Higher Walls, Sharper Wire
(c) 2013 Lyn Thorne-Alder
In other towns, they’d been told, they put the fae-types behind walls and barbed wire.
After all, there was a war on, and the fae were attacking humanity. It made sense to put those they could in prison, to protect their towns and cities.
In Greenville, they had discussed that. Then they’d watched the news, and the creatures tearing through larger cities and ripping through each other, flying overhead like demons, like super-villains.
They’d looked at the three people they were pretty sure might be fae, three out of their town of ten thousand. And the three had looked back at them – a woman who had been ancient as long as any of them could remember, a teenaged kid with an uncanny way of being where he needed to be, and The Man.
They didn’t look like monsters. They didn’t look like the sort of people that would tear down a city for fun. And the sort of people that could tear down people for fun didn’t look like they could be held back with razor wire, anyway.
So the people of Greenville politely invited the three fae to move into a couple nice houses on the outskirts of town, and then they built a wall, a very tall wall, keeping themselves securely inside. There, they said to each other. That’s done with.
And there was the boy, inside, sitting on the stoop of the mayor’s house, talking to the mayor’s daughter. And the mayor’s daughter, smiling back at the boy, chatting and gossiping as if he wasn’t kin to their enemies.
The mayor escorted the boy to the edge of the wall, and ordered the wall built five feet taller, with spikes at the top. Iron spikes. The old lady had told them that iron could kill fae, and everyone knew that was true. All the fairy tales said so.
The people in Greenville continued about their lives. The monsters were outside, so said the news reports. They were tearing down bigger cities. They were taking over states, and Middle-Eastern countries, and the Alps. But Greenville had its wall, and they had food. And three fae living outside the wall.
And then the mayor came home to find the fae boy in bed with his daughter.
Over his daughter’s protests – and there were quite a few – he threw the boy out and ordered the wall built taller again, with razor wire twisted over the top and bits of hawthorn sticking out all over the place. Hawthorn, said the expert on TV, was poison to the fae. Of course that did not much good when they were breathing fire on you. The expert on TV hadn’t lasted long.
And Greenville continued to limp along. The cities outside were having more and more problems. The fae had taken what they wanted and left the rest a mess. People were dying. People were being enslaved. Inside their walls and wire and iron, the townsfolk were happy. They had food. They had heat. They were better off, now, than most of the world. They had nothing to complain about.
Except the fae boy. It was too late, now; the mayor’s daughter was already pregnant. But they could keep the father out – or so they thought.
The day the baby girl was born, the fae boy was there at the mayor’s daughter’s bedside, his eyes wet with unshed tears. He held the baby defiantly, and could not be moved.
“You cannot be here.” The mayor was firm.
“I am here.” The boy was just as firm. He was also, the mayor noticed, taller than the last time he’d been seen, and broader of shoulder. And the mayor’s daughter, sweaty from childbirth, stood up next to the boy.
“He is here to stay.” There were no tears now; she didn’t need them.
“We sent the fae away.” The mayor tried to placate, now. “You see what violence is going on in the world. These returned fae are causing trouble all over the place. And humans like us, normal, frightened humans, are hurting the fae in return. We don’t want you to be hurt; we don’t want our city to be hurt. So you need to leave.”
The boy looked at the mayor. He looked at the baby in his arms; he looked at the mayor’s daughter, her hair slick with sweat and her expression grim.
“I crossed the Atlantic.” He seemed to grow a little taller. “In a boat most people wouldn’t cross a river in, these days.”
“That’s all well and good, but…”
The boy’s voice grew louder. “I lived on fish from the ocean, and mushrooms in the forest, when this place was nothing but a few stone huts.”
“A pretty fairy tale, but I remember your…” The mayor trailed off uncertainly. He didn’t actually remember this boy, although he remembered many of the people in this town. He had been an obstetrician before he’d become mayor.
“A pretty fairy tale for a fairy.” The boy handed his child to the mayor’s daughter. “I built your town hall with my bare hands. I waited here, have waited here for centuries, for the one I would love. And you think razor wire will keep me out?”
“Love?” The mayor did not know what else to say. “Love? My daughter?”
The boy nodded angrily.
“And she loves you?”
“She does.” The mayor’s daughter spoke for herself.
“Well then.” The mayor was not, after all, an unreasonable man. He coughed. “Why didn’t you say so, son?”
After all, there were stronger protections than razor wire.
Lyn lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York State with her husband and two cats. She enjoys hiking gorges and old cemeteries, knitting, sewing, drinking wine, and watching the geekiest television she can find.