Chapter Six: Scar Tissue

When they arrived back at the house a few tables were sat up in the yard, in the wide part where she had performed tricks the night before.  A few dozen people were scattered among the tables, and blue ice filled boxes sat open.

“Ayy!”  Some drunken cheers rang as they got out with the pizza.

“Friday tradition,” Nicole said.  “And we celebrate new arrivals too. Hence the beer being proper and all.”

“It’s got alcohol it’s proper enough,” Greg said grabbing the pizza from Nicole.  He kissed her cheek after and then repeated the ritual with Annabelle.  The booze was strong on his breath, and the party started easy.  Before long music came from the garage and a few people danced.

“Nicole?” Annabelle asked, unsure of anyone else.  “I need to practice earth dances?”

“No, not happening not even a chance,” Nicole said.  She dipped her pizza in red sauce, shoving some in her mouth and washing it down with beer.  “I dance worse than you. Not that you don’t dance good, just no. Bad dancer. Two left feet and arm that leans funny.”

“I will,” Greg said, and then nodded to his wife.  Age was hard to tell in leprechaun years but she was clearly a lot younger than he was.  At least a few hundred years, if Annabelle guessed right.  She had teased up blond hair, and spoke with an accent unlike the rest of the clan.  “Chelle is here to keep an eye on these arthritic things.”  He wiggled his hands.

“That ever stopped you?” she asked and Annabelle could see where Nicole got her beautiful voice, in the woman’s laughter.  “Go on dear. You’re safe with me and Nice out here.”  She stood up, and he grabbed her arms, spinning her into a tighter embrace.  He held her hand aloft in one of his, and put his hand in the small of her back.

“I know this one,” she told him.  “Not that I’m complaining, sir.”  Annabelle remembered her manners since she had previously threatened the old man.

“Not at all, dear.”  He switched giving her another spin, and then clicking his heels.  “Fix that song off that new stuff, boys.”  A raucous tune, with lots of pipes, and strings laced with lyrics began.  They danced until her feet ached from the sandals, which wasn’t long.  She rejoined Nicole, who was busy with another beer, and Chelle took her place.  As she watched the couple Annabelle was glad the old man had kept his hand to himself.  The girl clapped before she sat down.  Quite a few people ‘awed’ and one or two asked when their turn was.

“Might do a few sparks in a bit,” she said.  She felt oddly out of her element in the spotlight.  She wondered if that was the clarity with which she saw the crowd now, or the uneasy feeling she got when she saw the window was dark.  The same one she thought she heard Greg’s voice from last night.  Only dark one in the house, as the leprechauns and a few other Odd folk played.

As the night wore on she felt a little better and she headed to the little container house in back to change to one of her winged shirts, and fly around a bit.  She wanted to give the leprechauns a good show, to thank them for allowing her to stay, despite her bad arrival, and obvious misgivings.  Her kind wasn’t well liked among the other small folk and it was something she never really expected from anyone.

Annabelle dropped the tape on the bed, planning to roll it up later.   She fit the other shirt on over her wings, and leapt into the night sky.  Her body shrank again and she shot forward.  She pulled a hard right at the garage door and shot upward, throwing green and gold sparks in beat with the music.

Her glasses had shrunk with her, and she she saw her flight path with new clarity.  She was able to fly lower, and ringed Nicole in a perfect green, and silver crown inches above her brown hair.

At home in the sky, more than in her clunky feeling big body her heart was free.  Annabelle felt like a fool, with the odd jerky motions she used on the ground but when she flew the Fairy dances, there was no limit to her.

As she spun fire sparked in rainbows around her, she showed all assembled what range her element carried.  The dance ended with a spin, and she started a new one, to the strange music mixed with the cheers of her new friends.

They were singing for her, some of them and their cheers made the dances easier with every voice.  She stuck to lots of green, for the later dances and spelled out the names she knew between them.  She drew a group of pink hearts around Chelle and Greg.

The guy with the knife last night, Billy, asked for a white heart and she obliged.

When she was too exhausted to fly she ate pizza, sitting on the edge of the table, legs dangling.

“You were beautiful,” Chelle said.

“Those were all happiness and luck dances,” she said a huge grin stuck to her face.

“Thank you,” she said then gestured at the two-story house.  “We’ve never been blessed here, it was very nice of you.”

“I’ve never even heard of a fairy dance a blessing.  What is it?” Nicole asked.  She cut another corner off her pizza, sliding it to Annabelle.

“Just hocus pocus.” A voice that sounded just like Greg said.  Nicky grabbed a few slices of pizza, and set them on a plate.  She hadn’t even seen him arrive.  His cheeks were red and he seemed half-focused.  “Don’t need it.”  Nicole looked puzzled at his words, and he shot her an odd look.

“Crawl out of that cave?” Greg asked.  He was packing himself a pipe bowl and his face was dark, everyone went quiet at his words.  Annabelle felt like she was in the middle of a duel but there were no swords, just clashes of stares.

“Crawling back now,” he said turning his dark eyes to Annabelle.  “Don’t fuck all the boys ta sleep, might need them your last boyfriend’s da’ shows,” he said.  His voice was all cheer as he spit the words at the fairy.  Nicole got up her voice shaking with curses, someone caught her arms pulling her back.

Nicky was a lot like his dad, she could hear it in his speech and see the old man’s hard edges in the younger’s smile. He stumbled a bit, as he started to walk away.

The lot exploded with yells.   A few defended her, but Annabelle was disturbed at the number who seemed to side with him.  A dozen people were shouting at her, their faces in stark relief thanks to the glasses.  They catcalled until Greg slammed his fist into the table, making all the plates and bottles jump.

Everyone stopped at once and a few muttered apologies.  Nicky wasn’t one of them.  He grabbed for some beers, his pizza dropped and he almost fell before someone caught him.  The other leprechaun dragged him inside the house.

“Smells like he finished the distillery,” he called, and everyone laughed.  Annabelle didn’t forget the tension quick as the rest of them.  But the party started again, like nothing happened.

“Ignore him,” Greg said, his voice sounded about as sober as his son.  “His pride is stung. Always had more pride than brain. It’s not his fault, family tradition, miss.”  The old leprechaun puffed from his pipe after, passing it to his wife.

“Yeah,” Chelle said her rosy cheeks lit up.  She sat a beer next to her husband and jumped as he thanked her with a pinch.

“Pourin beer, is the only time she gives good head,” he quipped, some of the gathered cheered and shouted replies.  The fairy couldn’t understand them, the drunker the clan got the heavier the accents that split the air.

“Pa, that’s my fuckin’ mom,” Nicole said throwing a napkin at the old man.

“She’s my wife, how do you think I feel?”  Everyone laughed, even Chelle knocking her husband’s hat off.

The fairy relaxed, but every so often she would glance up.  His window was still dark but he was in there, she felt his eyes.  He yelled at her from that window last night, called her a ‘sizzle bitch’ or whatever.

“Want to go do some reading?” Nicole asked after a bit had of time had passed.  The leprechaun stumbled a bit, as she stood.

“Yeah,” Annabelle answered quick.  She said her ‘goodnights’, paying extra thanks to Greg, and his wife.  A few people called for them to stay.  She zipped around spelling ‘Night’ adding a shamrock, that made her a little dizzy, to the bottom.

“You’re awesome at that,” Nicole said.  “Not just the spelling, but the whole colors, and layers.  It’s like a fireworks show but really close and pretty.”

“It’s just some dances,” she said with a wave.  She danced a bit more though, as they made their way to the back of the lot.  The fairy swayed in front of her friend, lighting their path as they walked.

“We’d sleep in the house, but they’ll be up ‘til dawn anyway. Likely.”

“It’s fine, I like this room,” she said.

“No one likes this room,” Nicole said.  “It’s not even a room, it’s an old shipping container.”

“It’s a warm place to close my eyes and I’m grateful for it.”

“Easy to please,” Nicole said, and collapsed onto the mattress.  She shrank a bit but she must have been a lot drunker than she looked, as her clothes stayed normal size.  She tugged the blanket up, and rolled over, lost in her now oversize shirt.  Annabelle flew around the tiny room trailing fire.  The air warmed in just a few loops.

Annabelle thought she would be more tired but she just ended up sitting on the pillow.   She pulled up the internet again and sat cross legged in front of the phone, giant screen propped against the wall.  After she read one page through a few times, she pushed her palm against one of the blue words and started on another article.

“He wasn’t always that angry,” Nicole said, Annabelle jumped banging her head into the phone’s screen.  She ended up clutching her head and laid on her side.  The phone lost it’s balance, and landed on the tiny fairy, nearly covering her.  Nicole laughed and brushed the phone off.  “You klutz.”

“You scared me! I thought you were sleeping.”

“Think I can’t handle a little beer?”

“You were snoring,” she replied with a laugh.

“Where are your glasses?” Nicole asked squinting.

“I took them off, they were hurting my face.”

“Get used to them. Be awkward around here, not seeing stuff.”

“Were you talking about Nicky?”

“No, the other guy that called you a whore.”

“A few of them did,” she said.  “I heard them before Greg silenced them.”

“They’re just drunken, an’ everyone always loved him. Saint Nick, or whatever they call ‘im.  Wanted him ta be head of clan, after Pa’s gone. Those idjits woulda cheer’d if he said to slam their dicks in a car door.”

“He won’t be head of clan?  I thought sons were always the next leader?”

“Not always. Glane, she was a hella good leader. No one even remembers ‘er. He doesn’ wan’ it though. Even before all tha’ stupid stuff.”  Annabelle figured Nicole might want to tell her what ‘tha stupid stuff’ was considering her drunken state.  She decided to change the subject though, before the girl just blurted out.  “‘Ran off with a Elemental lady.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” Annabelle said.  She flew up, and pulled the blanket higher on her friend.  “You should get some sleep.”

“Naw, he loves elementals. I mean Fairies too. Marrows when he can. He loves ‘special ladies’, he used to say. Jus’ called ’em special. Said they all were. I don’t judge, I mean I was with Eric all that time. Matt too.”

“It’s fine Nicole. Not all of my type are good folks.”

“‘Snot fine. You’re nice all the time, and so fun to just chill with, and he picks out your glasses with the little stars and then treats you like that?”  Nicole tossed the blanket down to her feet.  Annabelle grabbed the end and flew it back to her.  “No type is all good folk. Just we are what we are and everything else…. That’s what makes a person.”

“You put together such nice words.”

“Thanks.”  Nicole closed her eyes.  “We can call him a dick, in the morning, throw stuff at him. If you wanna,” she offered.

“We’ll see,” she said and then curled under the blanket.  She grew to match Nicole’s size, so she wouldn’t have to worry about waking up under the leprechaun, and tried to relax.

It was a long time though, before she could sleep.  Bits of the night played across her mind.  She tried to clear them, but all she could remember were his words and they held her peace out of reach.

***

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