Why are you like this?

By Soncirey Mitchell
Reader Staff

It’s come to my attention that my life story — such as it is — could be considered less than normal, due to the presence of ghostly apparitions and other such supernatural phenomena. Some might even attribute my current state as a bumblebee-dungaree-wearing, monster-loving journalist to these otherworldly entities. Case in point, at our recent editorial meeting, Publisher Ben Olson asked if I’d chosen a topic for this week’s “Back of the Book”: “Are you finally going to reveal that you’re a changeling, swapped at birth by fairies?” 

His question backed me into a corner, as my need to publicly share every weird aspect of my life chafed against the understandable fear of upsetting my fae overlords.

I think I turned out this way because of my three honorary siblings; but, to be fair, we did spend our childhoods together chasing fairies and gnomes through the woods.

I saw — or hallucinated — a fairy at their house in the second grade while having a sleepover with my best friend, Caden, as we did practically every night. Like rational tiny humans, we made a pact to stay up and watch the sunrise for the thrill of it.

I’ve never been one to shy away from sleep deprivation. As the sky grew brighter, I watched as a small light floated in through the open window at the foot of our sleeping bags. It looked like a two-inch piece of tinsel, and faint, blue sparks trailed behind it.

“Caden!” I yelled, smacking him as hard as I could. 

When he finally stirred, the little light flew straight at me and disappeared inside my chest. Though we searched the entire room, we couldn’t find a hint of fairy dust.

Caden and I had a childhood’s worth of supernatural encounters, but perhaps the most magical part about growing up was the ridiculous situations we got into. As the middle child — and honorary middle child — Caden’s sisters subjected us to frequent character-building exercises.

The eldest, PK, was a very creative playmate who would often invent special games like “Dodge Sharp Rocks.” You can probably guess the premise.

Our most famous misadventure happened one December, as we walked along the outskirts of Dover in four layers of snow gear. Caden and I were having a competition to see who could smash the most icy puddles and there, before us, lay the motherlode: an untouched pool at least six-feet-long.

I leapt into the center of the puddle and fell into freezing water up to my belly button. One of my legs went straight down and never touched the ground, while the other slammed into a solid metal lip.

Caden only laughed for a few seconds before pulling me out of my would-be watery grave. I lay down on the sidewalk trying to catch my breath, only to watch PK push Caden into the puddle. The twig of a kid was the least buoyant object known to man, and he sank into the water up to his shoulders before I could yell, “It’s not a puddle!”

It was, in fact, a flooded, uncovered storm drain.

We waddled back home soaking-wet, accompanied by the wailing of his little sister, AK, who thought we were actively freezing to death. We were.

It’s a miracle that Caden and I still have all our digits. When we would ignore AK in favor of playing on the Wii or attempting “Magic the Gathering,” she would get our attention by grabbing the sharpest object in the house and chasing us with it.

“You’ll poke your eye out!” I’d yell over my shoulder at the 8-year-old brandishing a chef’s knife.

Caden and I would hide anything dangerous on top of the refrigerator, but that only bought us a few extra minutes while AK scaled the kitchen cabinets.

I promise that we all loved one another and grew up to be non-murderous adults.

Despite the near-death experiences — or because of them — I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood. We had our own magical world where ghosts haunted the basement and dragons scratched holes through the drywall. 

There’s something otherworldly about first best friends. They sink into your ribcage and write themselves into your skin in hundreds of tiny scars, each with their own story. 

I probably wasn’t abducted by fairies, but Caden and I stole each other, and that was far more life-changing. I am who I am because of him and our wacky, hilarious, traumatizing adventures.

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