Glitterface was a sad fairy. She did not have any friends.
She knocked back a thimble of tequila.
She put the thimble back down on the bar. She stared at it, but it didn’t do anything. She poked it. It tottered a bit. Or maybe that was her. She wasn’t sure.
She’d had a friend, once.
“Would you like another?”
The bartender, who was pretty cute really with sort of bluey-purplish wings, poured more tequila in her thimble. Glitterface decided that she liked the bartender. The bartender was a very nice sort of girl, the sort of girl who gave her more tequila.
“Would you like to be my friend?”
The bartender looked at her. Glitterface thought that she saw terrible secrets hidden deep within the girl’s eyes. She imagined she could see years of torment and pain. Years of being haunted by a pair of long thin shimmering hands.
Glitterface also thought that she might be projecting a bit, and also she knew that she was pretty drunk.
“Your eyes are pretty.”
“That’s what all the fairies say.”
“Yeah, but they don’t really mean it, see?”
She picked up the thimble and slammed the tequila down. Maybe tonight she wouldn’t dream about the hands.
She paid for her many tequilas. With real gold, not fairy gold. She really did like the cute little bartender.
She wandered out of the bar. It had rained at some point while she’d been inside. The reflection of the bar’s blue fairy lights on the wet pavement was terribly depressing.
She took a moment to consider her options. She could go home. But he would be there. And he would look at her. And if she could go to sleep, she’d dream about the hands. Even if she was drunk.
She decided to go to the graveyard. One more time. Maybe this time would be different. Maybe being drunk off her glittering face would help somehow.
Glitterface rose up into the air, a bit unsteady on her wings, and flitted off into the night.
She only made it a block before the years of torment and pain got to her again. She headed back into the bar and bought a few more thimbles of tequila.
She pictured the hands. They had sculpted dragons who were so lifelike that she swore they breathed fire. They had painted pictures of fairies who looked like they’d step off the canvas and get all up in your face and tell you that you could never glitter the way they did, that you would never be good enough or pretty enough, that all the glitter in the world was rightfully theirs. The hands had made impossible notes come from any instrument they touched, music that got down in your soul and made you long for something you’d never known, some magical world where fairies went on epic quests and destroyed evil and won against usurper queens.
She’d loved the hands. Though she’d never called the fairy they were attached to by his rightful name. He’d never been Shimmerhands to her. She’d always called him Shimmerbutt.
She’d told him to be careful, but he hadn’t listened. His songs and his paintings and his sculptures were all so beautiful. She wept at the memory of their beauty.
But in this world, beauty could only belong to the Fairy Queen.
She finally made it to the graveyard. She’d had to pay for her last round with fairy gold, because she was all out of real gold. She’d never be able to look the cute bartender in her pretty eyes again.
She sat on the ground in front of his stone. The grass was still a bit wet from the rain earlier, but she didn’t care.
They had come for him one night. He’d been playing one of his songs on his fiddle, a soul deep song about love and hate and the sky and the ground and winter and spring, and she had ached for that other world, that imaginary world where things made sense, where there was justice and beauty and stories about glorious heroes who knew right from wrong and who battled for what was good.
They’d ripped the fiddle out of his hands and they’d smashed it to pieces on the ground, right in front of him. They’d kicked him. She’d seen their boots, with their curly pointed steel toes. They aimed at his hands. She’d seen his fingers bend backwards. She’d seen his face go gray.
In the real world, there was no justice. There was no right or wrong. There was no good. There was just her, hiding in the shadows from the Queen’s goons, and him, lying broken on the grass next to his shattered fiddle, his hands mangled and useless.
They had carried him away. She’d never heard from him again.
She had tried to warn him. She had told him that if he kept sharing his beauty, if he kept playing in public and showing off his paintings and selling his sculptures, that the Queen would hear of him. But he would not listen. He said that beauty should be shared. He said that life would not be worth living if he could not create, if he could not share his creations, if he could not increase the number of beautiful things in the world. She’d stared at his hands as he talked. The hands had shimmered in the sun.
Glitterface looked at her own hands, dull and lifeless as they were, and wept.
They had dumped his body off at the city morgue one day. It wasn’t a common occurrence. She’d heard of the mass graves around the Queen’s palace.
She came to him the night after his burial, armed with a shovel and her magic.
Perhaps the Queen had known about her. Perhaps the Queen had counted on her desperate need to see her friend again, the only friend she’d ever had. Perhaps the Queen was laughing at her now, off in her stupid ugly palace with all the dead bodies all around her.
She’d thought of that vast number of dead bodies, of course, and how they could be turned on the Queen. But on inquiry – careful, quiet, secret inquiry – she’d found out that the Queen kept her own army of necrofairies, that the dead all around her palace were already under her control.
So, yes, it must have been on purpose. She must have known exactly what she was doing.
There was no point in even searching the grave anymore, really. If they’d been here, she would have found them.
Glitterface sighed. She stood up, brushed the grass off the back of her skirt, and flitted towards home.
She stumbled through the door, wanting to just go to bed, to just go to sleep and never ever wake up, even if she did dream about the hands for eternity. He was there, waiting.
He looked at her.
She looked back at him, at the rage and hatred burning on what was left of his face.
She’d never been able to find his hands.
That was why she had not given him back his tongue.