(un)Fair Folk

My husband and I were talking the other day about the pitfalls of dealing with fairies. They are evil and tricky little bastards, and no matter how well you know the rules, any encounter is bound to end badly. Yet, I am going to list the things I know here as an exercise in self caution, and perhaps it will help anyone else who has the misfortune of finding a fairy.

– Do Not Eat The Food.

That shit is crazy drugged with magic and if you eat it you never leave fairy land which is pretty much the worst fate ever. (that place gives me nosebleeds in three seconds flat.)

– Do Not Give Your Name.

Your true name is tied to your soul. If you’ve given your name, you’ve given the fairy a handle with which he will drive you into the ground, just for a laugh.

– Do Not Trade.

Fairies make it a point to come out three times ahead of you in any trade, and if they think you’ve caught on to how well they’ve fucked you over, they’ll just take everything you’ve got.

– Gifts Freely Given, With No Thought To One’s Own Gain, Will Be Returned Thrice-fold.

My husband was trying to tell me that there’s no difference between this and the last rule, but that’s because he is a pragmatist and fairies couldn’t logic their way out of a paper bag. Also, my husband has been the wage-earner for his family since he was twelve, and he does not think that anything can be freely given. (However, he does the dishes all the time without asking me to dry, so there’s something his heart knows that his head can’t get around.) There is a difference, though, and the stupid little magic buggers can sniff it out like bloodhounds.

It’s hard to turn it off, this need to trade a gift for freedom. When they’ve got you, all you want is to get away. But you have to see past the glitter and glamour and the evil little faces with eyes that gleam greedily waiting to tear the skin from your fingers just to see if it hurts (and it does.) You have to pretend that you’re speaking to a person so hard that it elevates them, makes them into one, and then you decide that you like this person despite all the wickedness they’ve done. And then, when they’re sitting there, almost feeling sorrow (or pretending like they do, because the fairies know what they’re missing by being immortal, even if they’ve never had it. It’s why they’re so cruel to us.), that’s when you give them something. Whatever you have. Red yarn, silver ring, crumpled dollar, whatever. That’s just what I happen to have on me.

If you’re smart, you keep trinkets in your pockets. They like catching people unprepared, so if you’ve got something good on you (brass keys, especially) it mostly keeps them away.

Anyway, that gift, given at the time when they’re so close to feeling something, it makes them just human enough to let you slip away. It doesn’t really matter what the object is, it’s the feeling that’s the gift. That’s what the fairies really want. Of course, if you can’t manage to give it to them, they’re just as pleased to peel the skin from your bones.

Good luck.