Epilogue

Living on a Prayer

At first, all she heard was the crackling.  She could remember it from the first time.  It was not the same fire though, this was no memory.

She hung on the edge of twig until it burnt, dropping her into the whole of the blaze.  Gradually she became aware of things.  First touch, she felt the heat of the flame.   Second her eyes opened, she saw the night sky above her.  If her lips had formed she would have smiled.

The fairy was sure it couldn’t have been this hard to come to life the first time, she couldn’t have done it without knowing the steps.  She built her body piece by piece, calling the burning bits to her.  The fairy molded them, building outward to create limbs and then hair.

It was hard to come to life, dangerous as well, she knew.  Too little time to awaken and she would be nothing but an ember on the breeze.  Too long and she would be stuck, a lump of charcoal over cooked in the life-flames.

An old woman with steel gray hair leaned over the fire and smiled.  The woman moved back and the fairy heard a laugh.

Hours passed, time made sense again as she grew.  The night was almost gone when she was ready to leave the fire.  One tentative step and she collapsed.  Her new wings fell over her and fluttered on their own lifting her up.

“You seem tired, Annabelle,” the old womans voice was like sandpaper across a stone.  “Thirsty?”  She poured a bit of vodka into a plastic lid and sat it down.  The newborn fairy gratefully lapped at the booze, feeling her heat grow with the fuel.  Next the old woman sat a piece of a candy bar down, peanut butter crumbling from it.  The fairy swallowed it in two bites, feeling herself becoming more stable after just moments.

“I thought I was dead,” Annabelle  said.  “Wow, I’ve got a singer’s voice.”  She glanced at her skin.  “I’m red. Really red.”

“Fierce color, Wings,” The Washer said with a laugh.  “You were dead as dead as an elemental can get. Spark and dust. A few embers. I carried one back in this,”  She held up Greg’s pipe,  “I breathed it life again and set you on the fire to grow.”

“Why?”

The Washer looked up, and when she spoke again her voice changed, a child’s voice with hints of bubbles came through.  “You seemed like a half-decent sort. Not every Fairy would dive to death for someone who pretends to hate her.”

“He owes me now,” she said.

“Are you going to collect?” the Washer asked her tone even.

“Where’s the earth world?” Annabelle asked her tone a bit clearer.

“Look around, Wings,” she gestured, with a small smile that she covered with the bottle.

The fairy’s eyes were weak, she realized, and she missed her glasses.  Something though, in the distance.  A field with only a few trees and a fence.  A long high fence, sagging in a few sections.  Large columns of dark metal.

A long steel room.

Annabelle jumped up but her wings failed her and the old lady saved her from a shameful faceplant.

“Here,” she said handing the fairy the rest the candy bar.  “Going to need to take it slow. No heavy spells, just growing but fly small.”

“I’m really back?”

“Of course,” the Washer said.  “We always repay our debts.”

“You don’t owe me,” Annabelle said.  “I didn’t do anything.”

“Kindness to folk, well that creates more kindness. It can breed forward, when you reach out a hand like that. You helped shape the future in ways you’ll never know, Wings.”

“What if I’d like to know?”

“Then follow the Path,” she said.  “Don’t you know your myths? The Rose Path is the road to paradise.”

“I think my paradise is just up that hill,” she answered finishing the candy bar.

“Then knowledge.”

“Always use more knowledge.”

“Good luck,” she said.   “My good fairy.”

“Thanks, mistress Washer. I’ll be sure to pay my debts, should you ever need a warm fire or little wings.”

“Never need a fire myself. I’ve got a lot of friends though.  A friend of a friend…”

The washer smiled and faded away, the bottle of vodka pressed to her lips as she disappeared.

The fairy jumped some, but saved her strength for the fence.  She took it at a run, using her wings to zoom high then soar in low, she landed on the container.

Annabelle could hear movement inside and was a bit sad her room had been filled already.  She ran to the edge and glanced in. Her mouth dropped, Nicole sat on the mattress, head on her knees.  Her first impulse was to jump in but the fairy held herself back.

She dulled her glow and dropped down sending a group green and silver sparks at her friend.   The other girl jumped, dropping the body wash.

“Wings?”

She grew giving a curtsy as her feet touched the ground.  “Annabelle Rose, I’m back I guess.”

“Nicky said you blew up.  What the fuck happened?”  She poked her once, then again harder.  Annabelle wasn’t sure how she felt about the tears in her friend’s eyes.  Glad she was missed, she decided.

“I think I did,” she said.  “Not sure anyway.”

“You’re alive? And red.”

“Yeah, I guess.”  She glanced at her arms in proper lighting.  She was just a shade darker than Nicholas’s car.  “The Washer saved my ash.”

“Was that a pun?”

“No she saved my ash and relit me. Don’t know why I’m so red this time.”

“It looks great,” she said, and then hugged her.  “Wow, holy hellballs we thought… I mean we planned a stone in the Murphy plot. You saved Nicky and all.”

“Is he here?”

“No he, well, he landed on his good leg and he’s in the hospital waiting to be picked up by a driver.”  Her phone was beeping.  Nicole laughed and blushed a bit, as she checked the device.  “Speak of the dumbass. For you I think, my good fairy.”

She passed the phone.

<Washer sent me a text. ‘Prayer granted UOI.’ What the hell does that even mean? 😦 >

She hit the little picture, and held it to her ear.  After a moment he answered, same grumpy tone if a bit quieter.

“Any ideas?” he asked.

“I think it means that you’re still a uwarun.”

 

End Tale.

***

Thanks for reading!

 

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