Spring Once Again vs Horticulture

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

~Margaret Atwood, “Bluebeard’s Egg”

If I weren’t a confirmed and *certified Brown Thumb, I might agree with the above quote. I don’t mind the smell of dirt (earth that is); however, it’s the planting of the seeds and then the maintaining of the little sproutlings that trips me up. I’m just no good at it. Since I have other skills (I make a mean lasagna), I do not let it get me down.

When it comes to flowers my preference are of the wild variety. Yeah, just let them sprout wherever they darn well please and grow at their own particular pace. Where do those wildflowers come from? I thought about it. And yes, I do realize there are science thingies called biology and horticulture. “Horticulture,” sounds a little snooty, doesn’t it? But that isn’t why it doesn’t interest me. No offense to any of you horticulturists out there (reading my blog?? Hah!), it just doesn’t interest me.  You may not have noticed, but I am much more fantasy, rather than science, orientated. So, I came up with my own version of what happens at spring.

You can find my tale on the Halloween Artist Bazaar site. Click on this link and it will take you straight to the short story “Spring Once Again.” Enjoy!

*Or was that certifiable? Ah well. Doesn’t really matter, does it?

Creepy Bunny Banner

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Halloween Artist Bazaar is hosting a fabulous giveaway for the spring. The winner will receive a package of indie artisan handcrafted collectibles worth over $200. You can sign up for FREE by clicking on the image below:

Halloween Artist Bazaar...we're not just for Halloween anymore (or ever)

Halloween Artist Bazaar…we’re not just for Halloween anymore (or ever)

Sleepy Blue Stars and Fiddler

Recently, I was asked to write a winter’s tale for the artist group of which I’m proud to be a member: Halloween Artist Bazaar. I decided to write a twist(ed) on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and titled my piece “‘Twas the Eve Before Fiddler-The-Cat.”

Fiddler is Halloween Artist Bazaar’s mascot and his image is our leader, Twilight Faerie’s creation. The perfect mascot for our group, Fiddler is dark and mysterious, playful, and oh-let’s-just-say-it: adorable. Fiddler came to life through Twilight’s fair hand, and as soon as she told me his name it seems that he has had much to impart. This tale may only be the beginning…

I enjoyed writing this short story so much that it inspired me to create the following piece “Three Sleepy Blue Stars.”

“Blue stars,” you ask?

Yep. Blue.

Three Sleepy Blue StarsIK

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Halloween Artist Bazaar is hosting another fabulous giveaway for the Winter Holidays. The winner will receive a package of independent artisan handcrafted ornaments, jewelry, and other holiday fare worth over $200. You can sign up for FREE by clicking on the image below:

WinterGiveAway

Best of luck to you and whatever holidays you celebrate may you thoroughly enjoy yourself!

Crooked Elf

 There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.

He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile.

He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

~ English Nursery Rhyme, There was a Crooked Man 

There once was a Crooked Elf who went by the name Kwissp E. Ceen. Not crooked in mind or deed, but in the spirit of the Bent, Slightly Twisted and Extremely Strange. He enjoyed many activities: walking crooked miles; finding crooked pennies to spend on smooshed glazed doughnuts or other irregular sweets; cataloging, archiving, and photographing all things crooked, bizarre and outlandish; getting lost in gardens and hothouses; and most especially playing hide-and-go-seek with his honorable friend, the most crooked and fluffy cat, Mimsy Poole.

Being a great appreciator of gardens, of course Kwissp tended to get lost in them. While rambling down some road or another he’d come across someone’s garden or hothouse and would be so enchanted by the sights and scents that he’d forget everything else. It always fell to Mimsy to find and bring him back home in order that he could get her supper and on occasion, a bit of catnap. This arrangement suited both of them. On one such day of rambles, Kwissp happened upon the garden belonging to Quentin the Vampire Botanist. And of course, he had never seen the like!

Magnificent flowers burst out of the ground in such a variety and a multitude of colors that Kwissp eyes crossed with delight. And what interesting flowers these were! Many of them had tiny vampire teeth or tiny vampire claws and some had both. How completely unexpected! How wonderfully, amazingly peculiar! And oh! He spotted a large conservatory. Imagine what might be growing in there! Like cream to pudding, he found himself deliciously drawn to the structure. Though he knew it was horribly impolite, he couldn’t help pressing his face to the glass and peering inside. Luckily Mimsy came to his rescue, for although she did share Kwissp’s admiration for gardens (what better place to take a well-deserved nap than under a lavender bush?), she couldn’t bear to see such an egregious breach of courtesy. Doing her cat best (which is infinitely better than a human’s), she urged him to knock on the owner’s door and gain permission to photograph, document, and classify each wondrous flora.

This could have turned out badly and may have even been the end of Kwissp. Quentin isn’t a social vampire, by any means. At best, he’s a recluse. At worse? Well, at worst let’s just say one should count themselves lucky indeed should they manage to even crawl away (with most body parts intact) from an encounter with Quentin. The only company he enjoys is that of his plants. Anyone or anything else is merely a nuisance…or lunch. Most fortunate for our crooked elf friend, it turned out that Quentin took a liking to him. This might be explained by their mutual affection and respect for plants. However, it didn’t hurt that the elf’s complexion was green as the leaves on the medicinal herb Groomwell. This could also mean that the Vampire Botanist may have devious (are there any other kind?) plans for Kwissp’s future.

I met Kwissp while sitting on a bench daydreaming in Quentin’s garden (I too, am allowed entry. Long story). He startled (nearly) the life out of me popping his little green face out of the orange, pink and golden tangle of some licorice vines (a new experiment of Quentin’s and exceptionally pretty). After I managed to get my heart out of my throat and back into my chest where it belongs, I asked if he minded that I sketch him. “Not a problem,” he says, “just so long as I can continue documenting these plants.” Since this bothered me not in the least, I sketched away. I think I captured his creepily soulful eyes quite well.

Contrary Mary

Mary, Mary quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells,

And so my garden grows.

~English Nursery Rhyme “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Contrary Mary loved her garden and never wanted to be parted from it. Unless she was eating supper or sleeping, everyone knew that if they wanted to see Contrary the only way was to tromp around behind her cottage where they’d find her amongst the ferns, freesia, and feverfew. “Plants are much better than people and flowers far more beautiful,” she could often be heard to say. Her neighbor Quentin could not agree more.

Contrary did not care if it were a rainy a day. She would still spend hours in her garden, tending and babying her flowers, lucky ladies that they were. Far too busy snipping, trimming, mulching, and talking, she never bothered to protect herself from the elements. Daily her mother cried and wrung her hands while her father railed bitter warnings that she would catch her death. Contrary gave not a hoot and did as she pleased, day after day. Her parents should have known their counsel would be to no avail. They named her, did they not?

On that gloomiest of mornings when she fell quite ill, no one was really surprised it had happened, though it was sad none-the-less. The worst was to hear Contrary begging, “Do not part me from my garden, I care for naught else.”  No one could figure out how to get her bed out into the garden, so they settled on moving it to the back door, which they left wide open. Not the best of plans, leaving her exposed in this manner, but her pleas were so tearful. Contrary made all of them promise: father, mother, and older brother to bury her in her garden after she died. Her love was too great to be parted from it. It was her last wish and of course they could not refuse.

All fine and good, but Contrary happened to be admired quite secretively, by Quentin the Vampire Botanist who lived just down the road and across the way. He had long loved and admired her from afar. Viciously, he cursed his lack of fortitude, which caused him to delay and now never to tell her how he truly felt. If he had, she could be by his side, as his “Bella Vampress il Fiore” (when in a romantic mood, Quentin always thinks in Italian).  Unwilling to let her go, Quentin came up with an idea. Beware of ideas, my friend, for although some of these are quite grand, others can be just as easily quite tragic.

Utilizing his botanical science and his vampire magic, he infused her spirit with the fertile soil of her garden.

Now amongst all Quentin’s creature creations Contrary Mary’s ghost sprouts up in various guises and incarnations. She seems fond of changing her ectoplasmic outfits, as well as her hairstyle on a daily basis. What’s a lady ghost to do? She no longer has need for shoes.

As her name suggests, although she now can spend eternity with her beloved garden Contrary is, to put it mildly, annoyed with Quentin’s arbitrary decision to trap her essence this way. She expresses her annoyance in the only way available to her: by sprouting tiny thorns all over her stems. No one dare pick her, not even Quentin.

You may well wonder, if Contrary is a ghost why hasn’t she escaped? She can’t. Not yet. But if you witness the various expressions that move sometimes violently across her tiny ghost face, it’s not difficult to imagine that she’s working on it. And when she succeeds, which could be any day, I really wouldn’t want to be Quentin. Would you?

Inspired by the nursery rhyme, I drew Contrary Mary with a fine-tipped, black marker and then painted her using acrylics. Her story? After I finished painting her, she told it to me.

The Itch at the Back of My Throat

It started as an itch at the back of my throat. No big deal. Plenty of people get the occasional itchy throat. Nothing to worry about, really. In a matter of a few days, the itch turned into a cough. Again, nothing to get hung up on. Plenty of people cough, too. I hear them all the time, in the office, over the phone, riding the bus, and on television advertising cough syrup or night-time knock out juice. Who cares? I became rather obsessed with this cough I had developed though, and the itching sensation returned and intensified. Logical enough, all this coughing was causing a rawness, which can make one feel quite itchy, right? Natural as all this might be, it does not put one into a slumber conducive state. As a result, I was not getting much sleep, and this was causing me to feel just a bit wacky, as well as mildly psychotic.

Did I go to the doctor? Of course not. I hate doctors. All those white coats, cold stethoscopes, and superior attitudes. Forget it. So, I did not go to a doctor, the itching sensation was getting worse, and the cough was sounding somewhere between the bark of a walrus and the bray of donkey. This could not be good. Yet, besides these two symptoms, there were no other ill effects. Until I felt the lump. This also seemed natural enough, given the fact that I had been doing all this coughing my throat was swollen. The lump felt heavy and full somehow. Shaving the next morning, I necessarily looked at my appearance in the mirror. My throat was wider, the Adam’s apple stuck out, just a little bit more than usual. Or was that my imagination? I tried to shrug it off, but found myself horrifyingly fascinated. As I continued to stare at my reflection, I could feel the lump rising in my throat. I stared more intently, and yes, there was a lump swimming upwards beneath the flesh and sinew of my neck. It rose up into my mouth, and I spat it out onto the surface of my glaringly white porcelain sink.

It did not stop there. I spat regularly after that, only the spittle wasn’t yellowish, greenish, or even, horror of horrors, red. No, my spittle came in array of vibrant colors: tangerine, chartreuse, turquoise, beryl, and violet, among others. I wasn’t spitting up all these colors at once, mind you, just one color at a time…at least not at first. Was I going to complain about this? These were beautiful colors to be sure, just not the sort one expects to spit up. Now was definitely the time to go see a doctor, but what kind of doctor to see? It was a toss up between a throat specialist, an optometrist, or a psychiatrist.

The great thing was that the coughing had stopped, and even the itching had subsided. However, at work it was getting more difficult to explain the numerous bathroom trips to my boss. I certainly could not sit at my desk and spit hot pink into a hankie. People might notice. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, perhaps I might get a date or two out of it. Yeah, a date with a weird chick, the kind that goes for guys who spit up periwinkle. I have to say, I was beginning to wig, just a tad.

Admittedly, the variety of colors that were spewing out of me gave me some interesting moments. I decided to expand my art appreciation. I walked down to the local art supply store and bought a load of canvasses. Although this may sound more than indelicate, I kept a fresh canvass at my beside. When I awoke during the night, as I so frequently did these days, and felt the urge to spit, I did it right onto the canvass. In the morning, I woke up to many an interesting painting. I suppose my art would be considered ‘modern’ being that no one, including myself (the “artist”), would have the first clue as to what the hell the painting was supposed to be. Rather than “modern” though, I like to think of my nighttime forays into the world of art as interpretative…or body art. Only instead of art on the body, this was art from the body. Perhaps I was on to something here, maybe I had found myself a new career. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a painter that spit out at his canvasses. Even if there was such an artist, they would always know what color they would be spitting out, being that they would have put the paint into their mouth to begin with. Whereas I did not have the slightest notion of what color was going to be coming out of me. Certainly, that in itself must be worthy of some artistic notoriety.

My one bedroom apartment, small by even gnome standards, was now crammed with my “artistic creations” and I was no closer on figuring out what was going with me. A month had gone by and I had not shared my problem with anyone. A debate was still raging within me as to what type of doctor I should consult, if any. I was beginning to consider alternative medicine, an herbalist perhaps, an acupuncturist, or even a shaman. Except I live in Hollywood, California, and forget about all those tales you hear about my town, we are in short supply of shamans. Clearly, I was getting desperate to even consider looking for a shaman. The colors coming out of me were becoming more fascinating, and my throat seemed no longer content with spewing out one color at a time. There were now a multitude of extraordinary lively shades expelling forth from my rather ordinary looking mouth.

There was no taste to these colors, except maybe a mild sweetness. I had also noted that the colors did not wish to be mixed with one another. How can I explain this? I attempted to blend the different shades of spittle on a canvass, and they would not blend. Odd because they have the consistency of oil paints, slippery and smooth, but they would not blend. However, I was able to create some rather stunning colorful spirals, hot turquoise spinning through peaceful lavender, riotous pink swirling through staid navy. I was playing with my own saliva, terrified that I would wake up one morning and find myself surrounded by blank, but sticky, canvasses. I needed an outsider’s perspective.

I invited one of my neighbors over to my apartment that evening, for a casual cup of tea and a cookie taste-testing. What could be more benign? There is a charming, elderly woman who lives across the hall from me. Mrs. Scullane was completely risk-free, and I believe originally from Ireland, because she spoke with a soft burr. I helped her carry in her purchases from time to time, and she seemed to think I was a ‘nice young man.’

“Hello, Mrs. Scullane. I was wondering if you might be available this evening? I need a guinea pig to try out a new cookie recipe on. Yeah, I’ve been experimenting with several variations and I need an expert’s opinion. Of course I’ll brew up some tea. Excellent, see you then.”

An odd hobby for a twenty-eight year old man, cookie baking. What can I say? I find it relaxing.

I positioned all my canvasses about my miniscule dining area. Side-by-side along the counter, even hanging a few, and one that was particularly colorful I sat neatly on small easel directly on my table. The cookies were baked, the tea was brewing, and as they say in show biz, the stage was set. I was completely calm, until I heard the light rap on my door. A bolt of panic shot into my gut. What am I doing? I am going to gross-out poor, harmless Mrs. Scullane. From now on, rather than referring to me as that “nice young man” that lived across the hall, I would instead be that “very strange young man,” or perhaps that “really vulgar young man” that lived across the hall.

I must find out though, I have to know if I’m just imagining all these colorful canvasses, or if they do exist. She will comment, one way or another, and then I will know. With that, I opened the door,

“Hey there, Mrs. Scullane. How are you?”

“Just fine,” she said in her usual cheerful manner.

“Please, come in and have a seat.”

I ushered her into my compact dining area, determined to not make reference to any of my canvasses. I pulled out a chair for her, careful to not even glance in the direction of the “painting” that was placed on the table. I heard her sharp intake of breath, but dared not chance looking at her and hurried into the kitchen to procure our refreshments.

“Be right back,” I called out as pushed through the kitchen door.

Prior to Mrs. Scullane’s arrival I had prepared a tray of cookies and tea. Waiting a few beats before taking it out to her, I listened at the doorway. What was I listening for? A shriek, perhaps? Or the sound of my front door slamming as Mrs. Scullane left my apartment? I waited a few more seconds, but heard nothing.

“Crimmeny sticks, she’s gone and had a heart attack,” I muttered while wild images danced in my head. My call to the police, ‘my neighbor just had a heart attack in my apartment.’ The officers arriving, taking one look at my nasty canvasses and then placing me in shackles, handcuffs, or whatever.

I know myself well enough to know that there is only a limited amount of hours in the day that I can keep my feet on the ground. I have what is often referred to viciously as a “vivid imagination.” It is as though there is some sort of crime connected to being the possessor of an imagination, and having a “vivid” one is enough to send you away to the deepest and darkest of holes for life. That being said, I was afraid I was having one of those moments now, and perhaps had been for the last month. Mrs. Scullane was probably sitting at my table wondering why she was surrounded by blank canvasses, nothing more. If this was the case, I knew exactly what I would say to her. ‘I’m thinking of taking up art as a hobby, and thought I should place canvasses around me in order to get a feel for them.’ Not bad, and that didn’t sound too insane.

Grasping the tray of cookies and tea as though it were my true and only hold on reality, I exited the kitchen.

“Here we are,” I set the tray down. Hesitantly, I glanced over at Mrs. Scullane, and was quite unprepared for the expression of sheer horror on her face. Was it that bad? Gently, I laid a hand on her shoulder,

“Mrs. Scullane?”

She jerked away from me, and her look of horror changed to one of outrage,

“How could you? What kind of man are you?”

“Um, better than most, worse than some?” I offered hopefully.

Mrs. Scullane then gave me a look of such unguarded rage, I stepped back from her. Hey, anyone can be dangerous, even seemingly risk-free, charming elderly women. Remember ‘Arsenic and Old Lace?’ I rest my case.

“Worse than most, uh, better than some?” Again, I offered hopefully.

“You’re a murderer!” She accused.

Hmm, I didn’t expect that one. What exactly was on these canvasses of mine? I had to know.

“What um, brought you to that conclusion, Mrs. Scullane? Is it something you uh, see in this room?”

“You have the blood of fairies all around here and you ask me that? How could you? Have you no heart?”

Blood of,

“What?”

She grabbed the small canvass from the table and waved it in front of my face,

“This is the blood of fairies, many fairies, I would gather. Why would you do such a thing?”

Most men might laugh this all off, and think something along the lines of ‘crazy old bat, what is she going on about?’ However, I am the possessor of the aforementioned, dismaying, ‘vivid imagination.’

“I assure you, if this is the blood of fairies, I had no mind to kill them. I wouldn’t even know how I would have done it.”

“It looks like you chewed them up and spit them out.”

Uh-oh. Could I actually be munching on wee fairies without my conscious knowledge? Since she seemed to know what she was talking about, I decided to ask her,

“Would it be possible to do such a thing and be completely unaware of it?”

“Oh, you mean an unconscious habit like biting your nails or clicking your jaw?”

Being relatively astute in these matters, I sensed sarcasm. Putting on my best expression of I-really-am-not-a-heartless-fairy-killer,

“Actually, yes. Isn’t that at all possible?”

She stared at me a moment, while I held my breath. Then she sat down, poured herself a cup of tea, and took a sip. It appeared she was taking my question seriously. I took a chance, and sat across from her,

“Look, I don’t even know if I believe in fairies. I am taking it on faith, that what you are telling me is the truth and that you believe that these canvasses of mine are smeared with fairies’ blood. The fact is I’m desperate. I don’t know what is going on right now, and I am open to whatever information you can give me.”

She studied me sharply, and again, I held my breath.

“Perhaps you had better tell me what’s been going on.”

I expelled my breath with no small amount of relief, and began,

“Nearly a month ago I felt this strange itching sensation at the back of my throat. The itch turned into a horrible cough, and then I just began spitting up all these colors. I thought the colors were so beautiful, that I decided to, uh, paint them on a canvass. That’s why I invited you over. I thought that you would comment on the canvasses one way or another, and then I would know.”

“Know what?”

“Mrs. Scullane, until today, I wasn’t even certain if these colors I was seeing were real.”

She cocked her head,

“You really had no idea?”

“None. I mean, I was of course hoping I had not somehow completely lost my mind.”

“When do you,” she hesitated and frowned. “That is, what time of the day do you find yourself with the urge to spit?”

“The first few days after the coughing ceased it was nearly all day long. I had to call in sick at my work. Now, it seems confined mostly to night time.”

“When you lay down to go to sleep?”

“While I am asleep,” and ran a hand through my hair in frustration. “I haven’t been getting much sleep.” To my utter horror, I felt tears began to well up in my eyes.

“So, you did not intend to kill the fairies. You’re not a fairy killer?”

I moaned the word,

“No!”

“Oh, you poor, dear boy,” she said with the deepest of sympathy, got up and gave me a hug. “Not to worry. No harm has actually been done.”

“What do you mean?”

“These fairies aren’t actually dead. Every one of them will be put to rights soon enough.”

Huh?

“Huh?”

“You cannot kill a fairy unless it is your intention to do so. If we could, well, fairies would be turning up dead all the time. Most people cannot see them at all, and wind up stepping on them and squashing them. This does happen quite a lot. But you see, fairies cannot die unless there is intent to kill them.”

“That’s good to know; however, it does not solve my problem. Why am I coughing up fairies to begin with?”

She looked at me, surprise clearly registering,

“Oh. Well, I have no idea why that is happening. You’ll have to wait for these fairies to revive. Hopefully, one of them may be able to explain it.”

Hopefully?

“And about how long do you think this will all take?”

Mrs. Scullane, all smiles now, shrugged,

“I have no idea.”

“What?”

“Well,” she picked up one of my crisp circular cookies and bit into it. Her face lit up, “Oh, these are very good. What do you call them?”

“Cookies,” I said flatly. I tried to hold my impatience in check, but could feel the throb of a mean headache coming on, “Mrs. Scullane, please, help me out here. Can’t you take a guess?”

“Hmm,” she took another sip of tea. “If I had to guess, I would say a few hours to a few days.”

I released a pent-up breath. Whew. A few days, not too bad. A few hours, even better.

“Then again,” she went on, “it could be weeks. It’s really difficult to say. Fairies bodies are not like ours, you know.”

No kidding?

“A few weeks?”

I don’t have that much sick-time left at work. Even though I was not spitting up ‘fairies’ that much now during the day, the effort of whatever is going on is draining. As I said, I have not been sleeping well. I had planned on taking some time off, just to rest. However, if this is going to keep up for a few more weeks, what can I to do? Mr. Harnett, that’s my boss, is not a very understanding man. Point of fact, he is a total ass. Really, in the great scheme of things how important are insurance sales? What is the problem in my taking a few weeks time off? ‘Time off for you, Charles, is time lost for me. And time lost, is money lost,’ he would say. Mr. Barnaby Harnett is always telling me, and my dozen or so co-workers, about the evils of taking time off. Sick-time or vacation time, even lunch time, is discouraged. Like most bosses, if good old Barnaby could arrange it, slavery would be back in fashion. He would have us all chained to our desks with just enough length of chain to enable us to clank-clank to the bathroom in order to take the occasional piss. Shaking this image off I made up my mind. No, absolutely no. Taking off a few weeks of work was not on the table of my options.

My disappointment must have showed clearly on my face, because Mrs. Scullane reached over to me and patted my cheek,

“There, there. Everything will be set to rights soon. I am certain once the fairies revive they will be able to help you.” She finished her tea, stood up, and walked over to the front door. “Just get some rest, dear boy.”

Get some rest? Was she seriously deranged or just bone deep evil? Hello, hello, not able to sleep right now! Hello, I have this small problem with hell bent fairies that are determined to come streaming out of my mouth all night!

“Wait, isn’t there something I can do to help these fairies rematerialize, revive, whatever?”

Hand on the door knob, her lips pursed in thought,

“Hmm, well, you could always try some music and perhaps bring some plants into your place. Fairies love music and nature.” She glanced around at my Spartan living room. “You don’t seem to have much of either in here. Go out and buy some plants, then put on some music.”

Aerosmith, Beastie Boys, Mozart, what?

“They may like some rock and roll, but I believe fairies are more partial to the soothing, rather than the jarring. Isn’t there one of those New Age stores across the street? Try getting some of their music, maybe something with the sounds of rain, bells, that sort of thing. Maybe something Celtic. Fairies originally settled in Ireland, you know.” She cocked her head, “Don’t know what they would be doing here in Hollywood.” She opened the door, looking back to me and winked, “You be sure to give me a jingle when they start coming to, they might be quite a handful for you. They can be a mite mischievous. Thanks for the lovely tea and cookies, Charles.” And she was gone.

“Mischievous? Great.” I said aloud, and to no one. Or, at least I thought it was no one. What was I thinking? I was apparently surrounded by hundreds of slumbering fairies who would ‘revive’ at any moment, and for all I knew they were listening to me right now. I better hurry down to the store and pick up those fairy supplies: nature and music.

My thoughts had taken quite the sarcastic turn. I really didn’t believe that hundreds of fairies were stuck to canvasses in my living room, bedroom, and dining area. Or did I? I still found myself shopping for those supplies. There was no doubting the fact that I was a desperate man. Once home again, I studied my rooms for the perfect placement of the numerous plants I had bought. I had not thought to ask Mrs. Scullane what kind of plants fairies were partial to, so I picked up a variety. Mostly ferns, because somehow ferns seemed like the type of plants fairies would like. Then again, what the hell do I know?

While placing the plants in my living room and bedroom, I listened to not only Celtic harp and flutes on CD, but also to the sounds of rain on my cassette player. Covering my bases seemed like the best possible plan right now.

Can coughing kill brain cells? I understand we lose brain cells every day, regardless of coughing. Is it possible that coughing, like sniffing glue, increases the amount of brain cells lost? I used to have a fairly high IQ. Is it possible that after these last few weeks of coughing and spitting up that I have lost more than the average amount? Perhaps a loss of brain cells could account for the fact that I was sitting on my mushroom hued sofa, surrounded by ferns, my ears filled with harps and rain, while staring intently at the splashy-color canvass propped up on my knees. I was waiting for the fairies to materialize. Perfectly reasonable. Oh yeah. I’ve lost it, big time.

I actually began feeling a faint sense of regret that once these fairies started materializing, my lovely canvasses would again be blank. These were, after all, the most creative endeavors I had ever undertaken. I never thought of myself as the ‘creative type,’ and had often found myself envious of painters and poets. Those wild men, with wildly eccentric and passionate lives, that seemed to find the most wildly attractive women drooling after them. Who was I? A nice young man, an insurance sales man, and oh-so average in oh-so many ways. Average height, average weight, average in looks, hell, I even possessed average teeth. Perhaps I was above average in intelligence, but all that went down the tubes, or out my tubes, once all that coughing began. Yet, this experience had been special. These beautiful, colorful canvasses were the most exciting thing that I had ever created. True, the thought of how I had created them was kind of base, kind of gross. But wasn’t art rather base, and at times, gross? For a few weeks I had been the possessor of a secret. A secret. Not a lovely or passionate secret, like I was writing the ‘great American novel’ in my spare time or even having a hot affair with the bosses’ wife. No, my secret was gross, I was spitting up bright, juicy colors and smearing them on canvasses. Still, it was a secret however offensive it might be and average as I am, I had never been the possessor of a secret. Well, there was that time in fifth grade when Candy Kim kissed me inside the janitor’s closet and showed me her budding breasts. She had sworn me to secrecy. That was a pretty cool secret, and proud of myself, it was one I had kept to this day.

Apparently, I had nodded off. I woke up sitting on my sofa with my bare feet stretched out up on what I loftily called my coffee table, in actuality little more than a wooden crate. The canvass I had been staring at, which had been propped up on my knees had fallen to the floor.

“Blast,” I mumbled in my sleepy stupor.

There are two kinds of naps in this world, those that upon awakening from leave one feeling refreshed and revived, and those that left one feeling stupid, heavy, and sleepier than ever before. Unfortunately, I was the type of individual who always seemed to experience the latter. Yep, my legs felt like lead weights, and so did my face. Not that I knew what lead weights felt like, but I do have quite the imagination. My jaw felt like some sort of heavy, yet inflated rubber. Struggling with my weighty limbs I reached out, nearly falling off the couch, to retrieve my lovely canvass that was face down on the beige carpet,

“Damn,” I mumbled and picked it up.

As I turned it over, much to my surprise it was quite blank.

“What the hell?”

“Eww, such language,” a small voice cried out, then began giggling.

“Huh?”

Had I finally lost what little I had left? Or was I actually seeing this tiny female, with wings, sitting on the arm of my sofa? Lack of sleep induced hallucination or not, she was rather cute. No taller than the length of my palm, she sparkled becomingly. She had long lavender hair, pointy ears, and the prettiest of faces. She also wore barely any clothes, and her outfit was more like a sheer, shimmering, lilac scarf. Make that a quarter of a scarf, quite short and her small, bare legs kicked playfully against the cushiony sofa arm. She was fairly well-endowed for one so small and I could just make out her tiny breasts with tiny pink-tipped nipples. I caught a glimpse of the tiniest belly-button and further down an inviting purple triangle. Can a man get turned on by someone so small? Was this perverted? Instantly, I came to my defense. Men get turned on by centerfolds in magazines, why not a tiny, three-dimensional female? Um, fairy lady. Sure, why not? Nothing perverted about it. Suddenly I realized that she was staring at me just as intently as I was staring at her. She had brilliant green eyes. I cleared my throat,

“My name is-”

With a snort and a giggle, she interrupted me,

“Silly mortal man, I know who you are. Your name is Chuck,” then stretched out her rather elegant arms and yawned.

Rude little female, creature, whatever.

“I prefer being called Charles,” I insisted. No sense in her getting the upper hand, at least not right away.

She shrugged,

“Have it your way, Charles,” she emphasized without flattery, “but you will always be Chuck to us.”

“Us?”  I inquired as I quickly scanned the couch, floor, and coffee-box-table. I noticed quite a few of my canvasses were as blank as the one that I still gripped in my hands, but there was not another fairy lady, or fairy gentleman, in sight. Were they hiding?

“Humph, you’re a bit rude. Asking about the others, when you haven’t even asked me my name.” She folded her arms and gave me a smirk.

She is calling me rude?

“All right, and who might you be?”

“I’m a fairy. Can’t you tell?”

Sarcasm is a concept I am greatly familiar with when it comes to the female species; however, this was another type of female species all together. I responded in kind,

“I can see that. Would you, by chance, happen to have a name?”

“Of course I have a name.”

I waited, while she seemed engrossed by her tiny nails.

“Well?”

“Well, what?” She snapped.

“Aren’t you going to tell me your name?”

“I have not decided,” she said snootily and looked away from me. Apparently, I had offended her. Where were my manners?

“Pardon, me,” I began stiffly. Again, she interrupted me with a giggle.

“What a funny man you are!”

“I’m certain I am that.” How could I disagree? I was sitting in my living room, surrounded by blank canvasses, dozens of plants, speaking to a rude little fairy. Of course I’m funny.

“You haven’t commented on my wings, don’t you like them?”

At the question, I focused on them. Glittering, beautiful, with swirls of various shades of purple, and it seemed tiny sparks radiated from them.

“They’re stunning.”

She gave me a rather charming grin, and then sprang up into the air. She flew towards me, stopped and hovering in front of my face gave me a curtsey, mid-air,

“Thank you, Charles. My name is Winsome.”

I swallowed, hard. What an adorable creature. I had gone from insulted to tongue-tied in a few seconds flat.

“It suits you,” I managed.

She tipped her head,

“Thank you, again. The others are around they’re just a bit shyer than I. We are not certain of your intentions.”

“My intentions?”

“Well, you did spit us out, and you have been quite a wreck. You do not seem to know anything about us, yet you do not appear to be shocked by my appearance.” She cocked her head observing me, “You are quite odd, even for a mortal man.”

“That I am,” I agreed whole heartedly. Where to begin? Let me count the ways. “You’re right. I don’t know a thing about you, or fairies in general. Up until today if I had thought about it, which I didn’t, I pretty much believed that your kind did not exist. As for shock, it just hasn’t caught up with me yet. I’m quite certain a nervous breakdown is waiting for me just around the corner.”

“Well, it is no wonder with all you have been going through for the past, what do you call it? Month?”

“Yes, a bit over a month now.”

“Perhaps you should get some rest before we continue this conversation?”

“That would be great; however, I do not feel sleepy right now, just exhausted.”

She grinned,

“I can solve that,” and she kicked me in the nose.

My nose throbbed, she had quite a forceful kick for one so small. Before I could ask why she would do such a thing, I noticed the carpet was rising up to my face. Or was it the other way around? Either way, I passed out.

When I awoke, on the floor of my living room, I actually felt quite refreshed. As my eyes focused, I realized it was morning. The sun was pouring in through my windows and it was lovely.

“Shit!” I jumped up off my carpet. “What day is it?” I checked my watch. Thankfully, it was Sunday and I had not missed work. Apparently, I slept all day Saturday and well into Sunday morning. I’ve not slept that soundly in years. I reached up and felt my nose, noticing that it no longer throbbed. I only had two questions. Had I been dreaming little Winsome? Or, having completed my psychotic break, had I hallucinated her and then passed out?

“Neither, silly mortal man! I assure you, I am quite real.”

“Damn it.”

I whipped around to face my sofa. Yep, there she was, back on the arm of my sadly slouching couch. She was lounging, no less, on her side stretched out and looking quite comfortable.

I guess I’m not finished with my psychotic break. Or is it that once the break happens, you just continue into la-la land?

“You are awfully obsessed with the state of your mental health.”

“You can hear my thoughts!” I accused. All I can tell you is that at this point I felt that not only my body and apartment had been invaded now my mind was being invaded as well. It was just too much.

“Of course I can, dummy. It is hardly a challenge,” then she flew into my face and whacked my chin with her tiny fist. “Don’t be so rude. I don’t like it.”

The whack didn’t hurt, but it did piss me off. My hand shot up to grasp her, but she was much too quick. She sprang up into the air, hovering at my water-stained ceiling. In frustration I balled up my hands into tight fists and groaned,

“Why are you still here?”

“What’s gotten into you? I gave you a nice rest! I thought you would wake up refreshed. Yet, here you are trying to grab at me. You’re a beast!” She shouted at me. Her small body trembled with ire, a bad sign to be sure, but I had my own ire to contend with.

“Get down here at once,” I shouted back.

She folded her arms across her chest and shook her head in a vehemently definitive ‘no!’ I lunged up at her, still to no avail.

Now, normally, I am not an evil person. I truly do believe in the whole ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ bit. I am not, however, without the occasional dark thought. On the floor I spotted the spray bottle I had purchased along with all these damnable ferns that surrounded me. Ah, bug spray. I leapt over my coffee table and grabbed it. Ha-ha, now I have a weapon, I thought with glee. I’ll get her off that ceiling yet. Holding it in my hands as if it were a Mac 45 I aimed it up at the ceiling and sprayed, but Winsome had disappeared.

“Where are you?” I bellowed. I stalked around my living room like some sort of crazed animal. Lifting up pillows, overturning lamps, throwing books off shelves, I sprayed first to ask questions later.

“Show yourself!” I yelled. I was really rather worked up at this point.

“I’ll show myself all right,” she yelled back. Suddenly, I felt this yank at the back of my head. She was pulling my hair! I spun around, and like a dog chasing his tail, tried to reach for her.

“You asked for this, Chuck. Just remember that.”

What? One overpoweringly hard pull and I found myself plummeting downwards to land with a loud thump on the carpet. Little Winsome had yanked me to the floor. I lay there a few moments, stunned. My ears were ringing. No, really, I mean that. My ears were truly ringing. Sure, there was carpet on the floor, but it was thinning, quite sparse in many areas, therefore it did not pillow my landing one iota. There was this sparkle hovering just above my face, Winsome.

“Have you calmed down?” She asked, sounding still perturbed.

“I think so,” I answered shakily.

She landed on my chin, sat down, hugging her knees,

“Poor Chuck,” she sniffed. “We really have caused you quite a lot of trouble, haven’t we?”

“Have you? Or am I causing all this trouble myself? You see, I cannot tell if you are really here, or if I am just dreadfully insane.”

She shook her head sadly,

“Poor, poor Chuck.”

“Please, stop calling me Chuck.”

“All right,” she agreed. Then her eyes lit up, “Don’t you want to know what has been happening to you?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“On what you are about to tell me. Will it explain this headache away?”

She considered,

“No,” she said slowly. “However, I can do this,” she floated up over to my forehead. Fluttering her beautiful wings, she dipped down and laid a tiny kiss in the middle of my brow. Instantly, the throbbing in my head dissipated.

“Ah,” I smiled in relief.

“Better?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“That’s the first time I’ve seen you smile,” she floated back to my chin and sat down again. “You should do it more often. You are far more handsome when you smile.”

“Really?”

“Oh, yes. Much.” She grinned and two tiny dimples showed on either side of her cheeks. What an adorable creature. Why does she have to be so damn cute? Instantly, I knew the answer, she’s cute so I will not squash her.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes.” Then asked casually, “So, what’s been happening to me?”

“First, I must explain that we fairies do not have airplanes, or cars, trains, or vehicles of any sort. If we want to travel, we have our wings, the occasional animal, or portals.”

“Portals?”

“They’re a bit like windows really. With a piece of chalk or whatever may be handy, we just draw a window on the ground, a rock, or a tree stump, the portal opens and away we go.”

How enchanting, and just think how much you could save in gas, tickets, and hassle. Why haven’t we humans thought of this way of traveling?

“Because you’re not smart enough, Silly.”

“Of course,” and I swallowed my irritation. “Go on.”

She sighed and then began twisting a graceful finger in the curls of her lavender hair. My little Winsome appeared to be growing nervous.

“Well, we, that is one of us, drew a portal to travel to Hollywood. We had always heard so much about it, we wanted to see it for ourselves.”

I felt a hard lump beginning to form in my stomach,

“Uh-huh.”

“Only this time, something went slightly wrong.”

“Like what?” I asked, aiming for calm.

“Generally, when one draws a portal there are certain preparations one is supposed to make beforehand,” she wrinkled her nose. “Tiresome preparations, really. But, as it turns out some of them may be rather necessary.”

Things were coming into focus,

“Such as?”

She replied with an absent wave of her hand,

“Oh, minor things. Things like making certain wherever you draw the portal it isn’t wet, making certain to draw very crooked lines,” she shrugged her delicate shoulders and placed a fingertip to her upturned chin. “And oh, yes, most importantly, seeing ahead to make certain one ends up in the right place. This is most important, you see, in order that one doesn’t draw oneself into a bad corner.”

“A ‘bad corner?’”

“Um, yes, or for that matter, into a human’s throat.”

I knew it was coming of course, yet I still found myself leaping up off the floor in outrage,

“What?”

Winsome sprang away from me, flying swiftly into the air, effectively out of my reach and high up on the ceiling once more.

“Now, now, it isn’t so bad, is it?”

Apparently, no words were necessary, she must have gathered from the glare I aimed at her that I disagreed.

“Oh, all right. It was dreadful for you. If it is any comfort, the fairy who did this is very sorry, and is now fully aware that there are good reasons for rules. Very good reasons, as it turns out. She will never make the same mistake again.”

She sounded quite contrite. A little too contrite.

“It was you, wasn’t it?” I accused.

Her green eyes widened with genuine surprise,

“My, you are smarter than I thought.”

I smirked,

“We silly, mortal men can surprise you like that.” Then demanded, “Well, what are you going to do about this? You can fix it, right?”

Placing her arms behind her back, she seemed to be contemplating the question. I eyed her shrewdly,

“Tell me you can fix this, Winsome.”

“Well, I am working on it.”

“Wonderful.” I sat down on my sofa, my head in my hands. “I can’t keep living like this. I shall go insane. Correction, insane-r. How can I live like this? I can’t.”

“There, there. I shall think of something, I promise you.”

I sighed and slouched in my seat. I felt like a wrung out, overcooked noodle. Dare I ask?

“How are the ideas coming so far?”

“I’ve come up with one or two.”

“Like?”

“Well, we could slit your throat,” then began giggling uncontrollably. Falling back down onto the arm of my sofa, she continued giggling with delight whilst rolling about on the mushroom fabric. I proceeded to glare at her. Did I say she was cute, adorable, charming? How wrong a man can be. Somehow she managed to get a hold of herself, and appeared instantly contrite,

“I was only kidding. Gees, lighten up, Chuck.”

Through my teeth,

“I asked you not to call me that.”

“Oh, come on. Why not?”

“Because I don’t like it, okay with you?” I sighed, for I could not help but wonder, “Why do you prefer Chuck, anyway?”

“Why?” She asked with surprise. “Because Chuck rhymes with so many delightful words!” She spun into the air and began to serenade me, “Chuck, Chuck, oh my he’s going to be struck, by a truck! Oh! But what luck! He fell instead into the muck, not to be struck! Chuck, Chuck, he does not suck, and he isn’t a schmuck! Chuck, Chuck, he has a pet duck, who likes to cluck! Chuck, Chuck, sleepy Chuck! It’s time to tuck him into bed, oh, but now he wants to fu-” she placed a hand over her mouth and giggled, “See ever so much more fun than Charles.” She flew back down next to me and wrinkled up her nose in disgust, “Charles doesn’t rhyme with anything.”

“Neither does Winsome.”

She smiled,

“Oh, but my nickname, Win, does. Win, kin, gin, fin, tin, grin, and best of all, sin!”

“You’ve got that one down all right,” I muttered. In frustration I groaned and slouched further down on the sofa. “What I am going to do?”

I could feel an itch at the back of my throat, and a lump began to rise. Great.

“Oh, dear. It’s happening, isn’t it?”

I treated her to my best icy frown, and jerked a canvass from off the carpet. Just in time, I spit on it. Odd, this time my throat stung a bit and the color on my canvass was sickly black.

“Great! It’s not even a pretty color,” I flung the canvass into the air like a Frisbee. It bounced off the wall opposite, and fell onto the floor.

“What are you babbling about? We are all beautiful colors,” Winsome said in huff.

“Apparently not this one of you,” I answered, just as huffily. “Go see for yourself.”

“You can be quite the boor, you know that Charles,” she said with a hiss, while fluttering across the room.

“Yeah? Well, you can be quite the pain in the a-”

She cut me off with a small shriek followed by,

“Uh-oh.”

I didn’t even glance up,

“Now, what?”

She pointed to the spot on the canvass,

“It’s greenish-black.”

“Yes, I noticed that. Quite the pretty color, eh, Winsome?”

“This is very bad.”

“Why? Is that the color of a ‘bad’ fairy?”

She flew over to me,

“I thought you didn’t know anything about us. How did you know that?”

“I don’t know anything about fairies, I was being sarcastic.”

“I know you were,” she snapped. “But how did you know about the ‘bad fairies?’”

“Get real.” I waved my hands in the air, screaming in a high-pitched tone, “Oh no, it’s the bad fairies! Help! Save me!”

With her hands on her hips, Winsome gave me a smirk,

“You know, you’re not too off with that girly voice. One of the first things bad fairies like to do with a mortal man is cut their balls off.”

Instinctively I placed my hands to cover my groin,

“What?”

“Ah, that caught your attention. Now, as I was saying, the greenish-black fairy is not a good thing. We must come up with something quickly, before it revives itself.”

“We? What is all this ‘we’ crap? You got me into this messy business.”

“It is your throat.”

Good point.

“All right. How long do we have before the, eek, bad fairy arises?”

“A few hours.”

“A few hours?” I shouted in outrage. “You guys took days to ‘revive.’ What makes this bad fairy so blessed?”

“I’d rather not get into that right now.”

“Oh, really?” I eyed her with suspicion then realized that right now I actually didn’t want to know.

“Besides, it will be far more productive for us to just deal with the matter at hand.”

“Right.”

The two of us were silent for a moment and then something occurred to me,

“Hey, where are the others? Maybe one of them can help.” I glanced around the room, hoping to catch sight of one of them. All I caught was her biting her lip. I folded my hands in my lap, “Winsome, where are the others?”

“Um, well, they sort of all left.”

“Left? Why?”

“Well, if you must know-”

“Oh, yeah I have got to hear this one.”

“They were mad at me! They blamed me for all this, can you imagine?”

She was truly indignant.

“No! Blame you? Now why would that be, hmmm? Maybe because it was YOUR fault?”

She folded her arms, turned up her nose and sniffed,

“I might have known you would take their side.”

“Being the individual most royally screwed right now, I would say YES.”

Then she did something quite unexpected. She burst into tears,

“I said I was sorry! But not one of them would listen, and now you won’t listen either.”

I am undone by a female’s tears just as much as the next guy, but in this case, I put my foot down. I folded my arms across my chest and refused to be moved.

“Look, crying about it isn’t going to help us come up with a solution. We have got to think. Did any of them give you any hints on how to undo this?”

“No!” She wailed.

Okay, I admit it. Her crying was starting to get to me. What could I do, though?

“Come on, don’t do that,” I pleaded.

Clearly, pleading was not going to work. Her weeping grew louder, and more gut-wrenching. I tried my stern fatherly voice,

“Winsome, it will be all right. We will think of something. Snap out of it.”

Her sniffling softened, but then she looked up at me with the most piteous eyes. Gees, how much could a guy take? I reached out to her, but then realized that I could not comfort her this way. I couldn’t pat her on the back or hold her in my arms. She was too tiny I would end up squashing her.

“No, you won’t,” she said.

Bewildered, I asked,

“I won’t, what?”

“You can comfort me that way, you won’t squash me.”

“Um, I don’t think I would want to chance it, Winsome.”

“No, listen, you just must promise never to tell anyone. Not ever. It will be our secret. Okay? You promise?”

Having no idea what I was promising to keep secret, I could only nod my head. The sparkle that surrounded her, which had dimmed considerably when she was crying, brightened. The light around her grew brighter and brighter, until I had to shut my eyes. Suddenly, I felt this weight in my lap. My eyes flew open to be confronted by soft, tear-filled, human size, green eyes.

“What the hell?” I jumped up, effectively knocking Winsome to the floor.

“Hey! You said you wanted to comfort me. Is this how it’s done?”

I was stunned, and just continued to stare at her dumbly.

“Oh, I get it. Now, that I am big and ugly, you don’t want to comfort me anymore!” Her chin wobbled, her eyes filled up, and the tears began to spill once more. Big? Ugly? Hardly the case. She looked exactly like she did before. Oh, and that quarter of a scarf she wearing? It was now full-size, but just as sheer. In summation, delectable. Restraining myself from drooling and feeling more than a bit like a heel, I scooped her up off the floor, sat down on the couch and cuddled her in my lap. The tears continued, but I stroked her gently and did what all helpless males do in such cases as these; I let her cry herself dry.

She seemed to have fallen asleep, and although I didn’t wish to wake her, I began to feel that itch in my throat again. Quickly, before I spat it up on her, I pushed her off of me and onto the couch. I didn’t make it to a canvass though, and spat with tremendous force onto my wall.

“Ouch, that one really hurt,” I croaked hoarsely. My throat stung, and my eyes burned. I glanced up at the wall. A spot, the same color of greenish-black, only this time a bit more black than green, oozed nastily down the wall.

“Now, that is disgusting,” I croaked again. I glanced back at Winsome, and a knot began to form in my gut at the expression of terror on her pretty face. I sat down next to her, trying to keep things light,

“I take it that this isn’t a good thing.”

“I was hoping we would just have to deal with the one. If there are two, there will be more.”

I wanted to say something reassuring; however, when I opened my mouth not whisper came out. I tried to clear my throat, but when I coughed the sensation felt somewhere between chunks of broken glass and razor blades. I nearly fell over with the pain, but Winsome grasped my arm and pushed me back. Unable to say anything, I gave her a smile of gratitude.

“Poor Chu-  I mean, Charles. Here, let me make it better.” With that she straddled my lap and took my face gently in her hands. Wondering what she was doing, but sufficiently turned-on not to argue, I merely sat unresisting to whatever she might have in mind. She moved in close, and slipping her dainty fingers down my neck,

“This won’t hurt a bit, I promise,” she whispered, then began nibbling my lips. Her hands slipped around to the back of my neck, doing something wonderful back there with her fingertips. The pain vanished, and a groan rumbled inside my throat. With a will of their own, my hands reached up grabbed her hips and dragging her closer, until her body was plastered against mine. She stopped, her cheeks flushed,

“Now, this is strictly for medicinal purposes only, you understand?”

“Yes,” I groaned again. When she hesitated, I added, “please!”

She smiled then, tilted her head and kissed me. I realize a gentleman never tells, but I will say this much, she is a marvelous kisser.  As the kissing deepened, I heard a small moan escape her lips, and could not help but feel pleased. She pulled away from me, pressing her hands onto my chest,

“My, it is certainly quite different doing this with a human male.”

“Different being good, I hope?”

“Mmm, yes. Your lips are much warmer, and softer than fairies. I like them.”

What a relief.

“What do you call this?”

I hesitated, uncertain as what she was referring to. I was, of course, hoping she was asking about the kissing, but I was rather turned on at the moment. I am only a man, after all.

“Um, you mean what we were just doing?”

She snuggled against my chest, while playing with the collar of my tee shirt,

“Yes, what do you call that?”

“Kissing. What do you call it?”

“Healing.”

I smiled, tightening my arms around her,

“I really like the way you fairies think,” and went in for another kiss; however, just before closing my eyes, I caught sight of my wall with that disturbing green-black spot. I pulled away from Winsome, “As much as I am enjoying this healing, I’m afraid we have forgotten our rather pressing matter.”

“Huh?”

Granted, my male pride enjoyed the dazed look in her eyes; however, I knew we had to get back to business. Gently, I cupped her chin and turned her to face the wall.

“Oh! Yes, of course.”

Unhappily for me, she slid off my lap and began chewing her bottom lip in distress.

I stared at the muck on my wall,

“That really is going to cause a nasty stain. I should try to clean it up.”

“That’s it!” Winsome shouted in glee.

“What’s it?”

“Clean it up! Do you have any of those paper thingys?”

“‘Paper thingys?’ Oh, you mean paper towels, sure,” and up I jumped.

“And some kind of spray cleaning solution would be good!” She called out to me.

“Way ahead of you, Babe,” I said upon exiting my kitchen while grasping a fistful of paper towels in one hand and dangling a bottle of window cleaner in the other.

We approached the spot on the wall together and stared at it for a moment. Then I turned to her,

“Should I?”

“Oh, yes. Please do.”

Sheets of paper towels in hand, I aimed the spray bottle at the spot on the wall, but I hesitated and turned back to Winsome,

“You are certain that this is a bad fairy, right? I mean, I wouldn’t want to mess this up and get rid of one of the good ones.”

She gave me a look of exasperation,

“Charles, does that look like it could be a good fairy to you?”

I didn’t bother to tell her that those swirls of color on my canvasses didn’t look like ‘good fairies’ to me either. What do I know? I’m just a guy. Somehow, this didn’t seem like the appropriate response, though.

“Of course not.”

“Good. Now, get on with it.”

I did just that, squirting a hefty amount of window cleaner onto the spot, then wiped the wall clean with the paper towels. Normally, I am not what you would call a fastidious man; however, holding on to the wad of now wet, heavy, and sticky stuff in my hand had me feeling queasy. I looked down at the goopy green-black mess, and saw that it also looked to be, well, stringy is the only word that came to mind.

“Yuck.”

Why did I suddenly feel like a murderer?

“Get rid of it, quickly!” Winsome squeaked. She was clearly feeling a bit distressed herself.

“Isn’t it dead?”

She shook her head,

“I’m not sure.”

“Not sure?”

Just then, a high-pitched grumbling sound started to come from the wet wad of paper towels in my hand. Startled, I dropped it onto the floor,

“What the hell-”

“Don’t leave it there! Quickly, pick it up and get rid of it!” Winsome shrieked.

Unlike a lot of men, especially the ones featured in horror movies, when a female screams I listen. Hastily, I leaned down to snatch the wad off my floor. This was easier said than done, as the balled up mess, besides grumbling quite loudly, began scurrying across the floor. Look, I may not be the most macho of men, but I’ll be damned if a wad of sticky, stringy, bad tempered paper towel is going to get the better of me. I chased that thing all over my living room, knocking down both my lamps, breaking one of them, crashing into and smashing my coffee table box, and tipping over more than a few of my new ferns. Winsome tried to help, bless her, but all she managed to do was slam me in the back of my head with one of my blank canvasses. Ouch. They do have wood frames, you know.

Rubbing my abused head,

“Winsome, sweetie, don’t help me. Okay?”

“Sorry.”

Suddenly, it went rather quiet. The grumbling wad of paper towels had ceased to make noise. Quickly, I glanced around, but saw no sign it.

“Where did it go?”

She pointed in the direction of my dining area. I leapt over fallen debris and over to my table and chairs. Frantically, I scanned the floor then noticed my kitchen door swinging. Between the swinging door and the door jamb, the wad of paper towels was stuck. It made not a whimper, and did not appear to be struggling. Dead or not, I was not taking any chances. I grabbed it, pushing open the door and ran to my sink. There I stuffed it down the garbage disposal, turned on the taps full force, and flipped the switch. Amidst the sounds of grinding, I could have sworn I heard one last yelp. I stood over the sink, leaning on the counter, a tad shaken.

“My hero!” Winsome shouted and leapt at me.

She covered me in kisses, of which I had no objection to whatsoever.

“You did it!” She said, pulling away. Her green eyes sparkled.

“We did it. I couldn’t have managed it if you hadn’t cracked me over the head with that canvass,” I laughed. She laughed too, and playfully smacked me,

“Watch out, or I will help you again,” and then she kissed me, this time it was long, sweet, and delicious. Reality intruded though, as another thought occurred to me.

“Um, Winsome,” I murmured against her lips.

“Yes?” She began nibbling on my chin. Who would have thought that would be such a turn-on? Not I. Trying to gain some composure, I grasped her shoulders, and held her away from me.

“Winsome,” I gave her a gentle shake.

“What now, Chuck?”

“Uh, what about that portal in my throat? As much as I enjoy kissing you, and I am loath to stop, hadn’t we better get back to figuring out a solution to this little problem? I mean, I would really hate to spit up a bad fairy down your throat.”

She grinned, and there was a mischievous glint in her eyes,

“That would put a damper on the moment, wouldn’t it?”

I let go of her and crossed my arms over my chest,

“It might.”

She reached up and began playing with the collar of my tee shirt,

“Do you feel like spitting up right now?”

“Well, no, but I might any second.”

“Do you feel an itch at the back of your throat?”

In surprise, I suddenly realized that I didn’t, and for the first time in a month. Instinctively, I wrapped my hands around my throat,

“No, I don’t.” Gratitude, relief, and wonderment filled me. Hooray! Then curiosity got the better of me, “Hey, wait a minute.” I glanced at her with suspicion, “How did that happen?”

She shrugged,

“Well, it could have been the healing I gave you, or um,” then she paused.

“Or?” I prodded.

She shrugged again, began twisting her fingers, then reached up and tugged on her lavender hair.

“Winsome, or?”

“Or, the portal disappeared. They do, you know. Portals don’t last forever. In fact, the one in your throat should have closed up days ago.” She placed a finger on the side of her face, “It would make for an interesting study. Why would a portal stay open longer inside a human male’s throat? Is it a matter of air? Or lack of sunshine?”

I aimed for calm,

“Yes, very interesting. By the way,”

“Yes?”

“Was there some twisted reason you concocted in that wicked brain of yours as to why not share this information with oh, say, me?” I said I aimed for calm, I didn’t say I would be able to achieve it.

She stuck out her lower lip. Did I mention Winsome has a fabulous pout?

“Well, you were so grumpy with me. I had to teach you a lesson.”

That really pissed me off, and I don’t mind admitting it. At maximum volume, that would be an eleven, I shouted,

“A lesson in what, exactly? How to keep from strangling the fairy that I have fallen in love with?”

What did I just say? We stared at one another, and although a mirror was not handy, I am certain that my expression matched hers in dumbfoundedness. It seemed neither she, nor I for that matter, expected me to say that.

“Oh Chuck!” She leapt at me again, covering me in kisses. Although, I did try to resist this time, it was quite hopeless.

“I love you, too!” She whispered in my ear, while giving it delicate bites that sent delightful shivers down my spine and rushed straight to my groin. Suddenly, we were both startled by a loud crash in my living room. Uh-oh. We both looked at one another,

“We forgot about -” she began.

“The other one,” I finished while grabbing her hand and running back into my living room.

It seemed a cyclone had invaded my quarters. The entire room was spinning, complete with television, books, cassettes and cassette player, speakers, pillows, and blank canvasses. The only thing that still seemed stationary was my couch. Worst of all were the flying plants. One hovered over my head, I pushed Winsome behind me just before it turned upside. Foolishly, I was looking up, with my mouth wide open. Plant and dirt covered my face and filled my mouth. Bleech. Spitting out the dirt, and while trying to get the grit out of my eyes, another pot slammed into my chest. Dirt spewed out in all directions. As I rubbed the side of my ribs, I could only be grateful that I had left the plants in those cheap plastic containers rather than shelling out the extra bucks for terra cotta ones. Knocking flying objects out of my way, and ducking just in time to miss getting hit in the head with my cassette player, I managed to make my way to the center of the cyclone. There in the middle of all the swirling bric-a-brac, was an angrily grumbling sickly green, black, and purple fairy. A bad fairy, to be exact. I’m not certain where the purple came from, perhaps because it was angry. It was spinning around and around like some kind of crazed top, making incoherent, but rather fierce sounds.

“What is going on here?” I inquired in my best authoritative voice. A small side-note here, my ‘authoritative’ voice is piss-poor.

“Where’s my sister?” The fuming, irate, small spinning creature demanded.

Gulp.

“Uh, sister?” Perhaps I could reason with it using my keen intellect.

It flew at my face, clutched my nose between its tiny hands and twisted, hard. I saw stars.

“Yow,” I yelled. I tried to pull it off me, but it was really quite firmly attached, and it kept right on twisting my nose. I was afraid it was going to pull it straight off. Certainly, my nose is not one of my best features; however, I am attached to it in its current form and place, which it could not possibly maintain being twisted in such a fashion. I struggled now in earnest, and finally grasping one of its tiny legs between my fingertips, I yanked. I had almost ripped it clean off my nose when Winsome came to my defense.

“You leave him alone!” She shouted, while holding a rolled up issue of Sports Illustrated in her hands. I don’t know why it struck me as funny, but she was wielding it like a bat and then proceeded to smack at the rotten little creature with it. This would have been a great plan, except that my face happened to be in the way. Bam! I saw stars again, only this time the force of the blow caused me to drop to the floor. I held my nose in my hands and looking down, through the stars, I noticed drops of blood on my once clean white tee shirt. Although it was throbbing painfully, I took my hands off my nose hoping to find a bad, but dead, fairy in my clutches. Not one lick of luck, have I. It must have got away just a moment before Winsome struck.

“I think you broke my nose,” I mumbled in a rather unmanly voice.

“I’m sorry, Chuck! But we just don’t have time right now!” She said in an irritated tone, and still wielding my Sports Illustrated like a bat, dashed into the small hallway that led to my bathroom and bedroom. A trifle annoyed, but realizing she was correct, I got up and followed her into my bathroom. Here the little beast had opened my mirrored medicine cabinet and was flinging out its contents. Bottles of aspirins and throat lozenges spun through the air, while Winsome flayed away at the creature unsuccessfully trying to strike it. Then in a moment of supreme irony, a small box of cotton balls hit me smack on the bridge of my still bleeding nose.

“Damn it!” I shouted. Enough was enough, and I had definitely had my fill. I grabbed for the magazine in Winsome’s hands, “Give me that!” Thankfully, I managed to pry it from her fingers. Just then that nasty little creature flew into my face again, screaming something that sounded like,

“Cratcha kitchy keeeee!”

“Oh no you don’t!” I shouted back at it. I swung hard, and I swung fast, but most importantly, I swung with accuracy. I hit that creature dead on and it slammed into my glass shower door. Crack, as it hit the glass, then it bounced onto the tiled floor in a tiny heap. It appeared to be momentarily stunned, and before I thought it through, I snatched it up off the floor and threw it into the toilet. I slammed down the lid and flushed. That bad fairy grumbled heartily, and I could hear gurgling as its little mouth filled with water. I glanced over at Winsome, who was looking at me with a grimace.

“Do you think it’s gone?”

“Only one way to find out,” and with that I flipped the toilet seat lid up. There was nothing in the toilet bowl but clear water. I hooted with joy at my accomplishment. “Yes!”

Winsome grabbed me from behind, giving me a warm hug,

“You did it again!”

I spun around to face her,

“We did it, Baby! You provided me with the magazine,” I paused and stroked my chin, “Of course, you did nearly break my nose with it first.”

“And I am ever so sorry,” and she covered my nose with delicate kisses. Whatever pain I had was gone in a flash.

She smiled at me,

“All better?”

I’m certain I was grinning like a fool, but what the hell?

“Yeah, all bet- wait a minute!” I looked down at the toilet, and somehow the enormity of what I had just done, twice, hit me. I winced,

“I’m going to hell, aren’t I?”

“What’s ‘hell?’” She asked, clearly perplexed.

“Never mind. The other fairies won’t be angry with me because I just flushed one of your kind down the toilet and threw another one down the garbage disposal, will they?”

She shrugged,

“Well, the good fairies won’t be upset with you. We don’t like the bad fairies much.”

Whew.

“However,” she went on, “the bad fairies will be greatly displeased with you. And I’m afraid that they are much more of a nuisance than we can ever be.”

That knot in my gut was back, wearily I sank to the floor of my bathroom,

“Fabulous.” I really didn’t want to spend the rest of my life fending off angry fairies, good or bad.

“We will have to keep it a secret.”

“I wasn’t exactly planning on giving our story to Newsweek, but isn’t it just possible that they’ll find out?”

“Maybe.”

I moaned,

“That isn’t what I wanted to hear just now.”

“Come on, Chuck, cheer up! Everything has turned out all right so far, hasn’t it?”

‘All right?’ I glanced around at the shambles of my bathroom, and I didn’t even want to think about the mess in my living room. A sarcastic retort hovered on my lips, but then I caught sight of her. In a word, adorable. I was smitten, no doubt about it. I stood back up, and grasped her hands.

“Yeah, I guess everything did turn out all right after all.”

So, what can I say? My girlfriend happens to be a fairy, and I could not be happier. My life is far from ordinary, and I don’t sell insurance anymore. Believe it or not, I actually paint now. I guess I was inspired by my spitting-up-fairies experiences. I use non-toxic paints, and you got it, I take a mouthful of paint and spit it at my canvass. I’m not exactly rolling in the dough, but I manage to keep a roof over our heads. They say that relationships that begin under extreme situations don’t last. I happen to think ours will, not only because I love her and she loves me, but because she and I share a secret. I believe that sharing a secret is a great basis for a relationship, that and awesome kissing sessions. Granted, our secret is just on this side of morbid, we did kill two bad fairies. All the same, it is a secret we share and have promised not tell another soul, not even her fairy parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and cousins. We do have other secrets, Winsome and I, gathered through the many adventures she and I have had together. Our trip back to her native Ireland is a doozy in itself. I am still just an ordinary guy, but as I mentioned, my life is far from ordinary now. Although, the subject of marriage and children have not come up yet, I am hoping that it will one day. You see, I can’t wait to tell our kids how we met.

The End