Genge, Sara: “Clapping for the Fairies”

Clapping for the Fairies

by Sara Genge

You crack open the dusty curtain of the motel room window and peer out at Green standing on the curb. Lighting isn’t a priority in this part of Oklahoma and from where you stand she looks like any ordinary prostitute, indiscreet in her trench coat and flashable lingerie.

She will kill again tonight, that’s for sure. She will kill because you didn’t have the guts to pull the damn trigger. She’s a rogue and she kills people. You’re a hunter and you kill rogues.

The issue should be simple.

It isn’t.

What kind of fucked up world is this, in which twenty-year-old girls like you have to kill their own relatives? Of course, you never were a normal person — none of your family is. Your people are the last remaining fairies of the US and the fact that half the family has gone rogue isn’t helping you survive as a species.

Besides, she’s stronger than you — you always were a flimsy girl — and the door is locked from the outside. You’re embarrassed at how easily she took away your gun. Face it: you’re the fairy of jade-stone, pretty, some say entrancing, but you can never contend with the raw power of Nature, especially not when it’s gone berserk in the form of a prostitute on a killing spree.

There is nothing you can do but watch.

Green Woman gives the come-on and smiles at the odd car crawling past the lonely motel. Like the good little ecoterrorist she is, she favours the owners of SUVs and Hummers. As if killing them were better than killing anybody else. As if there were any excuse for what she’s about to do.

You squeeze the plastic cup and take a sip of a runny liquid that wouldn’t pass for coffee in any other country. Looks like dishwater, tastes worse. You’d die for Mamma’s espresso, brewed from the hairs on Satan’s chest, she used to say, way back when she was still living at home, before she went crazy and started killing humans.

Green Woman cups her boobs and thrusts them at a slowing green pick-up.

Move on, don’t stop, you silently urge the driver.

The pickup stops.

The guy who rolls down the window has the tonnage of a small whale. Green turns towards you and waves. Her white legs are faintly iridescent in the moonlight.

Oh, please, God, you don’t want to see this. Please, you beg, God please help him. Let the man get away or at least make him insist that they go to another motel. You don’t want to watch him die.

Green leans into the car and points back at the motel. Trembling badly, you set down the coffee to avoid spilling it. You can’t look. You sit on the floor and pull out your wallet with the photograph of the family reunion of ’99. All the American Sidhe are in the picture, happy in T-shirts and Bermudas. You’ve crossed out the faces of all the fairy folk that have gone rogue since then, and Green stares at you from behind the black marker. She was fifteen and you’d never met her before because she was a distant relative. She looks funny in the picture. Is there a glint of rogue in her eyes? Was it already emerging back then? Was she having bloody dreams of vengeance while you lay entwined together, high on sex and taboo?

This can’t be happening; you won’t let it happen. There is no escaping this room but you haven’t run out of options. What if you retreated into the back of your mind, to memories untouched by this horror? There are many happy times lodged in your brain, moments you wouldn’t mind repeated endlessly in a flashback loop. It’s a tempting idea, and you collect your power, toying with the decision.

It will be dangerous. If you hide inside your head, there’s a chance you won’t be able to come back. You’ll slump on the floor, forever a vegetable, for Green to do what she pleases with you. She could kill you. You can’t count on the past to protect you, not from a rogue. You were lovers once, but you don’t know how much that’ll mean to her. If it means anything at all. You split up badly, after all, and for some, it is easier to hate people they once loved.

Oblivion is tempting and it’s within your reach.

If you want to flash back, go to section 1

If you want to keep on living in the present, go to section 2


Section 1

It is July 19th, 1999 and Green is sitting by the pond, feet resting on the water as if it were solid, heels bobbing on the surface without getting wet. It’s one of the little stunts she pulls, hopefully to impress you.

You can’t tear your eyes from the freckles on her arms, the way her hair seems to sway even without a breeze. You’ve been playing cat and mouse all summer but you’ve decided to solve this today, once and for all. Either she’s into you, or she isn’t, but you hate being yanked around on a string. Besides, she might be testing you, trying to figure out if she can respect you, and falling for her every whim isn’t going to do the trick.

Green looks up with a smirk and throws her head back when you plunge your fingers into the airy mass of her hair. You kneel down next to her, dip a hand into the pond, bring it up to your lips and watch Green’s disconcerted look when her feet sink into the cool water. You smile; she shouldn’t forget that you know a few tricks yourself.

You’re so nervous you almost leave, but you will yourself to stay. If you chicken out now, you’ll regret it forever.

She takes your hand and you start playing the eyes-lips-eyes game but neither of you knows who should be the first to start the kiss. The two of you sit there as the silence grates on your nerves. You’re anxious, but you don’t want to screw up. The moment lasts only a few seconds but the image is etched in your brain, you and Green by the pond, twin stick insects caught in amber, frozen in time. In your memory she breaks the spell and kisses you, but this is a flashback, and something is different.

You’ve been followed. Something lurks on the other side of the pond. Negative energy, bad karma, foul thoughts. A voyeur.

“What’s that?” Green asks when she sees you looking.

“Nothing. A reader.” She frowns a question. “Don’t ask.” You don’t want to tell her that none of this is happening. Your nostrils flare in anger that someone has dared follow you here.

Green fixes her unnerving stare on the stalker.

“Since it’s here, maybe we should do something with it,” she says.

You look at her, surprised, hoping that she’s only teasing. The wind has stopped and the willows are frozen into awkward positions, branches stuck to the left as if they had no use for gravity.

“Yes,” Green hisses. “Let’s slap it around and leave it wanting more. If it’s naughty enough to spy, it deserves punishment.”


She laughs in your face.

“I was just joking, Jade! Man, you’re gullible.” She pinches your cheek. “Get rid of that reader,” she whispers.

You close the door of your mind on the reader’s face.

End of flashback.

Go to section 2.


Section 2

The silence feels clammy. Is the guy still alive? Is she bringing him to the Motel? You have to know. Your knuckles are white on the curtain as you peek out once more.

Good, he’s still in the car. He has a chance. Then Green does something with her bra. You can’t quite see because her back is turned, but the guy gets out of the car.

Shit, shit, shit.

She reaches out as soon as he steps onto the grass and places her hands on the back of his neck. You close your eyes, but you hear the snap of his neck breaking, like a knuckle cracking, only louder. It’s mighty fast, but of course, it’s not death she’s after, but what comes later. She’s a fey of Nature and today is the first day of Fall. For the next few months, her duty is to decompose organic matter into compost that will enrich the earth for the coming year.

You feel the frisson of a transubstantiation waiting to happen.

The body falls on the ground and she goes to work on it. At the end of the summer of ’99, she showed you how she ground dead leaves between her hands and thighs, separating the fibers into their basic components and making the best humus for your flowerbeds. Now she’s crossed the line between dead and alive, killing things instead of waiting for them to die naturally.

She starts at the feet and works her way upwards, licking her arms and rubbing them against the body like an oversized fly. You know what her spit tastes like; you could never get enough of it, even as it seared your tongue with digestive enzymes. This guy may be fat, but he’s no match for that spittle.

In less than thirty minutes, there’s a fresh mound of dirt where the body used to be and she gets up and heads for the motel.

You dive for the floor, closing the curtain as you do.

Shit, you can’t let her in! You let go of the curtain and run to bar the door. The ironing board! You hold it in place with the chair and then heap suitcases behind to complete the barricade. Her heels clop-trop on the pavement and stop in front of the room.

She turns the key and tries to open the door.

“Jade, open up.” She scratches the wood and you can almost feel her fingernails running down your back.

You take a step back, suddenly scared at what you’ve done. It’s not a good idea to piss Green off.

“Jady, Jady, won’t you open the door for your darling cousin? Come on, Jade. I know you’re in there; I can smell you!”

And you can smell her: the rotting flowers in her hair, the wet animal scent of her armpits, bark and sandalwood from her skin and the smell of wet earth wafting up from somewhere under her clothes.

“Jade, I’m serious, open the fucking door! I can stay awake all night waiting for you to come out, but I’d rather not,” she says.

“Go away, Green! The elders haven’t declared a Formal Truce, we shouldn’t even be talking,” you say.

She laughs. Once every few years someone comes up with a new diplomatic solution to the rogue problem and the elders on both sides declare a Formal Truce. Siblings make up, couples have babies again and everything is swell, until the inevitable happens: humans start dying close to the revel grounds and the rogues run for it.

“Oh hell, girl, let’s have a Burger Truce then, or a Chili Truce. There is this place just a couple of blocks away that serves the best chili in the country. Open the door and I’ll buy you a double bowl.”

You close your eyes. Nobody knows you’re here. You were sent out to hunt her and you can’t remember the day when you stopped following Green and she started following you. You also want to see her face again, up close, one last time. You’d almost forgotten how this felt, to need her as a junkie needs his fix. You tell yourself it’s not real, just glamor conjured up by Green to catch you, but you can’t deny how you feel.

If you don’t open the door, go to section 3

If you decide to open the door, go to section 4


Section 3

The plan is to break the window and start hollering until someone calls the police, but deep down you know it’s not the trashy furniture that’s keeping Green on the other side of the door. She’s the spirit of decay, and if she wants, she can rot the door and what’s behind it into a stinky mess. Why is she waiting then? Does she really care so much about you that she wants your consent? It’s like pulling hairs, trying to figure her out. Always was. Hostage situations are much simpler on T.V.

Dammit, it’s no use. What could the police do against Green anyway? Arrest her? Makes you want to laugh.

There is only one thing you can do.

Continue to section 4


Section 4

You peel the barricade away. The streetlight has gone out and for a second you can only see her lime-green eyes. She grabs you by the wrist and drags you down to the victim’s pick-up.

“You’ll love this place,” she says as she starts up the engine. “Great food, swear.”

The chili is as good as she said. She sits in front of you in her trench and red lipstick and giggles as you cough on your first mouthful and dive for the beer.

“Told you,” she says. “Now, why were you trying to kill me?”

You look down at the red gob in your bowl. You’re not too proud of that part.

“Uncle Jim, Sally and the Rev thought I should learn something about rogues. ‘Community Service.'” You don’t tell her that after what you’ve seen these past few nights you rather agree with them.

She nods knowingly.

“They thought you were going rogue?” she asks. “They wanted to test you, see if you were with them or not.”

Damn, the girl is sharp. It took you two months to figure that out.

“So they sent you out to hunt your own family, your own friends, figuring that if you could do it, you were sane? Jeez, those guys have a weirder definition of sanity than any I’ve ever seen.”

You really don’t want to think about it. Both sides of the family agree that being a fairy screws with people’s minds. There are at least as many crackpots among the hunters as among the rogues, but rogues are splashier when they start killing.

She kicks off a shoe and teases your ankle with her toes.

“Come on, girl, lighten up.”

You concentrate on the food. The vapor from the chili makes your eyes water.

“Listen, I’m sorry I had to lock you up and all, but you did try to kill me. I couldn’t know where you stood. Hell, I still don’t know where you stand, but at least I’m trying. For old times’ sake.” She looks earnest; maybe she even cares a little. Her skin gives out a faint greenish glow that humans mistake as albino white. She’s more beautiful than you remembered and you choke back chili and tears in the same gulp.

“I’m sorry,” you tell her. It’s such a relief to say it. “But I don’t understand how you can do it, killing them like that. It’s seriously sick.”

She retreats, and you can tell she’s smarting.

“Not any battier than going around killing your own relatives! Jeez, Jade, you and me had something. It was a while back, I’ll hand you that, but I’d never do anything to hurt you. Those humans…they aren’t even the same species as we are. Just because we look like them doesn’t mean we have to give them any more consideration than any other animal. Is that meat in your chili, Jade? It came from a cow, or maybe even from a dog, health inspectors are rare in these parts. What’s wrong with eating it? It’s not your species; it’s not your problem. Humans were fucking meant to fucking serve us. It’s time they gave us some fucking respect, and if they won’t, they can deal with the consequences. I’ll do what I have to do to survive.”

The argument is old: what should be the fairies’ survival strategy? The rogues claim that when the last human stops believing in fairies, you will all vanish into a puff of smoke. It sounds downright silly, but the truth is your people have gotten weaker over the last couple of centuries and there aren’t many explanations to choose from. On the other hand, every time a kid says they don’t believe in fairies, one of your people dies. So, the trick is to get back some of that belief, without letting humans figure out how much power they have over you. You push your chili around.

“They’re sentient,” you say. “Putting us back into the collective subconscious by killing people and using them as fertilizer is just wrong.” That’s only part of what the Rev says. Thing is, if you let the rogues run amok, humans are bound to notice. How long until they find out about fairies? How long until they discover that it takes a few simple words to kill one of you? “I do not believe in fairies.” It’s not difficult to say. The Rev is adamant that humans can’t be trusted. They should never find out about you, and the rogues, with all that killing, are threatening to make the jump from collective myth to the Jerry Springer show.

“Do you want to die? Do you want to feel your strength ebb each day?” Green says. “Because it will, sooner or later. Look at me, I’m feeling better than ever! They may not know who’s doing it, but they know someone is weeding them out. I can feel the respect in the air. I don’t care if they think I’m a common mass murderer. I don’t expect them to understand. Their belief in me, whatever they think I am, makes me stronger. Remember how I got the gun out of your hand? Did you even see it coming?”

Actually, you let her take it rather than shoot her, but you’re not ready to admit that you still care for her, even a little.

“Let’s not talk about this now, OK?” you beg.

“Of course, of course. I’m really glad to see you.” She reaches out for your hand and you leave it there for a second, remembering when you used to meet in secret by the pond, the taste of moss in her mouth and her smell, as she lay exhausted, her body half melting into the wet earth. Then you remember that a man is dead, and you pull your hand away and look down at your plate.


That night she crawls under the blankets with you while you sleep. Your body remembers how to wrap itself around hers, reviving comfortable positions that you learned a long time ago. You are almost halfway through lovemaking before you wake up completely, and realize these are the same hands that took a man’s life. Whatever she looks like, this is not the Green you fell in love with when you were sixteen. She’s grown into something ugly and demented, and no amount of logic on her part can excuse what she does.

If you want Green to die, go to section 5.

If you don’t want Green to die, go to section 6.


Section 5

You wrap your fingers around her neck and find the delicate bones that are so easy to crush.

You wonder if she realizes what you are about to do. Maybe she is lost in her own pleasure. Maybe she thinks you are teasing. Maybe she loves you and she would never hurt you, not even to save herself. Her neck is long and delicate and hardly makes a sound as it breaks.

You feel it with your fingers more than hear it. There is one less rogue, and all the clapping in the world won’t save this fairy. You lie next to her until the body starts going cold and then you pack your things and leave.



Section 6

You wrap your fingers around her neck and find the delicate bones that are so easy to crush.

You wonder if she realizes what you are about to do. Maybe she is lost in her own pleasure. Maybe she thinks you are teasing. Maybe she loves you and she would never hurt you, not even to save herself. Her neck is long and delicate and hardly makes a sound as it breaks.

What have you done? Stupid idiot! You’ve killed Green and for what? Anonymous strangers who don’t even believe you exist and don’t give a shit about you. You shout at her to wake up, and start clapping as hard as you can.

Minutes crawl by and your hands get sore. After a while, you can’t feel them anymore. The neighbour bangs on the door yelling at you to be quiet and threatening to call the police. You ignore him. This will work; it has to work. If anything you were ever taught as a child is true, then clapping will bring Green back.

It’s getting dark and you can no longer see her. Every now and then, you think you hear her breathe or move and your heart skips a beat. You check her pulse and respiration and when you can’t find them, you start clapping all over again.

You can’t tell time any longer. Is that dawn creeping in through the window? You can’t feel your arms and you know you can’t keep this up much longer. You grunt your pain and determination and suddenly, you see twin green limes staring up at you from the bed.

Green Woman sits up and twists her neck until it cracks. You start crying and apologizing and she hugs you until the fit passes. Then she guides you back under the covers and wraps her arms around you.

Your neck is thin and bones are easy to crush.

You’ve fucked up nicely, haven’t you? Every decision that mattered; falling in love with Green, hunting her, reviving her. Wrong, wrong, wrong. You’re fed up with yourself and you don’t want control of your life anymore, so you use the only power you ever had, the ability to entrance, to be noticed, and you hand over the decisions to the humans you’ve killed to protect. You smear your words on the walls of public restrooms; scribble them in Metro graffiti and encrypt them in the secret algorithms of internet searches.

The Rev was right: you’ve gone rogue in the end. You are the worst kind of traitor. You’ve revealed yourself to the humans and you’ve placed the fate of your people in their hands. Of course, if they turn out to be bloody murderers you’ll be the first one to die. The thought is a small consolation.

But you’ve had enough. You’ve lived all your life waiting for the other shoe to drop, trying to stay sane in the midst of a fratricidal war. The fairies have failed (and failed, and failed). Obviously, it’s time for the humans to act.

You, balancing over that dirty stall. You, the commuter on his way to work. You, wasting your eyes in front of a screen. Stop what you’re doing and listen. This decision has been thrust into your hands so that you can’t ignore it.

You have this power. It’s your time to chose.

If you want Jade to die, say it aloud, say you don’t believe in fairies.

If you want Jade to live, clap.