I left the treeline behind me, the small forest waved goodbye in my wake. I could almost hear the branches swaying after me, asking me to return again soon.
The trees loved my company. I knew because my excitement to see them drew me in often. By the time I was leaving, I’d already have imagined myself entering the sanctuary again, soon. I would leave the image in my wake with their whispers of some tomorrow to come, to be processed for delivery by fate.
A strange thing happened a way down the darkening path. It was at the point of twilight just beyond the light and before night had completely engulfed the contents of this realm. The streetlamps lighting the park at the end of the path hadn’t turned on yet so it was still difficult to see.
Out of the corner of my more intuitive eye, I felt something. It started as a tingle, just a small prick at the back of my neck. Then I felt the ice, a chill so deep it sent a bolt through my heart, striking me right in the secret.
My spidey senses tickled in irritation. I’d never felt anything like it. I looked out over the meadow surrounding the path leading me back into the city. I didn’t see anything but now I felt eyes. Whatever had me on edge had spotted me.
Maybe it was trying to remain hidden. I pulled the headphones from my ears to the rush of a million different sounds. I closed my eyes and focused.
Who is closest to me.
The muse slid through my mind smoothly in the time of a deep breath. The sounds brought me to a small cove of trees by a rotunda covering. There was a white bench beneath the overhang, and upon the white, there was a spot of black in the center of it. Like a missing tooth in an otherwise perfectly shining smile.
But what was it?
My feet responded before the command had left my mind.
Can’t go being scared now… after all this time, what’s a little dot of blackness compared to my entire imagination?
I smiled at the reassuring thought and walked at my tallest toward the gazebo. The light next to it flashed on and twittered a bit before stabilizing into a painful fluorescent glow.
I looked forward to the cover offered by the gazebo, I was less concerned about its contents with the welcome distraction of discomfort.
Fluorescents do a funny thing to our skin. I’d never experienced the blistering feeling in the Fairy Realm, but they lived by natural light there. Generally, Fairies weren’t afraid of the dark. Not enough to dishonor Mother with claims that her lantern wasn’t good enough to light our way. Over time, the practice led us to be light on our feet, to seek out the beams and dance with them gracefully.
My night vision is impeccable because of it. Fairies didn’t fear the loss of the sun enough to view it as a problem to be fixed, they simply learned to be productive around it. I understood where humans were coming from, not knowing things can be scary. But I wouldn’t fall victim to fear, he had enough on his plate and I could handle whatever was beneath the shadows of the gazebo, regardless of what it was.
I squinted my eyes and made out a large frame, and a dark jacket. What I am assuming were legs, hung loosely from the bench in both directions, insinuating comfort.
This human was different than most.
I couldn’t put my finger on his energy, but I could see it radiating off of him as if he were red hot on a heat scanner. Seething, over something. I could feel him tighten slightly as I made my way to the small steps leading to the platform.
“Hey!” It sounded like a bad note, as soon as the word left my lips in much too chipper a tone, I wished it wouldn’t have. So I compensate with, “Nice night isn’t it?” and smiled warmly enough, his aura glowed a deeper shade for a moment.
“I came here to be left alone.” He didn’t bother with niceties as he put his large paws into his pockets. He looked off, disregarding me.
My heart went out to him.
How deep does it run? I asked myself, try though I might his intentions remained hidden from my intuition.
Was it possible that his color in the spectrum ranged so low that I couldn’t see inside of it?
I could see the question becoming an obsessive one, so I pushed him further for answers.
“I can see that, but can I ask why?” I wasn’t meaning to be nosy, I couldn’t help myself. He seemed so, unhappy, and I felt it wouldn’t be right to leave him at the first signs of unfriendliness. Forest animals do the same thing when they are hurting. In order to be of any help, you have to get close enough to be bitten, and courageous enough not to care. “Bad day?”
He blinked at me for a moment, I can feel his little probes all over me, trying to figure me out. After his first analysis, he looked back into the shadows of the forested area I’d just come from. I thought he might be getting ready to ignore me, which I didn’t appreciate but it was his decision and I could only bother him further until he reached his breaking point.
This was the moment where he would either definitively tell me to go away, and I would have to. Or break down and decide his only choice was to tell me since his loneliness, despite himself, wouldn’t want to give up the company.
I opened my mouth in time for the stranger to look back at me pointedly, the impression I got was more suspicious after he’d had a moment of reflective silence to think about the odd nature of our meeting. come to think of it… I found it odd too, that someone other than myself would be out at this hour, lurking the dim lit park, searching for slivers of peace in the moonlight.
“What the hell were you doing out there?” He thought for a few seconds, his frown deepened into distrust. I was so curious to see where he would take his accusation I didn’t interrupt with an answer. I closed my mouth instead and held back the smile building at the fondness I felt for this feisty creature.
I looked out over the empty grass I’d walked across to make this man’s acquaintance. My eyes found the disguised oasis within its creepy outer canvas. I am proud of my craftsmanship. If I didn’t know what sat on the other side of the cloak and daggers I’d installed expertly, I would have thought my wandering out after dark odd as well. “Are you one of those Wiccan creeps?”
That was his final answer…of all the options, that’s what he came up with? I could feel the thought burbling up and before I could stop it, a smile spread across my face. I went to wipe it and slipped into a laugh accidentally. “A Wiccan creep? Is that a level of hierarchy or something?” I Imagined the stranger gliding into the forest in a magical cloak and I shook my head in amused disbelief.
Apparently, he didn’t know what to think so he sat and watched me, waiting for me to make his talking to me worth the effort. “I was swinging, collecting my thoughts and I lost track of time,” I answered honestly, I felt it was the only way to approach this hornet’s nest without accidentally kicking it.
Fate had led me to this human. When mother sent a messenger as immovable as that, I’d found there was no point in resisting. Not only was it futile, but it often verged on fatal. She would have to figure this one out.
The man looked at me as if he wasn’t sure what to think anymore, the suspicion had faded, from what I could see, but like me maybe he was good at faking. What is his name, the intention was between us before I opened my mouth, “My name is Beckett,” I thrust my hand out and smiled wryly as if I too hadn’t chosen this but now that it was happening we might as well partake and figure out where the draw would lead?
“Weird name,” He grunted. “It fits.”
“Thanks, I like it too.” It hadn’t even occurred to me that this human might not like me. I liked him. He was interesting and hurting over something so deep it threatened to consume him completely. I’d never seen anything quite like it in my time here.
His eyes said a million things in loud voices, little vibrations that ranged all over the place. He was angry, unsure, yet so sure and seemed at peace about it. Such a wide range in such a smooth package. If I didn’t know better I wouldn’t have thought he was any different than anyone else. But he was…
“And you are?” I prompted.
“Leaving…” He stated resolutely. “Thank you for interrupting the best part of my day…” He got up to leave. I sat calmly watching him go and feeling slightly off the hook.
If you want me to chase him down, you’re mental. The thought crossed over my mind defiantly. The man hesitated at that same moment. His final step hovering over the pavement leading away from me and the ghostly gazebo. He turned his deep gaze back to me as if consenting to something he couldn’t quite explain. “How long do you plan on staying out in the dark?” He adopted a more paternal expression, looking out either way into the darkness as if there might be monsters bigger than us both.
I sink into the bench comfortably and shrug. “Not quite sure, I was just put out by an unfriendly stranger… I have a lot more life to contemplate thanks to you.” I smile playfully. I suddenly thought of cousin Peck, there are moments I miss his presence, usually its when I realize I’m doing something he would have done. In the fairy world, he had been a hero of mine.
The man reversed his step and looked up at me. “I’d feel more comfortable if you would let me walk you home.” I smiled more visibly at his sudden change of heart.
“Why would you do a thing like that?” I feigned innocent misunderstanding. “You were just about to leave me here,” I raised my hands as if to present the glorious structure to him before making eye contact again. “In this sorry, dark, little mouse trap to fend for… myself.” I raised an eyebrow as if questioning his motive.
Underneath the facade of distrust, I was beaming with excitement. This man might just be decent despite himself. I felt closer to the stranger than ever. As if regardless of what his answer was, I was bound and determined to like him. He was easily the least likable person on the surface. Which meant there was pure gold hiding within, protected from the torrent of life muck he’d encountered.
That’s what his ora was, I wasn’t confused by him suddenly, I was intrigued and curious but I knew the only way to draw him out would be to draw myself inward. He would have to convince me that he was the hero instead of another wolfy-hide I’d be forced to tan. It was late and I had stew in a crockpot… waiting… I took in a delicious breath remembering the smell of it.
The man waited, shrugged, and turned to walk away. I had seen him better in the light and his final expression had solidified the loyalty I felt toward him. I listened to his looming footsteps echoing with authority off the open space surrounding us. “Hey!” I called out, it sounded confident, reassuring, exactly the pitch that humans require to reconsider, think twice, draw toward…
It worked like a charm, he stopped and turned to look at me with a what do you want now, the pretend hostility had me smiling again. “If I go with you, can I know your name?”
He pulled his hands from his jacket pockets comfortable and slid them easily into his front jean pockets. “Sebastian.” My inner fairy shone free for a moment of mischief, “Weird name. It fits.” I mimicked his earlier expression. For the first time, he offered a rye smile.
I pushed myself from the bench top. It was a smile, it counted. He would learn to love me… I wouldn’t give him a choice, I was set on making him love himself. “Do you have a car here? I didn’t see any vehicles in the lot besides mine.” He watched me descend the stairs, I imagined for a moment that the stone steps covered in rushing water. “No, I walked here.” The sound of a flowing river echoed in my ears, I followed the ebbing feeling of ease toward my stranger.
“Do you have a death wish? Why the hell would you jump in a shark tank at feeding time?” He raised an eyebrow disapprovingly.
“That’s like, the third time you’ve repeated that same warning in the last ten minutes,” I said easily as I stopped right next to him. “What is so scary out there that I have to ruin my evening walk over it?” I put my hands on my hips loosely as we proceeded together thoughtfully. Through the quiet darkness interrupted only by the awful streetlamps.
I felt the desire to flinch as we drew closer to the bright illuminated parking lot.
He broke the silence with, “You not from around here are you?” and I laughed loudly at his observation. “You could say that.” He furrowed his brow but decided he didn’t care enough to pursue my mysterious lead. Good. “Where are you from?”
He blinked as if the question surprised him though he humored me with a response. “It’s hard to say, I’ve been everywhere.” He pulled his hands from the corner pockets of his jeans and dug in his jacket until I heard the jingling of keys.
“How long have you been here?” I walked instinctively toward the sleek black Challenger at the edge of the lot. “Nice Car by the way.” He liked beautiful things, that was a place to start. Maybe humans didn’t do it for him, but what they could build he still found enticing, I could see it in the way he looked at it.
I smiled forward.
“Thanks, I’ve been here… about five years now.” he seemed to loosen the muzzle all at once. I nodded my understanding through the headlights flashing us as he drew closer to the vehicle.
My curiosity spiked. “Wait… I didn’t see you hit a button.” He smiled and though he didn’t look at me when he released it I knew it was for me.
“She can sense when I am close.” He seems to have that affect more often than he realizes. The muse drifted at first, then it struck me as he lifted the key fob hiding in his pocket and shook it a bit.
I almost stopped in my tracks at the profound realization hidden within the simple statement. I looked hard at Sebastian, did he even realize what he’d said? Was he playing with me?
No way… He was focused on something bigger than me. An easy smile followed the awareness and let myself go. The final steps closed the gap between me and the metal beast. I felt so light I wasn’t sure the pavement even touched them. He was completely oblivious to the meaning I’d gathered from our conversation…
I pulled my sleeve over my bare fingertips and opened the latch enthusiastically, today hadn’t been a bust after all.
Which meant, Mother had finally reached me… A warm glow filled my heart.
Thank you, Mother… I thought, smiling across the car at the unwitting character I’d been lead too. He looked up accidentally smiling back before he could help himself. He turned the key and disappeared into the engine roar.
Finally, I had my direction…