By Zoe Moga, TIWP Student
Phoebe MacDougle had never lived a normal life. Seemingly always ahead of the other kids in her grade and an interest in the more, unique, areas of study, she could never hold onto a friend for more than a month or two. They all eventually went away after a playdate at Phoebe’s house. Though she never understood why they all left her or why it was her house that did the scaring, Phoebe never lost too much hope, rather she went on to befriend another child, continuing the cycle she was so used to.
In 6th grade, she swore off all friends and instead dedicated her middle school years to the pursuit of reading every book in the library. At the end of the three years, she had accomplished her goal. Making her way from the children’s books to the thickest, heaviest book in the back corner of her town’s library. Her father often encouraged her to read, as he was a college professor of literature and an avid consumer of the New York Times bestsellers, even collecting old newspapers just to find, log and read every book that had ever made the list. However, Phoebe’s mother was less enthused. Annoyed at her daughter’s interest in such mundane hobbies, she would often replace Phoebe’s library books for spell books, hoping to create an interest in the family business.
And as her mother hoped for, as Phoebe grew up, sprouting from a little girl to a young woman and began spending her free time brewing potions and growing herbs and flowers in the corner of her room. At the age of 16, she had still never kept a close friend for more than a few months and began to conceal herself more and more as she became increasingly aware of her family’s secret and what an outsider might do if they found out.
Though she was succeeding in her studies at school and at home, Phoebe was lonely and would spend her summer break laying in the study chatting with Sylvester the house ghost and dancing with the fairies and nymphs on the full moons, finding her only friendships with things out of a fairytale. As she walked through her school hallways she would often wonder what was wrong with her. Sometimes she would question if her whole life was real, if there was anyone else like her family in the world for her small town was isolating and claustrophobic.
Whether she admitted it to herself or not, she had always craved a sense of belonging in the world and she was almost certain she would never get that. Not with the secrets she would always have to hold back and the inability of leading a normal life. Everyday she would wish for something to save her from what she thought was eternal despair. With a flair for the dramatics, Phoebe would often tell her parents that she would run away into the woods and build herself a cabin to live in alone. Or that she would move to Europe and travel like a nomad, always meeting new people and doing new things.