The Lonely Fairy

Submitted into Contest #121 in response to: Write about someone giving or receiving a gift.... view prompt

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Fantasy Coming of Age Sad

The last Fairy; diminished; sat on a well-worn stool of dark wood. The shadow from the rusted garage door was cast across her back, partly hiding her four insect-like wings; delicate and crumpled. They didn’t work anymore. They hadn’t for a long, long time. So long in fact that the Fairy had almost forgotten they were there, the memories of flying freely with her kin came in faded, confused gasps of nostalgia. Tonight was the only night she could be seen. Those that did catch a glimpse of her would wave as though she had always been there. When the sun set to mark the end of the Allhallowtide, she withdrew and everyone once again would forget they’d ever seen her.

All Hallow’s Eve was when she could emerge and when the line between things as they are and what could be was blurred. It had once been a wonderful time, bright with all manner of creatures we now only hear about in the storybooks. Now, it was a time of mockery for the things that once were. The Fairy shivered slightly in the frosty October breeze which carried the fruity scents of the fallen leaves which blew about the quiet street. She saw the sixth vampire of the night, across the street, soaked in amber light from the street lamps. He was holding onto his father’s arm, artificial fangs askew in his mouth. A dead boy; long forgotten; grunted next to her the shadows of the garage. He was no older than sixteen when he’d eaten one of the special chocolates The Fairy had made a year ago to the day. He’d stopped speaking a couple of months ago when his tongue finally turned to dust. He’d dressed as a dead thing last year, and now that’s what he was. Of course, his company, like all of the others, left something to be desired. The boy’s unseeing eyes were still fixed on The Fairy, the small part of his mind which was still his own knew only one thing: that fairies are real. These thoughts kept The Fairy part of this world. She made the treats herself, they made new friends for her. He would fade soon as all her friends did on this day. But that was okay, that’s why she was sitting with a wooden bowl, delicately adorned with subtle, swirling carvings that no human could achieve with any of his tools. The bowl was full of a colourful array of tightly wrapped homemade chocolates. All Hallow’s Eve was when she made new friends.

In the shadows behind her were what was left of her other friends. Clumps of a wolf’s fur across the floor, a drawer full of pointed teeth, and a jar of sticky, milky ectoplasm The Fairy had collected. Her attention snapped as she heard the high, musical voice of a girl. ‘Mummy look!’ she said. Bright blue eyes met The Fairy’s, despite her mother’s call of ‘No, poppet,’ (the girl would usually do as she was told) but she felt inexplicably drawn to The Fairy. Blue eyes met emerald ones and the girl could not turn away. A name swirled into focus in the Fary’s mind as the girl stepped toward her…Nadine. Nadine was adorned in a caricature of a wedding dress, with what was supposed to be dried blood about her face and neck. The Fairy hadn’t seen a creature like this back when the people still believed, but this wasn’t saying much. She had noticed more and more people in the guises of things she didn’t recognise. It was yet another painful reminder that not only was her kind forgotten, but humans had started making up their own stories with creatures they still didn’t believe in. The Fairy, with an effort, folded her broken, crumpled wings behind her back, and smiled a thin smile. “Hello, little bride.” Her voice was still of its high, tinkling pitch but was an echo, distant and strained like the rest of her.

What the girl saw was not what the storybooks showed Fairies to be. Gone were the diminutive, flitting, playful sprites who would help and guide anyone they came across. In their place sat a bent, human-sized figure who; by her size; could only be an adolescent girl. But when one got a closer look they’d notice the beginnings of creases and lines about her face of someone far older. All apart from her eyes. Her eyes still held a well of her kind’s great power, a power that could not be touched by being forgotten, a power which; while waning and only a fraction of what it once was; few still living could stand against. That was how she had survived. Year on year she’d put a measure of this power into her little chocolates, eaten by naive little humans who’d quickly realised that Fairies and all the other creatures of old are indeed real. She’d started to ration the chocolates now, she couldn’t make them in the quantities she once had, so each year she had fewer friends. Eventually, she wouldn’t be able to make them anymore and, like the other Fairies, no one would believe in her and she would fade too.

The Fairy shook the bowl slightly, the vibrant chocolates caught the light, their wrappers seeming to shine of their own accord slightly. ‘Care for a chocolate, dear?’ The girl’s mother opened her mouth to tell the girl to come along, but a look from The Fairy made her words catch in her throat. She could only watch as the girl unwrapped the scarlet wrapping chocolate and popped the treat into her mouth. It was the finest chocolate she had ever tasted. There was no filling, no caramel, strawberry, or truffle, just simple, solid, splendid chocolate. Her mother, watching from across the street gasped, but then… she walked away. She had no daughter, not had she ever had a daughter. She didn’t see the small, child-like figure who glanced at her in the half-light, because she didn’t exist.

The Fairy sighed as the girl, now a dead, re-animated thing looked around with the same blue eyes. They fell on The Fairy. That was odd, everyone else’s eyes usually went dull and dark. There was no hatred in them, no resentment, just a cool, distant understanding. Wait… understanding? The Fairy frowned. Her previous creations never understood what had happened to them. They had just accepted it, lacking the part of their former selves which would identify the change. Not this one. ‘I feel… odd,’ Nadine said and coughed a glob of blood from her throat. ‘My face hurts.’ The Fairy winced, a wound that was make-up moments before on Nadine’s face was bleeding freely. The Fairy waved a hand and the wound knitted itself together. No need to cause unnecessary suffering, Fairies were helpful spirits after all. ‘Why have you done this? And… Where’s my mum?’ The Fairy’s stomach twisted. That had never happened before. A few of her previous friends had been able to speak for a little while after their chocolate, but none could remember who they were. ‘Don’t be silly, I’m all you need.’ Their eyes met, The Fairy’s green to the girl’s moistened blue. It was a statement rather than encouragement. The girl looked away as the dead boy from earlier let out a sigh, and crumbled; she gasped and the tears flowed down her face. Her small shoulders rose and fell in silent sobs. None of them ever cried either, The Fairy thought.

Then she did something she hadn’t done for hundreds of years. The Fairy reached out and placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder. She could scarcely remember the last time she had offered help or aid to a human. She had a feeling that’s something her kind did, once. It felt right, to offer help to the girl, and her face ached with the use of long-neglected muscles as it broke into a smile. The glee and pleasure of flight, light, music, and laughter of the old days flamed in her eyes. Even her wings twitched a little. In a single, sprawling, shattering instant that shook the earth and kindled the old fire in her heart, she felt like a Fairy again. She had been merely drifting for so long; now because of this girl, this particular little girl she had realised once more what it was to be a Fairy. ‘Trick or treat.’ The Fairy heard a boy’s voice; James’s was his name; punctuate the night. She looked up to see his hopeful, excited gaze eyeing the chocolates. Wiping a tear away and; not quite knowing why; The Fairy still found herself offering him a chocolate. Nadine couldn’t call out to him, warn him not to take one, though she tried. The boy took one and The Fairy had another friend this All Hallow’s Eve. This time it had worked perfectly. The little boy-wolf would give the occasional snarl, looking outward with yellow, wild eyes, fangs bared, but he had no hint left of the chubby-faced, smiling young chap who’d so gratefully devoured and enjoyed The Fairy’s treat. This troubled The Fairy, why hadn’t it worked properly on Nadine? Nadine eyed the boy-wolf, usually, she’d be scared of such a dreadfully dirty and vicious-looking thing but she knew it couldn’t harm her, even if it wanted to. The wounds about her face and throat still throbbed and when she put a hand to her chest she felt no heartbeat. She sighed, and spoke, ‘Sorry about earlier, I wasn’t feeling myself my name is…’ She trailed off. Her name was on the tip of her tongue yet it had escaped her just as she had found the shape of it in her mind. She found that with a few things, she had parents, a home, and pleasant memories of baking and sunny holidays; but each time she tried to lock onto them they slipped from her grasp never to be thought of again. That made her sad, so she tried not to think too much. When she leaned back to look at her captor’s back she could see what looked like wings. They were sticking out at odd angles and were all folded and bent, but if she looked harder, she would guess that they looked exactly like the wings the delightful little Fairies had that her mother had read to her so many times in her storybooks. She’d always told herself such things didn’t exist; after all, she’d never seen them. But then, she’d never seen Father Christmas either and he always gave her the most wonderful gifts, and ate the mince pie and drunk the small glass of brandy left for him on the landing. When her teachers at school had read the class fairy stories and the like, the other children had enjoyed them and learned what they could from the innocent serving girl abused by her sisters and grandmother, or the prince who’s found himself one day as a frog. But they didn’t believe in them, they laughed and gasped and sometimes cried aloud in all the right places but afterward, they’d forget the tales as something which never really happened; at least not in this world. That’s where this girl, this particular little girl was different from the other children.

‘It doesn’t matter what your name is.’ The girl jumped, she had been so lost in her hazy memories of Fairies and Father Christmas that she had almost forgotten her current predicament. ‘You don’t have one.’ The girl’s eyes burned with tears. ‘Yes, I do.’ She paused ‘I just can’t remember it.’ ‘You can’t remember it because you don’t have a name, now be silent, take a leaf out of his book.’ She nodded at the wolf-boy, who gave a low snarl. ‘No!’ The girl stood fixed the Fairy with blazing eyes. ‘What you’re doing isn’t fair and I really would like to go home now. Only the sound of a distant owl could be heard, and the whisper of the trees. The Fairy didn’t look at indignant little Nadine but turned away slightly. The boy’s yellow eyes met hers as she brushed away another, he tilted his head a little to one side. ‘Are you a Fairy?’ The Fairy heard Nadine ask, this time in more measured tones. ‘You could say that,’ The Fairy said, turning back toward her. ‘Just not a very good one,’ ‘You’re not like the Fairies I’ve read about, they help people.’ Nadine sat back down and took a deep breath, winced. Breathing hurt; it was like her body didn’t need to anymore and she wasn’t quite sure why she kept making an effort to do so. ‘Fairies don’t exist, girl’ The Fairy snapped. ‘Not anymore,’ Nadine’s face brightened, ‘I don’t believe you. I think you’re a Fairy’ Nadine exclaimed, rocking a little on her stool. Nadine noticed the Fairy’s telling smile; ‘I knew they weren’t just stories! Do you mean to tell me you all flew around once; all tiny and playful; helping those who need it and hiding before we saw you and that one of you helped Cinderella and you can do magic and -’ Nadine stopped, and to both their shock, The Fairy was laughing. It was an odd feeling for her, and her stomach ached with muscles she’d forgotten she had for centuries. It hurt, but in the most beautiful, fantastic, carefree way. Tears of mirth streamed down her face, she had been so convinced that her kind had been forgotten for so long, her laughs rang out, comforted by the knowledge that she wasn’t forgotten. The Fairy’s laugh was the tinkle of merrily flowing water, it echoed across the street and the hearts of those who heard its sweet sound felt a little lighter. Smiles came to the faces of soundly sleeping children in their beds and the voices of the birds in the trees raised to meet it in a glad and clear harmony.

Finally, the laugh died but the trills of blackbirds and thrushes continued its music. ‘Yes, we used to help people like you.’ Nadine’s jaw dropped, The Fairy giggled. ‘But not anymore?’ Nadine asked, ‘I don’t think you’ve helped me at all.’ The Fairy swallowed. ‘We stopped helping when you all stopped believing. We can’t exist if you don’t believe in us.’ They stared at each other. ‘I believe in you,’ Nadine said. ‘Of course you do, I made you believe in me,’ The Fairy admitted, eyes cast downward. ‘Is that why I don’t feel well, and I can’t feel my heart?’ ‘Yes.’ The Fairy answered. ‘Those treats change people, so I can stay here,’ ‘But why? They don’t help anyone you’re only helping yourself. That’s not what fairies do.’ Nadine fixed her with a scowl and The Fairy looked down in shame, ‘Yes, I suppose I’m not a proper Fairy, am I? Probably not what you expected.’ ‘What makes you think no one believes in you anymore?” Nadine asked, ‘Well, I’m the last one! I wouldn’t be hurting anyone if people believed in me.’ ‘I believe in you,” Nadine said, jaw tight and voice earnest. The Fairy took in a shaky breath. She could always tell when a human lied and there was no trace of a lie in Nadine’s words. ‘All the children at school laughed at me… But I’m right!’ The Fairy blinked away fresh tears. “Of course you do; that’s the whole idea-’ ‘No! I mean I always believed in you and I was right!’ Nadine stood up and jumped up and down, a grin plastered across her face. Of course, The Fairy thought. That’s why she still knows who she is, the magic didn’t have to make her believe in me… The Fairy sniffed, looking upward, the bowl of sweets dropped to the floor. ‘My name is Nadine, by the way,’ The girl said, smiling at herself for remembering it. ‘I really would like to go home now.’ ‘Yes…’ The Fairy said, ‘As much as I’ve loved speaking to a real Fairy, my mummy will be worried about me.’ The Fairy sniffed again. ‘Well, Nadine, thank you.’ ‘Thank you for what?’ ‘For making sure I can stay, for giving an old Fairy hope.’ She took the girl’s face in her hands. ‘Have a wonderful life, Nadine.’ She girl frowned with confusion, but The Fairy just smiled and closed her eyes.

Nadine would never forget her blissful, ecstatic expression as the lights from the street lamps shone through her, radiant and magnified. Her wings, not straight, true, and beautiful were spread out, and bright rainbow lines shone through them. The dancing colours glimmered in the girl’s blonde hair and danced about the houses, transforming the mundane suburb into a wonder of magic, which was being seen for the very last time. The girl giggled and spun around in the beauty of it, the boy’s eyes turned from yellow to brown, the fur was falling from his face in clumps. The girl felt her wounds close and felt a warmth spread to the tips of her toes. Tears of mirth poured from her face as her heart begin to beat again. As The Fairy’s light became blinding, the girl closed her eyes, and… the three of them were gone. When she opened them, she was back in her bedroom. Nadine knew The Fairy was gone and faded from the world. She’d used her last bit of magic to make her and James better, but she would never forget the night she found out that stories are not always just that.

November 25, 2021 11:48

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13:00 Nov 29, 2021

wow, just wow! I love the nostalgic feeling it gave me

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