she points out.

"Do you think fairies might be real?" Rosa rephrases.

"I wish they were," Karen says. "The world could use some more magic."

"Do you want to find out?" Rosa asks.

Karen thinks that over.

"I'm sorry," Rosa says when the silence becomes awkward. "I've been lying by omission—I came looking for you because I need someone to be another mother to my little girl, Lestari. Something's wrong with Intan—" and that at least is a name Karen's heard before: Rosa's wife. "And I've been having trouble taking care of both of them and I need help. So I came looking for someone who wants to be a mother but isn't, and wouldn't be leaving any responsibilities behind if she came to Fairyland."

Karen takes a deep breath, then another, to let this revelation settle in. It's impossible. Of course it's impossible. And it echoes of the only suitable role for a black woman being a nurse to a white family—but Rosa and Intan are different shades of brown, and Karen wants to see magic.

"Prove it," Karen says.

"I can take you there now," says Rosa. "And back right away if you want, and no one will notice you were gone."

"Let's go," says Karen.

"Thank you," Rosa breathes. Karen remembers that in every story of the fae she's ever read, one person thanking another means the first person is saying they owe the second.

Rainbows wrap around Karen's hands, drawing her down into darkness.

Creative Commons License
Where Should This Music Be? by Elizabeth Conall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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