Edith and the Fairies

Here’s a short story I wrote a while back for a creative writing course, that was later published in the school literary magazine. I think it’s got just enough of a touch of horror and paranormal to fit in on this blog, so here you are!

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Image is the silhouette of a fairy in front of a full moon

Edith and the Fairies

Edith’s photo albums were the centerpiece of her table. The yellow post-its on their covers said ‘Open Me’, which intrigued her as it was her handwriting, but she didn’t remember writing it. She’d have to look at it during breakfast.

She put a plate of eggs and toast in her husband Howard’s place and set the newspaper out for him.

“Howard honey!” she called out. “Breakfast!”

A giggling sound like tinkling bells sounded from just behind her. Edith turned her head and smiled. It was one of her friends, an electric blue winged child no bigger than a human finger.

“Don’t you look lovely today, dearest,” Edith said with a smile. “Would you like some toast? I could make you some tea?”

The fairy covered its mouth to suppress a laugh and shook its head.

“Are you sure?”

Edith had known to be quiet about fairies all her life. After all, she’d seen her older sister carted off to an asylum for insisting she saw the pretty blue creatures. Edith never spoke of them for fear the same fate. She hadn’t even told Howard.

Where was that silly man of hers? He always loved eggs in the morning. Maybe he was in his study?

Like the good wife that she was, Edith transferred her husband’s breakfast onto a tray along with his newspaper. She got to the door, closed as usual. But something was different. Something smelled… rotten.

“Howard?” she said. “Are you in there? What is that awful smell?”

Edith pushed on the door, but something was stuck in the way. Her old bones creaked as she applied more pressure and forced it open. Stench rolled from the darkness like a plague, worse than anything she’d ever smelled.

“Howard, what on earth is–” Edith balanced her tray carefully using her knee to help, and flicked the switch on the all.

CRASH.

The breakfast fell from her hands, the plates shattered. Edith screamed in horror at the sight before her. The smell… was Howard. But how could this be? She’d only just brought him breakfast yesterday, yet he looked as if he’d been dead for a long, long time.

She took a step back, and her foot landed in something squishy. She looked down and saw a collection of broken ceramic plates, and their grotesque meals strewn about the floor. There were creatures living in the pungent piles – maggots, flies, and god only knew what else.

She had to get to the phone, call the police. Someone must have broken into their home. Someone had done this to her poor Howard.

Edith blinked back tears and stumbled out of the room, messy tray in hand. Blue creatures fluttered near her head.

“Howard’s dead,” she whispered to her friends. “My Howard, oh Howard…” The kitchen now. She could do this. She had to call someone. She put the tray in the sink and picked up the phone. Something breezed against her temples – the light, sweet touch of miniscule fingertips. Edith turned her head to see that the fairy had pulled something shiny from her skin. It sparkled like a grain of sand made from a diamond.

“Oh, how lovely! Where did you get that?” Edith clapped. The fairy shook its head playfully and stuffed its prize into a small pouch.

Edith looked down at her hand. Had she been on the phone with someone? Or was she trying to call someone? Hopefully someone had been calling her. People didn’t call nearly as often as they should, and it made her feel lonely. Especially her silly daughter. Now that she had moved out, it was if her dear parents who raised her meant nothing. The least the girl could do was drop by for a visit, maybe call every few days just to chat.

Something pinged.

What could that be? Edith wandered towards the noise and found it coming from her computer. A little icon appeared. Would she accept a call from Amber MacGregor? Who was Amber MacGregor? Why was there a phone picture on the computer? Curious, Edith slowly dragged the virtual pointer onto the phone symbol and clicked.

A young girl’s face lit up the screen and a smile exploded across Edith’s lips. “Charlotte! I was just thinking of you! How are you doing that?”

“Doing what?” her voice was tired as it drifted through the speakers.

“How are you in the TV?”

“Grandma, it’s not a TV. It’s skype. Remember, I helped set it up for you when I visited last Spring break?”

Edith couldn’t remember, but she wasn’t going to make a fool of herself by looking as if she’d forgotten. “Yes, yes, of course. Don’t call me grandma, girl, I’m much too young for that. You should call more often, Charlotte, it’s good to hear your voice! But, heavens, what is that you’ve gone and done to your hair?”

“It’s Amber. Charlotte’s your daughter. I’m her daughter. She said I should call to wish you a happy birthday since we can’t come down this year to visit.” Edith frowned. The voice wasn’t tired, she realized, it was bored. “I don’t see the point. You’re going to forget the moment I hang up. For once you could get my damn name right.”

“Language young lady!” Edith snapped.

“Yeah, whatever. Is Grandpa Howard there?”

She couldn’t have forgotten if she’d had a grandbaby, could she? This Amber did look so much like Charlotte… But Charlotte was so young to have a child! Had something happened?

“I, I’ll go check.”

Edith got up and went to her bedroom. Usually Howard would be napping there this late in the afternoon. Maybe he was in his study? Something there smelled awful, what was that crazy man up to?

She reached for the doorknob, and one of the fairies drifted in front of her, spinning and twirling like a ballerina. She smiled. “I wish I were as beautiful as you.”

The fairy touched her head and pulled a sliver of a diamond from her, then put it into the pouch at its waist.

“What is that you have there?”

It shook its head and put a finger to its lips as if to say, “Shhh, it’s a secret!” Edith laughed a little and strolled back towards the kitchen. A bright light caught her attention – a TV. It had the words ‘connection lost’ on its screen. Pity, Edith did love a good television show. I Love Lucy was particularly fun.

What was she doing? Edith paused. Was she going anywhere?

She turned to the blue creature. “You don’t happen to remember why I walked over here, do you?” It shrugged. “No, of course not. Sorry to bother you.”

I should make some tea, she thought. Tea is always wonderfully soothing.

Edith reached the kitchen and filled the kettle with water, then set it to boil on her stovetop and sat at her table to wait. Oh, breakfast was set out for her! Eggs, toast, coffee. Howard must have done it for her, how thoughtful of him. She began to eat.

Her eyes drifted up from her plate and landed on a stack of photo albums with a little handwritten note. “Open Me.” Might as well, since Howard seemed to have taken the paper. Edith opened the one on the top and smiled. The first picture was her wedding. She’d loved that dress and its high collar, puffy sleeves. It had made her feel so elegant. So regal.

She flipped further. Charlotte’s baby pictures, how adorable! Polaroid pictures of the family at the park, the beach, on picnics. Each one Charlotte grew taller in. And there she was in a cap and gown. University of something or other. Then… another wedding?

Edith felt cold crawl through her fingertips up to her spine and her skull. Charlotte’s wedding to a strange man. For a moment Edith wondered if she hadn’t been invited, but then she saw it. She and Howard were standing smiling next to another set of parents and the happy couple. Charlotte was married?

She flipped faster through the pictures. Charlotte with her husband. Charlotte pregnant. Charlotte with a baby girl. Edith holding the baby girl.

Something screamed behind her and she jumped as she became aware of the hissing steam.

The tea!

Edith shut her book and rushed to get the kettle from the stove.

But something was slimy on the bottom of her house slippers. Faster than Edith could blink, she found herself staring up at the ceiling. At a fan going round and round and round.

The blue fairy, her constant companion, landed next to her. Its feet dipped into a puddle of dark liquid, then it jumped up to rest on her chest, leaving tiny prints where its feet touched cloth.

Edith tried to open her mouth to ask it for help, but the noises didn’t work right. Her head hurt too much to focus on making noises.

The fairy knelt down and placed its delicate hand over Edith’s heart and pulled a diamond grain from her body. The world slowed. She could hear every heartbeat, was intensely aware of every sharp intake of air. Of each and every single one of the molecules of oxygen filling her lungs. Sound dulled, as if she were underwater. A clock ticking somewhere lasted longer between each tick. And now, the world sluggish to her as it was to the fairies, she could understand it.

“Come with us,” it whispered. Edith looked at the blinking little wings. They shimmered, like dragonfly wings. She’d never noticed how intricate they were. Like lace.

More blue fairies leaped around her head. Where had they come from? There had never been so many. Edith looked closer and realized, they had always been there. The world had just been too fast for her to see them except when they slowed down just for her.

“Come with us,” the voice came again, followed by an echoing chorus. “Come with us, come with us, come with us.”

“I want to come with you,” Edith breathed. “I’ve wanted nothing more my whole life than to come with you.”

The fairies danced for joy, and glittering fairy dust poured over Edith’s eyes as the last gasp of breathe left her.

A petite blue figure crawled out of the mouth of an old lady’s corpse and stretched its lacy wings. It smiled at the sight of its brothers and sisters and gleefully frolicked into the air with them, forgetting everything from the life it had once had so that it could twirl in bliss forever. 

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