Six and a half years ago I stood by, shrieking, while a dark fairy transformed my then-boyfriend, Finn, into a hobgoblin. I didn't even try to save him.
“That’ll teach you, human, not to stare at what isn’t yours.” Then the fairy disappeared into a swirl of green and black dust along with its beautiful companion. The one I’d been admiring.
Before that incident, I was a foolish teenager who knew everything and dated bad-boys. I’ve since learned humans have nothing on the fae when it comes to bad.
At first, I rationalized Finn might enjoy his new life as a hobgoblin. When the imps came to collect him, I bid farewell with a minimum of guilt.
Three months after Finn changed, a pixie approached me. I tried to ignore her, as I do with all the little people. It was late December.
Finn isn’t the only one cursed. I’m one of those unfortunate humans born on December 25th to a mother with the same birthday. Seeing the fae is my curse. I see them sticking out their tongues, tangling Christmas lights, souring milk and tormenting small animals. If they notice that I notice, it gets worse. They love an audience.
The pixie glared up at me, tiny fists on hips. “Hey you. Wendy. I know you can see me. Finn told me.”
“How is he? Enjoying a life of carousing?” I laughed.
She shook her pretty blonde head and kicked me in the ankle. “Finn thinks far too highly of you. You’re an idiot. Not only is he miserable, but Krampus is about to make an example of him.”
The pixie gestured impatiently. “Cousin to St. Nick. You know, Santa. I assume you at least know who that is. Krampus is the black sheep in their family.”
Fairy tale, I thought, but wisely kept my mouth shut. Instead, I nodded.
The pixie continued. “Krampus is an ugly creep with cloven feet who likes to rattle chains and beat children with birch sticks. The imps help. He’s their king. In other words, Finn’s boss.”
“Oh.” I didn’t know what else to say.
“You got him into this mess.” The pixie’s face flushed red. “You can at least try to get him out before they finish transporting him to prison. Grab something high in protein and come on. There’s no time to waste.”
Against my better judgement, I complied.
She led me down several dark, snowy alleys and I’d begun to fear a trap when we turned a corner into a dead end.
“Shhh.” The pixie held a finger to her lips and pointed into the shadow of a metal dumpster. “Our luck, the guards are asleep.”
Two portly imps clad in purple livery lay slumped and snoring against the brick wall. Less than a foot away, a hobgoblin wagon was hitched to a pair of black sewer rats. Their beady eyes roved and their twitching noses made me want to climb on top of the dumpster.
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Henry Wilson finished his book, stood up and shuffled over to the bookshelves which took up more than half the wall of his library. He carefully slid the book back in its place, then stepped over to the window. It was dusk. A light snow was falling. Christmas lights bordered the windows of the building across the street. “Silent Night" wafted up from a shop below.
Christmastime always made Henry think of his father. He remembered walking with him on the sidewalks near their apartment on the Lower East Side when he was a boy. It was a Christmas Eve tradition. His father stuffed a roll of singles into Henry's coat pocket. When they would come across someone who looked down on his luck, his father would nod, and Henry would reach into his pocket, pull out a dollar bill and hand it to the person, wishing him a Merry Christmas.
Henry's father was a man of modest means. It took him all year to save those dollar bills. But giving them away fit with his philosophy. He had brought it with him from Ireland.
“Strive to give away all you own,” he would often tell his young son, “lest it own you.”
Poem of the Week
who have experienced
on a large
i tell raif
i think my
might be dead
haven't seen her
& her car hasn't moved
for two weeks.
you would smell it
passing me a plate
of triangular shaped bread
slathered in jam.
Story of the Week
DARLEEN SQUEELED into the empty spot as soon as the gleaming white Mercedes pulled out. "We got lucky," she told Montana. "Even on a Monday night, this lot is killer."
Montana rolled her big blue eyes. "Whatever."
The eleven year old had better things to do, like text her friends. Incessantly, as if she had a tic. The kid hadn't wanted to shop tonight, but Darleen insisted. This was their first Christmas without Paulie and the girls needed to stick together. Darleen's ex had been nasty lately and mediation had hit a cement wall. Montana wasn't aware how dangerously close they were to losing access to Paulie's vast and unreported wealth.
Montana sighed dramatically as she yanked open the door of the Porsche Cayenne and tumbled out. She didn't pause in her texting.
Darlene checked her face in the rearview mirror. The most recent fat transfer had been wildly successful. She loved her new lips. Grabbing her Gucci bag, she hopped out of the front seat.
Her daughter trailed her into the mall, thumbs flashing on her phone keypad.