Living with a sprite wasn't easy. Especially on the days that Estrella came to visit.
Laurell shook her head. Estrella. No surprise her sister was so - special. She typed some more numbers into her worksheet, then closed her notebook. The desk was cluttered with all kinds of papers. Today, however, she couldn't blame it on Jack.
Jack was her sprite. And he was in love with Estrella. Only unfortunately Estrella couldn't (or maybe pretended not to) see him. Just as the fancy names went to the younger members of the family, the spooky gifts went to the oldest of each new branch. Laurel imagined herself as the defender of family traditions, but sometimes she thought she could do without.
She grabbed her half empty tea mug, carried it over to the dark kitchen and wondered where Jack was. Usually he stayed by her side pretty much all day, as long as she stayed inside. Laurell guessed he was somehow bound to the house she was born in, he had been her companion since childhood. His pointy ears and sharp white teeth made him a valuable friend - he'd willingly play all kinds of parts when enacting fairytales, and he never hesitated to defend Laurell. Against bullies, stray dogs, the mailman (on that one occasion where she had opened the door in her bathrobe and things had got a little bit out of hand). Sometimes he tried to help with the housework, too, but these efforts usually went wrong and left them with a bigger mess than before.
This morning, Jack had put on his best suit - his only suit, that is - and tried to comb the mess of greenish hair on his triangular skull. He had polished his nose to a shine and tried to be a good sprite. When Estrella walked down the garden path that led to the back door - she was superstitious and never entered through the front door - the most beautiful autumn roses were in full bloom, and Laurell wondered how he had done it. She was not sure what the full extent of Jack's powers was, and today it annoyed her. Everybody thought her younger sister was the family treasure. Even her old friend.
Estrella hadn't stayed long. She had finally gotten over her last desastrous affair with a married banker, gone to the hairdresser before coming to visit her sister and was on her way to a posh club somewhere a few miles down the road. "I only have to pick up my wallet on the way", she smiled as she sipped her tea, " and maybe catch some sleep. I've heard the guys at Ipanema Lounge are hot!" Her hair, once blond and now firy red, fell in gentle waves over her shoulder and had the audacity to glow in the afternoon sunlight.
The sisters wasted some time on smalltalk, and then Laurell went back into her office while Estrella went to kick-start her night life.
And that was the last time Laurell had seen Jack. Now that she thought about it, it worried her... but only for a moment, until she heard something rustling under the stairs. Jack had only taken a nap in his nest, after all.
Gently, she knocked on the wood, "Hey, old pal. You're up for some dinner?"
Something was odd. Jack didn't react. She could see him breathing, but he remained curled into a tight ball.
Slowly, the sprite lifted his head and looked at her. His face was sprinkled with something dark, as was his shirt, and he smelled... metallic.
"It's your fault!" he sobbed. "You told me to do it! You said I could steal her heart!"
Inside Laurell's chest, something froze. Slowly she stepped back, her eyes fixed on the miserable figure sitting in the darkness. She couldn't make out any colors. Her breath seemed too loud - it hissed in her ears while she fumbled for her phone - an oldfashioned construction with a cord, so the receiver couldn't get lost - and dialed Estrella's phone number from memory.
Absent-minded, she wrapped the cord around her wrist as she waited. Somehow she knew that her sister wouldn't pick up the phone.