Another Excerpt from my Short Stories.
She never told me what her name was, or perhaps I just don’t remember that part of the encounter. So many of the details of that day have become hazy with time, but the lesson I learned that day I still keep with me. I sat on the old wooden bench my feet in the warm sand, a thin ribbon of blood flowing from my nose. Strangely, bleeding was nothing new for me. I was a smart child, too smart for my own good most of the time. My raw intellect was not tempered with the wisdom of when it was a good idea to keep my mouth shut and my ideas to myself, especially when faced with three larger boys who needed very little in the way of excuses to lash out at a small wide eyed child with a noticeable disability.
While floating in the shallow end of the public pool during one of the mandatory deep end evacuation breaks that were called whenever the lifeguards needed to go flirt with the teen-age girls who worked at the snack stand, I was corned by three large teen-age boys. They were all dressed in darker colored swim trunks and their haircuts gave away the fact they were enrolled in ROTC. I was addressed by the shorter and more pig-like of the three boys. His thin lips curled over his crooked teeth as he spat out the question
“What the hell happened to your legs?” As was the traditional response when people asked me questions of that nature I calmly explained that I had no idea what he was talking about and then, because I did not have the good sense to know I was outnumbered, I added a comment about the lack of white in his teeth. This of course angered the large pig-child. The flash of crimson in Pig-Boy's cheeks brought joy to his two lackeys were overcome with anticipation of the savage beating that was about to be handed to me. Pig-boy grinned a jagged smile as he moved closer to me and informed me
“That’s pretty smart-ass talk fer a boy with railroad tracks on his legs.” This was of course a nod to the fact that my legs are lined with many surgical scars. Once more my inexperience with the battlefield showed when I proceeded to brighten up and inform him that my legs and his mother share a key characteristic as both of them have qualities of something ridden by many people. Looking back this was not the best course of action because my arms were quickly pulled behind my back by Pig-boys two accomplishes and he proceeded to punch me rather clumsily in the face. As I reacted to the pain in much the same way a polar bear reacts to the snow, Pig-Boy grew more irritated. He grabbed me by the back of the head, pushed me under water, and held me there. It was calm underwater, the burning sensation of the chlorine had long stopped irritating my eyes, and the sunlight casting the strange net-like patterns on the bottom of the pool was always one of my favorite things to look at. So much so that, after reading a book entitled the “The Black Pearl” I began to use the strange methods of controlled breathing that were contained within its pages to give myself a larger lung capacity so I could stay under longer just to be able to float in the deep silence of the water and watch the patterns shift. About thirty seconds passed and I decided to let my body go limp. I could hold my breath for about four minutes, so I let a few bubbles pass out of my mouth to add to the effect that I was drowning. I felt the two boys who were holding my arms loosen. I remanded motionless, twenty seconds passed and they had completely let go. Pig-Boy pulled my head out of the water but I just let my mouth sag open, my breath still held my chest not moving. My eyes were a dead gaze. It was at that point they began to panic. They shook me trying to get me to show any sings of life, but I had perfected the art of pretending to be asleep to avoid conversations with my grandmother about whatever random church-related insanity she wanted to babble on about, so hanging limp with a mask of death washed over my face was second nature. They let my body go and darted away from me, moving towards the opposite side of the pool, not screaming out that something was wrong for fear of alerting their overly orange-skinned mothers, or worse their mothers' younger overly-orange boyfriends, of the fact they may have just killed the small disabled child.
As they moved swiftly away I let out a small chuckle and pulled myself out of the pool making my way to the fence gate that separated the pool from the beach. As I moved onto the beach I could hear the lifeguard yelling at the boys for pulling him away from the snack shack and how he had had enough of their behavior and how they would be banded from the pool.
I found a particularly empty part of the beach and flopped down on the wind worn wooden bench. From behind me a small voice that I can only describe as lyrical said “You’re supposed to have a red band on your wrist, not on your face.”
I turned around and was face to face with a girl a little older than me. She was pale and her dark hair hung in curls past her shoulders. Her sun bleached orange T-Shirt had a well-distressed batman logo on it and her arms were laced with various bracelets, ribbons, bangles, cuffs, and charms.
“Excuse me?” I responded not sure what she was talking about, nor if she was actually talking to me. It was not normal for a girl, especially one who looked like they had been drawn by Mark Schultz, to randomly start a conversation with me.
“Your nose, it’s bleeding.” She said as she sat down next to me on the bench.
“Oh” I wiped it with the back of my hand and saw the crimson stain, “Thanks.”
Her green eyes were like something I had never seen before, they looked like the ocean, they were deep and, in one glance, I was sure they held many secrets. It was almost impossible to keep looking at them, and yet, I could not tear my eyes away from her gaze. That was until she told me to look up to slow the bleeding. I did as I was instructed. I felt the bench shift slightly as she sat down next to me, and out of the corner of my eye I could see her looking up as well. We sat in silence for what seemed like forever but it may have been a matter of moments when I found my voice. “What would I need a ribbon on my wrist for?” I asked hesitantly.
She chuckled “To protect you from the fairies.” She responded with the same level candor that someone would say, “Because water is wet” or “Because ice cream has no bones”. I turned to look at her to see if she was serious but her hands redirected my head skywards.
“Like, Tinkerbelle?” This time she more than chuckled, she laughed a deep full laugh
“No, not like Tinkerbelle. Sometimes I wonder how you people survive with all you don’t know. Tinkerbelle is as far from a real fairy as you can get."
“So what is a real fairy?” I asked my curiosity piqued.
“Well there are all sorts of fairy, there are and Faun’s and and Nix’s. There are Imps and Brownies and Gnomes.” The only thing I could think was that this girl was clearly insane, or trying to trap me in some sort of embarrassing moment, so I sat silently as she went on about the Redcaps and how they would wash there knit caps in pools of blood to mask there scent in the woods; or their ability to shape-shift to look like small animals so they could observe humans for some one she called the King of the Fay. She explained that mermaids and even banshees, the dead ladies that had horrible screams not the Irish man from the X-Men comic books, were types of fairies.
“Well, while it's interesting that there are so many different types of fairies and all, I don’t understand what any of this has to do with a ribbon?”
She chuckled once more. “Well, fairies, all of them, regardless of if they are large or small, love to play tricks on humans. Tie there shoe strings together, hide one of there socks - some of the more devious fairies go as far as switching medication around or cutting the brakes of someone’s car just to see what type of chaos will come out of it.”
“Cutting the brake lines.” I asked, reading my fair share of crime novels and knowing that a cut brake line was a recipe for disaster. “That’s not a joke, that’s attempted murder.”
“Fairies don’t think about things like humans do, they see humans as stuck up and way to serious, so they think any elements of disorder they can add to their lives helps give them perspective.”
“And the ribbon does what exactly?”
“Well, it shows that your not so uptight, the brighter the better, if a Fay thinks you already have an element of fun in your life, they are not going to try and insert elements of what they may think fun is into your world.”
“I see.” It did not make a whole lot of since to me, but this was the first time in my life a beautiful girl other than a nurse or someone who worked at a restaurant had talked to me, so I was not going to try and logic my way around the conversation. As far as I knew, with all that I had seen in my life, she might very well be right. I had not dealt much with fairies as far as I knew and I was not about to tell her she was wrong. We sat in silence for a while and about the time my neck started to hurt I turned to ask her how she knew this hoping to launch into another conversation where I could get her name and perhaps a way to hang out with her more but she was gone.
I looked around for her but did not see anyone on the beach. There were a few people in the surf, but none had that orange shirt on. I was going to chalk it up to some sort of head trauma-based delusion when I noticed that around my wrist was a string of red yarn tied in a little bow.
That was a long one. Well friend, I am off for the night, and until next time all I ask is that you believe in everything.