Episode 10: Finding the Prodigy

I folded my faerie wings and hid under the little girl’s pillow until I could hear her sleeping. Then, I crawled out onto her chest and drained her spark.

Yeah, I know, I’m the stuff of nightmares.

Draining spark feels really good, for faeries, like me.

Not for you. It sucks for you.

I wait until my source is in some kind of altered state—usually sleeping, but sometimes in an ecstatic state, like dancing or being really in the zone about something—and just drink it in. I drink it in through my mouth, and it tastes good. It’s a pleasure to all of the senses, really. Like honey in the mouth. Smells like peppermint. Makes me feel like my toes are wiggling. Makes me feel like your toes are wiggling. Makes my toes feel like your feelings are wiggling.

What is spark, exactly? Not sure. It’s something to do with talent, or skill, or maybe the drive to make stuff. Whatever it is, faeries like me can collect it from some people and transfer it to others. Kid spark is more flexible. Yonya feeds on it, but we also give it to other humans. And why? Simple. It consolidates the skill.

And what’s better for the world, really? A billion kids who can make mediocre finger paintings, or a few geniuses who can make works of art that can inspire the whole world for centuries? Chew on that next time some mouse tells you about how awful faeries are. And the next time you walk around an art museum, and marvel at the masterpieces, thank the faeries of old. People aren’t born with what Picasso had. His body of work was the result of a decade of careful fae planning and lots of hard work on the ground by faeries like me. My name is Imbingy.

I took as much spark from the kid as I could hold. Took me about fifteen minutes. In three nights the kid would be completely drained.

My spirit full, I smelled popcorn and went into the living room, where his parents were watching television. I crept under the couch and peeked out. I could see the bottoms of their legs extending from the end of the couch, resting on the coffee table. They couldn’t see me there, so I just waited, watching television with them. I was full of spark and eating dropped popcorn. The life!

During a commercial, something they said got my attention.

Did you get us tickets to see that pianist?” The mother said.

Who?” The male voice was Dad.

That prodigy? Nathan something. He’s like, nine, but apparently is incredible on the piano.”

Oh yeah, Nathan, ah, Nathan Thomas. Yeah.”

Yeah you got the tickets, or yeah his name is Nathan Thomas?”

I’ll buy the tickets tomorrow.”

Okay. I think the show’s coming up soon. Might be sold out already. I really want to see it.”

I’ll do it already!”

This was incredible news. A child prodigy coming to Ottawa to perform! He’d have spark dripping off of him! And I was the one who discovered it! I’d been wanting to bud a new faerie for some time—I’ve been feeling a tingle in my belly—and this discovery might be what impresses Yonya enough to let me do it.

I had to find out where this kid was. I went into the kitchen and flew up to the table, filled with so much popcorn and spark that I wobbled in the air. Magnetted to the fridge was a flyer for a Nathan Thomas performance. Bingo.

I flew over and hovered near it, sounding out the words until I found the clue I was looking for: a question-and-answer session at the Lord Elgin Hotel. Doubleplus Bingo. The Q&A was yesterday, but it didn’t matter: he was very likely staying there. I studied the photo on the flyer until I’d know him to see him. Not a great-looking boy, brown hair, glasses.

I was so excited I did a few loop-the-loops in the kitchen, then some laps around the chandelier until I ran into it, making a noise that brought the father in to investigate. I held my breath, which makes me invisible, until he left the room. Then I sat down and panted my breath back.

The timing of finding this child was fortuiticious! Yonya, my greater fae mistress, was feeding spark to a sculptor so he could make something really incredible. Finding a source of skill like this Nathan Thomas was triple-bingo wowza. And a musician! Normally Yonya would feed spark into prodigies like this kid, but he was a musician, which meant that nothing he did would have any manifestation in the Interstitium, where Yonya always was. Only solid things could even manifest there, so any human contribution of dance, music, or performance was basically invisible to the greater fae. That’s why we funnel the spark to sculptors and painters. Musicians can go scratch.

That night, while the husband took the garbage to the chute, I slipped out the door behind him and flew the few blocks to the Lord Elgin Hotel. Boy, it was cold out. I hid in the frame of a great painting (great meaning big; in terms of quality it was an amateurish Paul Klee rip off) and watched the people come and go. Some mouse came up there and emitted a frightened squeaked when she saw me.

I bared my teeth at her. “Buzz off!” She did. She wasn’t wearing the read bead necklace of a Councilmouse, so I wasn’t worried.

My faerie-sense tingled and I saw him walk in with his mother. My little genius!

The mother was carrying a big, white shopping bag. This is it.

I held my breath, turned invisible, and jumped out into the air.

I was on the hunt.

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