When the pixie stepped out of the rhododendrons, Abigail gave it only the barest attention before she returned to the half finished daisy chain snaking in the grass before her. She saw fairies in the garden all the time. This one didn't look very interesting. She might talk to it later, if she had nothing better to do. Pixies only startle people who don't expect to see them, otherwise it's just like seeing a rabbit, or a butterfly, or other common garden creature. This was the sixteenth pixie Abigail had encountered since moving to the new house. She knew, because she'd counted.
The house in the country had been her father's idea. Something about bracing country air and living in green and not grey. Abigail hadn't really listened. It didn't make much difference to her where they lived, so long as wherever it was had books and pencils and big windows you could stare out of and watch people through. The new house had the books and the pencils and even the windows, though there were no people to watch through them.
The new house also had a garden. It was green and had daisies in it and there was a beehive in the corner which you weren't allowed to go near in case you got stung. There was a bush which scratched your arms and your face if you didn't take care. There was an apple tree you could sit in and read your book, if you promised not to tear your clothes. There were animals which dug under the fence and stole the vegetables and the strawberries. There were also fairies.
Abigail liked talking to them at first. She liked people and fairies were, basically, just very small people. The difference was that when you got bored of people and asked the to go away, they did. The fairies in the garden stayed until they were bored, talked when they wanted to talk, threw apples at you if there were apples to be thrown and so disrupted whatever you tried to do. They laughed if you asked them to leave, politely or otherwise; and adults never noticed them, so they didn't move for them either. They left only when they wanted to. The best way to get rid of them was not to give them a reason to stay; so Abigail usually ignored them. She was going to ignore this one.
The daisy chain she was making was a long one, thirty one daisies and one clover she had put in when she wasn't concentrating properly. She scanned the remaining flowers carefully, looking for the biggest, the thickest stalked, the one which had lost the least petals.
The cough was a quiet one, muffled by a small hand, but in the still morning, broken only by bird song and the lazy buzzing of bees, it was loud enough to be heard clearly. Abigail knew it came from the pixie, as she knew it was meant for her, but she ignored it. Her eye had just alighted on another perfect daisy.
The cough was louder this time, sharper and there was no hand to muffle it. Abigail reached out and squeezed the daisy stem between finger and thumb. I don't want to talk to you, she thought to the pixie. You're boring. Please go away.
The kick came as a surprise. None of them had ever kicked her before. The foot that delivered it was incased in a small, pointy, steel capped boot. The pain in her calf was sharp, there would probably be a bruise. A big, purple black one. She cried out slightly and as she did, her arm jerked. The daisy stem between her fingers broke, right below the flower. She wouldn't be able to use it now.
"Look what you did!" She shouted to the pixie, before she could stop herself.
"Well you wouldn't listen would you?" He said.
"I didn't want to." Abigail scowled petulantly, crushing the flower in her hand.
"I want doesn't get." The pixie taunted. "Do you know it's rude to talk to someone with your back to them?"
"It's rude to kick people, especially if they haven't kicked you first, especially if you don't know them." Behind her, she heard the pixie blow a raspberry.
This one, Abigail thought, was annoying. He was going to be persistent, she could see that. He didn't plan on being ignored. She opened her hand and let daisy petals trickle through her fingers like sand grains.
A small shadow was cast over the grass in front of her, as a miniature figure flew from behind her to hover in front of her nose; hands on hips, lips stretched in an impish grin, wings pushing gently at the air with a slight buzzing sound.
Abigail wrinkled her nose. "What are you wearing?"
He sighed theatrically. "Would you believe me if I told you it was traditional dress among my people?"
She shook her head. "No. They usually wear leaves and flowers stitched with grass, or something. That," she said, tipping her head on one side, considering, "is a nightie."
The pixie's face had gone slightly red. "Look, I don't like all that flowery stuff alright? Never have, but proper material's very hard to come by." Abigail grinned.
Aside from the nightie, the pixie didn't look much different from others she had seen. Short, silver blonde hair, eyes that changed from sky blue, to sea green, to hazel, depending which way you looked at him. He had a sharp chin, pointed ears, wings that resembled those of a dragonfly. He must have been about five inches tall, bigger than many she'd seen, even if she could still send him flying with a flick of her finger. The boots which had left her calf still throbbing were dark brown leather, with shiny silver caps.
"Why'd you want to talk to me so much?" She asked him. "Who are you anyway."
"My name is not important." He told her "I'm bored."
"Read a book." Abigail turned back to the daisy chain.
"Don't like books."
"Don't like drawing."
"Talk to someone."
"I'm talking to you."
"Talk to someone else."
"Don't like anyone else. Don't like you either, but at least you make a change."
Abigail sighed. "Do you like anything?"
The pixie who's name was not important shook its head. "Nope."
She rolled her eyes. "Now you're just being difficult." With great care, she picked another daisy from the lawn, split its stem and, with a flourish, added it to her chain. Thirty three flowers. Finally.
"Do you want to play hide and seek?" The pixie asked.
She considered. She did quite like hide and seek, but she didn't like the pixie she would be playing with. Besides, she had a daisy chain to finish.
"You're too small, you could hide anywhere and I wouldn't find you. You could hide in the flowers, or the compost heap, or the hollow in the apple tree or even the bee hive and I wouldn't see you, because you're too small. You'd always win."
"I would." Said the pixie, satisfied. "I wouldn't hide with the bees though. Very nasty. I don't like bees."
"I do." Said Abigail, watching his shudders with amusement. "Buzz."
"Stop it." He muttered. Abigail only smiled wider.
The pixie aimed a kick at her nose, but she dodged to the right. "Buzz."
The pixie tried another kick, this time to her chin. Abigail winced as the boot connected with her face. "Stop it."
"You stop buzzing." Said the pixie.
"Shan't" She stuck out her tongue and blew a raspberry, then "buzz." The pixie lashed out again with his foot, digging the point of his boot into her cheek. It stung. She felt a drop of something warm and wet trickle down her face and drop into the grass.
"You made me bleed!" She exclaimed, but he just grinned.
"Go away." She told him firmly, but he didn't budge.
"Shan't." A second drop of blood was following the first.
"I warned you." She told him, quickly dropping the daisy chain. Unsure what she meant to do, he was too slow to get out of the way. A lazy flick of the finger sent him tumbling through the sky and down again into the blackberry bush. A strangled moan floated through the air, but nothing else followed.
The morning was still again, filled with twittering birds and the smell of apple blossom, with not a pixie laugh or cry. Abigail lay back with a sigh and watched a ladybird crawl through the grass, each new blade a mountain to be scaled. She reached out a finger and lifted him up. She liked holding insects. The movement of the ladybird's tiny legs made her hand tickle pleasantly.
She had a ladybird and a very long daisy chain, it was almost lunchtime. The annoying pixie was gone and probably wouldn't come back, though you never knew with them. She would get a plaster for the cut on her cheek and the bruises on her calf and chin, which still stung, but not for much longer. The bleeding had stopped. The sun was shining. All was right with the world.
She never thought she might have hit him too hard.
In the tangle of brambles in the corner of the garden, a tiny, winged figure lay broken and still, as a dark liquid leaked into the soil. In the flower bed from which he had emerged, three pairs of eyes stared malignantly at the girl in the grass.