When Saguaro was nine, she asked her mother if she believed in love at first sight. Though Saguaro had always been a realist, her father’s story of Fyre and Fae had opened her mind to the possibility that such a thing could exist.
At this question, her mother looked up from the carrots she was chopping and fixed her daughter with a thoughtful frown. “I honestly don’t think so. Appearances are just that, and one needs to properly get to know someone before making a judgment about them.”
Saguaro knew better than to ask her mother about her past, but she was unable to stop herself from asking her next question.
“Then you didn’t fall in love with Daddy the first time you saw him?”
For some reason, her mother burst into hysterical laughter. “No,” she said finally, not bothering to explain to Saguaro what was so funny, “I certainly did not.”
Upon asking her father the same question that night, Saguaro expected the same answer. After all, if her mother hadn’t fallen in love with her future husband the first time she saw him, then Saguaro’s father probably hadn’t fallen in love with her at first sight, either.
To Saguaro’s surprise, a dreamy expression came over Fiyero’s face, and he gave a few moments of thought to her question. “You know, when I was your age, I would have said otherwise, but now…I think I do. I wouldn’t say I fell in love with your mother the first time I saw her, but the second time…”
“Really?” said Saguaro eagerly.
“Let’s just say I knew I wanted to get to know her.”
He tucked her into bed and told her a more detailed version of how Fyre met Fae (something about Fyre’s carriage almost running Fae over and later seeing her at a dance). Saguaro fell asleep happy, snug with the sweetness of her father’s story.
At this moment, however, her father’s story felt anything but sweet.
“He lied to me!” she burst out, as this realization washed over her. “I thought it was my mother who was keeping secrets from me, but it wasn’t! It was my dad!” A lump formed in her throat. “I can’t believe he lied!”
Saguaro thought of the way she had been so unsatisfied with the ending of the Fyre story. But it had been in front of her all along. “Fae” and “Fyre” had escaped to Cascadia and had indeed gotten married. Then they had a child. She was the ending of the story.
She wanted to cry. All this time, she had taken for granted that her father was on her side. He had always told her mother that she deserved to know the truth, and now it turned out that he had been keeping secrets, too. No wonder they had never told her mother about Fyre. Her trust in her father had blinded her to the obviousness of the truth.
She turned to Psudina. Though she had expected to feel elated at meeting someone who knew her parents, right now, she felt anything but. Besides, if her suspicions were correct, then Avaric and Sarima had known her father, too.
“You knew, didn’t you? You knew that I was their daughter all along. You even knew that I was lying about them being dead.”
“Actually, I wasn’t positive about that part,” Psudina said carefully, “although I’m overjoyed to hear that they’re alive. As for knowing you were their daughter, that is true. I hope you won’t hold it against me, but I was trying to follow your lead. I thought you might eventually become comfortable enough to share your story.”
“Well, you should have said something!” Saguaro snapped. “Do you have any idea how worried I’ve been about telling you that my parents aren’t dead? And Sarima…she’s my uncle’s wife! I met my aunt, my cousin, and my dad’s closest friend.” Since Avaric was Nor’s father, Nor was technically not her blood cousin, but Saguaro did not dwell on this. “I’ve always wondered if I had any family besides my parents, and now it turns out that I met them without even knowing it. Anyway, Sarima thinks my dad is dead! I saw her crying, because she still misses him. Why didn’t you tell her the truth?”
Not that Sarima had been truthful with her, either. Why in Oz’s name had she told Saguaro that her friend-presumably Saguaro’s father-was the son of a servant if he was really her husband’s brother? And what had Psudina meant about her father being disowned by his family?
“Believe me, I wish I could have told Sarima the truth,” said Psudina, surprising Saguaro with the remorse in her voice. “I know she took the news of your father’s death very hard, and that she, Avaric, and the rest of your father’s family still miss him a great deal. I also have a feeling from the way your aunt talked about you that she saw a lot of your father in you. But you have to understand, Guarie, there’s a lot about your parents that you’re not yet aware of, and a great deal that your father’s family doesn’t know about them, either. It simply wasn’t the right time to share the truth with them.”
“You’re wrong,” said Saguaro. “I don’t care what Sarima or Avaric know. The truth is always best, regardless of the circumstances. I thought you were different when you told me the truth about my room belonging to the Witch of the West, but I was wrong. You’re just like everyone else. You’ve been lying to me, too.”
This realization caused the world to crash down upon her. Everyone, with the exception of perhaps Ie’ello and his father, had been lying to her on her journey thus far. Why had she expected that things would be different here? Instead of finding people who were willing to share the truth, Saguaro had only met more people who lied.
Saguaro fought the growing tightness in her throat. She spoke without looking at Psudina. “Please leave. I need to be alone.”
Psudina stood up and touched Saguaro’s head. Saguaro, still not ready to look at her, gazed determinedly at the potted saguaro in her hands.
“All right,” said Psudina. “I’ll be in the parlor next to the dining room if you need me. But please know that I didn’t mean to upset you this way, Guarie. I am truly sorry.”
As the door closed, Saguaro considered the fact that her father had named her after the saguaro Psudina had once given him. Had this saguaro not belonged to Gabryel, she would not have hesitated to smash it on the ground.
Saguaro was not sure how long she cried. The sun did not sink further, and the air did not grow colder, but that was unimportant. She felt as though she had been crying a whole day through.
She wiped away a tear and reflected on the magnitude of what she had learned. Every story, from “Fyre” rebelling against an arranged marriage to him almost running down “Fae” with his carriage, had actually occurred. She had not been ignorant of her parents’ pasts, after all, because she knew many of the escapades from her father’s childhood.
And she had a family she knew nothing about. In addition to Sarima and Nor, Saguaro had an uncle, two blood cousins, and perhaps even grandparents, albeit grandparents who had disowned her father. Worse, they did not even know she existed.
Saguaro blamed her father. Yes, she had been angry with him for taking her mother’s side, but she had never once suspected that he was lying to her. Ironically, he had always been the person she trusted most. But where was she now if she could no longer turn to her father? And who was she now that she no longer had a role model?
As far as she was concerned, Prince Fyre Tigelaar and Fiyero Throgelaar (Why had her parents made up their last name?) were still two separate people. Prince Fyre would never have lied to his daughter.
“Princess Saguaro Tigelaar,” she said, trying it on for size. The name felt terribly silly, even though she doubted that she was even considered royalty because of her father’s mysterious disowning.
Still, the name did remind her of something important. She was Prince Fyre’s daughter. Even if he had become untruthful and spineless as an adult, he had been strong-willed and daring as a boy.
She wiped away her tears and found Psudina knitting in the parlor. Psudina let out a breath when she saw her.
“Are you feeling any better?” she asked.
“No, I’m not. But that’s not important.” Saguaro drew herself taller and raised her chin. “I want to hear the truth about my parents. You knew them, so you should be able to tell me everything.”
“Funny,” said Psudina, looking her over. “I doubt that you want to hear this, Guarie, but you have no idea how much you sound like your father.”
Saguaro glared at her. “Don’t tell me I sound like my father! I’m not a thing like him!”
“I apologize,” said Psudina. She motioned for Saguaro to sit on the couch beside her. “Saguaro, I know you’re upset, and from the little I’ve grasped, I don’t blame you. But you must understand that I’m still very confused. Before I tell you what I know, I want to hear more about why you’re so upset.”
“Can’t your powers tell you?” Saguaro said sarcastically, though she doubted that seeing auras had anything to do with reading minds.
“It’s a funny thing about my powers, but they never seem to work exactly the way I want them to. If they did, I have no doubt that I would have sensed your parents were alive years ago. But please, Guarie, I’m on your side. You’re entirely safe here. What did I say that made you so angry at your father?”
“You promise you won’t send me home?” Saguaro asked.
Psudina placed her hand on her heart. “You have my word.”
So, with some lingering trepidation, Saguaro found herself telling Psudina her story. She used more details than she had with Ie’ello, and went from her initial dissatisfaction with the ending of the Fyre stories to meeting Psudina for the first time. She also explained her various theories and why she wanted to talk to Glinda.
When she finished, she was surprised to discover that she felt a little better. Though she was not about to admit this to Psudina, Saguaro was incredibly relieved that she no longer had to lie.
Psudina’s eyes were awash with tears. “Oh, Guarie, I am so, so sorry. All of this must have been terribly difficult for you. I’m especially sorry to hear that your faith in your father has been shattered. While I won’t pretend to know exactly what Fiyero’s intentions were, I am sure he didn’t mean to hurt you. It must have been a very difficult situation for him, being forced to uphold his promise to Elphaba, but wanting to tell you the truth.”
It was strange to hear Psudina referring to her parents by their first names. Something about it made the fact that Psudina had known them more real.
“Even so, he shouldn’t have lied about Fyre not being real,” said Saguaro.
“Maybe, but I do know that he didn’t mean to hurt you in the way he did. I may never have known Fiyero as a father, but I do know that he loves you very much. He probably saw this as the only way he could tell you about himself. I daresay that he was trying to protect you, as well. For a Winkie Prince, his childhood was far from easy.”
“I know that. He told me everything in his stories. I just wish he had trusted me with the truth.”
“I don’t think it was ever about trust. I’m sure he was only honoring his promise to your mother.”
“Well, none of that is important now,” Saguaro said dismissively. “Now that I’ve met someone who knew my parents, I don’t have to wait to ask Miss Glinda about the Wicked Witch of the West. You can tell me the truth.”
“Oh, but I think you should talk to Glinda,” Psudina said, beginning to smile. “After all, she knew your parents even better than I did.”
It was as if someone had offered Saguaro a breath of fresh air. “Glinda knew my parents?”
“That’s right,” said Psudina. “You see, the college your parents attended was Shiz University, the same school from which Glinda and I received our degrees. She and your mother met as freshmen when they were forced to room together. I can’t tell you how surprised I was when Glinda told me about her green roommate.”
My father once told me that my mother’s only friend from Oz was her college roommate, who was very different from her…
Psudina placed a hand on her shoulder. “Saguaro, I know you’re eager to learn the truth about your parents, and I don’t blame you. All of this has been very difficult for you, and I can’t tell you how much I admire your determination. But Glinda is the best person to tell you this story. She was there for most of it, and I have a feeling that if your parents could pick one person beside themselves to share their story with you, it would be Glinda. I know that Glinda still considers your mother her dearest friend.”
“Really. I can’t begin to tell you how excited she’s going to be to meet you. To hear that your parents have been alive all this time will be nothing less than a dream come true. She’ll be home tomorrow evening, so you won’t have to wait long.”
At that moment, the various people who had lied to her seemed to disappear entirely, and she began to feel a glimmer of hope. She had known that Glinda would be able to tell her the truth. If anyone would be honest with her, it would be Oz’s leader. In just a day’s time, Glinda the Good would set her free.
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