It Was Good Until It Wasn’t

Participated in a writing lab/class type of thing this week. The first day we wrote non-fiction so I wrote about the first time I met someone. We shared the gist of our stories and then our teacher/coach/tormentor person, Bronwyn pickout out a theme. For me it was “It was good until it wasn’t.” The next day we moved to non-fiction. I THINK we were tasked first with creating a character in 8 minutes; I didn’t quite follow the rules but it worked out in the end. The goal was to bounce us between genres of story types. So first we were tasked with taking our character into the fairy world, writing for 20 minutes. Then we were told to move to the Badlands, and then to China. I don’t do much actual fiction writing; here is the result.

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Mia’s feet were crammed into the back of the seat in front of her. Bus travel was not her favorite, but here she was, on a Greyhound from Alabama to Kentucky, extremely grateful the seat next to her was free so she could at least spread horizontally if not vertically.

It was around 5 in the afternoon and the bus had been driving at least two hours. She was simultaneously tired and invigorated. Her laptop was fully charged, she noticed the overhead light worked, she had a journal and colored gel pens, she had two seats, and for the moment the scenery was spectacular. The sun was starting to sink in the West and colors of yellow and orange glinted through the windows bouncing off of the mountains and greenery in the distance.

She wished she had morphed into a smaller human and was already anticipating tomorrow’s backache from the cramped quarters. The people around her were making a cacophony of disgusting sounds and the vile smells around her competed for her attention.  The bus was lurching and causing her stomach to feel a bit upset. The kid behind her was kicking the back of her seat and she was getting a little bit irritated.

A week long bus ride was proving to be a bit more difficult than she thought. She realized she was going to probably lose this dare that her old friend, Snell had given her. They had known each other since they were but fairy dust and the past two hundred years had flown by. She decided at that moment to get off at the next rest spot and wish herself back home.

Thankfully the rest stop was at the next exit; she got off the bus, cracked her neck, gave a stretch, blinked three times, and to the astonishment of the other bus riders, she simply was gone. And a moment later she was forgotten.

This always made her laugh, because she could still see the other passengers. The realm in which she lived had the Shimmerveil which the fairies could see out of, but no one could see into. The Shimmerveil was a little bit like that human invention, the television. Every fairy could summon the Shimmerveil whenever they wanted to by closing thir eyes and saying “shimmer, shimmer, let me see and then inserting whatever they wanted to see. . . oceans, cities, hillbillies, etc.” Thankfully though, the Shimmerveil, like everything else in Picallicious, was free and and all the channels were included.

She took one last look at the Greyhound and flew off in search of Snell. She found him ten minutes later laying under his favorite Tasmer Tree. He could hear her approaching and had already started laughing as she flitted down to a slow landing.  “I told you being human was no fun. I knew you wouldn’t be able to make it a whole week.” He laughed so hard his already ruddy cheeks turned even redder; he even took things so far as to fall on the grass, rolling backwards and forwards clutching his belly as it rose and fell with each chuckle.”

“Alright, alright” she said, a little bit annoyed tht she hadn’t completed the dare. He was up by three dares already and this made four. Ever since they had passed through Fairyflow, that awkward time in every young fairy’s life when they learn to fly, develop their powers, find their one special gift, and leave the family nest, they had been the best and worst kinds of friends. Like brother and sister, sometimes they fought; but mostly they were the kind of best friends who got into the best kind of trouble together. There was no doubt they were the kind of friends who would lay down their wings for one another.

They took off, flying towards the arbor grove and she began thinking about the next dare. It was time for payback. Not only could they travel through the Shimmerveil to the human world, but they could travel through time and she planned exploit that in order to win the next dare.

The friends historically made their dares on alternate Sunday brunches at Fay’s where they shared a meal, gossiping, laughing and generally catching up on the few minutes they hadn’t spent together.

Two days later it was Sunday and she was ready for Snell. Her payback was going to be delicious, absolutely delicious. And when he arrived she told him the challenge and relished in seeing the wince on his face.

The next morning he woke up in Dirkcrack, Missouri. It was 1892 and hot as hell. He was extremely warm as he was covered with horse hair, and just to make a point, he bit the horse’s neck. At least if he was going to be a flea in the Badlands, he was going to be make the most of it and be a badass flea. His dare, to be a flea on a horse for 24 hours in the Badlands had actually excited him since he was a daredevil by nature. He was resolute that he would succeed, but he was simultaneously disgusted. He did not like the taste of blood, and he was generally vain; and fleas were ugly. But he was on a horse and that was awesome!

He hunkered down in the horses neck waiting to see what would happen next; the Badlands were a big place, and as a small flea he wasn’t going too far on his own.  The morning dragged on, gettng hotter and hotter; he could find no relief. The blood was warm, the skin was warm, the hair was warm and itchy and he was thirsty. He thought maybe he would actually lose his first dare.  “Pixie Crap!” He thought.

Just then, wafts of dust blew by creating a welcome breeze. Snell stretched, then sneezed. He was allergic to dust.  He heard a creaky sound approaching and saw a burly, dirty and overweight man heading towards him. The man had a dark mustache and beard, and was in need of a shave. The creaking noise turned out to be the man’s chap covered thighs rubbing together, step, creak, step, creak. The man wore boots, a nondescript grey shirt and black leather vest with a worn fringe.. He had a gun in a holster on his left hip.

From Snell’s vantage point he could not see exactly how the man hurled himself up onto the horse, but he did and there he was. Snell gagged a bit from his stench as the man shifted in the saddle. “Giddyup,” he said, spitting something dark and slimy out of his mouth on the right side. Most of it ended up on the dusty road next to the horse; a little bit ended up on the horse “Possible lunch,” thought Snell, as the horse began to trot and then broke into a gallup.

The wind felt good and Snell reallyenjoyed the ride. Knowing no one could hear him, he let loose, “wahooooooooooo, yip yip yip” he yelled into the void as the wind blew against and around him. The real thing was so much better than what he had seen through the Shimmerveil; he almost didn’t mind being a flea.

The horse stopped abruptly and the man got off, took the reins and tied the horse to a post by a long trough of murky looking water. “Howdy Murph,” he heard another man say. “Your filly is a beaut.”  Murph grunted and said, “”Let’s just do our business. I’m in no mood for you.” Snell was fascinated. Everyone in his world was pleasant, but these men looked as if they wanted to butcher one another. The hatred gleamed in the men’s eyes, and Snell was glad he was small.

The sun was high and Snell was sweating. He hadn’t known fleas could sweat, but they could. The horse was drinking from the trough and Snell jump-hopped down to get a drink himself. It was no wonder the men were cranky, it was hot and dry, there was nothing nice here.  A tumbleweed flew by as if to emphasize the point.

“Where’s mah money Murph?” the man growled, putting one hand on his holster. “I can’t wait no longer.” “You’ve had yourself enough time. Mah sister’s life was worth something — she shudna died pushing your bastard out.”  Murph replied, “can’t help it if i create big babies; I’m a big man, not like you.”

Snell sensed things were going to end badly; and not being a fan of bloodshed, he blinked thrice and found himself back in Piccalicious where Mia was waiting for him, laughing her ass off, thrilled that for once he hadn’t completed the dare.

Fairy magic is a beautiful thing, it allows fairies to hop in and out of alternate universes, being fully present in that time and allowing them to leave with no trace they had ever been there. They could walk among the humans and beasts, gaining knowledge and empathy without ever creating any impact. There was only one scenario in which their effects of their visit would create permanence; the extremely powerful fairy spell, “Alterus” which only the elders knew how to use and was rarely passed down.

The next week Snell upped the ante sent Mia to China to spend a week as the second born girl child to a poor family living in the outskirts of Menang.  

Mia blinked three times and found herself sitting on a hard wooden bench at a long table eating rice with chopsticks and listening to her parents speak. She loved rice, it was her favorite human food. She looked at her older brother petting a goat. Her parents were fighting, her mother looked crazed. “It is getting harder and harder to hide her. I blame you for doing this to us.” “If you weren’t so fertile,” her father shouted back.” “You have brought great hardship to us.”

Mia wistfully chewed on a long strand of her black hair.  She was used to this fight between her parents. She was a pretty child, inquisitive and smart, but she was a taboo. In China, families weren’t supposed to have more than one child, yet here she was. Knowing she wasn’t supposed to be alive had damaged her in ways she wasn’t able to really describe. At seven she was well aware that she could rarely leave the family’s dirt floored hut. While Shen went out to the country school she stayed home helping her mother, hoping no one came to visit. For when people came to visit she had to disappear, into the hut which housed the chickens, Bao and Lutzay, her only real friends.

She knew her parents and brother loved her; but she knew they feared not only for her life, but their own. Children were a risky business in China and she lived in a chronic state of anxiety and fear.  She had overheard her parents taling about sending her away. This frightened her. She wondered where she would go, or how she would get there; she wondered who would take care of her and she hoped it wouldn’t happen.  She just wantd to be with her family. On one very frightening night she heard her father talk about drowning her.

She finished eating, and saddened by her parents continued yelling, went outside to the chicken coop where she crawled in to talk to her friends. “Bao and Lutzay, you are so lucky there are no rules about how many chickens someone can have.” The chickens clucked apologetically, nodding their heads up and down furiously. She picked up Lutzay holding her close. “Of course, you get eaten.. So I’m not sure who has it worse.” And with her heart bursting with grief for the plight of a young Chinese girl she blinked three times and was back in her beloved land. Now Shen was an only child and the family could live in peace. Mia had never existed.

Snell, who had been watching through the Shimmerveil was waiting for her at the portal. Mia came through crying for the first time. Even though Mia wasn’t “real” in the human world since she was a creation of fairy magic, she still knew there were real girls like her and the frustration and anger she felt towards humans was almost too much to bear.

Snell held her in his arms and they both wept for humanity. This game of daring each other had been fun for a long time, but it was starting to feel mean spirited between the friends, and the things they were seeing and feeling in the human realm were becoming harder and harder to shake off. They didn’t want to bring the poison of humans into their beautiful fairy world. They decided to take a break from the dares and instead to visit the human world together with the intention to make one human’s life a bit better during each visit. Instead of being observers, they decided to become the real versions “Fairy Godmothers,” which incidentally was a term that Snell thought was sexist and rude.

They decided to go to the elders to petition to learn how to use the Alterus spell. They had seen enough; the humans needed help.

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