Exercise – “Out of the corner of my eye”

This started from an idea that fairies can only be seen out of the corner of your eye, and expanded into the idea of them being household pests. It could probably go somewhere but I’m not taking it there today.

The fact that video games don’t have peripheral vision is why I can’t play shooters. It’s like having blinders on. How are you supposed to effectively do anything like that? No wonder I flail and can’t keep my camera and gun straight and end up taken out by the guys who know what they’re doing? If there really was such thing as a “Man Card” mine would be permanently revoked.

I was at my buddy Nick’s house, playing the latest Modern Call of Battlefield Gears War (not the actual name, but you get the idea – they all run together for me), when I saw a flash of what looked like Nick’s daughter Amy’s idea of dragonfly wings.: iridescent, shimmering with rainbow colors and, I swear, glitter. Something knocked against my cheek and I brushed it away. It didn’t feel any different from an insect; when one hits you, all you feel is the hit, not what the body is like. Then something landed on my ear, and instead of the scratchy pinch of bug legs it felt like tiny hands and feet.

I threw the controller down as I leapt to my feet, batting at my ear and shouting. Nick looked at me like I was nuts. “Some bug landed on me,” I explained lamely and sat back down, gathering up the controller and trying to get back into the game.

Then I saw it, between me and Nick, hovering with its wings batting away at hummingbird speed. Like I said, I couldn’t focus on it, but it definitely looked like a tiny human, about two inches tall, with hair that was slicked up into a point like one of those troll dolls from the 90’s, only the hair was white and the thing’s skin was brown like a walnut. I turned my head and it disappeared.

This time it was Nick batting at the air, swearing. “Fucker keeps pulling my hair!” he said. He plucked at his hair, like someone trying to remove a tick, and pulled something away. His fingers were pinched, a finger-width apart. Tiny cuts, like papercuts, appeared on his fingertips. “Knock it off or I’ll squish you, motherfucker,” he yelled at his hand. “Look at this,” he said, holding his hand up next to my face. Once it was in my peripheral, I saw it: the little thing I had seen before, pinched in Nick’s fingers, scratching at him with its nails and writhing.

Nick got up and went to his front door, opened it, and flung the thing outside. “Christ!” he griped, stomping into the kitchen to wash the cuts on his fingers. I paused the game (we’d both been gunned down anyway and were waiting to respawn) and followed him.

“Those little fuckers, man. I’ve tried everything. Traps, insect foggers, you name it. They’re too damn clever.” He lathered up and hissed at the sting. “At least they don’t have venom. Not the ones I’ve come across, anyway. Who knows what bacteria they’re carrying, though.”

“What are they?” I asked, not wanting to come out and say what I was thinking.

“You saw it, didn’t you?” Nick dried his hands and ran them through his hair, as if making sure the thing hadn’t left him with a bald patch. I swear the dude has more hair products than his wife. No wonder the critter was trying to get at it.

“Uh, yeah. I couldn’t see it if I was looking right at it, though.”

“That’s how it is with them. Fairies, dude,” Nick said. “You can only see them out of the corner of your eye. As soon as you look right at them, they disappear.”

I chuckled. “Fairies? Get real.”

“Dude, you saw it!” Nick said. “What do you think it is?”

“I dunno,” I said with a shrug. “Didn’t think fairies were real. How long have you had ‘em?”

“Since Ang brought that stupid ‘fairy feeder’ home. Got it at a yard sale,” Nick said, his lip curling. From spring to late fall, Nick’s wife, Angie, could never drive anywhere on the weekend without stopping at every yard sale she came across. Farmer’s markets, same way. She had a thing for buying from the little guys.

“Fairy feeder?”

“I’d show you but I tossed it. It looked like someone drilled holes in a walnut shell half and hung it from a polished stick with twine. You’re supposed to fill it with milk. She and Amy got a kick out of it, I guess. They hung it in the garden. I figured some animal must’ve been drinking the milk, ‘cause they kept filling it up. Then I started seeing these little assholes flying around.” Nick scowled. “They knotted up all my shoelaces, got in the fridge and broke open all the eggs and ate them, squeezed the toothpaste and soap and anything else out all over the place. And they leave these glitter smears all over everything, and nothing gets it out, dude. It’s, like, fairy cum or something.”

“Ugh.” Now my lip was curling. “Is that what it is?”

Nick shook his head. “Naw, man. Amy says it comes from their wings, when they brush up on stuff. She’s the resident expert, I guess. I got her scouring the internet to find out how to get rid of these things. We tossed the feeder but they’re still hanging around.”

“Where the hell did they come from in the first place?”

“Beats me.”

My phone tweedled; it was my girlfriend, Dana. “Tom, I’m sorry but can you come home? I just put Poppy down for a nap or I’d bring her over on my way out. Work called; three people called out for tonight’s shift so they need me to come do a split.”

“That sucks. You need to get a new job. They’re killing you with this on-call shit.”

“Yeah, I know,” Dana grumbled. “See you in a bit?”

“On my way,” I said, and hung up. “Dude, I gotta head out. Dana’s work called her in to cover and the baby’s napping,” I told Nick.

“Again? Jesus.”

“Babies sleep a lot, or did you forget already?” I teased him.

“I mean the on call thing,” Nick said. “All right, I’ll see you later.”

“Let me know how the fairy thing goes,” I said as I left. Nick smirked and flipped me off.

Dana met me at the door in her scrubs, her keys in her hand. “Chili’s on the stove, simmering. Whenever you get hungry. I got corn muffins cooling on the counter too.” She frowned. “I was looking forward to an evening in,” she said, quieter.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and kissed her. She pressed herself against me in a way that told me why she had been looking forward to it. Damn it.

Dana pulled back and looked at me for a moment, then rubbed her thumb against my cheek. “How’d you get glitter there?” she asked. “Was Amy doing your makeup?” I laughed.

“Bye, hon,” Dana said, and went to her car. I went inside and straight to Poppy’s room. She was snugged up in that position only babies look comfortable in, curled up with her butt in the air. I gave her a pat.

“Looks like it’s just you and me, kiddo,” I murmured. Poppy yawned.

Back in the kitchen, one of the corn muffins was on the floor. Dana must have knocked it in her rush to gather her things. I picked it up; a chunk was missing, crumbs all over the place. Did Dana take a bite, meaning to take it with her as a dinner on the run? No, Dana would have peeled the wrapper off first, not just bitten through it.

“Do we have mice or something?” muttered, scooping up the crumbs and tossing them with the muffin in the trash. I had snap traps in the basement. Dana preferred them to the “Have a Heart” traps. “Quick and clean,” she said. Ruthless woman. Not that I mind.

I set a few up with peanut butter, glad that Poppy hadn’t gotten to crawling just yet. I was in the bathroom when I heard one snap. “That was fast,” I thought as I washed my hands.

One of the traps had triggered, the peanut butter half-gone, but nothing seemed to be in it until I bent to it and saw that something was holding the lever open about a finger-width. Taking a breath, I turned my head to the side.

A fairy wriggled in the trap, its mouth gaping with screams I couldn’t hear. Its spine was probably broken.

Shit. They’d followed me home.


~ by Amber on June 18, 2012.

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