AR 1211-12-19 Something Amiss-a with Arissa
Yari plopped down at the dinner table. The combat drills that day had been rough, and he was a sore and tired. He was looking forward to zoning out and relaxing over his meal, but he would not have long to relax. Soon Verona arrived, set her food down on the table next to Yari, and slid right up against him. To anyone else it would seem uncomfortably close, but to Yari – even in his exhausted state – it was nice. It did hinder his ability to eat somewhat, though, without jabbing her with his elbow. Maybe he could try eating with just his other hand?
Verona wrapped her arm around Yari’s waist and brushed his cheek with hers. Well, so much for eating! The boy breathed in her scent, and smiled at her.
“Hey,” said he.
“Hey,” said she.
“Oh,” said a disdainful voice, ruining the moment, “look at the new lovebirds!”
The intruder was Quinellia, and there was no doubt she was looking for blood. Yari had been so distracted by Verona’s proximity that he hadn’t noticed the angry girl approach. Quinellia leaned heavily on the table.
“Yari, would you kindly stop spreading rumors about me?” she asked, no kindness in her own voice. “Get your facts straight before you run off your mouth. Verona says you told her I ditched your sister yesterday. It’s the other way around. I waited for Rissa for half an hour and she never showed. So I left.”
“Left to go make out with your boyfriend, then,” Verona glowered. “Yari, told me.”
“I did not!” he complained. Then, to Quinellia, “Honest, I didn’t!”
“Yari needs to keep his mouth shut,” Quinellia shot out, ignoring Yari’s denial. “Like I said, stop spreading rumors.”
Hoping to defuse the situation, Yari said in as calm a voice as he could muster, “I know you’re mad Quinellia, and you have every right to be, but I swear I didn’t say anything! Verona figured it out on her own. I’m sorry.”
“Figured it out on her own, huh?” Quinellia said with spite, clearly not ready to accept Yari’s apology. She turned toward Verona, and spat, “Not that it’s any of your business, but no, I didn’t go rushing back to make out with Beckum. I’m not so insecure that I need to hang on my boyfriend all the time like we’re joined at the hip. I hope you have fun with your little boy. Maybe someday he’ll grow up.”
Yari tried not to let her comments rile him. “Hey Quinellia, wait! Look, it’s not as bad as that, really! It’s perfectly natural, y’know. As long as you’re careful, no one has any right to make fun of you for having fun.”
“Unbelievable,” Quinellia said shaking her head. She turned and walked away. As she left, Yari heard her say, “Just like his sister.”
His sister. Yari had a gut feeling Rissa was involved in this mess somehow. He intended to find out how.
Rissa did not sit at his table for dinner, as she typically did. His first thought was because Verona was sitting there, and Rissa had made it clear she was no fan of the princess’. Maybe it was something else, though; he needed to find out. After dinner, he tracked his sister down and said, “Hey, we need to talk.”
“Oh boy, more girl problems?” Rissa asked.
“You could say that,” Yari replied. He led her to the Gargolyle library, but was surprised it was actually in use by other students. Franziska and Geo were there, poring over their spellbooks together, the wolf Clarice curled up at their feet. Interesting; Yari hadn’t considered that pairing, but it made sense with them both being wizards. He would have to ask the former squirrel sometime if it was purely academic or something more. Geo was a good sort, the oldest of the three brothers, and probably the most mature. Yari wondered if Professor Trent had started out like Geo, and if so…
Time and place, he reminded himself. For now, he and Rissa needed to find another place to talk. Sensing the reason for her brother’s hesitation Rissa offered, “We could go to the theatre. I go there sometimes when I want to be alone.” Yari nodded and she led the way. “Funny thing about theaters, they are crowded when they want to be and empty when they don’t.” Yari scrunched his nose at his sister’s odd attempt to be philosophical.
Alone in a hallway, the boy decided he couldn’t wait any longer and asked, “Where were you yesterday after classes?”
“I was with you,” Rissa said as they walked. “We were talking about your girl problems. Remember?”
“Before that. When we met outside the kitchen I asked you why you weren’t in study group and you didn’t tell me.”
“Oh I don’t know. Whatever it was it wasn’t important.”
Yari gave his sister a look that said he wasn’t buying it.
“Oh, yeah, I remember,” Rissa said trying to make it sound spontaneous, “I was supposed to get together with Quinellia, but she didn’t show up.”
No, that wasn’t it, either. Rissa was lying to him, trying to avoid talking about what she was doing. That worried Yari even more, and he resolved to have the truth out of her.
They arrived at the theatre door, and Rissa opened it. The theatre was basically an oversized classroom with a raised wooden platform at one side to serve as a stage and stair-stepped platforms lined with chairs on the other side for audience seating. Rissa hopped up on the stage and struck a dramatic pose.
Yari rolled his eyes, but managed an amused snort. Then, he got down to business: “You’re not being completely honest with me, Rissa. I can tell. What’s really going on? Quinellia says she waited for you and you’re the one that never showed?”
“She said that, huh?” Rissa responded biting at her lip.
She was nervous. He didn’t really believe Quinellia’s story, but the way Rissa was acting, he didn’t believe her either. “What are you not telling me, Sis?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Rissa said in a familiar, defiant tone she used when she got in trouble and was being grilled by their mother for an explanation.
“Why, wha’d’you do this time?” he prodded. Mom was usually able to pull the truth out of her, and Yari hoped he would be able to as well.
“Look, I did something that wasn’t right,” Rissa said. “I know it was wrong; we don’t need to rehash it. I’m sorry if you accidentally got pulled into this, but I just want to drop it and move on.”
“Well I did get pulled into it and I don’t even know what ‘it’ is, so fill me in,” Yari said.
“It’s something you wouldn’t approve of,” said Rissa, “and if I tell you, you’re pro’lly gonna hate me.”
“I’m not going to hate you, Rissa; you’re my sister!” Yari responded. “Come on, just tell me!”
Rissa groaned at her brother’s persistence, “Fine. I know you told me to stay away from Beckum. But something in me just couldn’t let it go. I mean I was friends with lots of boys growing up but he was the first one I looked at and said ‘Oh, that’s what all the hoopla is about.’”
Yari cut her off. “You’re rambling. Get to the point.”
“I was with Beckum yesterday after class. Alone.”
Yari was getting more and more annoyed with Rissa’s evasion tactics. “Now, that is a flat out lie! It’s like you’re not even trying now! I know for a fact you weren’t with Beckum, because I… well, I just do. Now cut it out, and tell me what’s up!”
“Oh that’s ironic,” Rissa mused. “I’m trying to come clean and you’re still holding on to the lie that you never saw Quinellia.”
“No, I didn’t say that! I haven’t said that to anyone, and I wish people would stop saying I did! Now, quit changing the subject!”
“I’m not changing the subject. It’s all the same subject.” Rissa said cryptically. “You are a lousy liar, Yari. I suppose that’s a good thing. Your honesty is very noble. But sometimes I take advantage of that. When I asked you about Quinellia, I knew right away you were lying –”
“I wasn’t lying! I didn’t lie!”
“Okay, sure, you didn’t outright lie,” Rissa conceded, “but by frantically avoiding my questions about Quinellia, well, your reaction told me what I needed to know. Even though you didn’t say anything it was so obvious you saw Quinellia in the closet.”
“Wait, how could you possibly know I saw her in the closet?” Yari asked incredulously. “I never said anything about a closet.”
“You didn’t have to,” Rissa said. “I was there.”
Rissa closed her eyes, and took a deep breath, summoning the courage to continue her confession. “There’s two things I’m good at: acting,” she gestured with open arms around the stage for emphasis, “and illusion magic. That wasn’t Quinellia with Beckum. It was me.”
“What?” asked Yari again, his voice dropping to a stunned monotone.
“It was me. That was me in the closet with Beckum. I used a Disguise spell to look like Quinellia and then acted the part.” She scanned her brother’s face, desperately looking for some kind of emotion, but she found none. She fell into a shamed silence.
Finally, Yari spoke. “So, you… you let him…”
“Yeah, Yari, I let him touch my woman-parts.” Rissa cupped her hands under her breasts for emphasis, giving them a slight upheaval she hoped Yari might find unsettling. Even a negative reaction would be better than the stone face staring back at her. “And, guess what, I got to touch his man-parts, too.” She went on, defensively, “You and Elsie have done that kind of stuff, and way more. Why can’t I get a little taste of what it’s like to be with a boy?”
He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. Letting out his breath, Yari continued. He was neither condemning nor comforting as he said, “You know you basically raped him, right?”
“What?! No, I didn’t!” Rissa said resenting the severity of his accusation. “We didn’t even have sex; it was just a bunch of kissing and touching. I know what I did was dishonest, but I didn’t_ rape_ him.”
“You kinda did.” The boy was not being cold; he was merely stating facts. Cold, uncomfortable facts. “Beckum thought he was with Quinellia; he never agreed to be with_ you_.”
Still pleading her case Rissa continued, “It’s not like I tied him up or forced him to do anything. He was clearly enjoying it, if you know what I mean.”
“He didn’t know. How would you feel if someone you didn’t want to be with disguised himself as your boyfriend so he could feel you up?”
Rissa thought about it for a long moment. “I’d pro’lly wanna rip his balls off. You’re right. I didn’t think about it that way. But there you have it: I’m a boy-raper. First I talk to demons, now this. I really am turning evil, aren’t I?
Those last words finally elicited an emotion out of Yari: love. In one fluid motion, he placed a hand on the stage, launched himself up, stood, and threw his arms around his sister, bringing her in to a tight embrace. Rissa stood there stiff with shock at his sudden embrace.
“You’re not turning evil,” he whispered, holding the back of her head protectively. “We’re teenagers; we’re supposed to make mistakes. It’s a good thing, so long as we learn from them. It’s going to be alright, Rissa. We’ll make this alright. Together.”
Although it might not have been the response she expected, she’d take it. Rissa wrapped her arms around her brother. “So how do we make this right?”
Still hugging his sister, Yari stated, “For starters, you need to tell Beckum what you did and apologize to him. And you should pro’lly apologize to Quinellia too.”
“Hey, I never said your penance would be easy.”