Watch Your Step
Word Count: 1240
“Get in the car, Vanessa.”
I glanced up from my phone. “Yeah, mom.”
We were on our way to the pumpkin patch out at Ludlum’s Farm. We’d gone there every year since I was three or something. I’m seventeen now, and I’m over it.
“Van!” Jewels whined and her twin, George joined in. They were six.
I didn’t look up from my phone. “Alright, alright.” I mumbled climbing into the car.
Marcus, my fourteen year old brother, joined me in the third row seats. He had a book in hand, as always.
“You’re gonna go blind,” I told him, pointing at the sun nudging towards the horizon.
“Not bloody likely.” He showed me his flashlight.
I grinned at him. “Well, don’t throw up on me, then, okay?”
I went back to my phone. Marcus and I, we understood each other.
“Van, I need you to help with the twins, okay? The baby’s already getting fussy. Just follow the twins, let ‘em pick out a small pumpkin— small I said George, okay? Are you listening?”
Both George and I mumbled something approximating, “Yeah.”
Of course, little Alana fussed the entire way there which put mom in one of her foul moods, the ones that are the color green. I didn’t blame Alana. You can’t blame a baby when it’s cold, tired, and dragged along like a purse. Plus, she’s only five months old. Everyone has their limits.
At least the day wasn’t too cold. The sun was bright, and the sky clear so it was a hoodie sort of day, not requiring more than a hoodie. Jewels yanked hers off in the SUV, of course, complaining she was hot, then complained that she was cold. I gave her mine just to shut her up. Marcus, I noticed, picked out the obligatory small pumpkin out of the first row, then settled himself on a haystack and began to read.
The twins cavorted all over the field. Apparently when you’re six years old, the fun part of all this is jumping over the pumpkins instead of picking one out.
That’s when it happened. George jumped at the same time that Jewels shoved him and he fell in a nice dramatic sideways arc and landed on one of the pumpkins, splitting it. By that time we were at the very edge of the farm, not really in the field anymore more like a private pumpkin plot. George cried like he’d split his head open or broken his leg–he’d done neither, and I slumped my way over to him.
“Oh, get up, George, already.”
He started frantically shaking his hand and that’s when I saw it. The fairy. Or what was left of one, smeared across my little brother’s palm.
“Stop moving!” I shouted at him wrestling with him and my scarf as well. “Let me bloody well wipe it off. Stop it, I say!”
He went stone still and blanched looking at something just beyond me. I turned around and shrank back.
Nine of them stood hovering over a pumpkin and every last one of their faces were angry. Blackened by fury. And don’t be fooled by the story books, these fairies had beady little red eyes and impossibly sharp claws. There was nothing dainty or friendly about them.
“Get behind me, George.” I whispered and for once I didn’t have to tell him twice. I slowly started backing up, pushing him back too. After a moment we both bumped into Jewels, who let out a cry of indignation. “Hush, Jewels,” I whispered.
I was too late, and they flew into the air and charged us.
“Run!” I screamed.
Purely on instinct I whipped my scarf at them and was surprised to see three of them tumble out of the air like a bolt of lightning had struck them. Either stunned or dead, I didn’t know and I didn’t stick around to see.
We were halfway across the field when one tangled in my hair and I could feel its sharp little teeth or claws on my scalp. I yelped and swiped at my head, dislodging it for just a moment. It was soon back or maybe it was another one, I’m not sure because I was in a state of sheer terror at that point. I even dropped my phone.
Both of the twins were crying, and their flight was getting erratic. I said a silent prayer that they wouldn’t trip..
I dislodged another fairy out of my hair, and it took a bite out of my finger. To get it off I grabbed its little leg and it ripped apart like cotton candy.
It was the grossest thing I’ve ever seen.
By that time two of the fairies were on the twins and I had to try to match their crazy zigzag run to pull the little bastards of of them. Jewels was keening this high pitched screech that would have split wood if any had been near by. I yanked one fairy off of her and snapped it, breaking its neck with so much force that it decapitated it.
The one on George was clawing his way around his shoulder and aiming for his jugular I’m sure of it, but George tripped again and landed right on top of it, crushing it flat across the front of his jacket.
I chanced a glance around and saw one last fairy glaring at me malevolently. It wasn’t advancing, and I was getting so tired running with my heart slamming around in my chest in protest that I had to slow. I kept an eye on that fairy though and by the time I reached Marcus on his haystack, it had flown the other direction. I sat down with a heavy thud.
“Dramatic much?” he asked me, not glancing up from his book.
“Holy. Geezus. Fuck.” I said, trembling.
The twins were over by the baby chicks incubator. Incredibly, they were laughing like nothing had just happened.
Was I crazy?
My brother finally looked up at me, “You look bug-eyed,” he said, but he didn’t look surprised, or concerned. “Move over a sec,” he said and when I did, he stood up, leaned over and smacked something with his book. I turned wide eyed to see the fairy, smashed into the haystack behind me. “Stupid fairies,” my brother said. “I don’t know why mom always comes back to Ludlum’s Farm. This happens every year.”
My mouth opened and closed.
“Well, come on,” he said and he wiped off the back of his book and walked me over to the incubator.
I felt better immediately, calmer, warmth soaking into my bones as the sun slipped over the horizon.
“Aw, I love baby chicks,” I said.
“I know,” he said.
Back in the car with five little pumpkins picked out for each of us kids, we buckled in and headed for home.
My fingers started to get that itch of boredom. “Hey, what happened to my phone?” I said, alarmed. “Mom, I can’t find my phone.”
Both Marcus and my mom said at the same time, “You left it at home.”
Oh, I thought. Okay.
“Hey, what happened to my finger?”
No one in the car answered me but Marcus winked at me and somehow I felt better, and forgot about it.
“This was fun, Mom. We should come back again next year.”