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She came on a breath of sickly sweet, boggy mist. The room froze as I caught sight of her out of the corner of my eye. A goblin! The others didn’t know–none of the other caretakers. None but me knew. I am not the sort to gossip. Out of all of them, only the fellow Fae woman knew, and then, only a little.

A goblin was in our room. Danger alert! The Queen of the Goblins was invading my realm. I focused on the little ones under my care. Like sheep with a good shepherd, they listen and heed my voice. And I can read minds–the Second Sight, some call it. This helps with the nonverbal little ones. We can hold a conversation simply by me talking, and me reading them. They know I know their minds, and we converse easily in this way.

The little one I am working with laughs at me, blue eyes full of impish merriment and cheeks dimpling. I grin back at him, my voice teasing. I am a mix of mother, older sister, and teacher to them. Most of these kids need more mothering than I can even begin to describe. Some days it drags me soul down unhappily. Most days though, it makes up for not being in that season of my life yet. I see the potential in each and every one, and I strive for the stars.

“How are you?” the Goblin Queen asks.

Maybe I should have felt bad for ignoring her presence in our room as along as I did. But I didn’t feel that bad.

Humph. Don’t mess with me, goblin. I know you and your ways. Fear me, and the love and respect I command. Those here in this place–every single one, including the Ruler–respects me and knows how hard I work, how talented at my job I am (praise be to God), and how much the children love me. Even you and your social games can’t destroy that.

Yes, I challenged your rule. You were doing wrong by me, and I was sick of it–back in that other realm of darkness and pain, ruled over so conceitedly by yourself. You tried to put me under your feet then, but it didn’t work. I would have worked ten times harder for you if you had treated me well. As it was, I was miserable under your rule, and got sick of your stupidity.

I’m glad you didn’t stay long. Next time we meet, I shall know the goblin you are. But the others shall hear next to nothing from my lips, God help me. Go rule another kingdom. You cannot have mine.