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An Offer I had to Refuse

by K.D. Martin about a year ago in fantasy

In which a Young man and his Faerie Godfather have a rather One-Sided Conversation

“I could help you.” Cajoling, from the little man on my shoulder.

I ignore him, as usual. Safer that way since there isn’t anyone else I know who can actually see him. No, things like seeing a Glamoured member of the Fae Courts is relegated to the Changelings.

Like me.

I shake a cigarette from the battered pack I keep in the front pocket of my coveralls. The cigarette is just about the same size as my companion.

It’s been weeks since last we spoke. Where I am living now, where I have been living since my life began disintegrating around me, has a lot to do with it. Not even a Faerie Godfather wants to be seen around a garbage dump.

“Your mother wouldn’t be happy if she knew her son was living like this.” He says things like this sometimes, trying to talk me into going with him. He has his reasons.

I keep ignoring him, smoking and thinking about the ruins of what used to be my life.

There comes a time in most changelings’ lives (or so my Faerie Godfather says) when the physical attributes that make us special become hard to hide. I’d never grown facial or body hair, always had an amazing metabolism, and never had to work out for my physique. I figured I was genetically gifted. There had to be some bonus for being left on a church step and never knowing my parents, or so I’d always believed.

When the wings grew in, I quit my job at the gym where I’d been a personal trainer. It’s hard to hide wings under gym clothes, even flexible, insectile wings. Not that wings were the only reason, and not that I actually had to quit, but I didn’t learn that until almost a week later.

That’s when Puck showed up for the first time. Useless insect.

I call him Puck because he won’t give me his True Name. He says, “In Fae, Names have Power,” and I can hear the words capitalized in his voice.

I know some of his story: He broke Fae Law. Much like his Name, he won’t tell me which Law, because “Knowledge is Power.” He acts like he invented the concept. He was banished to this world, where few people can see him, which limits the mischief he can cause. Now he wants back and I’m his golden ticket. Well, not me specifically, but a Changeling, a Fae child who grew up on Terra. Earth. The Fae call Earth, “Terra,” or maybe it’s just Puck. I don’t really listen to him.

These days, I live and work in the dump as its caretaker. No one sees me and I’m fine with this. Puck, however, is not. The smell alone kept him away for several weeks and I’d thought it was all over. I thought maybe I’d dreamed it or gone insane from what I had done.

I was wrong. He found me again and refuses to give me even a moment of peace.

Too late to be of use, he told me about the magical fog called the Veil that separates Fae from Earth. It keeps most Terrans from seeing things that are not for them. “Not that it’s difficult hiding things from the short-lived idiots,” he’d sneered, forgetting that I am a short-lived idiot and that I had loved one.

I won’t be Fae. I refused after he told me about my mother.

“Gorgeous,” he described her, but then explained that in Fae, beauty is deadly. Beautiful things are toxic… or short-tempered, my mother being the latter. A full-grown Faerie noble, she is wild and beautiful in a way that makes human art look bland and boring, or at least Puck tells me she is. She is something akin to a mantis, the tiny Faerie told me, which explains my chitinous wings. It also explains why my father, a human, didn’t raise me. And then I was the fool who curiously Googled the mating habits of mantids.

My Faerie Godfather begs me, on occasion. Tells me I am ruining his life as well as my own. I don’t really care about his life and mine was ruined when the wings grew in. I didn’t know about the Veil or that most people would never see the diaphanous wings protruding from my shoulders. I only knew that Alec could see them and that he screamed, scared of me. Alec is my boyfriend.

...Was my boyfriend, before I killed him.

Maybe I’m more like my mother than I thought.

I want to turn myself in. I think about it sometimes: Marching into an asylum. Telling them what I’ve done. Telling them why. They’d almost have to believe me.

But, then again, Alec had been a visible activist. His murder by bludgeoning had been labeled a hate crime and made headline news for weeks. If I spoke up now, they might think I just want attention. They might ignore me.

No one knew we were together, not even Alec’s friends. They knew he was seeing someone but not who it was. He did it to protect me, still hiding in the closet. My Fae blood means that I have no fingerprints to leave behind and what hair I have doesn’t shed, so when I took my things from the apartment it was as if I’d never set foot there. Lucky me.

I take out another cigarette. Puck looks scandalized.

“You’re going to kill yourself!” Maybe he’s right.

Maybe that’s what’s best.

I sigh, watching the moon rise as he lands on my knee. Staring at the glow, I bring my free hand down hard, crushing the Faerie and then wiping away blood from my coveralls that no one but me will ever notice. Now he’ll leave me alone.

What’s one more murder, really?


K.D. Martin

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