3. Artemis III
I walked upstairs from to Dad’s room in silence, then knocked lightly on the door. Of course, I knew the code to get in without him actually letting me in, but I didn’t figure right now would be the proper time to use it. Anyhow, within a few seconds the door beeped and opened on it’s own, and I heard Dad say, “come in.”
I entered and closed the door behind me, then turned around and looked at Dad. He had turned around, so his back was to his desk, and was looking at me. “Did you want something, Artemis?”
“Yeah… can I talk to you?”
“Of course. Sit down.” I sat on his bed, and he got up and joined me. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing is.. wrong, necessarily,” I murmured, unsure. I thought for a moment after that, and Dad let me in silence. How to go into this? It obviously seemed to be a tender subject for him, so I couldn’t just blurt it out… right? Then again, maybe a direct approach would be better…
Dad smirked when he saw me thinking hard. I was having trouble deciding what to say, and he saw it in my face. “Artemis, let’s make this easy on both of us,” he said softly, laying a hand on my knee. “You heard my conversation with Butler and want to know what it was about. Right?”
I tried to keep the shocked look off my face as I asked, “what? How did you know that?”
“Artemis, I’m a genius, remember? I thought you were supposed to be almost as smart as I was at your age; where did all those IQ points go?” He chuckled and shook his head. “At any rate, I don’t believe you were quite as subtle as you thought you were. I’m sure Butler guessed as well, didn’t he?”
“No, actually,” I said defensively, crossing my arms. “I made him choke when I told him I heard you two talking. He never guessed that I was eavesdropping at all.”
Dad shrugged. “He does seem to be more observant with his eyes than his ears as he ages,” he murmured. “However, not the point.” Dad looked back up at me, and his face took on a more serious look. “Artemis, listen. I know that you heard all the stuff I said, or at least a good percentage of it, and I know you want to know about the People now, but I want you to know that this isn’t a game. This is serious, and believe me when I say that these people are armed and dangerous. You shouldn’t mess with them.” He squeezed my knee. “I just want you to promise me you’ll use this information responsibly, alright? And then I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.”
I stared in his eyes. I could tell he wasn’t joking at all, and he wasn’t just saying this stuff to scare me: he was serious. And though I wouldn’t admit it, that was enough to spook me. .. although not enough to sway me. And, so, though I hesitated, after a moment I still nodded and said, “yeah. Alright. I promise.”
He seemed to visibly relax a little at this, but not much. “Alright… what do you want to know?”
That I had to think about for a minute. What did I want to know? “Well… that person, that girl you were talking about.. who was she? Was she one of them? And what about those dreams you said you were having?”
Dad closed his eyes. “I did say I was having dreams about her, didn’t I?” He sighed. “Yes, I am. Before we stopped talking, she and I were very close, and we did lots of things together, and made plenty of memories… some good, some bad. Let’s just say I’ve been having dreams about those things, and those memories.”
I nodded. “Okay. But who was she?” Dad hesitated on answering, and my heart thumped. “Dad… ”
“Alright, alright. She was your mother. Happy?”
I jumped up, immediately angry. “What? You mean… she’s alive?”
“Yes.” Dad sighed. “Artemis, I’m sorry for lying to you, but you weren’t supposed to know about the People. And we are forbidden from seeing each other, anyhow. I didn’t see the sense in telling you she was alive, or telling you about the People, when you probably won’t ever even see your mother or any of her kind anyways.”
Even through my anger, that sentence caught my attention. “What?”
“The People… they aren’t human, Artemis,” Dad admitted. “Neither was… is.. your mother. They are fairies. Of course, they are all different species… but you understand.”
“What species was she?” I asked. My anger was slowly, slightly diminishing, but only slightly.
“The captain was an elf. A very talented, and feisty elf, I may add. We didn’t always get along the greatest.” He smirked and shook his head. “She and I… well, our relationship didn’t start out the best, or end, for that matter. We were more often than not closer to enemies than friends.”
“Why? What happened with you two?”
Dad coughed awkwardly, not looking at me. “I refuse to answer that question. Now.. is there anything else you want to know? I really should be getting back to work.”
I thought for a minute, still irritated. I was plenty smart enough to realize he was dodging the questions. Finally I thought I had come up with a suitable parting question. “Yeah, actually.” He looked up at me, and I crossed my arms before asking, “when are you going to stop hiding things from me?”
Dad’s mouth opened, and then closed several times, but no words came out. Great, I thought. Something else I won’t be getting an answer to.
“Never mind, then,” I muttered. “Forget it.” I dropped my arms and sighed, turning and walking out of the room. I heard Dad call out at me, but I ignored him as I walked back downstairs to the kitchen.
Butler was still down there, cleaning up when I went in. “I take it you didn’t particularly like what he said?” he asked, taking in the look on my face that must have clearly said I was upset.
I stomped over to the fridge, snatched a bottle of water out, then turned to look at him. “I just don’t like being lied to,” I said flatly. Then I turned and left the kitchen, stalking silently up the stairs again to my room, locking the door behind me.