You blow out the candles on your cake and blink away the smoke from your beautiful eyes. Everyone smiles. Pats you on the back. I wander closer from where I hide, somewhere besides the window.
Still too far, but I can’t come any closer. It’s too dangerous.
You watch the smoke curl into nonexistent shapes and they eventually disappear.
The cake is vanilla. I know because it’s your favorite. Plain old vanilla.
You stare at the words written in crimson frosting on the plain white like blood. You always hated birthdays, but you’re smiling right now as they cut the cake for you.
It isn’t fair. I should be there next to you.
I exhale slowly and retreat farther backwards into the shadows. I cut it close today. But it was all for you. I have to go now, but I will be back.
My wings vibrate at the thought of leaving. I push the small crack in the window a little farther and fly out, the night air hitting my face as I move through the wind. The stars and the moon illuminate the darkness, allowing me to see my way. I fly as high as I can, reaching my fingers up as if I could feel the stars.
People think they’re balls of gas, so even if we were high enough, we wouldn’t really be able to touch them. I think they’re wrong. I think they’re filled with hopes and dreams. Still not solid, but in a different way. A much more fragile way.
I wish….I wish you were flying with me.
I have a lot of wishes.
If only wishing stars were real.
I light my fingers on fire and watch the flames lick at my nails. I blow it out like you blew your candles, but I’m not smiling.
I make a sharp turn beyond the trees until the stars aren’t the only thing lighting my path. I stop in front of a small cafe. I land softly on the cold concrete and stop for a moment, shivering.
This wasn’t what we imagined. This wasn’t supposed to be the future. The present. The past is the only thing I have left to look back on, but it isn’t even that promising either. Just those couple moments, those few times we were together and happy. Those are the things I cherish.
I crawl under the crack of the door and scan the darkness. I walk slowly to the back, where the kitchen is. Again, I crawl under the doors and sniffle.
The cold wind always gets me sick.
I light my finger up and the orange brightens the world around me. The little coffee machines- of course, big to me-cookies, old muffins, and stacked cups seem to stare at me with their decals. Such a cute, dainty place.
My whole hand lights and I press it to the cardboard cup that’s fallen on the floor.
It ignites quickly, reds and oranges blending in an almost beautiful way.
The fire spreads fast. First the rug, then it climbs up…
I don’t stay to watch like I usually do. The smoke rises fast, and I hold my breath as I force my wings to fly me out the small window to the side. I don’t get far enough fast enough and the sounds of sirens flood my ears before I reach the forest. Wet tears run down my cheeks and I wipe them away with my fingers, still faintly warm.
Do you hear the sirens?
I blink as I realize I’ve stopped moving. I force my wings forward and fly to my tree, stopping to sit on a branch.
“Well. If it isn’t the broken fairy.”
It’s a deep voice. A dark voice. I grit my teeth and light my pointer finger on fire. The bright greens of the leaves shine in the light, and so does a figure. A guy fairy, looking about my age, with ink-black short hair and all-black clothing with white shimmering wings contrasting the rest of him.
“What do you want? And I’m not broken.”
“Far from whole though. They say you’ve spoken with the humans. Is it true?” The figure nears me, the silhouette getting a little clearer and into the span of my fire. Their crossed arms unfold.
“That’s a big question. Who are you? Why are you on my tree?”
“Maybe I’m broken. Like you. Maybe I’m nobody. Are you going to answer me? Can’t ask questions before you answer mine.”
The fire flickers. I consider blowing it out, but I don’t want to let this fairy out of my sight.
“Yes. It’s true.” The fire goes out without me blowing it. I scowl, clasping my hands together. Something moves. They’ve probably sat down. “You’ve got your answer. You can leave now.”
“No. I don’t think I will.”
I breathe in the cold air, letting it sit in my lungs before exhaling. Even with my flame out, I can still see it fogging up in front of me.
“What else do they say about me?”
“Nothing much. You almost convinced a human to come live here. But that’s about the most far-fetched rumor out there.”
The only thing that’s far right now is you. Those rumors might be true. I don’t know. I’m not in your head. Sure, I tried, but who knows how far I went in convincing you? Not far enough, obviously.
“You alright? You look like you want to crush something.”
I turn to where I assume he is and frown.
“It’s pitch black.”
“Night’s kinda my thing. Like I’m assuming fire’s yours.”
“You literally saw me light my hand on fire.”
I can’t see him, but I think he shrugs.
“Educated guess, then.”
The sirens still echo into my head as I lay my head back on the wood, closing my eyes and forcing my mind to rest.
I wake up to the annoying sounds of birds around me, their chirping cutting holes in my ears. I flutter a bit off the branch and sigh, smoothing out my hair.
I yelp, nearly falling as I see someone hanging upside down from the branch directly above.
It’s much brighter now, but the silhouette is the same as the fairy who intruded on me last night. I can easily make his features out now- dark black hair, scar on the cheek, and very light blue eyes.
He flys up and off the branch, turning around and flying down.
“You scared me. Why are you still here?”
“Because...I want to be? Last I heard, fairykind still had free will.” He flies around me in a circle and I scowl, flying higher.
“I’m not telling you anything else. You’re wasting your time.”
“Time is an interesting thing, isn’t it? I met a fairy once who specialized in time. He hated it. People were always asking him to reverse it for them. He said everyone always took time for granted.”
“Look bud- I don’t care about your philosophical ideas. Just leave me alone.” I smooth down my clothes and fly towards the town, away from the forest.
Really, towards you.
To my dismay, he follows.
I ignite my hands in flames to comfort myself, trying to force my wings to go faster.
“Hey, watch it.”
I dart my eyes to the side to see him slowly flying a little away from me, staring at the flames on my fingers.
“If you’re scared of fire, you shouldn’t be here. With me. I’ve done some terrible things, you know.”
And it’s all for you.
I stop flying, and he does too, crossing his arms and flying around to face me.
“We’ve all done some bad things.”
His eyes cloud over for a second before he zooms off ahead. Good. I hope I lose him.
I move forward again, so fast the wind blows my flames out, and the trees are a blur. I close my eyes, the path familiar to me, the wind hitting my face and I actually feel free. What an illusion.
I open my eyes and continue flying, turning and making sure to stay in the corners where no humans will see me.
Finally, I stop, staring at the building that’s been reduced to black in front of me. There’s still semi-salvageable tables here and there, a half-burnt oven...But the walls and ceiling are completely gone. Funny what a little burning can do to a fragile building, a little wood.
I grit my teeth at his voice, turning, and sure enough, there he is, his wings fluttering slightly and his arms crossed as he stares at the ashes.
“How’d you know I’d come here?”
“I know a lot of things.”
Something moves and I gasp, flying low and behind one of the half-standing tables.
A human. Someone sits on one of the remaining chairs, back facing me. Their hair is the same shade as yours and I wonder...No.
I fly quietly around to get a good view, and sure enough, it is you, but you aren’t alone.
Someone sits cross-legged in front of you on the black ground, looking down at their phone. They don’t notice you’re crying, staring up at the sky that you shouldn’t be able to see.
“You know, this is where I met them.” Your voice sends a jolt through me, and it takes a whole lot of willpower not to fly out of my little hiding place and perch on your shoulder like I used to.
“Hm?” The person sitting sets their phone down. “Who?”
“Nothing, no one.” You wipe a tear from your cheek and look at the person sitting down on the ground, smiling tightly. They stand with their phone still clenched in their hands and wrap you in a hug. You hug them back, laying your head on their chest.
My finger ignites without my realizing and I press it to what's left of the table, not sticking around to watch it burn and you gasp and that person hold your hand as you run off.
Okay, maybe I stuck around for a moment.
Love is such a fragile thing, don’t you think? At least I now know why they call it falling in love. It’s like falling from the edge of a cliff and not knowing you’re falling until you look down and whoops you’re gone and all you can think about is this one person. And sometimes they’re the ones who push you off the final ledge and you can never get back up again. And they climb back on their own. Move on. Do it again.
I pant as I fly far, far, away from the little cafe with the annoying clerk and the loud people and you.
Something touches my shoulder and I nearly ignite my arm before I see the face of that guy again.
I groan and push his hands off.
“Leave. Me. Alone.”
“Whole people don’t cry while watching people hug.”
I grit my teeth.
“I’m not crying.”
Before I can stop him, he wipes a finger at my face, shoving it in front of me to show me it’s wet.
I wipe my sleeve at my cheeks to wipe away any remaining tears.
If only I could’ve been there to wipe yours.
I hate the cold. You’ve closed your window today, but I can still just barely see you seated on the couch.
Rather, laying on the couch. Laying beside someone. The same someone from the cafe. The ashes of the cafe. They’re reading you something aloud, I think. You’re staring at the fireplace, the dancing flames and smoke as it rises out of sight.
I miss you.
God, I messed the world up, didn’t I? Two species weren’t supposed to collide, weren’t supposed to meet. Two opposite species with different lives and worlds. You’re at fault here too. I drag my hand against the cold glass, considering for a second igniting my hand, but I can’t. No matter how much it hurts, it’ll hurt even more to see you in pain.
“Nice place they’ve got.”
I turn my head to see that fairy leaning against the window with his shoulder, wings moving slightly.
“What do you want?”
He nears me.
“You want the truth?”
“I’m here to help you.”
I laugh, throwing my head back.
“Really? You’re wasting your time.”
“I have as much choice as you in the matter, you know.” He snaps and I raise my eyebrows.
“Who sent you?”
“The Fairy Council. Did you really think you’d get away with burning buildings in the human’s town every other week? Or even interacting with them?”
I scowl, crossing my own arms.
“I don’t need a-a therapist!”
I bite my tongue and take one last look at you from the fogging window and start flying back to the forest. You taught me that word.
"It's either this or you get thrown underground!" He calls after me, and I ignore him.
“Let me help you.” His dark voice softens and I look at his face as we fly before shaking my head slightly, flying faster and out of his sight.
“I don’t need help,” I whisper.
And for a second, I almost convince myself.
A fairy’s memory is a curse sometimes.
I remember every. Single. Moment.
All the good and the bad and the ugly. All of it. The way you looked at me sometimes with wonder. The smile you gave when we first met. You’re a teenager but that day you were just a child again, meeting a fairy like so many dream to.
I don’t know why I decided to speak to you. Why I didn’t just charm you into forgetting.
It’s not like it’s the first time someone’s seen me. I’m pretty reckless, for a fairy. I spend more time near humans than I do in the forest. I’m surprised the only thing the Fairy Council has done so far is send someone to give me help.
They obviously wiped a bit of your memory too. But you still remember some things. I know you do. You were at the cafe so that proves it.
The heart never forgets. It’s one of the only similarities between a fairy and a human.
It’s a bit ironic that my main specialty is fire. I’ve been told my heart’s stone cold. You probably wouldn’t agree, but you disagree with everyone. I liked when I could change your mind about things. That time I convinced you to let me shrink you so we could fly together was probably the best day of my life. My life isn’t over yet, but I can already tell.
I don’t know a lot of things.
I know I’m usually wrong. I do a lot of wrong things. I fall for the wrong people.
I do know a couple of things though.
I know your eye color. Your smile. The way you cover your mouth when you’re embarrassed. I’ve memorized you.
And even though we'll never really be together again, and you'll never truly remember me...
I will always love you.