Your senior year roommate calls herself Clarity. She’s very small and rumpled and distant, and she goes for long walks in the forest south of campus when she’s frustrated. You aren’t friends, but you coexist peacefully. It’s enough.
The creature on your co-owned Walmart futon isn’t Clarity.
It looks like her. Enough to fool a casual observer, certainly. Enough to fool someone who hasn’t been soldering sterling silver for six hours. But you have, and the truth of silver lingers, and the Thing That Looks Like Clarity is sprouting delicate flowers from the skin of its bare shoulders.
It’s sitting cross-legged and perfectly, terribly still, tracking your eyes as you take all this in. When you sigh and set down your backpack, it says, “Hello, smith. There didn’t seem to be any sense in pretending.”
“Jeweler,” you say, and, “I go by Florence, these days. What should I call you?”
It blinks, languid and slow. “I’m not here to usurp. I’m a… placeholder.”
“It’s still confusing as shit, my guy.”
It considers this at length. Finally, with the air of one who has just solved a great puzzle, it says “Claire. We will know, the two of us.”
“Works for me. Nice meeting you, Claire.”
And that seems to be all there is to say. Your roommate’s been stolen by the Fair Folk, you’re living with a changeling, and there’s not much you can do about either of these things. You scroll through Instagram until it gets tired of watching you and wanders out into the hallway.
So that’s Claire.