Everything is perfect. Your cat’s nestled into her pillow, the front door’s been locked, you’ve brushed your teeth. Your homework’s done, you think to yourself. Yes, you’re definitely done everything that you’ve got to hand in for tomorrow. You’ve read for half an hour, gotten cozy, pounded one last swig of water, and settled into the warm embrace of your duvet. The shadows around your room outline the cork board with photo collages of friends, the shelf crammed with books, and the ghostly movement of translucent curtains. A car passes by, and its headlights flash across the ceiling for the briefest of moments before they fade into the night. The room is completely lapsed in darkness, and everything is just as it should be.
They’re at it again. You can hear them skittering around your window and in the eaves lining the roof. Their wings sound like the buzzing of a million hummingbirds, or wasps, or maybe a bunch of bees. Buzz, buzz, buzz. Don’t they know how late it is? You thought they’d have more self-awareness. That’s what your mother always says. “Self-awareness and respect,” she grumbles every morning as she steeps her witch hazel tea. You all tend to suffer a bit once dawn breaks from the lack of sleep―how could you not? They’re constantly zooming around in their unusual attire and spiky haircuts like regular teenagers, making a ruckus and raising hell, but unlike humans, they’re hard to catch. They’re usually gone by the time one of the neighbors takes it upon themselves to get up and tell them off, leaving behind clouds of dust and, if it’s a rowdier night than usual, maybe some smashed eggs on a hapless home or graffiti on a defaced window.
But what can you do? The fairies―they’re unstoppable.
Back when the world was still trying to pretend that centaurs and chimeras were works of fiction, you read all sorts of lore on magical creatures. Surprisingly, they weren’t all the inaccurate―you know that you don’t want to cross an angry hydra (when one of its heads is hungry, you’ll want to make yourself scarce) and that hippogriffs are definitely the best flying companions. The fairies, though―those they got wrong.
You always thought fairies were like little helpers, flitting around in their leafy costumes and iridescent wings while bettering the world around them with their unexpected gifts and advice. Maybe it was because of the whole Walt Disney complex: Tinkerbell’s still the picture of fairy goodness for all the Non-Believers, and even though she had a bit of a temper in those Peter Pan movies she doesn’t hold a candle to the real deal.
First of all, they―fairies―do not wear clothes made out of leaves and grass and whatever else lies in the forest. You don’t know who came up with that, but clearly they weren’t very observant. Sure, fairies are small, but you can certainly see them. You think the ones who live around here just discovered spiked boots. They’re also the most temperamental of all the magical creatures―say the wrong thing and you’re doomed. They travel in groups and are equipped supersonic hearing, so crossing one literally means facing them all. You think back to a guy on the street who once called a passing fairy a “weak little sprite” and wince.
There didn’t used to be too many of those little devils running around this part of town, but there was an apartment complex built specifically for them a couple blocks away a few years ago (something about “increasing the sense of community between magical and…um…non-magical species”) and since then they’ve basically overrun the entire neighborhood. You suppose it’s not really their fault―back when the majority of humans couldn’t see them, they were able to do whatever they wanted without fear of any repercussions. As a species, they’ve also got quite the sense of humor―they like to play pranks and games and funny little tricks on unsuspecting victims. And all of this, combined with their naturally reckless natures, kind of makes them into the perfect troublemakers. In and out of all their missions, careful not to leave any evidence. It’s actually pretty admirable.
Sometimes, though, you just want to go to sleep.
You think you can hear someone yelling outside. Maybe it’s the Tamons; you think their son has an exam tomorrow that he needs to get a good night’s rest for. Or maybe it’s the Hoangs, irate that they can’t hear what’s going on in the latest PVR’d episode of How to Get Away With Murder. The noise is dying down, anyway. You don’t know how long it’s been, but finally the world beyond your window is silent and peaceful.
You’re glad you set your alarm. You’re going to need it.
—By Victoria C., 18, Alberta, Canada