Bee kicked the leaves at her feet. Her blond hair brushed against her face as a breeze curled its way round her body. Hugging herself tighter across her chest, she tried to squeeze out all the warmth from her duffel coat. Faint dog barks echoed in the distance, creating a mellow tune along with the birds that flock the grey sky and the river that ran along the gate in the far distance. She circled the oak tree that sat in the middle of the vast grass area, her hand feeling each ageing crack in the trunk. The tree was supposed to be the heart of the town. Bee never quite understood how you could call a tree that caused so much grief, such a positive name.
The town police said it was only a coincidence, but there was a lot they didn’t know. Bee’s seen their reactions. Right before they get torn out of their picture perfect lives. She knew their wolf cries, their howls and their deafening screams. She hadn’t become immune to their sounds yet but by gritting her teeth and scrunching her eyes shut, she has always managed to pull through.
“Come on, Gab, let’s do it. Nothing bad will come of it.” A male figure approached from behind the tree. He dragged a girl, the same age, with a blonde plait behind him. Young naive teens. She flirtatiously laughed until he started to reach out to the tree holding out a sharp object. Bee turned herself into the shadow of the tree as she hoped the darkness would hide her.
“Don’t be so stupid!” The girl reached for his arm as he pointed the sharp object towards the trunk. Bee’s throat suddenly became dry as her heart began to hammer harder in her chest. After her heart, it was the scratching in her throat, which always terrified her. She shut her eyes as she tried to blank out her surroundings.
“Ah, come on! Are you scared of a little story?” Rob teased before throwing back his head and filled the air with his laugh. He tried to swing his arm round Gab’s shoulders, but she crossed her arms and jostled away from his touch.
“I’m serious. Don’t do it Rob.”
Rob’s eyes widen and his smug smile quickly vanished as a loose brown strand of hair fell onto his forehead. A breeze passed that whirled the Gab’s dress. Rob seemed to tense as the wind tickled the back of his neck.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” he said softly and slowly approaching Gab, “I was just joking around. I promise.”
He opened his arms out and Gab reluctantly accepted the hug. Gab pulled back and smiled up at Rob, accepting his apology, then merrily walked off, hand in hand.
Bee uncurled herself from the tree and stepped back, eyebrows knotted. She never understood relationships. They caused problems. She saw her parents go through the typical happy stages before it all went terribly wrong. She never understood how they fell in love. Her mum was from a family who looked down at anyone who was below them, which was an issue when she married her dad, a taxi driver.
“When I saw your mother I felt like Jack watching Rose come down those steps in the Titanic,” my dad would always chuckle at the memory, “’ccept we hadn’t been introduced yet, I must have looked like a creepy young lad.”
Bee had seen photos of them together, her mum’s brown hair neatly sat on top of her head and glistening blue eyes, and then her dad: short, nearly bald and clothing with stains all over. Everything crumbled when she was eight. Her memories had mostly vanished along with her parents. She remembered the raining tears but nothing else.
But before Bee could let her mind wonder off, she felt her hands glow warm, her pale skin turning into a sickly yellow neon glow. It was Them trying to get her attention. She ran round the tree to find the trunk hollow in the oak, resting a little below eye level.
“I love seeing the expression on your face every time your hands light up,” said the voice from within, “You can stop it from happening if you turn up on time.”
A fae. But none of those stereotypical faeries that you see in the Rainbow Magic books in the local children bookshops. These were real. Each around the size of a thimble, wearing dark forest-like colours to blend in with their living area and have wings that spun out up to their elbows. Their teardrop shaped eyes glowed a florescent orange.
“Sorry, Elis.” She muttered, “But I am looking out for your safety here. Humans were around.”
Elis walked out into the light that streams into the hole. He liked to break the code of ‘fae wear’ by wearing cotton clothing rather than the natural leaves. If you shrunk a skater boy, with his beany hat and vans, you would get Elis. His long dark hair hangs over his eyes and he stood slightly slouched. It made Bee laugh how differently he presented himself and he had yet to confess how he managed to get his unique attire. She wasn’t quite sure how the other faes accepted him as the leader but apparently he “inherited” the role, so there was nothing they could do anyway.
“Bee, have you got what we asked for?”