Flash fiction: The Fairy Lady by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story inspired by the phrase “back to normal.” It could be a pandemic-related story about getting back to normal, or one about not getting back to normal, or a story about something else entirely.

The Fairy Lady

By Val Muller

Life cleaning out my parents’ house was an introvert’s dream.

My dad had always been a hoarder, but after mom died, he really lost control. After he passed, I moved into the house. I was between jobs and between boyfriends, and I figured I could live rent-free in my childhood home while making money selling the massive collection my dad had accumulated over the years.

There was barely enough room to push the stuff from my old room into my parents’ bedroom to make room for me to sleep. I managed to cram most of my personal belongings from the apartment into the garage. Eventually, I would clear room for it all in the house.

Each day, I forced myself to fill three large bins of accumulation, sort through them, and trash/sell/keep. I figured, maybe I’d be done sorting through the house in six months or so at that rate—ha!

In the meantime, I returned to the room I grew up in. Besides my bed, I cleared my old student desk, and that’s where I set up my workshop. My dad had found a box of small glass bottles with corks. 84 of them. They were there on my desk, at the bottom of all the other things my dad had saved. They were so new and shiny that I decided to keep them.

That first day I found some miniature thimbles my dad had squirreled away. I thought—they’d be perfect to put in a jar. I added some colored thread around them, and I crocheted some yarn I found into a little mouse. I’ll admit it looked cute—a mousy little seamstress. It reminded me of myself, somehow. A shy little mouse. A little maker.

The next day, I found some rusty hardware—nails, gears, bolts. And a welding kit. I made them into steampunk flowers tiny enough to drop into the jar.

An old video game controller turned into a computer chip tree with wire branches glistening there in the jar.

It was therapeutic, really. My mind stopped racing about the breakup with Robby, and I was pulled into the lull of crafting. I could finally stop replaying my last weeks at the bank in my mind, how I could never make enough sales, was never pushy enough with customers. I put the jars on my bookshelf and looked at them before falling asleep each night.

After that, I made several jars each week. During the days I kept an eye out for little treasures dad had tucked away. Beads, moss, tiny pinecones, trinkets. I felt that I was preserving a little piece of dad and his legacy—while still decluttering. The jars were a shield from the emotional wreck of tossing dad’s stuff, his lifetime of collection. They were a shield from a world of demanding boyfriends and demanding bosses.

The drive to make the jars pushed me to go through the house faster than my goal, and before three months were up, the place was clean. I’d made more money selling his things through local marketplaces than I did at the bank, and I put up an Etsy store for my jars.

Soon all 84 were filled, and many were sold. And the house was clean.

I had no boyfriend and no health insurance. It was coming. I painted each room as a way to procrastinate. I used some of my earnings to purchase new furniture and dishes, to make the home my own.

But after I’d done every improvement I could afford, after I cleared out even the garage, I couldn’t escape reality. I’d run out of things to sell. I’d run out of trinkets to place in jars. I had to go back to work.

I hurried out the door to my new job. Working in the craft store was not the best money, but at the interview they said there was a chance I could lead some classes in the studio. And if nothing else, I would get lots of ideas for future fairy jars.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/


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