One-shot, Holly POV. Title from "fight or flight". Points if you know Slightly. Inspiration? There was nothing here to read, so I wrote something.
Huh. I guess that could be seen as a threat. Write, or I will write pointless, rambling one-shots until you do. Yes, I can just feel the terror...
Sorry for any typos, I'm wearing a very unwieldy bandage/several layers of duct tape on one of my pointer fingers, which makes typing much more difficult than expected (lots of "" when I want "m"). I think I got most things, though. Blah, blah, blah, anyway. Story. Right.
When I was a child, my mother kept a cat. Now, as a people we don't believe in pets. After all, who are we to collar and keep another living creature? Cats however, cats are different. You can't really keep a cat. Cats and fairies have a sort of communal agreement. We will feed them, they will deign to let us pet them. It works out (I know humans find pets comforting and cuddly but, trust me, animals get a lot less comforting when you can understand what they're saying).
The cat my mother and I lived with was called Slightly. For a cat, Slightly was very affectionate. He would follow me to the door when I was on my way out, asking where was I going? Why was I going? When would I be back? Couldn't I take him too? I felt guilty about leaving him behind. You know how it is when you're a child and every goodbye seems like the end of the world. To distract him, I would roll one of his toys down the length of the hall. He would turn and run after it and I would slip out the front door, unnoticed. Every time I left, we did this. Over and over again. Cats may be smart, but they have short memories.
As I walked away from my house I would feel like the scummiest fairy that ever buried an acorn. Like I had just driven over a puppy, or barbequed the last Bowhead Whale. I would wonder how Slightly felt when, so proud, he turned back to the door to show me how he'd caught the toy, only to find I had vanished. I meant to ask him but, by the time I returned, he would always have forgotten all about it and simply be happy to see me again. That's was okay with me; secretly, I didn't really want to know.
Now I've done it again. Someone followed me to the door – You're going already? Can't you stay? I ... I want to be with - I would like you to stay - and I threw out words into the darkness behind him, words like a string of yarn, words I knew he wanted to hear. He turned his head to see where they landed, to hear the weight of them as they hit the floor (as though he could gauge their value – their truthfulness - from the sound they made when they hit the wood).
He turned his head and I ran away.
They say the unknown is more frightening than any familiar terror. I think this is true. Put another way: that which we didn't see, but can imagine, will haunt us longer than anything we dared to look in the eye.
I didn't see his face as he turned back to find an empty window, when he smiled for nothing but a square of night sky. I thought I couldn't bear what would come after. After that smile, after he heard the solid thunk of words on wood, after he realised that what he wanted to hear was exactly what I wanted to say.
I was wrong. What I can't bear is the thought of his smile faltering, then falling; falling straight off his face and down into the black, to be stashed away forever in some cosmic lost and found box, wedged between an unheard goodbye and a drowned out apology. Worst of all, this time I know he won't have forgotten by the time I return. He will remember it even more clearly than when he lived it. My vanishing act will become infected, it will fester and spread. It will become visible; become a scar which he will wield like a weapon next time I come. It will only become worse over time. For both of us.
I land on his window sill. I have come back. I thought I wouldn't but knew that I would. I always come back. I always come home, in the end.
I push the window open. He looks up to see a square of night sky holding more than just darkness.
"You left," he said.
"Yes. I'm sorry."
"Why did you come back?"
I pause, step down onto the floor. "To show you what I wanted to say."
I always come home, in the end.
He nods. "I thought perhaps you wouldn't. Return, that is."
I shake my head, "I couldn't do that."
He smiles then, and I catch it. I catch it and fold it tightly into my palm. This one I wouldn't ever let get lost.