Danna couldn’t figure out how she was going to collect the lottery money. She hadn’t thought she’d win, but she had, and quite a lot to boot: Four hundred and ten million dollars, which, according to the people she heard talking about it, was some kind of a record, the biggest lottery winnings in California history.
That’s good. She thought. Right?
But how was she going to collect? What was she going to do, just march her way into the lottery office and demand her money? First off, she questioned, how am I going to get from San Francisco to Sacramento…fly?
That was ridiculous.
Secondly, she bit her fingernails as she mapped out in her head all the steps she would need to take to try to make this happen, secondly, I don’t have any ID, and I would need ID. They wouldn’t believe I was old enough without it, and they’d need the number for tax sorts of things. Plus they’d want to know I was really me.
Moot point, she thought, since I don’t have an ID and don’t have any money to get an ID, or even a fake ID. Crap.
But the biggest thing keeping her from collecting her prize was the fact that she was only eight inches tall and invisible to the human eye.
Double crap, she thought, how am I going to do this? She wandered down the street in a daze, as oblivious to the presence of the humans rushing past her as they were to her presence. She stopped suddenly and wailed
Why, oh why did I buy that stupid ticket?
But she knew exactly why; when she picked up that fallen five dollar bill from the ground in front of the liquor store, she held it up to the light, trying to get a good look at the pictures on it. She turned to get a better view, and a shaft of sunlight shone directly onto the Lotto sign taped to the door in front of her (the lower door, right at her eye level.) Oh that orange… that orange was the most spectacular thing she’d ever seen, all lit up like the sunbeam was a spotlight focused just on that sign; it was the color of tiger lilies, only more so…like maybe tiger lilies if you woke up with a bad hangover and realized an hour later that the mushrooms you put in the breakfast weren’t the right kind. That orange was brilliant. And the turquoise? The turquoise was like the water in limestone pools filled by a sparkling waterfall…
Only again, more so.
She’d overheard the phrase “Colors not seen in nature.” And she knew these were the type of colors whereof they spoke, and that’s why she loved them.
She felt like it was a sign…okay, three signs, she thought, and she counted them on her fingers to be sure: the five dollar bill; the sunlight blazoned on the sign; and the sign itself…Wait does that make it four signs…if I include the overall sign that the other three signs make?
She was confusing herself. She shook it off, and knew: it was a sign, (or four signs) she was supposed to buy that ticket. She got confirmation of this when she had no problem at all buying said ticket. There was nobody in the store, except the cashier, engrossed in his newspaper. She flew up to the pedestal and pulled out one of the forms to fill out.
Numbers. She giggled. I love numbers. She grabbed the big pen (which would’ve been little to a human) and filled in the bubbles randomly, roughly following the example shown. She then flew to the counter with the lotto form and the found fiver. She pushed them to the cashier, right under his nose, and he never even looked up from his paper. He mechanically fed the form into the machine, put the money in the drawer, and handed Danna the printed ticket, all without taking his eyes from the sports page. This was working out great.
But here it was the next day, and things were no longer working out so well…Oh, she’d won, that was great, but winning was causing such a dilemma. How the heck am I going to collect? Humans couldn’t see her, they couldn’t hear her, and they didn’t know she existed. It’s not like she could walk up to someone and offer to share the profits in exchange for collecting on the ticket.
But some people could see her.
Specifically the smelly ones that looked like ogres, ogres who had fallen asleep for a thousand years…in their clothes no less, rumpled as they were. They looked like the cave they had slept in had repeatedly flooded and filled with mud, and the ogres had tossed and turned and the mud had caked all over those rumpled clothes, so thick and ground in that you couldn’t tell what color the cloth was when it was woven.
Yep, the ogres could see her. They could see other creatures too, apparently, creatures that Danna herself couldn’t see. The ogres had wild eyes, like the boar beasts in the forest back home, and perhaps that’s why the invisible types were visible to them, because they had different sorts of eyes. Or maybe it was something else.
She knew they weren’t really ogres, but what else was she going to call them? She tended to avoid them though, even though they could see her, both because they were so smelly, and, because most of them didn’t make a whole lot of sense when she tried to talk to them.
The ogres didn’t seem to mind the loss of her friendship, though. They had all sorts of other invisible friends to talk to, and they carried on conversations with them all the live-long day, wild conversations, full of nonsensical words and loud demands…
At the moment one of the ogres was yelling at Danna, pulling her from her thoughts. In her daze she had walked right into his home of flat cardboard. He wanted her to leave. NOW.
Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.
Crap was a human word she particularly liked. It expressed so much about things going wrong, like when you stepped into mouse droppings back home (mouse CRAP, she thought) and couldn’t get the sliminess off your shoes; or when an angry crow CRAPPED on your head, ruining your new dress. Crap was a great word. She couldn’t wait to use it on all her friends at home; she could practically hear their giggles and guffaws.
If she got home.
She had been the first faerie to enter San Francisco in a long time, when an earthquake had opened the portal between the realms that another earthquake had closed.
Portal between the Realms, she thought. It sounded so archaic after being in human-land for so long.
Doorway between dimensions? Too Sci-Fi.
The way home. Yep, that was it.
But the way was blocked. She was sure that with the lottery money she could unblock it. She was tired of being the only one of her kind around. She wanted her family, her friends, HER BOYFRIEND. Man, did she miss Podraig; she missed flying with him; she missed laughing with him; she missed sneaking off to hide in the lily petals to make out with him (though, truth be told, when they came back to the trees, each covered with the same golden pollen, everyone smirked with knowledge. They were fooling no one.) They were to have been married in a fortnight, and she was sure that had come and gone. She wondered what he thought about her disappearance. Did he think she had run away? Or did he think she was lying in a gully somewhere, dead as bones?
Okay, back to the task at hand, she thought, breaking herself from her reverie, how am I going to cash in on this glorious fortune that has fallen at my feet? (She knew this sounded dramatic, but, it had, after all, actually fallen at her feet, the bill floating down with the breeze and landing lightly on the sidewalk in front of her)(Besides, she liked being dramatic. It amused her.)
Gods. I wish I could grow tall and visible like the faerie in that movie that I saw.
(Movies, she surmised, were flat round things that were all the colors of dragonfly wings. They were held in flat square treasure-boxes until such a time as you fed them to flat black creatures with great flat hats on their heads [all the better to connect directly to their brains, she figured]. Once the creatures had eaten the movies, they showed you what they held by making their hats glow. It was a particular type of magic that Danna loved.)
In the movie Danna was thinking of, there was a tall faerie with big teeth that could grow to human size whenever she wanted. What was the faeries name?
Chink? Mink? Link? TINK. That was it, Tink. Short for Tinkerbell. Danna thought. Tinkerbell. What a ludicrous name for a faerie. Faeries were notoriously traditional when it came to names. Tinkerbell sounded made up, like the trolls did when naming their young. Well, trolls were stupid; they had to make up names, since they couldn’t remember the old ones. Faeries weren’t stupid. Faeries were smart; as smart as elves (unless of course you asked an elf, and then the faeries were far inferior in intellect.) Faeries stuck to names that had been handed down for millennia.
Her name, in particular bespoke the type of faerie that she was. She was of the Celtic variety, the Tuatha De Danaan. Her name was Danaan, or Danna for short.
Not all faeries were Celtic. Her own cousin Octavio was of the Spanish variety. There were Faeries from all parts of the world, with traditional names that told their lineage. She supposed there were even American Faeries, though Danna had never met one…and let’s face it, if there WERE faeries in America, San Francisco would be the place to find them.
In the time between Danna going through the portal, and the time wherein Danna found herself trapped in this realm, there was a man named Carl who had no idea that he was going to meet a faerie named Danna who was going to change everything about his life and how he lived it; about how he felt; about his happiness; about love; about every such thing. And in the moment between Danna stepping through the portal and the moment when Danna won that lottery that she didn’t know how to collect on, there was another moment, a moment that affected Danna deeply; and in that moment Carl was pissed. That damned earthquake , he had thought, it messed up everything. It had put him behind schedule and practically assured that he would not be getting his early completion bonus. Dammit. He wailed inwardly I need that bonus.
“What’s the trouble guys? I thought I told you to fill in that hole.”
“We’re trying, boss, but the more dirt we pour in, the bigger the hole gets.”
“Impossible.” Growled Carl “Look, just do whatever it takes; fill it with rocks and rebar, put some mesh over that, whatever, just do it. We gotta get this foundation poured. TODAY.”
“Okay boss, we’ll make it work.”
“See that you do.” Carl grumbled. He really was a nice man, but outwardly he seemed like a gruff old dog, with sad eyes and a ready bark.
He’d been that way since he lost his wife to cancer twelve years ago. Okay, really, he was always like that, but Sheila had had a way of teasing him out of his glum gruffness.
Carl had a daughter he doted on, Tracy. He needed the bonus money for her, so she could attend the big-wig college she’d been accepted to. Man, she was smart, and it’d be great to see his progeny not spend her life in the trades, like he had, and his father had, and his brother had…he had to make sure she could go to that fancy college, and not to the local JC. He made too much money as a contractor for his girl to qualify for grants and loans, but not enough to pay her tuition, let alone room, and board, and books. He had to get that bonus somehow.
So the guys used rebar to wedge rocks in the hole, put mesh on top and covered it with quick set. It probably wouldn’t pass inspection like this, but it wasn’t on a bearing part of the foundation, so they thought they could make it work.
And that was how Danna had found her portal when she was done exploring San Francisco and wanted to go home: covered with a hard bit of stone-like stuff, impenetrable for a small faerie. What on earth was she going to do?
She checked the portal at least once a day, hoping against hope that it would get better and open up for her. It got worse. The next day the whole area was covered with a tremendous sea of gooey grey stuff, and the day after that the gooey grey stuff was turning hard, and a few days after that a building was being built. Right on top of her portal. How was she going to get home?
A day or two later she won the lottery, and, without a resolution to the problem at hand, Danna decided to spend the day in Golden Gate Park. A spot of nature was sure to clear her mind. It wouldn’t be the same as back home, but being in green instead of surrounded by the grey stone-ish stuff of the city would make her feel better. It might even make her feel less lonely.
But probably not.
The birds here were just plain rude.
Oh, they could see her, hear her and understand her, but they weren’t kind and playful like the birds back home. They were mean.
“Why don’t you leave us alone, you tiny pathetic excuse for a human.” They sang to her when she tried to strike up a conversation. “Humans are supposed to ignore us, except when they’re throwing bread to us.”
“But I’m not a human,” Danna protested “I’m a faerie.”
“Ha.”, they shrieked back “Faeries haven’t existed in San Francisco for well over a hundred years. You’re lying.”
“I am not. Look.” She countered, spreading her wings and taking flight, trying to prove to them she was telling the truth.”
“That proves nothing.” One bird chided.
“Yeah” another accused “You probably went down to Palo Alto and had one of those high tech guys attach them. I bet they’re made out of pulleys and gears.”
How a bird would know anything about pulleys and gears was beyond Danna. She tried to fly closer to show them there were no pulleys and gears in her wings; that they were simple, organic, beautiful faerie wings, not mechanical at all.
The birds lit angrily from the trees as she approached. They wanted nothing to do with her, that was obvious.
The loudest, most obnoxious, and meanest bird of the flock flew directly above her; and crapped; on her head.
Danna was in tears as she tried to wash the crap out of her hair in the waters of Stow Lake. A squirrel hopped down from a tree and sat on a rock beside her.
“Hey. You okay?” he asked.
Danna had never much cared for squirrels back home. They were noisy, and full of themselves and pompous. At least this one was talking to her, though.
“Yeah…I guess.” She answered, and then choked on a sob.
“Oh honey,” the squirrel chirped “I saw what happened. Don’t worry about those guys, they’re a bunch of asshats, always trying to make everyone else miserable. I believe you’re a faerie. I really do.”
“You do?” asked Danna “Cuz I am.”
“I know you are sweetie. I can tell.”
This squirrel was nice. It made Danna so much happier just to finally have someone to talk to, besides the ogres, that is.
“So, how did a cute little faerie like you,” asked the Squirrel “end up in San Francisco?”
Danna relayed to him the whole story: she told him how she had been sleeping atop a dahlia when it started swaying violently, dumping her to the ground; how, once on the ground she realized it was swaying violently, or at least rocking, or maybe bouncing (no, I was bouncing, she thought the ground was jumping, or jolting, something like that.) and how a bunch of rocks fell away and formed a hole in the side of a bunch of other rocks; how she’d known it was a portal right away by the way it glowed, and how she had had to go through it, “for curiosity’s sake, of course.”
“Oh, of course.” Agreed the squirrel.
Then she told him the whole sad story of how she got trapped here.