In any case, she thought, she wouldn’t want to be a guest at that baby shower. Marley’s sisters both had serious screws loose, and there were times, even, when she looked at Marley—the dour way she walked when she got sloppy drunk, for instance—and saw signs of that same wayward screw. She liked to think that she was the stable sister Marley had never had. That’s why girls joined sororities, wasn’t it? In search of a foolproof family?
Strange the way some refuse to hold their liquor.
She hated to blame it on their father, seeing how many positive ways the family leaned on his vision. But sometimes there’s just no getting past dear old dad. Even at his most silent, his worldview wrapped around the three girls and cinched. Like a parasite, not a houseplant: he offered not a lick of oxygen in return.
Her own relationship with him, so far, had been a bit more balanced.
She pictured the series of games the girls would play, and shuddered at the likely disparity between their practicability and their ambition. No combing the web for the older sister—she thought she was too creative to take anonymous cues. And the younger one always went at tasks from the obliquest of angles. Come bearing offerings, the invite had read when she hacked into Marley’s device, in honor of the fire-sprite and her glow-worm/descendent.
Something about this mess—through luck, though, not through insight—something about its verdant heat suggested Marley's temper.
She wondered if their father would manage, despite his gender, to make an appearance. He was, after all, the only truly ingenious one in the bunch. For what felt like a very long second, she re-thought her relief at not being invited. Then threw back the rest of her drink.
Then reached out to him one final time. A ruthless mirror as she typed at him: she gripped him in her own worldview, and felt doubly relieved, thus renewed.
In the morning, she checked her device and there was the payoff: a hello—most likely breathy—from Marley’s father. Her hangover shriveled and disappeared with the dew. She rejoiced in the vein now pronounced on her brow, as well as her wits, which in addition to an inborn brawn, made her immune to a variety of traps. She was the type of animal the furthest shade from green, the type that ate rather than be eaten. She was amber swelling to ivory with a tiny indigo seed at her mealy core.
Her reply began with a flirtatious decline, followed by the excuse that she’d been invited to a shower. She’d never set out to be a villain, she thought. As long as she’s not missing out on any meat.
Despite his many positive traits, Marley’s father lacked fundamental nutrients.
Two months later, when the fire-sprite gave birth to her glow-worm/descendent, an apology, gauzily insincere, found its way in among the buoyant Mylar.