coup. In a few hours he could return home, but not till their blood lust slacked. He liked to watch their small guillotines in action, though this time he could not agree. He helped with the first revolution, the king out of control on booze, lust, and powders, but this time it felt like the first wave of blood had driven the revolutionaries mad.
“Damn rats don’t know history,” he muttered to himself.
“You can whisper if you want me to hear,” a voice slipped through the mist. He thought, felt, it was reaching out to him but couldn’t tell from where it came.
The sound of pages flipping. Foolish ears would think as much. Gene knew better. The sound of wings fluttering. He turned his eyes up, saw nothing, and started to search.
Some silhouette jittered about off through the haze. Squinting his eyes, Gene tried to perceive the phantasm. It looked spindly. Perhaps some elf out enjoying the warm weather, in all its briefness. Or maybe a nymph, popped out of the Chicago River for the night. He crept slowly, not wanting to startle the thing. One saw so few of the Magical these days.
Madeline grumbled, flitting through pages, trying to avoid the words on them. ‘Got to start somewhere, I suppose,’ she thought. It may have been an amateur production of some rich man’s nephew’s play, but it was still better than having no gig. It felt beneath her, however, until others caught up to her insight, her resume needed the padding. Her character,
as the play stated, “will stand still upon the stage to symbolize the feminine pillar.” Figuring standing still required no practice, Madeline read her lines while dancing to her Ipod. Though she kept the volume down to hear herself speak, it was still too loud to hear any approaching footsteps.
The remains of a flowery bush, crumpled and brown by Winter, crinkled under Gene’s foot. He cursed himself as the silhouette froze for a moment. He crouched down, hoping it wouldn’t flit off out of sight. By now he felt some certainty it was female. She moved with a grace he’d come to associate only with women, and the sound of her voice further inclined his conclusion.
She had to be Magical. He could hear her singing even as she spoke. Her words sounded choppy and unintelligent. ‘English must be her second language,’ he thought. It made his heart skip a beat. At least she would be able to understand him. However, he chose to act cautiously. He’d fooled himself in the past. Too anxious to find something to prove others wrong, he latched onto misconceptions. It’s to be expected. As he could readily explain, people and Magical beings have been interbreeding longer than anyone realizes. It’s only natural humans might be mistaken for something impressive, from time to time. That latter fact haunted his confessions but not this time.
He saw the flutter of her wings as she spun, and he knew.
Madeline adjusted her scarf, throwing it casually over her shoulder. It stretched back in twin flapping waves, caught up on a fresh breeze. Her mother always knitted them long, though Madeline had come to enjoy the dramatic slant to their length. So few people wore scarves which hung to their calves.
She paused. The fog seemed to stir ahead of her. She couldn’t be certain if it was the wind or someone walking past. Surprised at how thick the vapor had become she glanced at her cell phone. She decided on another half
hour before heading home. “Then I’ll get going.”
Gene needed to hurry. The fairy was thinking about leaving
She couldn’t believe the lines this guy wrote. ‘At least it’s not porn,’ she sighed in mind.
As she spun on her heel, jabbering about door keys, he popped up from behind a bush. Startled, Madeline tripped over her own feet. She fell forward. Gene caught her in his arms. They felt strong and gentle in the same instance. She
looked up, saw his soft eyes hardening into flint.
She tried to say sorry for falling into him, but he just started growling, “Faker.”
“I’m sorry,”she said, unsure for what she was apologizing. His grip no longer felt so gentle.
“Only fairies can fly.” He started dragging her along. “I’ll show you.” When she started to scream, he choked her with her phony wings till she passed out. Her eyes fluttered open, hoping a nightmare would explain events. Instead, she saw the burning gaze of a shattered dreamer. The flaming coals lunged at her. She managed a gasp before he picked her up by the shoulders.
“Fly for me,”he sneered.
Realizing she was a on a rooftop, Madeline stammered, “Wa-wait,” but she was already sailing over the edge, failing her test.
Gene nodded, satisfied when she shattered into puddles and shards, “Sadly wiser but glad to silence a liar.” He slipped home and slept peacefully. The next morning, he purchased a paper with a picture of the Faker from last night. Headline news but still no fairy, he threw the paper in the trash.