Home > Better Words Than Mine, My Favorites > Day One Hundred and Thirty: Chosen

Day One Hundred and Thirty: Chosen

“God always has another custard pie up His sleeve”
– Lynn Redgrave

If the only thing that had happened to Eva that day was that she lost her job, she would have counted herself lucky. Well, not at that moment, certainly, but if she were told all the other things that the world was about to throw at her, she would have taken sudden unemployment as the godsend that it was.

Hell, if it had just been the job, her car being towed, her fiancee calling off the wedding and her cat running away – all within six hours of each other – she still would have counted her blessings and gone on to face the future with a spring in her step and a smile on her face.

It was the fairies.

They were something her grandmother had told her about when she was a child. “Eva,” she would say, usually in an accent that no one outside the family could understand. “When I was a little girl, we used to leave out milk for the fairies every night.” Grandma’s eyes would become misty, her accent would thicken, and Eva would start to wish her mother would let her go play Nintendo or something. “And we would leave a lump of bread by the front door so that they would watch over the house, and every little girl – and even your Nana was a little girl, little Eva – every little girl had to carry a lump of cheese in her pocket on her way home from school, or else the King of the Fairies might take her away to fairyland.”

As a child of the nineties, Eva wanted nothing to do with her grandmother’s fairies. She wasn’t even sure the kids back in whatever country her grandmother had come from even believed in them. For all she knew, the fairies were something her grandmother had pulled out of her dusty, decrepit brain.

Except that, as it turned out, they weren’t.

She got home close to midnight, very nearly too drunk to get the key in the door on the first try. She muttered to herself as she fumbled around in the dark, a stream of consciousness of invective that swayed from anger to self-pity to sorrow and back again as she dropped first her purse, then her coat, then her shoes on the floor. By the time she thought it might be a good idea to turn on the light, she bumped into the sofa, tripped, and was asleep by the time she landed on the cushions.

She was awakened by brain-stabbing rays of morning sunlight and the ugliest creature she’d ever seen, sitting on her chest.

For a moment, she peered at it through blurry, narrowed eyes. The thing grinned, which only made it uglier, and gave a brief wave.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Eva muttered, and went back to sleep.

When she woke up again, her head cracking in two and threatening to spill her brains out onto the floor, there were more of those things around her. They were perched on the sofa, on the bookcases, sitting on the dining table. One of them was playing with the pepper shaker. It cracked the top off, took a deep breath, and sneezed hard enough to knock it into the next room.

The things looked terrible, like her hangover come to life. They had leathery skin that was a dark blue, almost black, and uneven tufts of green hair on skulls that looked like they had been beaten into random shapes. They had noses that were either flat or bulbous or needly, and big eyes that popped out of their head so far that Eva was afraid she’d end up having to retrieve them from under the refrigerator at some point. They were mostly covered in greenish-brown fur, though some of them seemed to be wearing adornments made out of toothpicks and bottlecaps and whatever other garbage they could pick up. They had long, slender fingers, large, flat feet, and smelled like a basement.

One of the creatures, probably the one that had been sitting on her, waved again. It said, “Hi.”

Eva closed her eyes again and tried to settle back into the cushions. “Not here,” she said. “Not playing along.”

A moment later, there was a tapping on her skull, like a tiny fist was knocking very impatiently. “Ow,” she groaned.

“Hi,” the thing said again, and it resumed knocking. Each knock made Eva flinch and groan. Finally she turned over, and the little creature scampered to avoid falling on the floor. She levered herself up on her elbows and squinted around the room at the creatures that were diligently investigating everything about her living room. Another one of them looked at her, waved, and said, “Hi.”

Eva robbed her face. “If that’s all you things know how to say, I’ll just have to kill myself right now.”

The one that had been sitting on her shook its head. “No!” it said. “We can say lots of things.” It turned to its companions. “One, two, three, four!”

As if they had been ready for this, the things sitting on the back of the sofa jumped to their oversized and misshapen feet and started singing.

Hello, my baby

Hello, my darling

Hello my ragtime paaaaaal!

Send me a kiss by –

They scattered as Eva swept her arm across the back of the sofa, sending them all to the floor. “No!” she said, wrestling herself off of the sofa. “No, uh-uh, no. No.” She spun and pointed at one of them. “No.”

“No?”

“NO!”

The thing looked around at its comrades. “She said No.”

One of them stuck its head out from behind the stuffed bear she had bought at the airport in London a few years ago. “No?”

“Yeah!”

It screwed up its face. “But she can’t say no!”

“She said no.”

“But.. but she can’t!”

Eva hoped that going into the kitchen would make them go away, but they just followed in a tumbling, catastrophic mob. She reached for a mug, and a pair of little blue hands handed one to her. Another came over, struggling under the weight of a can of instant coffee, and a muffled yelling from inside the refrigerator revealed one of the things standing in the doorway with its cheeks bulging. A moment later, it spat out a stream of milk. “Black?” it asked.

She slammed the door shut.

The ones that had been arguing hopped up on the counter, still not sure if she had said no, or even if it was possible that she had. Eva ground her teeth while she waited for the water to boil, which didn’t help her hangover any. Finally, she gripped the edge of the counter and leaned on it, her eyes closed. “What,” she said quietly, “can’t I say no about?”

The little creatures silenced immediately, and all of them looked at her. The one who had done most of the talking so far – the one who woke her up – seemed at a loss for words. It looked around, and the other one – the one who had been arguing from behind the London bear – elbowed it in the ribs. It glared and rubbed its side, but then looked up at Eva. “You’re going to take care of us,” it said. “You have to.”

Eva stared at it long enough for the water to boil. Then she turned away, poured the water into her cup, and turned off the stove. She stirred her coffee, tapped the spoon off on the side of the mug and tossed it into the sink. She took a careful sip and closed her eyes in psychosomatic relief as the taste and smell of coffee told her that there, in that moment, everything would be okay.

Then she opened her eyes again and looked at the things in her kitchen, smiled brightly, and said, “No.” She reached into a cupboard and snatched a breakfast bar from a fuzzy pair of hands, and walked back into the living room.

The little creature watched her leave, then turned to the others. “But she can’t say no!” it wailed.

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