Not too much intro today. You all know my flash group, the Wednesday Briefers. Fortunately, even though life is kicking my butt, yet again, I managed to finish this (It's 11:20 PM right now, but I got it done, darn it!) nice little update to my flash story inspired by one of this week's photo prompts. Enjoy!
Take Flight Part 3
“Fuck.” Birch stared at the aspen groves … or where they used to be. There’d been a huge a huge stand of the gorgeous trees all along this small valley. He’d seen their leaves changing, from green to bright orange and red, on a last hike before he went off to college.
Now they were gone.
Half the stream was choked by broken off logs and mud that slid down the sloping banks. The sun beat down on his neck as he stood within the devastated area. He’d been home just a week, thrown into the field by his bosses to assess the environmental damage done by a logging company that had violated their agreements and logged in areas they shouldn’t.
Judicious pruning kept the forest healthy; the companies took out dead trees, thinned thickly forested areas, and made room for new, younger trees. These guys had taken healthy groves and decimated the tree population, allowed mechanical equipment too close to the pure water streams, and created an ecological mess that was impacting a much wider area downstream.
Birch took his camera out of his backpack and documented the area visually, then sat down on a rough stump and began writing up his report. He could do it back in the office but why? He’d rather be outside, though Birch wished he were sitting against the smooth white bark of an aspen tree enjoying the shade.
The town had changed almost as much as the forest. No longer quite so small and sleepy, they had two Starbucks and a mall was being built beside the newly widened interstate that was just five miles outside town limits.
It almost made him sad. He’d avoided coming home after the first summer when he’d been unsure if he hoped Sayer would be there, though he’d never stayed in town during the summers, or if he wanted to avoid him entirely.
He hadn’t been there, and no one had seen him. He’d looked each year during registration, but he never found Sayer. He’d completely disappeared, as if he’d fallen off the face of the planet without a trace.
Birch drove back into town, one arm resting out the window. His back was sticky with sweat; the sultry air didn’t cool the cab of his truck at all, but he enjoyed the feeling of the wind caressing his skin until it suddenly died. He pulled into his driveway, already looking forward to a shower and a cold beer, and then frowned.
Someone was sitting on the porch.
He was suddenly cold.
That long, white hair couldn’t belong to anyone else.
“Son of a bitch.”
The fireworks lit inside Sayer as their eyes met. He’d watched Birch reacquaint himself with the town and then, as always, spend as much of his time as possible in the forest. That, at least, hadn’t changed.
Those dark blue eyes glared daggers at him. Birch’s teeth sank into the pink softness of his bottom lip. Sayer wanted to tug it out and kiss away the marks left by Birch’s anger.
He didn’t move. He’d waited so long, he could wait a few more minutes as Birch found the angry words that Sayer knew he deserved—even if it wasn’t his fault. He’d lived like a human, for Sayer, but his magical heritage had taken him away.
How the hell was he going to explain that?
Birch finally moved. The old truck, the same one he’d bought before their senior year after working his ass off to earn the money, was filthy and the door hinges shrieked in protest as the driver side door was thrown open.
He walked methodically up the walkway to the porch steps. Sayer expected him to stop, to say something. Instead, Birch didn’t pause or stop. He kept walking, skirting into the grass to leap up and grab the railing of the porch in front of the door. He clambered over and was inside with the door shut and locked, quite audibly as Sayer hard the bolt and chain lock.
Sayer stood up and knocked. No answer. He didn’t want to shout at Sayer, conscious of the humans around them. Sighing, he stepped into the recess of the porch beside the door that was visible only to someone right in front of him, and then he was gone.
The window into the second floor bedroom, which was apparently an office, was open a crack. Sayer easily flowed inside.
Oh man, the water was running; Birch was in the shower again. Sayer slipped into his bedroom down the hall and gently deposited a gold box on the pillow, then retreated to the corner.
Birch’s hand fumbled with his towel when he stepped out of the bathroom and he spied the box.
“Sayer!” He stormed over and picked it up.
“I’m here,” Sayer said as he solidified and materialized in his corner. The air made the curtains bell out for a brief second.
“Mother fucking Christ on a god damn cracker!” Birch’s face went deadly pale. “It … you ….” He shook his head.
Sayer knew he had let it all go, including his glamor. His hair was pure white. He was taller, thinner, but just as strong as his stocky human form suggested. Strangest of all, at least to Birch, would probably he his outfit … and the fact that Sayer was royalty.
“Your wings.” Birch stared, his mouth open. He blinked, tears filling his eyes.
Shit. Sayer had forgotten about those. He tucked the rainbow wings against his back.
“What are you?”
Sayer ran a hand over his hair. “I’m a fae, Birch, like an elf, or fair folk.”
“When?” Birch’s questions were breathless.
“When did I become a fae?” Sayer flinched inwardly at the question, and what his beloved was going to say when he told him, he prayed Birch wouldn’t ask that. He was not that lucky. He swallowed hard, bile making his throat burn.
His earlier anger was nothing like the incandescent rage that sparked in Birch’s eyes.
Now check out the other great Briefers!