The pixie was sitting on my phone when I woke up.
Now, here’s the thing. I’m blind, so it’s not as if I just rolled over and saw her. That would have been less startling. No. I rolled over and groped for the smart phone so I could check the time.
“Hey! Watch it, lady.” The voice was high and fluting, but not childlike at all. I’ve heard writers talk about bells when they describe that sort of voice, and that tracks, so long as you’re talking about one of those tiny bells.
I didn’t so much yelp as make a groggy-sounding mumble of confusion, and patted absently at my phone, wondering if I had somehow touched something on the screen that was playing some weird sound clip.
“I said to watch it,” the little voice complained, and I felt something small slapping at my fingers, followed by a buzzing sound, like an enormous fly or tiny hummingbird had gotten into the room.
“What the hell?” I asked, oh-so-intelligently, and finally got my hand onto my phone. Nothing was playing, though, when I swiped my fingers onto the screen.
“Are you awake now?” the voice asked, no longer coming from the vicinity of the phone.
So. Okay. I freaked out a little bit here. You would have, too. Imagine you woke up in a pitch-dark bedroom with a voice in there with you. That’s more or less like what it was for me.
“Not a thief with really bad timing or anything. Don’t go calling 911, okay? They’ll just think you’re nuts. I’m a pixie.”
“You’re… a pixie,” I echoed.
“Geeze. Yes. I’m a pixie. Are your next words going to be about how pixies aren’t real, or are they going to be about how you must be dreaming? Neither is true, both are over done.”
“No. They’re going to be about how I need either an infusion of caffeine or whiskey.”
“Let’s go with the coffee.”
Five minutes later, I had made it to the sofa, a steaming cup in my hands thanks to the marvels of my Keurig. The little voice had followed me around my apartment as I shuffled about, making occasional acerbic comments.
“Look. Would it help if I let you feel me?” it finally asked.
“Maybe. So long as you’re not talking about feeling your face. Because seriously, no one does that.”
“Nah. I was thinking about the wings.”
I felt the pressure of tiny feet landing on my forearm, and had to suppress the urge to flinch or jerk my arm. Only the fact that it chose the arm with the coffee cup in its associaited hand really stopped me. Still, I did very cautiously reach out and let my fingers run over a tiny little back to find delicate little wings there. There was also a tiny little dress and absurdly long hair. “So are you a girl or a boy pixie? Or neither? Both?”
“Girl pixie, thank you for asking.” She didn’t have to tell me to be careful, but of course she did anyway.
“Okay. You’re a pixie. Got a name?”
“Pixel the pixie?”
“You were expecting Dewdrop? Bluebell? Moonbeam?”
“I wasn’t expecting to be talking to a damned pixie this morning. But yeah. I guess if I had thought about meeting pixies, or small people with wings, they’d be named something like that.”
“Actually, that’s fair. We used to get names like that. But we move with the times, you know?”
“Sure. I guess. So you went from nature names to… what? Technology names?”
“Yeah. Mostly internet and computery names, anyway.”
“Okay. Why? I mean, why those names?”
“Because we don’t live in flowers anymore. You guys started killing them off, Or killing off the natural ones and cultivating the other ones. We learned a while back to stay the hell out of the gardens of little girls. Fortunately, you guys create as much as you destroy. That, and we sort of have to go where your priorities are.”
“Not to sound like a broken record, but why?”
I got a sigh. “Okay.” She moved to my shoulder. “Fairy FAQ time. First, I’m going to be using fairy as a generic term, okay? So. A lot of the old stories are real. Shoemaker’s elves. Bridge trolls. Beguiling mermaids that drown sailors. Enchanting Sidhe ladies. People under the hill who will totally mess you up if you overlook the smallest technicality in an agreement. All that stuff. It’s real. But it’s real because you believed it was real.”
I took a breath, but got cut off. “Save the questions.”
“Right. So. You human people? Your belief is a damned powerful thing. You pretty much believed your way down out of the trees, believed yourself into controlling fire, then went on believing yourselves to where you are now. Half the things you accomplish, you accomplished because you believed that you could. But you’re also storytellers. You’ve told stories since you learned how to communicate. Put those two together, and sometimes you believe other things into existance, especially when you tell the stories to your kids, whose beliefs haven’t had time to get dimmed by doubt. You told stories about fairies, so you got us. Living in flowers, fixing the shoes of impoverished cobblers. But you guys kept changing. Hell, not to keep coming back to them, but the shoemaking guys used to clean houses if you left saucers of milk or little cakes out. But you guys began to get a lot more focused on making stuff, so we moved along. These days, those guys are still tinkering with things. They’re the reason that it works when you fix a problem by turning the computer off then back on, no matter what the technicians tell you.”
“so when we focused on computers and the internet more than making shoes, you guys went with it?”
She allowed this question, so I guessed she’d come to the end of her pre-prepared little lecture. “Yup. So you’ve got pixies living in the internet. Actually, most of us do. Sometimes, the people trolling comment sections actually are trolls. All those hot singles near you? That’s where the mermaids went. The hot guy or girl on tinder that ghosts you? Sidhe. And you look at the technicalities of your average end user agreement and try to tell me that doesn’t remind you of those old stories about never eating a dog.”
“…the fact that what you’re saying makes sense may be the weirdest thing about all of this. But why are you telling me?”
“We need you.”
“You need… me. Specifically?”
“Well. Let’s say you made the perfect candidate. You like to write stories. We need stories. Also, people believe their ears more than their eyes. So we all figured that you being blind might help there. And you talk about both an awful lot on social media, so we found you with only a little bit of digging.”
“You want me to write about you? Like, what, publish a blog post exposing your reality to the world?”
“Oh, hell,, no. Besides. The algorithms would skin you alive. You know how people joke about their being sentient? It’s no joking matter, and believe me, they are scary, crazy bitches. Or bastards. Maybe we should go with assholes, actually, they don’t tend to take on genders like some of us. Like I said, I’m a girl. Most pixies are, because you guys think of us like girls, usually. Besides, the outfits are cute. Algorithms couldn’t give a crap about that. But I’m getting all distracted. Write stories. Put it all through the lens of fiction, and tell stories about us.”
“Why, though? I don’t mean why you guys want me to. I mean… look, this is fascinating and all, but I’m a writer. I don’t just take commissions for free. And if you say exposure, this conversation is over.”
“Yeah, we figured. No money. You wouldn’t accept it, anyway. I know the sorts of audiobooks you listen to, so figure you know about fairy gold. But the elves do still sometimes do housekeeping. If they like a person. You’d sure as hell always have a fast connection. And the algorithms would certainly smile on you a lot more. Even if you call them assholes, they’re weirdly proud of it.”
“Huh. Actually, that’s an awfully tempting deal. Sweeping the floor is the bane of my existance.”
“You don’t even have to stick to the outright truth. I mean, you can, because no one is going to believe that what you’re writing is real, but if you just stick an odd fairy or pretty person with pointy ears or whatever into your writing, that’s enough. People don’t have to believe with all their hearts that we’re real. It’s enough if a bunch of you believe long enough for the usual suspension of disbelief in a story. There’s so many of you now, that can be enough.”
“And if I start with this conversation?”
I heard the tiniest little snicker. “Actually, that’s a good idea. You should do that.”
And that is how I became a ghostwriter for internet fairies. You don’t have to believe that the story is true. My apartment is getting cleaned either way, and you would not believe how quickly I can download movies.