“You two are in so much trouble!” my little brother yelled at us from the upstairs balcony, welcoming us home in his special way.
Trouble was probably the understatement of the year, but what I didn’t get was why Roger wasn’t freaking out. I mean, Jared and I had gone to a fairy rave and had disappeared for months. I knew exactly how long it had been because my cellphone told me. Thank god for technology.
We had discussed strategy on the way over, but coming up with a blank, we decided to tell more or less the truth. That we had no idea where we had been for months, however, since life isn’t a soap opera where people regularly lose their memories, we doubted it would work.
And now my little brat of a brother is telling us we’re in for it big time but he’s acting like it’s a normal level of wrong-doing. Jared and I exchanged confused glances.
“Mom!” Roger yelled into the house. “They’re back!”
My mother stomped out of the bedroom and glared down at us.
“Where have the two of you been? We’ve been waiting for you forever. The others have already gone ahead. In the car, now.”
“What the-?” Jared said.
“Shh, let’s play along with it. Something very weird is going on. Can you fake your way through whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing?”
He nodded. Good boy.
So, we got in the car and Mom drove us to some house in the country where we had a barbecue with people we didn’t know, but who obviously knew us. I managed it all right, but Jared was close to cracking by the time we left.
“Total freakyville horror time,” he whispered to me at one point. “I’m supposedly friends with this guy.” He meant the son of the family we were having lunch with. I told him to chill and we’d figure it out later. And I knew who to ask.
The moment we got home, I grabbed Jared and dragged him away.
“Where are we going?”
“To see Stickman.”
Stickman’s this laidback fairy guy that’s made out of twigs. He hangs out by the side of the road watching cars. Unlike the batboy fairy that got us into this mess to start with, Stickman strikes me as someone you could trust. Well, as much as any fairy could be trusted.
We practically ran down the stairs that lead from our street through the park down to the vacant lot that Stickman hangs out in. And we were in luck. He still sat in the shade of his favorite bush and hadn’t yet gone for his evening stroll around the city.
When he saw us the twigs that made up his mouth spread into a smile. Jared shuddered as always seeing the walking pile of twigs and sticks, but I smiled back and waved. If this were any other day I’d have given Jared a hard time for being racist, but today he got a free pass.
“Ah, it’s the wanderers,” Stickman said by way of greeting.
“Hunh?” Jared asked, coherently expressing his confusion as always.
“I think he means that he knew we spent several months in the fairy world.”
“That’s not quite it,” Stickman said, rising to his feet. “But I doubt you want to know the reality of situation.”
“Hunh?” Jared repeated. Honestly, he’s a lot smarter than he sounded at that moment.
“You’re still wandering.”
Wait a second. What? No, no, no.
“When we left the party, we didn’t really leave, did we?”
Stickman pointed behind us and we turned. Lined up down the stairs in the park were a whole bunch of fairies, dressed in the clothes our families. They were all laughing us.