The Magic Touch(6)

By: Dara England




Danny didn’t know what it was that woke him a few hours later. One minute he was deep in the middle of some bizarre dream, a weird journey back to his high-school days where Coach Simpson was yelling at him on the basketball court and invisible fairies were giggling at him from the sidelines. The next minute he was airborne, leaping out to make a slam dunk, the likes of which he’d never made in real life. The net was coming closer, he felt light as air, he was sure he was going to make the basket this time…

And then he came crashing back to earth. The high school gym disappeared and Coach Simpson’s voice in the background faded to nothing. For a brief instant Danny didn’t know up from down. And then his head bashed into something solid and wooden. With a yell, he rolled around until he got his head above the level of his feet again. Dazed and disoriented, he took in his situation and found himself sprawled on the living room floor, his head throbbing from its impact against the edge of the coffee table.

What was he doing here? It took a moment for the memory of the previous night to sink in. Then he remembered a strange dream about an “I’m a fairy” woman sleeping in his bedroom and him being pushed into a restless night on the narrow living room couch.

Right. The godmother chick. Was she just another dream? Beneath the broad light of day, any other idea seemed impossible.

He scrambled to his feet, rubbing at the tender spot on his head, and loped off down the hallway to peer into his bedroom. He expected to find his clothes scattered around the floor and the bed messy but unslept in. What met his eyes instead was nothing short of a nightmare. The godmother woman of his dream was nowhere in sight, but whatever had hit this room had been very real and had left its mark.

The comfy blue-and-tan plaid comforter he used to bury himself in at night had been replaced by a green-and-brown bedding set with a swirling design and a decidedly hippy-from-the-sixties vibe. Floor-to-ceiling curtains of carved wooden beads separated the bed from the rest of the room, and the theme was continued in swathes of green fabric looped over the dresser.

The furnishings hadn’t been tampered with, but they had been rearranged to create an open look he didn’t approve of. His clothing and personal belongings seemed to have evaporated. Worst of all was the sight of Brutus, the traitor, sleeping happily, curled up on a tiny, canopied dog bed.

As Danny stumbled away from the doorway, he asked himself if he could be dreaming even now. Then his ears caught a soft rushing noise from down the hall. Running water. Following the sound, he arrived at the bathroom door just as the water was being shut off. The door stood open a crack.

Peeking cautiously around the corner, he was met with the sight of a strange woman exiting his shower, wrapped in a blue towel. Her black hair was sleeked away from her face and ran in long, wet strands down her back, a few short, loose tendrils clinging interestingly to her bared neck and shoulders.

She was busy detangling her wet locks with her fingers but must have caught a fleeting glimpse of his reflection in the mirror. Or possibly it was just some eerie fairy sense that informed her of his presence.

“About time somebody woke up,” she said.

He jumped, guiltily, but she didn’t seem concerned about being stumbled upon in a strange man’s bathroom with no more clothing than a wide strip of terrycloth.

She said, “I thought you were going to sleep the day away. Why don’t you go and get us some coffee and breakfast started? I could use it.”

Danny found himself at a loss for words. He stepped silently aside as she passed him in the doorway and moved off down the hall. In the kitchen, when he didn’t make a move toward the cabinets she sighed and helped herself, dropping a pair of Pop-Tarts into the toaster and starting up the coffee maker.

He tried not to stare as she moved around preparing breakfast. Conversation seemed the safest way to ease the awkward lull, although he seemed to be the only one who was uncomfortable.

“So, you’re real after all,” he said.

“Did you think I wasn’t?” She brought two coffee mugs down from the cabinet over the sink, moving unhesitatingly, as if already knowing where everything was kept. But then, she would know, wouldn’t she?