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Tori Stubbs lives in a small town in Massachusetts and spends most of her time chasing after her son, but while he's sleeping or playing nicely, she loves to write. Her story, "I Call it Love," was also published in Daily Science Fiction. You can find more about her and her work at torishortstories.tumblr.com.

On Monday, Avalonia Joia stormed into my office, shut the door behind herself, and sat in the chair across from my desk, all without saying a word. She crossed her arms and sighed. Her hair was long and golden, her eyes were opalescent and her skin was as clear as day. She had never been called to my office before, but that didn't mean I didn't know exactly who she was when I saw the name on the principal's note. Everyone knew who she was.
"Hi, you must be Avalonia," I faked a smile. "My name is Ms. Kaley, and I'm the guidance counselor. My job is to talk to students, see how they are doing--"
"I know what you do," Avalonia snapped. She shook her head. "I'm sorry. I just don't need the speech. I get it. I don't need to be here."
I mustered a sympathetic smile. "Well, do you know why you are here?"
She looked at the door and sighed. "Because the principal is making me?"
"Well, yes," I agreed. "But only because she thinks something is bothering you. She said you have been acting out during your classes."
Avalonia stared at me, her eyes shimmering from green to blue to pink. Green, blue, pink, green, blue, pink. She smacked her lips together, but didn't say a word.
"Can you tell me why that is?" I folded my hands across my lap.
"Because it doesn't matter what I do." She sighed. She moved all of her hair onto one side of her face with a swift movement of her hand.
"Of course it matters," I told her. I sighed internally.
She shook her head. "No, it doesn't."
"Why do you think that?" I tried.
She raised one eyebrow at me, and her eyes switched patterns. Green, gold, turquoise, green, gold, turquoise. She let out a deep sigh and leaned back in her chair. "When I was born, my mother was part of Kappa Kappa Fae. She gave me the gift of popularity. So no matter what I do, my life will have the same outcome. I might as well just bubble myself."
"You think that will help?" I tried to hide my surprise. I knew she was part Fae, the color changing eyes gave that away, but I never would have thought someone like Avalonia would want to be bubbled. Kids like her care about social standing, and to quote a girl I saw a couple years back: "It's pretty much social suicide."
"I don't know. I don't think it will matter really."
My mind was racing, but I tried to stick to the script. "What makes you feel like you want to bubble yourself?"
She rolled her eyes. "I don't know. Everything. I want out of the spotlight. Everyone is always talking to me and touching me and copying everything I do. And I'm sick of it."
I thought for a moment. "Bubbling would be a bit drastic, don't you think? What if you tried something smaller?"
"Like what?"
"Well, what's one thing that bothers you?"
Avalonia bit her lip, "I don't know. I guess I really hate when people touch my hair."
"Okay," I nodded. "So a haircut should suffice."
She frowned, then shrugged. " I guess I could try that."
"All right," I said, writing up a slip that said she saw me for our session. "I will see you tomorrow."
On Tuesday when Avalonia came in, her blonde hair was cut into a short bob with bangs that sat straight across her forehead. Her eyes chanted: purple, pink, blue, purple, pink, blue.
"So," I began "Have you noticed anything different?"
"Nice haircut," I said to Julie from the front desk. Her gray and black locks, which were once long, lay in a frizzy bob with straight across bangs.
"Thanks, Margie" she laughed. "Just trying to keep up with the trends!"
And she wasn't the only one. Bobs now dotted the hallways like fleas on a stray dog.
By the time it was time to see Avalonia, I had seen seventeen girls donning that haircut, as well as two boys.
"I told you," she sang.
"Well," I said. "Maybe it was just a coincidence."
She laughed.
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?" I tried.
Her face fell. "No." Her eyes flashed, this time all different shades of blue.
"Maybe we can try something else?"
"I could join the math team," she joked.
I knew what she was referring to. Two years ago, head cheerleader June Callista's parents were worried about her grades and made her sign up for the math team. Her social standing dropped drastically and she lost homecoming queen, to a freshman. Which I didn't even know was possible. But as a guidance counselor, you tend to keep up on all the latest gossip.
I smiled. "It might be worth a try."
She shook her head. "The gift. No matter what I do, people will follow."
"Fae magic isn't written in stone," I told her. "Gifts just make the probability change, but it could never make everything 100%"
"I know that," she snapped. "You think I don't know that?"
"Have you ever asked your mom about this? Maybe she could reverse the gift?"
She shook her head. "She used up all her magic. She ran dry. Her eyes don't even change, anymore."
I nodded. Only partial Fae could use up their magic. "Was she only half Fae?"
"Yeah, I'm a quarter."
"So what do you want to do now?"
She laughed. "I guess I'm joining the math team."
"It's the darndest thing," I overheard Matt Kingsman tell another teacher on Thursday. "The Math team has never had so many applicants! We may even be eligible to compete this year!"
On Friday, Avalonia came in surrounded by a pink bubble. Her eyes didn't chant or change, they stayed a light gold color. I watched her in the lunchroom as confused girls and boys tried hesitantly to talk to her. She seemed calmer. She smiled, and it didn't seem forced.
On Monday, pink bubbles crowded the hallways, surrounding Fae and humans alike.
When I saw Avalonia, she didn't smile.
The End
This story was first published on Friday, November 25th, 2016
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