Status: In Progress

The Majesty of Choice


Once upon a time some wispy old man who thought himself quite clever, decided that the best way to start a story was with the phrase ‘once upon a time.’ Was he right in thinking so? That’s a matter of opinion. What isn’t a matter of opinion is the matter in which events take place that come together to create a story. Stories are often perceived as fiction, but not always is the case as with our story here. Whether you believe it or not, every story is written from truth, somewhere, if maybe very deep inside.

Such is not the tale in which we trouble ourselves with today, as every word is true, just maybe not to some. All stories come to pass sooner or later if you’re patient enough.

This story takes place in a time that has happened once or someday will.

It begins with the birth of a child. Not just any child though, one in particular, or else this story would be a bit longer.

To a family with no money to waste, Gerard came along, blissfully ignorant of the magical world around him.

For all intense and purposes, Gerard was ordinary. He bore no significance to his planet at the time of his birth whatsoever. He was a small, healthy baby who had wronged no one, and so deserved no wrongs in return.

Tragic it is how bad things happen to good people. And yet, good things happen to good people too, but that doesn’t make for as much of a story.

Gerard’s misfortune befell him not through malice, but through pure naiveté. In a land of myth, magic, and legend, a well-intentioned spell can become itself a curse.

First on our list of people to know, we begin with a kind mother, a negligent father, and a very amateur, but in over his head fairy, named Ray.

In a bedroom deep in the land of Frell, the newborn Gerard was unaware of the wary hearts around him, two of whom were dreading the arrival of what would become his first defining trait. Now, it should never be said that Brendon meant ill, but he was also very inexperienced in the world in which he lived, and did not think ahead to his actions. He never once gave a second thought on what spells would leave people with misgivings, he acted before thinking, and would never reevaluate. He’s a stubborn fairy, of higher caliber than Ray, but one with a very similarly low level of skill.

Brendon’s visit was incredibly fretted over, but there was no postponing when he would give his ‘gift’ to the newborn child. Gerard’s mother had no choice in the matter. She and Ray were merely forced to hope that this would not become one of the newest in a string of bad gifts that Brendon had left his mark on. If only they could’ve known just how badly he’d mess up.

Brendon arrived early in the afternoon, much to the dismay of the residents of the house in which he entered. Gerard was asleep at first, awoken by the sound of a clattering outside which would mark Brendon’s arrival.

“Oh no,” Ray said, “He’s here.”

“Is there anything we can do?” Gerard’s mother asked.

“Nothing free of consequence,” Ray replies. His father was out, business as usual. Gerard was merely a few days old and already more important things took precedence in his father’s life. This would become something he would grow used to.

Brendon came in through the window. Literally. He came in through the window, only open a crack, letting the sounds of nature surround the newborn child, who had previously been lying serenely in his crib. He flew into the window, which was not open far enough for a regular person to squeeze through, but Brendon was no ordinary person. He was a fairy. When he entered the room, he crashed into a dresser near the door, and made quite the commotion. By the time Brendon gathered himself and stood up straight in the small room, Gerard’s wailing had overtaken the house.

“Brendon!” Ray said, not fond of his fellow fairy. Though not a bad person, he was not overly gifted in skill or in brains. Ray lacked much in skill, but he would make up for that in heart and wisdom.

“I would ask where the child is, but I hear him now,” Brendon said, as introduction.

“He was asleep, you must have startled him,” Gerard’s mother said, trying to excuse the sound of crying coming from the crib. He was not so far an overly obnoxious boy, but he was a baby, babies cry. Brendon did not seem to understand that though.

“What’s his name?” Brendon asked.

“It’s Gerard,” Ray said.

Brendon nodded, walking over to the crib and looking down. Without asking, he reached down and picked the baby up, looking at him with discontent. If it were anyone else, he’d have been thrown out immediately after entering the room, but Gerard’s mother could not make that decision for fear that a blatant curse would be Gerard’s fate.

Brendon looked down at the child, small face torn up, and tiny body or not, the boy could make a substantial amount of noise.

“Oh my god, shut up,” Brendon had said.

“He’s only a baby, you must realize,” Ray replied.

“He’s a loud baby, I can’t even think of what to give him with his noise,” Brendon remarked, looking up and trying to find inspiration while also trying to block out the cries of the baby in his arms.

“You don’t have to-”

“Silence,” Brendon demanded, “I know just what he needs.”

Brendon made a flourishing move with his free hand, and all eyes in the room snapped to Gerard who’s crying let up for a moment as he blinked, a spell hitting and sinking into him, and then it started up again a moment later.

“What did you do?” Gerard’s mother asked, heart beating fast in her chest.

“Sleep now,” Brendon said to the crying baby, and is if through magic, his eyes fluttered immediately closed. Ray realized a second before Gerard’s mother that there was no illusion of magic at all. There was very present magic.

“What...?” he started, before Brendon threw him a glare.

“I’ve given him the greatest gift imaginable.”

“And what would that be?”

“Obedience,” Brendon said, smiling greatly as he then told Gerard to wake up. Gerard’s eyes opened groggily only seconds after Brendon had uttered his words. It was much more obvious that this was a direct response to Brendon’s words.

“Oh my,” Ray shuttered, thinking already of the danger that this gift could entail.

“That’s not a good gift at all!” Gerard’s mother cried. “You can’t do that to him, you must take it back!”

“Take it back?”


“Why would I do such a thing? It’s a remarkable gift! Many parents envy this quite a bit you know, you should feel lucky. He’s a perfect child.”

“He can’t be forced to do as he’s told all the time! What life is that to live if you live at the orders of others?” Ray chipped in.

“I do not take back gifts,” Brendon said. He was, after all, infamous for being a bit pigheaded.

“You have to! This isn’t a gift he can bear.”

“I refuse to take it back,” Brendon said sharply, and he laid the baby back down in his crib before turning on the two on the other side of the room. “You don’t like my gift? Get rid of it yourselves!”

“We can’t though! Only the fairy who gave the gift can take it back.”

“Well then it looks like you’re stuck,” Brendon said, pride damaged but no dent made in his stubbornness.

“What if-”

“I don’t like people questioning my work. If you don’t like it, you’re alternative is for me to transform him to the animal of your choice.”

Eyes widening in fear, his mother quickly shook her head, and apologized for speaking against the gift.

“It’s not that bad,” Ray insisted, “No, really, it’s a great gift.” He choked on his words, his mouth barely willing to say them for his brain vehemently disagreeing with them.

Brendon smiled, an honest genuine looking smile, which made it hard to imagine how he could be so brainless as to his actions.

What was done was done. Gerard had received his gift, and it was a gift he could not return. It was a gift that would decide his entire life over and over, leaving him little room for complaint.

It was eleven years after he was given his first order that he would discover why it was that he always obeyed. Sitting in his bed on his eleventh birthday exactly, he was told what had happened.

“But why would he think it was a good idea?” Gerard had asked, feeling heartbroken and lost.

It was the first time in his life that anything had made any real clear sense, and yet it made him feel all the more confused. He couldn’t comprehend why this had been done to him when he had not deserved such a curse. He couldn’t understand how this was supposedly a gift at all. How could this fairy have thought he would enjoy this? How could this be something that would make his life better? Why him, and not someone else?

Gerard wished it had been given to some other baby. Some other baby who deserved it. Someone evil and vile who would do well to be told what to do. Gerard didn’t believe himself to be evil, and he didn’t see how this was something he should have to manage. Obedience wasn’t a gift at all, and Gerard wanted to find this Brendon and show him what harm his gift had done.

“He didn’t know,” Ray said, “He never considered what it meant to you. We do our best, trying to let you live your life of your own volition, but it’s harder to keep that true out there.”

“He has to take it back,” Gerard said shaking his head, “he has to! I can’t be forced into everything I do!”

“We know,” his mother responded, “We know that, but Brendon... he doesn’t understand the world the same way we do.”

“We have to get him to take it back!” Gerard said.

“We tried. We begged him, and begged him over and over, but he refused. He doesn’t let anyone boss him around. He’s got too much pride, he just won’t listen, no matter how hard we tried to get him to take it back, he just wouldn’t.”

“It’s just... that’s not fair. No one else has to do everything they’re told, why do I have to? It’s so unfair!”

“You’re right,” Ray nodded, “it is unfair, but if there’s anyone who can handle this gift and move past it, it’s you.”

Gerard didn’t know then just what Ray meant by “move past it,” and it would be several more years until he would, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. That’s a matter for another time.

What we move onto now is the next important event that would shape Gerard’s history. First it was a mysterious disappearance, and then it was a death.

Gerard had been blessed with one good thing his entire life and that was in the arrival of a little brother. But like a lot of Gerard’s life, this spoiled soon after he was able to appreciate it. His brother Michael was three years younger, and it was when Gerard was barely over the age of ten that he disappeared.

Gerard simply woke up one morning and he was gone. The story was that he was sent away to a special school abroad, but Gerard never believed it. He didn’t believe that Michael was dead, but he certainly didn’t believe that he was sent off to some school overnight without getting to say goodbye either.

Even his mother and Ray span that story. Gerard expected it from his father, and excuse, or an obvious lie, but from the two people he trusted the most, he didn’t understand. Gerard hadn’t seen Michael since. Ray would leave for a few days every so often after the disappearance and they told him that it was to visit Michael. Gerard asked if he could come along, but he never could. He was never allowed to see him again.

The death of his mother was not long after Michael disappeared. Gerard really did live the poster life of a miserable person. He was met with so many thousands of obstacles, but tripped over very few, and always got back up stronger than when he fell. Gerard had lived a very tough life, but he was very good at living it by then. He was very strong, and he had yet to allow his gift sully his kindness, or his caring heart.

He was bitter, this cannot be denied, but he still refused to snap at the people around him for the ease of the lives they lived. Gerard had begun calling the gift a curse by then, but he would not allow it to define him, and forced himself to remain strong and to endure.

He would not use that term ‘curse’ lightly, but he was very sure of the truth in the word. Gerard’s obedience was not a gift. It was a curse. There was no better name for it. He could not choose, he could only abide, and he was resentful of much because of this. His resent was not aimed at anyone, because they did not deserve it, and as he grew, he even learned not to resent Brendon whose hands carried the fault of many of the challenges in Gerard’s life, but he was raised by two people as kind as they could be, and this was the real gift that Gerard was given. His family was his gift, not the spell Brendon had cast on him.

Testing the waters of Gerard’s resilience was when his mother got sick. When he entered his teens, his mother caught a small cough. Thinking little of it, they let the cough be. The cough grew to become more. It soon overtook her, and it became clear that this was no passing illness.

Soon bedridden, Gerard’s mother was living off every last meal, choking her way through the long dank nights alone without her husband there. The only two people she had beside her were ones with no experience in healing whatever it was that she had come down with.

In the place of an absent father, all Gerard had was Ray, and a dying mother. There was no business in denying her death, but Gerard still insisted it would pass.

“You are not going to die,” he told his mother every night for weeks.

“Gerard,” she would reply with a small smile. Unlike him though, she could not obey every order, there was no prolonging the inevitable. It was only a matter of time.

On a night that was like every other, Gerard told her again, before bed, that she would not die.

“Gerard,” she said as usual, but this time it was different. There was a different tone in her voice as she took Gerard’s hand and looked intently into his eyes.

“Mom,” Gerard shook his head, telling himself that nothing was wrong. He would not let himself believe that she was finally letting her sickness get to her. She had been so strong thus far to persevere and make it through, but Gerard saw in her eyes a defeat that he wished he could eradicate. He wished he could give all his strength or take his mother’s place, anything not to see her pass.

As much as Gerard wished for her to live, and wished for her to get well, he could not make these things come true. He could only look on and let his hope overwhelm and sting him.

“Ray is the only other person who knows about the gift,” his mother told him.

“Curse,” Gerard had corrected.

She sighed lightly, and continued, “You cannot ever tell anyone about it. You can’t allow anyone to take advantage of you in that way. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Gerard nodded sadly, feeling inside him that he had just been given an order. He couldn’t shrug it off if he wanted to. Both Ray and his mother have done their best, gone out of their way, to allow him freedom not to be told. He can’t escape it though. School is a matter of which he can’t avoid being told what to do. The world is one full of orders, and Gerard is helpless to every single one.

Gerard understood why he was being told this on that day, but he doesn’t like the fact that he has no choice but to obey. Not even in desperate measures will he be allowed to. Words have a very powerful hold over him, which he can’t even begin to understand.

“You are so strong, Gerard. You need to realize that now, because one day you will need to know that you are greater than any spell set upon you.”

Gerard shakily repeated, “You are not going to die.” He looked into his mother’s eyes, trying to memorize the richness there. They had the same eyes, so had Michael. The same deep light brown eyes that garnered much intelligence despite the lack of years to justify it.

Gerard knew that that day was different. It would not be like the others where he woke up the next day to find her still there, frail and weak, but still there.

Ray rushed into his mother’s room not long after their discussion and hurried him away. Gerard knew that something was gravely wrong by the look on his face, and he tried to disobey, but he couldn’t. Gerard was sent to his room, and put to bed.

Gerard’s mother did not heed his orders.

Finally, time requires several more years to pass for us to begin where we find ourselves today.

It has been a bad year for the family, financially. Gerard’s father has been sending them very little money, and will soon be returning with his latest gamble on how to keep the house. Gerard has not been in favor of it. He has optioned himself off to get a job as an alternative, but no one will hire him. He is the odd boy that no one understands. Everyone knows that there is something off about him, but no one knows precisely what.

Gerard, still the ever obedient boy he was before, only older, with a softer face and kinder disposition, stands in front of his house.

He stands beside the only paternal figure he can rely on still. His father is gone too often to have built any sort of hold on Gerard’s allegiance. Only Ray has been there the whole time. Ray is both a mother and a father, while being neither officially.

Today, in the scheme of things, is like every other day. The sun shines brightly over the fields of crops around them, the smell of summer air gracing them as they watch the town wake up. There’s a few people up and about already, farmers mainly, tending to their daily business, their lives eternally decided by the placement of the sun.

It’s not purely for amusement that they stand outside the empty house, waiting for the biggest change in their lives since the death of Gerard’s mother several years ago.

Life has been much the same from day-to-day since her death. Gerard attends school in the small one classroom building nearby. He has one friend, one friend who doesn’t look down on him for being peculiar. Gerard avoids people for the most part if he’s able to. He avoids them so that he doesn’t have to worry about people telling him what to do. His father is still rarely around them, supporting them financially, but providing Gerard with very little emotional support, if any at all. Ray is who he has to look up to the most. In a way, he is also a friend to Gerard, but more so a guardian. He’s the person who sticks up for Gerard if he can’t stick up for himself.

At last, a horse drawn carriage can be seen from over the hill. Gerard takes a deep breath and holds it for as long as he can, dreading what will happen when that carriage stops in front of this house, waiting for it to upheaval his entire life.

He doesn’t know it yet, but the contents of that carriage are about to shape and transform his life forever.
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