Prose: Beltane in the Modern World

I was running around all weekend, so unfortunately I missed the chance to do something for midsummer. Never fear, I’ll probably play catch up this week if I can get a particular guest blogger to weigh in on the holiday. Until then, however, I thought I’d post a faerie-themed short. True, this was written with Beltane in mind, but I really like the sentiment and the surreal feeling to it.

Susan contributed the first line as a challenge. She likes to throw prompts at me because apparently I am the type of unicorn who just rolls with things. Apparently this freaks her out and makes her jealous in turn or something. It’s amusing to see her reactions, believe me. I like prompts because they force me to actually do something (I have a file of them on my desk top that I should probably be working my way through sooner than later), and they result in works that are usually out of the norm for me (and that’s saying something). I’d say something about the kinds of prompts I throw her way, but that would be way too incriminating.

This was originally written for a blog post for Mocha Memoirs Press, then it made its way into Lost in the Shadows, a quirky little book featuring stories that don’t hit one genre norm or another, for whatever reason that you should all go read right now because it’s weird and fun. Perhaps someday I’ll make a Midsummer equivalent, but until then, enjoy.

Beltane in the Modern World

It was a dark and stormy night and the fairies took over the stripper pole. It was the only recourse when Beltane fell on a moonless, rainy night and the last Maypole in town had been bulldozed decades ago to make way for a rest stop. It wasn’t the best solution, to be sure, but tradition had to be kept and the local strip was closer to the Faerie mound than the nearest field. Quietly they emerged from what unsuspecting mortals took to be an over-sized speed bump misplaced in a back alley. Through the years they adapted to life in the city, so pixies and elves, brownies and sylphs, redcaps and trolls emerged from their underworld home, all dressed for a night in the seedier part of town.

They grouped together in a lump, all staring up at the flashing sign for Tit-tania’s with eyes that were blue, green, yellow, orange, and black. Round and slit pupils widened and contracted at the convenient name. It was all the sign they needed that they were where they needed to be.

The mortals inside never knew what hit them, especially when gold coins pelted the dancers into fleeing the stage. The elfin maidens that took their place may have been dressed in club wear, but they moved with the grace of the ages-old and whirled around the poles with a fire that no mortal could replicate. Pixies swirled about their heads like sparks of light, so fast that their movements burned a trail of an after-image around the dancers’ heads,the streaks mingling with the long hair.  The brownies chugged beer since no ale was available, and trolls watched gaping mortal men out of the corner of their eye. The age of sacrifice and tithe was over, but if one of them reached a grubby hand for a Fae maiden, then they were more than happy to remind the humans why they were unworthy.

Businessmen, young men who were barely out of boyhood, old men with nothing better to do…they all gaped in awe at the display going on around them as the creatures in the audience joined hands and circled the perimeter in a dance as old as time. A particularly mischievous sprite cut off the blasting music and poised itself at the edge of the stage, pipes in hand. The sweet music drew the spurned human women back towards the stage to watch, tears streaming down their face as they viewed the grace that they’d never have. Their human audience stared, unable to reach for wallets. They didn’t need to; their admiration was something the celebrating Folk hadn’t had for a long, long time.

Into the night they danced and celebrated, invoking envy, nostalgia, and a heartbreak for the old days. Troll and lawyers guzzled liquor together, brownies hit on strippers jokingly, and all celebrated and danced to the ancient music, enjoying the holiday though most couldn’t even remember what it was.

Just as fast as the Folk had arrived, they disappeared. Leaves were left where their coins had been thrown and none of the club’s patrons could rightly remember what had happened or how much time had passed. They only had a strange memory of joy and an even stranger heartbreak of missing something they could not name.

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