THE FAIRY RING • by Jeff Switt

The room is dark, nearly black. There ‘s no electricity. The sound of sex from the next room overrides the breathy silence of bodies passed out around me. I try to keep warm, snuggling with my friend, Alicia. We share a blanket for the night. Her frail body feels colder than mine. I reach for her kit and her stash.

I thumb her Bic and light my candle stub. The flame dances yellow and smoky. The voices from my past begin their chant. I wish I never had you. I unzip the pouch and pull out the syringe. You’re never going to amount to anything. I wipe the spoon with my shirt. What do you mean you’re pregnant? Pull my sleeve up past my elbow. Tie off my arm. Get out and don’t come back.

My hand shakes as I empty a packet of smack into the bowl. A couple drops of water from a bottle.

I heat the spoon over the candle and draw its contents into the syringe. Expel the air. I knew I shouldn’t have married you. My finger finds the vein. Sober up and get a job. The needle penetrates and sucks my blood to mix with my fix.

How does your client plead? My thumb pushes the plunger. She pleads guilty, Your Honor.

My daughter’s last words echo. I wish I was never born.

I pull the spent syringe from my arm, and let it drop to the floor. For the first time today, I feel warm.

My mind fights to purge the voices. It wanders into some nearly forgotten day during vacation bible school. The picture of Jesus welcoming me, arms extended. I wonder if he remembers. I pray for him to end my hell.

***

I came to, hours later, surrounded by sunlight and greenery. It was a fallen angel that answered my prayer. Cradled in his arms, naked as the day I was born, the weight of my sorrows was but a whisper to him. He clutched me to his leathery chest. His heartbeat, a faint tremor. His pulse, slow and weak. His sustenance came from the hundreds before me who had prayed for their deaths. It had been some time since he last fed.

Viewed from a distance, his wings sparkled like black diamonds. They enveloped us in shade from the hot summer sun like the canopy of a billowing mimosa. Unlike the mimosa, our shelter was void of hummingbirds and bees. No pink and white blossoms, no green fern clusters. A circle of dew formed on the ground in our shade, and it cooled the wind which circled around us. Its fragrance left me dizzy.

He spoke to me through alabaster eyes without focus.

“Are you ready, Holly?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

I nodded.

He bowed his head and pressed his thin white lips to mine.

“Exhale.”

With a sound no louder than a whisper, my life escaped through my lips with the force of the universe unraveling.

Memories of my childhood, my family, my few successes, and my overwhelming failures incinerated. He inhaled their fumes; his heartbeat was strengthened.

Hollow dreams of a life filled with prosperity, love, and acceptance turned to mist. He washed his face with their vapors; his youth was renewed.

My sorrow, my guilt, and my regrets melted and ran rampant like a cresting river. He drank their torrents; his strength was restored.

The angel lifted my body overhead in a triumphant taunt to The Creator. He had beaten Him to me. He released his grasp. My weightless form hovered, suspended between the earth and the sky, between heaven and hell. He rose, and with his tapered fingertips, shuttered my eyelids. My body turned to dust. As it settled within the folds of his robe, a chorus of voices welcomed me.

His wings began their ritual waving with the grace of a black swallowtail. They sparkled with the brightness of crystal chandeliers, refracting the sun’s rays into a multitude of tiny rainbows. With newly-found strength, he ascended without effort above the treetops. His lips, now pink and full, moved in a silent chant. The secret words cloaked him from mortal view. The wind whisked him across the meadows, neighborhoods and hills, and he listened for the cries from another of God’s lost souls.

***

The circle of dew remained for only a short time. Its vapor trailed the angel like the tail of an invisible kite, but it scarred its footprint upon the land. As a mother and daughter walked by, the young girl’s eyes filled with excitement and she ran to the circle of mushrooms.

“Look, Momma. A fairy ring.”


Jeff Switt is a retired advertising agency guy who loves writing flash fiction. Some days to curb his angst. Other days to fuel it. This is his sixth story at Every Day Fiction.


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