The First Night of Spring
Dog Rose moved silently across the neatly trimmed grass of the park, heading towards the locked gates on Manor Road. Tonight, he would take his route around the Victorian terraced houses that lined the streets there. This was one of his favourite routes but he hadn’t travelled it for several nights. He liked to vary the routes he took, never to be seen in the same place two nights on the run.
When he reached the locked gates, Dog Rose simply gave a shiver of his body and passed right through them. For a fairy like Dog Rose it was easy to shift the reality of his body and pass through any solid object; but that was barely one of his talents.
The humans were still arguing about when spring actually began and had been so for centuries now, they still couldn’t agree when it was. But the fairies, like Dog Rose, had always known when spring began, and tonight was that night. Dog Rose intended to mark the night with something special, something he had been searching to do for so long.
This area had been his territory for centuries now. He had lived here ever since he’d been brought into this life. Back then there had been an entire community of fairies living here and he’d relished their company. Back then this all had been open countryside and farmland full of long narrow fields with thick hedges, even orchards full of trees. Over the following decades and centuries Dog Rose had watched the city slowly and relentlessly cover over this area. He saw the fields turned into factories and streets of terraced houses. Now the only open areas were the patches of grass and neat parks in the east end of the city.
As the area changed, swallowed up by the city, the other fairies had left or drifted away. They had said the city was no place for them but Dog Rose didn’t agree. As the city grew around him, he found his new environment fascinating, there were so many new opportunities here, so many more chances for mischief as more people came to live here and the new buildings went up.
As the other fairies left, increasingly Dog Rose found himself on his own, and the more he found himself alone, the less pleasure he found in creating mischief. For the last handful of decades, since he had been the only fairy in the area after White Daisy left to find herself the countryside again, he had barely committed any mischief, there was no pleasure in it anymore. In the company of other fairies, he could revel and laugh as the humans tried and searched for the cause of his mischief; alone it just felt pathetic, as when he had been a human child and had been forced to play alone. Though he hated to admit it, Dog Rose was lonely and longed for company of his own kind.
It had been raining during the day before and the pavement Dog Rose moved over still had the odour of moisture, there were still the occasional puddles to reflect the clear night sky. Even at this late hour of the night, the streets were still not dark, light poured out onto them from the houses and down from the street lights that lined them, but still Dog Rose was not concerned. He could easily make himself disappear if a human was wondering along those streets.
The boy called Ryan was there again, sitting out on the flat roof of the extension to his home, the last house on Livingstone Street. The boy was still staring up at the night sky, his legs pulled in front of him as his whole body was pulled down in sadness. Dog Rose had seen him many times before, over many nights he had even struck-up a kind of friendship with the boy, though Dog Rose had appeared to the boy in the guise of another youth.
Unseen, Dog Rose drifted up to the flat roof and then with a shiver of his body turned himself into his disguise, the one the boy had seen before. Then he walked around the roof to the boy and sat down next to him.
“Hello,” Dog Rose said.
The boy turned towards him and Dog Rose saw that the boy’s face was swallowed with a large and angry bruise. Seeing Dog Rose, the boy’s face broke into a smile, though the corner of his mouth was pushed down by that bruise.
“You came back,” the boy said. “I haven’t seen you in days.”
“I’ve been occupied, you know how it is, but I’d never not come back, not to you. What happened to your face?”
“My dad found another gay mag in my bedroom. He said he’d beat the gay out of me, this is what I got, and the kicking to my back. God I hate him, I wish he was dead or I was dead or a million miles away from here. I hate it.” A tear appeared in the corner in his eye as he spoke.
“Why don’t you leave, run away?”
“I’m sixteen and I’ve got no money and nothing. I ain’t got a job and he takes what benefit money I get. I’m stuck here until I can get a job or something.”
“You could run away with me?” Dog Rose said.
“You’re no older than me, you got any money or anything?”
“I’ve got something better?” With a shiver Dog Rose cast off his disguise, his body falling back into its true form. His skin glowing silver, his blonde hair falling over his tunic with its matching britches, and his translucent wings rising out of his back. His body slipping down to its real size as his wings lifted him up into the air.
“Oh God,” the boy whispered, his face filling with delight.
“Come with me,” Dog Rose said.
“Yes,” the boy replied.
Dog Rose lent forward and placed his mouth over the boy’s. In a deep and passionate kiss Dog Rose drew out the human spirit of the boy and breathed into him new and magical life. It was a kiss of love and new life, the same kiss that Dog Rose had received when, centuries ago, he was first drawn into this life.
Dog Rose led Lichen, his new companion and the first new fairy in this area for over a century, back up Livingstone Street, at an almost break-neck speed. With delight rushing through his body, Dog Rose was taking Lichen to start a night of mischief. They would light this area up with their pranks and humour and Dog Rose could feel Lichen’s excitement already bubbling over as they rushed along hand-in-hand.
Lichen was already chattering away about getting his revenge on the man who had been his father, making the man’s life a living misery, and Dog Rose smiled broadly back, sharing in his new companion’s delight.
Arthur Riches walked back along Livingstone Street, heading back towards to his house. It was six-thirty in the evening but he could still feel everyone in the street, from behind their window and curtains, judging him. He had been living with those accusing and judgmental looks from everyone for three weeks now, ever since the body of his sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, had been found on the flat roof of their house’s extension, that Thursday morning.
He’d spent four hours being questioned by the police that morning, and they’d had him back for questioning twice more since then. It was always with the same two coppers, the man and the smart-arsed woman, was the police full of women now he kept wondering, and always they pressured him, saying they knew he’d killed Ryan. The second time they questioned him they’d confronted him with evidence of the beating he’d given Ryan, with the bruises and old injuries they’d found on the boy’s body. He’d had to admit the truth, even though his solicitor had hissed to keep silent, that he’d given the boy the odd beating to knock the queer out of him. No kid of his was being queer. The woman copper had ruffled her feathers at that, women did but it was the truth. After his third questioning, his solicitor had told him that the police had no idea what had killed Ryan. Great, Arthur Riches thought, all the money his solicitor was costing him and this was the best the man could do.
His life had quickly been flushed down the toilet since Ryan’s death, everyone acted like he was the one who had killed the boy, as if the odd beating could kill the boy? Arthur Riches had lost his job, his boss said it was because of the turn down in orders, but Arthur Riches knew the real reason. The man couldn’t look him in the eye as he sacked him, he thought Arthur Riches was some sort of child killer. Two days after the boy death’s Tracy, his wife, had left him. She too blamed him for the boy’s death and she couldn’t keep her fat mouth shut. Even his other two kids, Shame and Gemma, older than the boy and already moved out of his house, were refusing to talk to him. No one would speak to him now, they just looked at him like he was some kind of killer.
Since he’d lost his job and Tracy had left, Arthur Riches found himself so short of cash. No longer could he afford a night out at his local pub, even if no one there would talk to him, so he now had to go to the local office licence for his drink. Tonight, all he could afford were four cans of lager, carried in his left hand now, though the Polish woman behind the counter had sneered at him as she sold him them. He wanted to shout at her to go back to her own country, but the last time he’d done that he’d found himself on the end of a police caution.
As he neared his own front door, his next-door-neighbour’s door opened, and Cecelia Dwamena stepped out onto the pavement. The black woman’s hair was covered with an elaborately coloured scarf, and her stout body was covered by her dull green, woollen coat. She turned and walked straight towards him.
As she drew level with him, she had glared angrily at him and sucked in the air through her teeth.
The resentment broke inside of Arthur Riches and he snapped:
“What you staring at!”
“Something that should be in prison for child murder,” Cecelia Dwamena shot back at him.
Arthur Riches felt his right fist clench in anger, but he didn’t dare strike the woman. Cecelia Dwamena had a mean right fist on her, and he’d seen her use it.
“I didn’t kill the boy, I didn’t!” He shouted back at her.
“Tell it to the judge because the jury don’t believe you,” she replied, her voice dripping with disbelief.
“I didn’t! I didn’t do it!” Arthur Riches shouted.
“And God is punishing the whole neighbourhood with this poltergeist making our lives miserable because of your sins,” Cecelia Dwamena told him, before pushing past him and stomping off down the street.
He stood there for a moment, looking up at his own house. There had certainly been a lot of vandalism around here of late. Every night someone would ring his front door bell and run off, usually in the early hours of the morning. Over the past two weeks a half brick had been thrown through his living room window and the window on his front door, both were now boarded up. Every night something was spilled or thrown over in his backyard. Then there were all the broken street lights, over turned bins, car alarms set off nightly and weird graffiti appearing all everywhere. Was this the poltergeist that Cecelia Dwamena claimed?
Arthur Riches shuck his head, that woman had got to him again, and turned to push his key into his front door. As he did so he felt someone staring at him and could have sworn that he heard those two voices laughing at him. He turned around quickly, to shout at them to leave him alone, but the street behind him was empty. God but he needed a drink, he told himself as he pushed his way into his house, but he could only afford four cans of lager to last him to the end of the week.