A Matter of Heart

By: Heather Lyons

To my three boys,

who are still way too young to read such a book—

this one’s for you.

Mama loves you.

But . . . I’m only eighteen. You expect me to do that at eighteen?

This is what I want to say, or rather shout out-loud, but I’m pretty sure that excuse would go over as well as somebody tossing a bag of kittens over a waterfall. Plus, I’m pretty new at this whole Council thing and don’t even know if I’m allowed to agree or disagree when it comes to matters such as these. I’ve been to all of four meetings so far, but until today, they were sedate enough that I’d fallen asleep in one.

Ok, two.

I know I ought to be more involved, considering people acted like I was the second coming in the midst of her grand debut into Magical society, but it’s a lot to take in, being responsible for quintillions of beings on six different planes of existence. I’d even go as far to say it’s totally overwhelming. I suppose, back when I used to imagine what it’d be like when I was a seated member, I expected serious debates. Strong convictions. Moral righteousness yet fair decisions. And those things are present during meetings, but when the topics are whether or not a river ought to be diverted or dried up or a forest fire needs to be started to encourage new tree growth, the shine of being in charge of the universe wears off pretty quickly.

In the last month, I haven’t been asked to do anything further than introduce myself and give a short speech, written by my Intellectual father to replace the one I’d agonized over for three whole days. Since then, I’ve sat in a surprisingly comfortable chair and listened for hours to Council members of varying tiers and crafts drone on about matters affecting their various planes of existence. I vote when asked, but as it’s done electronically, even that doesn’t require my voice.

These meetings only exacerbate my feelings of inadequacy about joining the Council so early. Once eighteen, most Magicals spend two years at the University of Annar taking tailored classes suited to honing their crafts and then another two years as an apprentice under a seasoned mentor before going to work, let alone joining the Council. But I hadn’t been afforded that luxury. I was told that, five days after I graduated high school, I was to report to my first official meeting in Karnach, the gorgeous and imposing rotunda which houses not only the assembly rooms but all Council member offices as well. I would be allowed a single class per semester, totaling four over two years if my schedule permitted, but there would be no internship.

Which is unfair and, the more I think about it, fairly irresponsible of the rest of the Council, considering I’m one of their big guns—a Creator, one of only two currently in existence.

Speaking of . . . nearby, Kleeshawnall Rushfire lets loose a round of his typical snorting/coughing sounds which act as nails on a chalkboard for those of us seated nearby. Afterwards, he pulls out a crusty handkerchief to wipe a gob of far-too chunky phlegm from his chin. I try not to cringe, but man, is it hard.

After shoving said handkerchief back into his shirt pocket, the ancient Faerie barks out, ignoring the heated debate I really ought to be paying closer attention to, especially as it concerns me, “What does it take to get something other than sludge in my coffee cup?”

The Elf next to me, a Storyteller named Etienne Miscanthus, attempts to smother his burgeoning laughter. He’s been pretty nice to me so far, which has been comforting as my seat is nowhere near anyone I know. As for myself, I worry that my face shows the perverse fascination I have towards Rushfire.

“Jackals! All of them,” the Creator who once might’ve been my mentor comments loudly. Spittle decorates his wiry beard and moustache. Then his rheumy eyes swivel towards me. “You’ll see, missy.” He thrusts a cup adorned with a bright yellow happy face, a bullet hole bleeding out on top, in my direction and shakes it until coffee splatters down his shirt. “Give ’em an inch, they’ll take a mile. Ask me to do them favors, do they, and give me this . . . this . . .” He pulls the cup back so he can peer within. “Shit, is what it is!” He slams it back down on his table. “I repeat, what does it take to get a decent cup of coffee around here?”