My family means more to me than I can say, and I can never really put into words how important all of them are … This story is for my Sis Rachel, who I hold with me always, hope for every day, and wish, more than words can share …
It is well known that Tera, Queen of the Succubi, Monarch of the Realm, is a Red Tail. Some call her love “fiery,” in that it burns brightly and tells of how much she cares about those that she loves. The red of her tail reflects that love, that caring, that complete belief, love, and compassion that she has for her family in all things.
What is not as well known is that the many of Tera’s sisters are Blue Tails. Blue Tails are known for their devotion above all. They know that Tera’s love for them is complete and total, will never waver, never change, never end. She will love from afar and from close by, holding them and seeing in them all of the things that they cannot quite see in themselves. Perhaps it is not a surprise that so many of them are Blue Tails, then, for knowing Tera’s love gives them the knowledge that, no matter what happens, Tera will love them and be with them even in their darkest hours …
When asked why she gives of her love so freely, so completely, Tera has been known to smile and say: “Family.”
It was the middle of winter in the Realm; the snows were quite heavy this year, having covered the Realm in a deep blanket of white that stretched out as far as the eye could see. Most residents of the Realm were at home, bundled up, keeping warm in whatever ways they enjoyed … save for one of the succubi who was trudging through the snow, her boots making crunching noises as she walked. She was bundled up, head to toes, even having a tail cozy to protect her tail.
Her name was Rachel. She was a blue tail, and Tera’s cherished little sister.
As Rachel crested the last hill, Tera’s home came into view, and she paused there for a moment, thinking about turning around and going back the way she came. But then she saw something that changed her mind: Tera was waiting for her at the bottom of the hill. She could tell it was Tera, of course, being that the Queen was her sister: the red she was wearing, tail cozy and all, were not needed to tell the Blue Tail who it was.
When she reached the bottom of the hill Tera hugged her tightly—or at least as tightly as one cold being bundled up against the cold: “Welcome home, Sis.”
Rachel’s reply was muffled by her scarf, but it was clear that she was tired and, seeing that, Tera guided Rachel the last part of the way home. Once inside, she quickly stripped off her things and then helped Rachel with her own. Feeling that she had been a burden, Rachel looked at her big sister: “I’m sorry, Sis.”
Tera furrowed her brow a bit, then tucked a few strands of Rachel’s hair back into place: “What are you sorry about, Sis?”
“I’m sorry that you were waiting for me outside. I made you worry, and …”
Tera tapped a finger against Rachel’s nose: “I waited for you, Sis, because I knew you were coming. I wasn’t about to just sit inside here and wait for you. It was not a problem to go out and find you, to bring you home.”
Tera helped Rachel put her things away but when the big sister asked if the little sister wanted something to eat, the answer was: “I think I’d just like to go lay down, Sis. Just … tired.”
Tera could tell it was something more than that, but, instead of pressing about it, she hugged Rachel warmly: “Okay … Goodnight, Sis. I’ll see you in the morning, okay?”
Rachel put up a wan smile: “Sure, Sis. Love you.”
Tera smiled and kissed Rachel’s forehead: “Love you always and always, Sis.” She watched Rachel walk down the hallway to her room, the one that Tera had given her for her own, and then disappeared, the door closing behind her softly.
Rachel woke up in the middle of the night and stared at the ceiling, thoughts and worries swirling in her mind as they always did: the worry about disappointing her sister, the fear of messing up, making a mistake, doing something that would upset Tera. She wondered if the problem was herself. She didn’t look like Tera and that started her thinking about how Her Majesty looked, how she was … who she was. She thought about how she looked, how she dressed, and wondered if the way to making Tera happy was to be more like her.
She got out of bed and left her room, stopping a moment later outside of Tera’s own. She looked inside to see her sister asleep in bed, curled up under the covers. There was a small nightstand beside her bed and Rachel could see a framed photograph there under the nightlight. The picture was of the two of them, big sister making bunny ears with her fingers over little sister’s head and she doing the likewise. Rachel nibbled at the inside of her cheek, remembering when the picture was taken, what she felt then, and the worries that she had now.
She turned away moments later to go back to her room, and didn’t see that Tera had been watching from the darkness, her expression a worried one.
The following morning, Tera was making some hot chocolate in her kitchen: two cups, ready to share with her sister. She plucked a bit of fuzz from her red sweater and smiled. She wasn’t going out today, but instead was going to spend the day with her sister. The sound of footsteps from the hallway made her call out: “I’m in the kitchen, Sis! Almost have the hot choc ready!” She finished up things as the footsteps entered the kitchen and stopped.
“Um … Hi, Sis.”
When Tera looked over her shoulder to where Rachel stood she found herself looking at a troubled sister, her blue tail wrapped loosely around her right leg. Tera faced Rachel and leaned against the counter: “Sis … What’s wrong?”
Rachel was fidgeting with her hands and looking at the floor: “I’m not good enough … can’t be … Nothing like you are.”
Rachel didn’t see Tera brush the fingertips of her right hand over her lips, but she did hear Tera’s own footsteps as they moved across the floor, walking over to her: “You don’t have to be more like me, Sis. You never have to be or do anything but be you.”
Rachel was close to tears, the tremble in her voice telling the tale: “I’m not good enough, Sis. I’m a mess, I make you worry, I screw up so much, and …”
Tera took Rachel’s hand in her own: “That’s not true. I love you. That doesn’t change. It never can.”
“But … someday I’ll do something wrong to disappoint you. I try to be more like you, but I can’t.”
Tera pulled a chair out from the kitchen table and settled into it, putting her eyes at the same level as Rachel’s: “Sis? Please, look at me.”
When she did, it was clear that she had been crying—her eyes red, cheeks wet, and, while she tried to look Tera in the eyes, the guilt inside kept making her look elsewhere.
Tera didn’t make Rachel look at her. Instead she just talked while still holding her little sister’s hand in her own, brushing a fingertip lightly over Rachel’s hand: “I know it’s hard, Sis. It’s hard to see in yourself that you are any good. It’s hard to see that inside sometimes.”
The breath that Rachel drew was long and shuddering, but she didn’t try to take her hand away: “It’s more than that, Sis.”
“Want to tell me about it? You don’t have to.”
Rachel looked at Tera now: “I worry about hurting you … hurting others. I worry about screwing up, messing up. I worry about how everyone sees me, what they say behind my back.”
“Sis … Do you remember the first thing I said to you? When we first met?”
“I love you.”
“And when I asked if we could be family?”
“I love you.”
“And when you became one of the Succubi? When you first swished that tail of yours?”
“I love you.”
“And the words we say always to each other?”
“I love you.”
“Sis … those aren’t just three words. They matter. They are three words that you can’t take back, can’t erase, can’t say don’t matter.”
Rachel was crying now: “But I’ve hurt you, Sis. I know I have.”
“It doesn’t hurt to love you. It doesn’t hurt to care about you, worry about you. It isn’t a burden to say hi, wave, or give you a hug. It doesn’t because … well … it just doesn’t.”
Rachel shook her head: “No, Sis: I know I hurt you when I make a mistake or am stupid or …”
Tera brushed her other hand over Rachel’s cheeks: “That doesn’t hurt, Sis. We all make mistakes or are stupid, sometimes … Even me.”
“No, Sis. Not you. You’re perfect.”
Tera smiled: “Oh I’m not perfect; far from it. But, you know, there’s something that reminds me every day what ‘perfect’ is.”
Tera brushed her fingers over Rachel’s lips: “Yes, it is you. You remind me every day how perfect it is to love my sister. How perfect it is to see her smile, to share a hug, to make her feel better.”
“Isn’t perfect, Sis.”
“Okay … What do you think is perfect, Sis?”
Rachel was quiet for a time, thinking about that question. Then the answer came with a shrug: “I don’t know.”
Tera squeezed Rachel’s hand a bit tighter: “I do. The love of our family is perfect. The devotion we have for each other is perfect. Nothing can ever take that away, not in the darkest of times, not in the worst of moments. It always will be.”
A sniffle: “Can’t be perfect, Sis. I can’t even try to look like you and make it right.”
“But that’s the point Sis. You are … you. You aren’t meant to be exactly like me. You’re meant to be who you are. Everyone loves you for … you.”
“Still worried about what everyone thinks. I know that they see everything that’s wrong in me.”
“Sis … that’s the little voice in your thoughts that plays on you all of the time. It nibbles away at your worth, your self, and it tries to beat you down. Don’t be fooled. Everyone has that voice inside of them.”
A whisper: “Sometimes it’s really bad, Sis.”
Rachel looked up: “No, Sis, you don’t understand. It hurts so much and …”
Tera let go of Rachel’s hand and guided her to sit with her on the chair: “I understand that. I see you in pain at times. I can see the hurt in your eyes, hear it in your voice. I wish that I could take that pain away. I’m willing to take that all inside of me for your sake.”
Rachel flinched a little: “Then I am hurting you.”
“No, you aren’t hurting me. I worry, I hope. I try to make you smile, to make you feel better about yourself. I hope for a little smile, a bit of light to come back inside to make you feel better. I remember the joy when you tell me you feel okay. I see the smile. I hear the laughter and giggles when you are happy, Sis.”
Rachel laid her head against Tera’s chest and sighed: “You … I …” A breath, then she continued: “I love you.”
Tera didn’t say anything for a while, just holding her sister and waiting for her to try to continue. When she didn’t, Tera spoke: “Family doesn’t have to say we love each other. But we do, because, sometimes, we need to know that someone does love us, to remember the words spoken, to know that each one was heartfelt and real.”
“I know, Sis. I love you so much …”
Tera’s tail twined with Rachel’s: “We’ll get through this, Sis, and all of the things that come. You’ll never be alone, because you have our family with you.”
“Okay, I’ll remember, but … it’s hard.”
“I’m not going anywhere. Promise.”
Rachel hugged Tera tightly: “May I ask you somethin’?”
“How do you keep from freezing when you wear that skimpy outfit of yours?”
Tera laughed: “Lots of hot choc. Come on. Let’s make another batch.”
The two sisters spent the rest of the day sitting by the window, watching the snow fall, and talking. Tera curled up on the couch, Rachel there beside her, and there were many, many mugs piled on the table nearby.
But, most importantly, and most of all, the day was spent together as the family they were and would always be.