Of Fairies and Munchkin Cats

Submitted into Contest #62 in response to: Write about a character putting something into a time capsule.... view prompt

27 comments

Contemporary Coming of Age Gay

Trigger warning: Descriptions of depression, suicidal thoughts, mentions of self-harm.

People asked him sometimes whether he got anxious around cars. Or whether he hated cats.

Olive always found those question strange.

He owned a car. It was small and red and dusty. His dad had gifted it to him on his eighteenth birthday. And he owned a cat. She was white and furry and bad-tempered. She was adopted into his family when he was ten.

Well, the family that consisted of Olive and his mum.

His dad lived in the city with his brother, Laurence.

His parents divorced when he was five.

Olive didn’t have many friends growing up. He was shy and afraid to approach people. Nobody really noticed him; he blended into the shadows, retreating into his own space, put a bubble around himself.

His first friend was a girl named Destry. She had wild red hair, electric blue eyes and splashes of freckles across her cheeks.

In their kindergarten playground, there had been a small patch of wild flowers beside the slide. Olive went there because it was quiet, and the teachers couldn’t see that he wasn’t playing with the other kids.

Destry entered his life slowly. It wasn’t easy to break the bubble. But Destry did, eventually. They found a mutual interest in fairies. They would run all around the playground trying to catch one.

It was the bliss of childhood.

The ability to believe in something so magical and pure. Laughing without the weight of what felt like the entire world on your shoulders.

Olive always thought those days would last forever.

Destry eventually moved away to a wealthy suburb and attended a private school. They promised each other they would still be best friends and meet up on weekends.

Destry was fun and outgoing and popular. And Olive was quiet… awkward, everything Destry wasn’t.

They had come to a mutual agreement that they were to retire from their professions as fairy observers. So, that didn’t leave them with much to talk about.

“What happened to us?” Destry asked one day.

They were sitting on her pristinely mowed lawn.

“What do you mean?”

“We used to never be able to shut up around each other. Now, I just don’t know what to say.”

They were ten.

It was a rainy afternoon, and they were facing the main road flooded with afternoon traffic.

“Maybe it’s because we’re getting older,” Olive said.

“I want us to keep being friends though,” Destry said. “You’re different from the people at school. I can talk about anything with you.”

Olive was sad that day.

Maybe it was because his mum introduced him to her new boyfriend, Darren. She had been happy.

But Olive was sad.

Because his mum left early in the morning and came back with Darren after Olive had already locked himself in his room. They would always be laughing. And Olive wondered whether she even knew he existed.

Then suddenly, something furry dropped onto Olive’s lap. It was a fluffy, squirming…

“It’s a munchkin cat,” Destry said. “Her name is Munch. We just got her yesterday.”

Olive smiled down at Munch. It seemed that Destry knew just what he needed.

A car horn sounded on the road.

And everything after that happened so quickly.

Munch jumped off Olive’s lap and made a start for the sound. Destry called after her, but Munch’s curiosity kept her from listening to her owner.

Destry chased her.

Munch leapt off the pavement, running onto the road.

Destry ran after her.

But that was when the car came swerving around the corner.

All Olive remembered was the moment where the entire world fell quiet. And then a barrage of sound came, a cacophony of horns beeping and pedestrians screaming.

He scrambled over to the road, but the wailing driver was blocking his view of Destry’s broken body.

It was probably better that he didn’t see it.

The paramedics had wrapped Olive up in a blanket and offered him comforting words. But nothing could erase the way his heart had clenched when he saw Destry’s parents crying beside their daughter.

Olive saw them again at the funeral.

They told his mum they would be moving to the city where the apartment didn’t allow pets. They handed Munch to Olive at the end of the services.

And Olive wondered whether they truly blamed the cat… or themselves.


Destry would forever be a hole in his heart, and Olive didn’t know whether he could bear having another friend.

Nevertheless, life or fate or the universe, whatever you wanted to call it, was determined to have it another way.

And he came in the form of a tall, blond haired, blue eyed ballet dancer named Orlando Everhart-Blanc.

Their first encounter had been at the dog park in which Orlando’s large, drooling bulldog decided Olive was worthy target to pounce on.

He came to the dog park sometimes, even though he owned a cat.

He found that he liked to observe people. Their mannerisms and conversations fascinated him.

Anyway, the afternoon in question was the last day of the summer holidays.

The heat had finally decided to dwindle. Everything was breezy until the aforementioned bulldog knocked him to the ground.

“Finley!” a voice called, footsteps made their way over. The bulldog was pried off of Olive, however it had already left streaks of slobber down his shirt. “I am so, so sorry.” The boy offered Olive his hand. “It’s a new neighbourhood, Finley’s just excited to meet all the people. That was his way of saying hello.”

Olive looked at Finley who had his head cocked to the side, tongue sticking out, happily panting. He got up, prepared to walk away.

“I’m Orlando,” the boy said, smiling. “You can call me Orly.” He had dimples, his cheeks were sun-tanned, and the smile lit up his entire face.

“Olive.”

“I just moved here, my mum forced me to go outside and make some friends.” His voice was calm, but had that sense of excitement to it.

“So you’re going to talk to every stranger you meet on the street?” Olive said.

“No, only the ones my dog pounces on,” Orlando said. “Finley has good taste in friends.”

“I um, I have to go.” Here came the excuse. “My mum is probably wondering where I am.”

Olive turned and left.

“It was nice meeting you!” Orlando shouted after him.

The next morning, Orlando caught up with him on his way to school. Olive always made the walk alone, so it was certainly interesting to have someone beside him. A very talkative someone.

By the end of the day, Olive felt like he knew everything about Orlando.

He was adopted into a family with two loving mothers and twin younger sisters who were attached at the hip and finished each other’s sentences. He started ballet when he was five and wanted to be a professional performer one day.

Finley slept on his bed because he had spoiled him too much.

“What about you?” Orlando asked. “Anything interesting? Fun facts about yourself?”

“I used to play soccer,” Olive replied, because what else could he say?

“Really? I didn’t take you for the soccer type.”

He wasn’t.

Laurence was the one who played soccer. He was a whiz at it too. Olive, on the other hand, was not so physically inclined. He had gone to one training session and couldn’t even kick a ball right. It made him miserable so his mum let him quit.

He assumed Orlando would find cooler friends to hang around.

But he didn’t.

Every morning, they walked to school together. They ate together outside the library. They read together inside the library.

They became inseparable.

Teenage years saw Orlando blossoming. He already had the slender, but muscular body type. Add blond hair, chiselled jaw and the charming personality and it was crush-city.

Olive kept it quiet, but his heart certainly couldn’t. It beat too hard around Orlando. He got easily flustered when Orlando came too close.

People noticed Orlando when they walked past. And it wasn’t until Orlando was frequently absent that Olive truly realised how invisible he was. He was fine with that though, ducking his head into the crowd.

It was what he did best.

Olive was sitting in Orlando’s room, atop his navy blue sheeted bed, surrounded by vintage ballet posters, when Orlando finally broke the news.

“I got in! They… they accepted me.”

Olive had known for the past few months that Orlando was trying to get into a prestigious ballet school in the city. He was always disappearing off to interviews and whatnot.

Since the first day they met, Olive knew that was his dream.

But he felt detached in that moment.

“I’ll have to cut my hair,” Orlando said. “But what do you think?”

Olive offered his best smile. “Congratulations.”

“I’ll be moving away,” Orlando said. “But don’t worry, I’ll call whenever you want me to. We can meet up on weekends and holidays.”

Olive just nodded.

He knew what that meant.

Promises to stay in touch always started out eager. But this was a professional ballet school. Orlando could meet those of his like who truly understood him, shared the same interests.

He wouldn’t have need for Olive.

He looked at Orlando, sitting in front of his mirror so giddy and excited. The light caught across his face at a perfect angle. A strand of hair fell across his forehead and his lips looked so tender and pink.

Olive wondered what it was like to run his fingers through that hair, and feel the softness of his lips. And he remembered thinking that if he were to kiss anyone in the world, it would be Orlando.

Orlando was gone weeks later.

Surprisingly, Orlando did keep up his promise. Every week, there came a phone call. They hung out sometimes on weekends and every holiday, Olive went to Orlando’s apartment in the city and stayed with the Everhart-Blanc family.

Meanwhile, Orlando had no idea about the raging swirl of emotions within Olive. Sometimes he felt too much at the same time, and other times he could feel nothing at all.

The world kept turning, everchanging.

His mum and Darren were going to get married, they were expecting another child and Olive was just the estranged brother living in the same house.

His mum didn’t care if he came home late so he stayed out all the time.

There was a new girl at school named Shassa. She had curly black hair like telephone cords, always wore purple lipstick and fishnet tights.

She had a brother, Logan. He was tall, gaze menacing and never spoke.

The first time they interacted, they were both waiting for Shassa to finish basketball practice. Logan was smoking. Olive watched as he dropped it and crushed it under his heel. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out another.

“Want one?” he asked.

Olive took it.

Logan lit the end for him with his lighter. Olive’s eyes traced the lines of muscle on his arm and the way his lashes curled, his skin as smooth as velvet.

Olive inhaled, and choked immediately. Tears sprung to his eyes, burning down his cheeks. Logan patted his back with a light laugh.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “You’ll get the hang of it.”

Shassa scolded him for it.

“You accepted a cigarette from him? He could have put poison in there.”

“You don’t trust him?” Olive said.

“You don’t know Logan like I do,” Shassa said.

“It was just a one time thing. I hated it and I won’t do it again.”

Orlando had called that night. “Hello,” Olive said, voice still raspy.

“Are you sick?” Orlando asked.

Olive coughed a few times. “Yeah. The flu,” he lied.

“I send you hugs,” Orlando said. “Get well soon.”

“Yeah, I’ll try.”

Orlando’s voice was like golden honey, and Olive wished he could have it all. Hearing him on the phone, imagining him lying on his bed after a long day of rehearsal, blond hair tousled.

Olive held his phone to his ear long after Orlando had hung up.

He wrote letters to Orlando and never sent them. It was like a journal, holding all of his deepest, darkest secrets.


Dear Orly,

Ever since I was young, I’ve wondered about death. Maybe it was because I was trying to make sense of what happened to Destry. My mum told me that she went to a better place, where she was happy, she was not in pain.

But then I wondered how that was different from life. If death was truly that great, why were people so scared of it. But then, if she was somewhere else, her spirit still living, wasn’t that eternity? Was that what people were afraid of? Eternity?

An endless void with no body or voice. Was that what death was?

But then I spent less time thinking about it.

Sometimes when everything just feels so heavy, I wonder what a bliss it would be to not exist at all. Would anybody really miss me? Am I really that important? And I just feel like a stain that the world needs to be wiped clean of.

And I think about death again.

Yours,

Olive

Years later, he would dump all those letters into a box and bury them in the garden like a time capsule. Ten years afterwards, when he returned to his mum’s house, married and happy, he would find it again.

He would read each one of them and remember his childhood and teenage years, and it was like an awakening.

If he had let the darkness swallow him whole, who knew where he would be.


After the smoking incident, puffing on cigarettes became Olive’s way of maintaining routine in his life. He snuck onto the porch when it was dark and lit one after another aflame.

One night, Logan invited Olive to hang out without Shassa’s knowledge. They smoked for a while, and Logan remarked on how skilled Olive had become.

It was dark, the street lamps blinking on and off. Olive could feel Logan’s eyes on him.

He looked back at Logan, strangely unfrightened.

Logan’s hand came upon his cheek.

Not even the moon shone light on them when they kissed.

The smoke in their lungs rose and maybe they both would have combusted, but they kept on kissing. Logan pushed him against the wall, a piece of jagged brick dug into Olive’s back, but he didn’t care.

They broke apart, hot and gasping.

Then came Logan’s arm on his neck.

“If you tell anyone about this, I will break every single bone in your body.”

He didn’t have to say it, because Olive could already feel himself shattering from the imprint of Logan’s lips upon his.


Shassa told him they were going to be moving away a month later. And as a last trip, she wanted Olive to accompany her to a tattoo parlour.

The tattoo artist had long, blue hair tied into a bun, nose and eyebrow piercings, and a tattoo of a wolf on his neck. He had his shirt sleeves rolled back, revealing even more inked skin.

A rose on the back of his hand. A dragonfly on his forearm.

His skin almost translucent, veins clearly seen.

But he had an easy smile.

Olive watched him tattoo Shassa. His brows slightly furrowed, fingers nimble.

That was the last time he saw Shassa, but not the last time he saw the tattoo artist. Olive found himself back at the shop.

“Can I help you?” Olive looked up and found him right there. “You keep looking at the same pages.” He smiled. “You came in with that girl, Shassa. She mentioned your name, is it Oliver?”

“Olive,” he replied.

“I’m Blue,” he said. “Did you want a tattoo?”

On a whim, Olive said, “Yeah.”

“What design?” Blue asked. “I’ve tattooed many interesting things in many interesting places. I won’t judge you, as long as you pay me.” Olive didn’t have any money on him. “You can pay me on another day if you want.”

“A fairy,” Olive finally said. “Here.” He pointed to his chest, right over his heart.

“Easy,” Blue said.

The needle stung at first, but he managed to lose himself in Blue’s features. Olive found calmness in his eyes.

They drew him in deeper than anyone before.

The sun was setting when Blue lifted the needle. “You’re done.” He offered Olive a mirror, and he saw the tattoo of the fairy, wings ready to take flight.

Like magic on his skin.

That was the afternoon Olive finally decided to be brave. “Is there a chance I can see you again?”

“I can arrange for that to happen,” Blue said.

They met almost every day.

Olive told him things he had never told anyone. Blue always accepted them with calming words. He held Olive when he told him about Destry.

The only time Olive saw him angry was when he told him about Logan.

“I won’t ever let anyone do that to you again,” Blue said.

Their kiss had been soft, gentle like the lapping of waves. 

But that didn’t mean Blue was perfect.

Olive came to visit him one afternoon and found him passed out on the couch, completely dead to the world, stinking of liquor.

Yet he stayed.

Rubbing Blue’s back as he threw up, and held him as he cried drunken sobs.

Beneath the tattoos, Olive saw the white lines, uniform on his arm. On Blue’s bedside table, he saw the razor blade.

He listened when Blue told him, as Blue had listened to him.

Blue was the one who got down on one knee and asked Olive to marry him. Olive said yes. Because Blue made him the happiest he could be. 

When they held each other.

They became whole in their brokenness.     

October 07, 2020 10:45

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

27 comments

Nicole Zhao
07:46 Oct 17, 2020

WHOOOOO DODOS AND OLIVES HELL YEAH

Reply

Yolanda Wu
07:47 Oct 17, 2020

Yeahhh!!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Yolanda Wu
10:50 Oct 07, 2020

So I would say the writing style of this story is pretty different from what I've posted on Reedsy. This is actually a condensed version of my fourth novel, my writing was pretty different in that novel. This story is definitely very personal to me, the characters are all near and dear to my heart. I wrote the novel during quite a difficult time in my life, so I thought I would share the basic plot points of it on Reedsy. Hope you all enjoy!

Reply

Yolanda Wu
05:55 Oct 08, 2020

If you enjoyed this story, tell me whether you would be interested in seeing a part two. I actually wrote a novella that was a companion to my novel of Olive and Blue and Orlando when they're older. Despite all the dark topics covered, I definitely think this story is one of my purer ones. Probably because all the characters are my absolute babies.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Radhika Diksha
04:58 Oct 16, 2020

while I was reading the story I felt that I was actually seeing the life of the characters for real. Your writing is so smooth and the imperfections are making the story perfect. Please continue the story.

Reply

Yolanda Wu
05:04 Oct 16, 2020

Thank you so much, Radhika! I definitely have plans for a part two. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
A.Dot Ram
06:18 Oct 10, 2020

This is really lovely. I can see it being a novel-- it covers lots of ground. As a short story it might be effective to narrow it down. I like the tattoo moment-- how it draws on that first connection with Destry that made Olive afraid to love again, but it released him and made him brave, and also brought Blue into his life.

Reply

Yolanda Wu
07:42 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you A.dot! I'm glad you liked the tattoo moment, and I just love Blue to death, he wasn't in too much of this story, but I'm looking to explore their relationship more in a part two.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jill Davies
05:52 Oct 10, 2020

I really liked this story, but it did feel like the condensed version of another story— the highlights/readers digest. It would make a great novel, drawn out and meandering through the childhood of someone who learned to find happiness in himself. Thanks for sharing You do a good job with your characters. I wanted more of each one

Reply

Yolanda Wu
07:38 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you so much, Jill. Since I don't have any plans to publish the novel, I wanted to share the best bits as a short story, and I liked how you summed it. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rayhan Hidayat
04:10 Oct 10, 2020

Sorry I'm late to the party! This is so refreshing because the only stories I've read of yours is the fantasy series, and you did an awesome job with this. The writing was heartfelt and the choppy paragraph structure just added to the immersion. i thought the bleak themes were handled well. I think my only complaint is that the story looked like it was going to be about Olive finding solace with Orlando after Destry's death, but instead it's about him jumping from one guy to the next until he finally finds peace, which I didn't realize un...

Reply

Yolanda Wu
04:39 Oct 10, 2020

Yeah, I think what I wanted to show was the different stages and stuff in his life. Once again, that is the novel is a lot more stretched out with Destry's death always being an underlying factor in his life, but I guess that could've come across as a bit too sudden in a short story. But thank you so much for commenting, Rayhan!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kristin Neubauer
15:13 Oct 09, 2020

Yes! Definitely a Part 2! I noticed the different writing style right from the start and really loved it. The short, simple sentences created a different feel that worked so well for telling Olive's story - kind of like a child's story - but contrasted against such dark themes, it made such an impact. I also like how you took us through Olive's relationships at the different stages in his life. I wonder if part 2 will talk about him finding the time capsule? Lovely, Yolanda - really lovely.

Reply

Yolanda Wu
21:20 Oct 09, 2020

Thank you so much, Kristin! I'm glad the different writing style worked, it is reminiscent of the writing style in the novel, obviously. I don't even know how I came up with it - I just started writing like that I guess. But the short sentences is definitely something that I like. Part two will definitely go more in depth about him finding the time capsule. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Laura Clark
10:56 Oct 09, 2020

I really liked the progression of this with the reveals gradually falling into place. So happy for Olive and Blue though I wish we’d seen more of their relationship. Also, what happened to Orlando? I thought he was going to be more important but then he just faded away. Heartfelt and realistic. It dealt with some dark material sensitively and kindly. I’m glad the boys found each other and were able to support each other through their respective difficulties! Lovely read.

Reply

Yolanda Wu
11:37 Oct 09, 2020

Thank you so much, Laura! I'm glad that the dark stuff was handled well, because I never want to provide a unrealistic representation of mental health issues. This story was condensed from a novel, where I had so much more time to explore all the relationships and developments of the characters. Orlando is a very important character, but I didn't have enough words to fit that all in. Guess that's why it works better as a novel, but I just wanted a way to share these characters that I care so much about with more people.

Reply

Laura Clark
19:08 Oct 09, 2020

Your attachment to the characters really comes through!

Reply

Yolanda Wu
21:17 Oct 09, 2020

Thank you! I'm glad they did. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Ryan Dupont
20:50 Oct 08, 2020

Yolanda- The character development and the relationships that Olive had were very well written and very emotional. I could tell that the characters in the story were very important to you. This is not the typical type of story I usually read, but the way you told it kept me in the story from beginning to end. It was very well written and it was easy to care about the characters. I was ever curious as to what would happen next in Olive's life and was glad that there was happiness in the end. That final sentence is awesome and very powerful...

Reply

Yolanda Wu
21:04 Oct 08, 2020

Thank you so much, Ryan! Your comment is making my morning. I'm glad that I conveyed all the dark topics in a realistic way - that's always what I strive to do. I'm also glad that I conveyed the characters' importance to me as I wasn't sure how it would come through in a short story. Thanks again. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Maya W.
19:34 Oct 08, 2020

Hey Yolanda! You've really outdone yourself here! I could really feel the emotions coming off of the page, and the way you approached this prompt was very unique yet also beautiful. I've written a couple stories this week, too, if you wouldn't mind checking them out!

Reply

Yolanda Wu
21:02 Oct 08, 2020

Thank you so much, Maya! I'm glad I captured the emotions well. I will definitely check out your stories. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Katina Foster
15:37 Oct 08, 2020

I like how you approached the time capsule in this story. Our emotions in our teens are so intense, even without the challenges and devastation that Olive went through. I really like the idea of coming across those letters later in life, and my only suggestion would be to spend a little more time in that moment. It's the perfect "It gets better" moment. I can tell these characters mean a lot to you, and it comes across in your writing. Good work!

Reply

Yolanda Wu
21:01 Oct 08, 2020

Thank you so much. Katina. At first I wasn't really sure how I would approach the whole time capsule aspect, but I'm glad you liked it. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Andrew Krey
13:21 Oct 07, 2020

Hi Yolanda, I enjoyed reading your story, it covered dark issues, but you created heartwarming connections between the characters. Even when Orlando is prying a conversation out of Olive, his warmth balances out Olives coldness. As the comp is still live and you can still edit, I've made some suggestions below: When the cat makes a break for it, I was confused as the narration said Olive was in his room, but the cat was instantly on the pavement, so it felt like they were in the front garden. I think a little more clarity in that secti...

Reply

Yolanda Wu
20:57 Oct 07, 2020

Thank you so much, Andrew! I will definitely make the changes you suggested. :)

Reply

Andrew Krey
22:28 Oct 07, 2020

You're welcome

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply