I would never tell Dru, but I adopted Primrose because she reminded me so much of Mr. Landon, with his long, beautiful brown hair.
Mom had always called me silly, but shouldn’t a childhood crush pass after so long? Maybe I was silly. The silliest.
Mr. Landon had called me worse things, but I didn’t mind. “Shouldn’t you be crying by now?” he demanded afterward. “I’ve never seen a creature erupt into nearly as many tears as you.”
“There’s no point in crying this time, Mr. Landon,” I’d said. “Because I know you’ll only make me smile again.”
For someone who hated me so much, he spent so much time following me around on Fangs Island…
But sometimes I followed him too. And even if his words to me were harsh, he was gentle with the plants and flowers, and kind to the wild animals on the island.
Sometimes, I even heard him singing to them, but he denied ever singing a note in his life when I asked him to sing for me.
I loved Mr. Landon. I wished I didn’t. When I first met him, I thought he was the loneliest person I ever saw, but maybe he wasn’t lonely anymore. Or not lonely enough to want to be pestered by me…
“Are you gonna set the table or keep sighing over there?” Mom had asked me one day, when Dad and Dru were at the gym and I was staring out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of his beautiful hair or tanned, muscular shoulders.
“Isn’t Mr. Landon pretty, Mom?” I sighed. “The prettiest…”
Mom kept stirring the mac and cheese. It always made me a little sad when she cooked, because Dad and Dru couldn’t enjoy the food as much as we did. “He’s pretty, I’ll give him that,” Mom had said. “I liked a pretty boy once–don’t tell your dad.”
“I won’t. And Dad is pretty…funny,” I said helpfully.
“He sure is. But sometimes guys can be big chickens, Ly, and you have to chase ‘em down yourself. Don’t worry too much.”
“I don’t think I can chase Mr. Landon… He’s really good at hiding.”
“You were always really good at chasing butterflies,” Mom said. “Okay, right off a cliff sometimes, but still.” She grabbed an empty plate and waved it at me. “Now I’m not talking about your Mr. Landon here, not until you’re a little older, but if you want something, you have to go after it. The things I had to do to get your dad to–never mind, but you and Dru were born, right?”
But I wasn’t brave like Dru. I wouldn’t chase Mr. Landon, not when he hated me. I was probably annoying, tripping over everything and coming close to walking off of cliffs and almost getting decapitated by low-hanging branches…
But I did want to go to art school, so I decided to chase that dream instead. I’d always let those butterflies go after I’d caught them, and I’d set Mr. Landon free too.
But when I was so far away from Fangs Island, far away from everyone and everything I loved, I struggled. I couldn’t see the beautiful flora of the place I’d grown up–or from my butterfly-filled childhood dreams, which had faded with time.
And everyone else was so talented. I’d always drawn and painted for fun, but here, so many of the other students had known they wanted to be professional artists since they were little. They took classes and entered art competitions before they even stepped foot on campus.
I didn’t want to compete–that was Dru’s thing, not mine.
If only I were more like her. She was so strong, in so many ways. Maybe my own path was helping other people, showcasing their natural beauty and talent rather than my own. I liked styling hair and trying new makeup, so maybe it could work…
If only Dru did too. I was pretty sure that every time she left her apartment, she glanced at her mirror that didn’t hold a reflection, shrugged, and said, “Good enough, I guess.”
At least Primrose was willing and patient when I brushed her hair, helping me achieve my dreams.
Well, there were some dreams she couldn’t help me with. Did I make weird noises or odd movements during those dreams, the way she did when she dreamed of chasing her favorite ball?
“Oh, Mr. Landon,” I said. “I hope my garden isn’t too overgrown…”
“Not overgrown, you beautiful flaxen-haired princess. Lush.”
“Sorry about the brambles. I’m half-vampire, even if I don’t look it…”
“You have nothing to apologize for. I should apologize, for running away. But now I see the error of my ways, and would gladly set my weasel free in your lush, lush garden…”
“Your weasel is my favorite, Mr. Landon…”
They always ended before his weasel got to do very much. Waking up was always very, very disappointing–and even more embarrassing.
If Mr. Landon ever decided to talk to me, I had to make sure to never, ever mention those dreams. Or even think about them.
I wish he’d talk to me.
And I wish Dru would realize I wasn’t half as great as she thought I was, that her happiness mattered just as much as mine.
And while I was wishing for so much, a new job as a makeup artist or hair stylist would be nice too…