Picking Up the Pieces
1199 words long
They don't do anything in secret. They count on us to let them get away with it. They know we don't have any choice.
Notes from the author:
The phrase this one started with was, "Golf is never secret." I'm not sure where it came from. It probably showed up while I was on my way to sleep.
The fae showed up a long time before that. I've got a novel in progress about them, Iron Wheels its current working title. In writing a romance between a high school roller derby queen and an underappreciated changeling girl (changelings being quite low on the faerie hierarchy), I had to answer questions such as, why do the fae steal human infants and leave changelings in their place? Why would they go undercover in a Wyoming high school? What kind of relationship do faeries, on the whole, have with humanity?
The answer is, as it turns out, "It varies."
The fae incursion here bears little resemblance to that going on in the fictional Wyoming town in which Iron Wheels is set. For which the characters in that novel-to-be would be grateful, if they knew.
The police investigation was a farce. It's not like I was the only potential witness. A golf course is a great place to tell secrets, but it's pretty lousy for doing things in secret. All that wide green lawn and hardly a tree to hide behind? No. They're goddamned exhibitionists, the fae. They love to make us watch the things they do that we don't want to see. And we are so very good at not wanting to see.
We lie to ourselves about it. We watch a teenage boy turn into a jungle cat on hole twelve and savage the caddy, and we say to each other, "Where'd that tiger come from?" And when we see a young, intelligent college actress with a life of brilliance ahead of her ripped apart before our very eyes, we don't say anything at all, not until the dryad and the minotaur have gotten bored with thwacking golf balls into what's left of their victim and have safely wandered away. Then the police come out of their hidey-holes, then the forensic unit arrives on the scene, then everyone says, "What monster could have done such a thing to this poor girl?"
Cowards. We're all cowards. We watch it happen, but we tell ourselves we didn't, because if we said anything else we might be next. So the fae continue to move among us, blatant and vicious and unrelenting.
It wasn't really her name, Griselda. She never told me what her parents actually named her, but it wasn't that. Who names their kid "Griselda" these days? She started calling herself that when she got into theater. What she really wanted to call herself was Grizabella, a role she'd always fantasized about playing--"I can sing, but I can't dance, so it's either her or playing Doots in drag." But the required make-up would have broken her out in hives. And the theater club would never have that kind of budget. And she couldn't convincingly carry off the name, not in real life.
So she settled for Griselda, and her theater friends called her Grizz, Grizzy, Grizzly Bear, and Grizzle. They called her Greymalkin and Éminence Grise. And in the end it was the moral grays that killed her, the shades we invented when the fae began entertaining themselves with us. It's not that anyone denies it's wrong to kill, it's wrong to murder, it's wrong to abandon a human child to supernatural slavery. It's that we learned that maybe, just this once, it might be wise to look the other way.
We'd barely arrived on the course. I wasn't prepared. I'd known something horrible was going to happen--my flesh had been creeping and crawling all day, and besides, the fae almost always do something horrible--but I honestly thought it wouldn't happen until the last hole....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for January 16, 2015. The fictionette appears in its entirety (1199 words) at Patreon and is available to all Patrons pledging at least $1/month.
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