Friday, May 8, 2015

Flash Fiction - Not a Changling

I'll try again at starting a "Friday Flash" tradition, mainly because it's alliterative. 

This is another little trifle with which to end your week. Flashes on this blog are usually quick sketches, written during the morning commute.


"Not a Changling"

The accommodations are not to my liking, but if one travels this far from Faerie one takes what one can get. No doubt the intentions are good, whether passed down from parent to child in whispers around the fireplace or read in the Big Book of Summer Activities it didn't really matter; what mattered is this. The young boy has built a fairy house, and I will, for a time, dwell in it.

The outside isn't much to look at; a thing of long-dead and sterile cardboard. The child did have the courtesy to write "Welcome Fairies" in blue ballpoint pen across the top. Yes, I know what a ballpoint pen is. And inside is surprisingly cosy. Dandelion heads pulled from the lawn, flower petals plucked from the forsythia bush in the backyard, and a soft bed of fallen tuplip petals. Yes, the child has done well.

The early spring chill has faded enough that the child sleeps with one window open. Yes, the mesh screen remains in place, but has such a thing ever stopped me? Midnight I slip in, followed by an indifferent spider, alight on the child's pillow, and whisper.

I whisper of the things beneath the forsythia's roots, of the hidden dark world outside the house's foundation.

I whisper of the spider, the secrets hidden in the geometry of her web.

I whisper of the swallow and robin living in the birch tree, of the hidden burdens they carry.

I whisper the things the child should have heard from its parents and its parents' parents.
I go back to the little house, now infused with the musty smell of cardboard damp with the fresh morning dew. This is a hard place to live and, truth be told, the child did me few favors with location. Not the damp corner beneath the forsythia, not the hollow between the two oak trees.  Not even hiding place behind the house where the building cantilevers over a gravel-covered nook. I hear the bigfolk say that location is everything, and they're right. And my location is the very front walkway to their house, isolated from the warm earth by stone, unnaturally dressed and cut into neat shapes. It's still quickly become home. I hide my new treasure under the soggy tulip petals; a hairpin, stolen from the child's room. There's just enough iron in it to give me a bit of a tingle when I handle it, a delicious taste of mild poison.

Even this tame place, with its tamed grasses and boxed in trees and regimented flowering all in rows has its rythm. Yes, the ancient patterns of sun and moon, but also the random habits of the old feral cat, the comings and goings of the birds and the restless burdens they carry, the hidden dance of worm and insect deep below the even-cut grass.

Spitefully, I tear some of the grass out by its roots and exhale sourwet breath onto the damp earth. Perhaps in the shade soft mosses will grow, crowd out a bit of the manicured green blades.

At night I'll whisper the child that mosses are a glorious thing.

Already I see the changes. Just now, do you see the child pause before the wooden stockade fence, eyes tracing the delicate strands of spiderweb?  A day ago, the child would have walked through the web without thinking, destroying it. A day before that? Perhaps brushed it apart on purpose, delighting in petty safe destructions as children sometimes do.

This child will no longer delight in destruction. I'll teach it that.

See how the child no longer plucks the brightyellow flowers from the forsythia bush, but gathers the ones which drop on the ground? I taught it that. A whisper into its ear at night, a hint carved in the sacred geometries of the spiderweb.

A century ago the parents would see the change, would think I'd snatched the child, replaced it with a fae simulacrum of a small human. Today? THe bigfolk gaze upon their young through a magic glowing rectangle which views but does not see. 

The child is not a changeling, but I can teach it anything I wish.

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