Friday, August 16, 2019

#FridayFlash - Homesick

Maxine closed her apartment door and let her shoulders slump. Weary beyond words, she leaned against the barrier that kept the outside world at bay. Neighbor kids yelled as they played, a dog barked incessantly, and a car honked; all muted by the door but not silenced.

Heaving a sigh, she shoved away from the door. Maxine slowly shed her clothes, the loss of each layer giving her a sense of freedom, like a massive weight lifted. Constrictive and binding, she had to wear them, no matter how much she hated dressing like everyone else.

Finally free, finally bare, a lightness returned to her step. Still tired, at least she was comfortable. Spreading her wings, Maxine smiled and stretched. It was good to be home.

Home.

Loneliness and sorrow filled her, making her heart ache. Maxine drooped again, iridescent wings trailing on the floor. Too long had she been here, surrounded by mortals, forced to hide her nature and pretend to be one of them.

Maxine sighed and shuffled to the bedroom. She wasn't due to make a report for another three weeks, but she needed to see her own kind. She could afford to use the little bit of magic she had to activate the mirror. It would mean doing without until the new moon, but the sadness would drive her crazy before next contact.

She set the mirror upon her bed, propped against the headboard, then made herself a cozy nest out of her pillows and blankets. Maxine traced all the activation runes except the final one. Did she really need to do this?

A baby wailed next door, the high-pitched sound resonating across her nerves.

Her cousin's image appeared in the mirror, brows drawn together. "Are you all right?" Darlene's wings fluttered behind her head, hair dancing and sparkling.

Maxine sighed, tears stinging her eyes, and forced a smile. "I'm fine. I just..." She wiped at her eyes, unable to speak.

"Oh, honey." Darlene moved closer. A wave of warm love and support emanated from her mirror, like an invisible hug. Maxine's wings lifted slightly, and her shoulders loosened.

"It's harder than they said." Maxine finally spoke, opening her eyes. "I mean, humans are way thicker-headed than any of the training suggested. It's almost like they're trying to ignore the magic of the Otherworld, let alone the magic of their own world. It's just so..." She shrugged, unable to express her frustration.

Darlene gave a sad little pout. "Do you want to come home? I'm sure someone else could take your place."

Maxine sighed, gave her cousin a smile. Darlene was still in the Otherworld because she had children. One of the few fertile faeries left, so she was too important to risk in the human world.

Unlike Maxine.

"No. It's important that I stay here, that I return as much magic as I can." Someone had to help; more magic meant more baby faeries. "But if one more human bumps into me without apologizing, I'm going to dust them to within an inch of their life."

Darlene cracked a smile, then gave a chuckle. "Start letting their shadows loose?"

Maxine laughed, her worries slipping away. "Join up with some Red Caps and test one of their all-you-can-eat buffets." Her wings lifted, tinkled as she flapped them twice.

"Lick all their ice cream." Darlene's laugh grew in volume, her mirth causing the mirror to vibrate.

"Pay for lost teeth with candy bars." Maxine could bare control herself, stress fading as she made light of her situation.

They spoke for another hour, until the magic could no longer hold the mirror open. Maxine put everything away with an unburdened heart.

Tomorrow was a new day. She would do her part to return magic to this world and be happy to do so.

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