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Contemporary Fantasy Fiction

Faeology

I looked around, fascinated. There was a mix of ages, some clearly over sixty with greying hair and bright eyed smiles, some, judging by their outfits, clearly students. One girl had the shortest miniskirt I had ever seen, it was dark green and denim and was definitely more like a belt. She wore it with a black cardigan that reached nearly to her ankles and was laughing, joking and pouting with her friends as they posed for selfies. Other girl wore jeans that were more rips than whole teemed with a hectically patterned red and purple shirt. I had used to dress like that once. I looked down at myself now, I’d had another outfit planned but had chickened out. I couldn’t possibly tell anyone where I was going, would’ve had to change in the car anyway and I guess the real truth was I just wasn’t brave enough. I had settled for a black skirt and a dark blue blouse and looked like I was headed toward a board meeting. My saving grace was my jet-black hair that tumbled down my back like a waterfall of loose curls. I had started with it pinned back as I always did, but as soon as I walked through the door I knew I had the dress code wrong and had pulled my hair loose in an attempt to fit in.

People were signing in and I followed the crowd to the desks – everyone was sticking labels on with their names on, before going through the swing doors to take seats in the auditorium. The morning was set aside for talks and the afternoon for socialising and stalls – a bit like a fair maybe. I had brought some of my soap and lotions with me to sell and was hoping to make enough money to buy a few more Christmas presents.

I smiled at the lady behind the desk and held up my phone with my e-ticket on.

“Sign in and get yourself a badge, feel free to get yourself a coffee from the machine to take in with you.” She gestured to the table behind her as I watched the girl in front of me write, ‘Raven,’ on a sticky label and press it to her blouse. I looked at the other names on the list: Storm, Deeana, Jazzindle and hesitantly wrote, ‘Pauline.’ The woman behind the desk glanced over the label and shook her head at me.

“Can’t have given names here honey,” she handed me another label. “Here we go by our other names – our real ones.” I’d never told anyone my real name before. I screwed the other label up and threw it in the bin, Adiraya, I wrote and ripped the back of the sticky label off, pressing it onto my blouse, feeling my heart pounding beneath it.

I passed the pen to the next person – ‘Fire’ and then followed the swell of people headed for the lecture.

“First time?” a woman caught step with me. She was petite with bobbed blonde hair and a gentle voice. Her name tag told me she was called Sage – her tag was laminated with some kind of red band as a lanyard. I wondered if she was someone important.

“That obvious?”

“We’ve all been there,” we chose seats at the back of the auditorium.

“So when did it start for you?” she asked.

“You first,” I batted back, “remember I’m new to all this.” Sage smiled.

“I was thirteen, taking my dog for a walk in the woods when I came across them. There were three of them and they were collecting stuff, for lotions and spells I’d supposed. I’d hidden behind a tree and watched them. I thought they were some kind of dodgy cult or something, then one of them flew. Without thinking I’d stepped out from behind my tree.

“We’ve known you’ve been watching us,” the red-headed one had said, “the thing is, we’ve been watching you Sage.”

I’d thought I was dreaming, and I’m pretty sure you can fill in the blanks,” she finished.

“But didn’t you say anything, tell anyone?” I asked, curious.

“Tell them I’d seen fairies – I don’t think so. Who would’ve believed me? I did try to tell some friends a couple of years later but they spread it round school that I thought I was a fairy and that was that. You have to admit, it does sound crazy – I thought I was crazy for a while and then I realised that there were more of us.”

“Welcome to Danton,” the speaker started. He twisted his right hand as if he were turning a lightbulb and the lights dimmed. He waved his hand in a figure of eight and the screen appeared with the words, ‘Faeology’ shimmering with the definition in silver underneath – ‘the study of fairies.’ I tried my best to stop the gasp of amazement, but didn’t quite manage it. Sage looked at me knowingly and whispered, “he’s one of the best, he sees them, most of us don’t, not after the first time, but he’s got this incredible connection.

He didn’t look like a man who could have an incredible connection to something mystical. He looked like your typical professor, grey, slightly wild hair and a moustache that drooped. It was his eyes that I couldn’t make out, and his aura – I wasn’t sure why but I didn’t know if I trusted him.

His eyes swept the room, but he couldn’t seem to find what he was looking for. “The characteristics of a fairy?” He left space for answers – “what do we think?” One of the teenagers put her hand up, “pretty, quick witted and always ready for a party!” she laughed. I smiled to myself. That seemed fairly accurate to me. Most people in the room were either very beautiful or had this kind of inner glow that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I wasn’t sure I was particularly beautiful and was even more certain I didn’t have any kind of inner glow, but I knew I did have a quick wit – a wit that had got me the sack from my last job after my boss heard my quips about his haircut and I certainly liked a good party.

For me, the whole fairy thing started when I was seven and I had found fairies at the bottom of my garden. It sounds insane, I know, only at the time, it didn’t seem insane. I was so excited I’d seen fairies, that I told everyone and predictably, none believed me. In the end my mum had got so fed up with me talking about it, she’d banned the subject and decreed no TV for a week to stop me lying. I’d seen them three times, at seven, eleven and fourteen. They’d given me my new name, showed me some simple spells (none of which I’d been able to replicate) and showed me some pretty cool dance moves.

I’d kept googling fairies on the computer, but other than legends and some ancient faeology studies I’d found nothing until my eighteenth birthday. On my eighteenth birthday, as I’d been googling, I’d found this convention. It appeared on my screen, out of nowhere, as if it had been hiding until then. Now I was twenty-four and the invitation had appeared every year around May Day. It had taken me six years to work up the courage to go, last year I had got as far as the car park but then hadn’t made it in. This year I had been determined.

The professor had moved on and was now talking about magical powers.

“If you’ve ever noticed some kind of odd luminescent glow around you, remember real fairies, true fairies can glow in the dark. That isn’t just a physical thing. It’s an inner thing as well. Anyone been in a situation where people can’t understand how you are strong?”

My mind flashed back to the day my Grandad died. He was racked with cancer and in massive pain. He attempted to pull tubes out of his body, while my grandma, distraught, had tried to stop him. I had grabbed his hands – thinned out with agony and held them still. “How can you bear it?” my grandma had asked. “How are you so strong?” I had never dreamed of telling her it was because I was a fairy!

“You can create charms and curses, “he continued, “these curses can last for hundreds of years so are not to be given lightly.” I saw Sage’s face flush and wondered who she had cursed. “and of course,” he finished, “some of us, a few of us, – can fly.” I suppressed something between a snort and a sigh. I had never seen anyone fly.

The professor threw his hand as if he were throwing a ball in the air and dust scattered – like it did when I dusted the ornaments at home, and then he did it. Suddenly. Proper wings. Black with silver edges, like some kind of human butterfly. Once round the room and then the wings folded, collapsing away. I felt like I should applaud, but clearly everyone else had seen this before and it seemed to mark the end of the session.

As we drifted out of the auditorium and towards the café I turned to asked Sage,

“Can you fly?” Sage shook her head, “that’s more advanced magic – they say before you have to fly there are other things you have to do – like know about your name and perform certain charms.” We pulled out light brown plastic chairs to sit on. I mused to myself. One of the first things I had done was to find out the meaning of my fairy name – Adria meant powerful (which I clearly wasn’t) and the ya (a fairy ‘tag’) meant more. At first, I had loved my fairy name, but then as nothing I tried work, I had shoved it to the back of my mind, waiting for a time when someone could help me.

You’d think at a fairy convention they’d have some kind of ‘magic food’ but no, not even fairy cakes – it was ‘normal’ – as normal as a fairy convention could be. We had lasagne and chips with salad, Eton Mess for pudding and then went off to set up our stalls. I laid my soap and lotions out carefully – hoping they would sell well. The honey and peach soaps sold out almost immediately and I was doing good trade when I glimpsed the professor.

“Look after my stall for a minute?” I pleaded with Deeana, whose charm stone stall was next to mine and ran over to the room to try and catch the professor.

“I want to fly,” I said, without preamble, “not for me – I mean, yes for me, but there’s a good reason. I can’t tell you but,” he cut me off,

“I know,” he replied simply, (how?) “there is a good reason, but you need to understand the basic principle of flying,” he paused. “In order to fly, to really fly, you have to leave everything on the ground,”

“I don’t understand,” I held his gaze.

“Worry, pressure, possessions, jobs, people, life, they keep us firmly grounded, only when you can lose that, choose away from that, only then in that moment you can fly, but then when you land, the ground is never the same.”

“But you come back again right? I mean you don’t stay in the air, it’s like an altered state you mean?” I asked. The professor sighed.

“If you fly, you will find him and your answers; but if you fly you choose away from him – it’s like I said, flying is a choice.”

“Buy you fly!” I replied confused, “I mean you probably fly all the time, right?”

He nodded, “I do,” he cautioned, “I love to fly, I love my wings, but my ground is very different now.” I still wasn’t sure I understood him.

“Just know,” he said, as he turned away from me, almost sadly, “flying changes everything.”

So I guess that’s my choice - if someone has shattered your ground anyway, what happens to those pieces if you choose to fly?

January 29, 2021 15:21

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2 comments

Crystal Lewis
17:07 Feb 03, 2021

I like your take on this prompt. Very creative. :)

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Joey Snell
20:18 Feb 03, 2021

Thank you!

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