August 1, 2014

Fiction: "Fairy-Feet Liar" by Janine Pickett

    
    I can't depend on the cat, he'll never tell. I know they're in there though, I can hear them laughing. Everyday at lunch, half-way up the walk, I stop and listen. I can feel the house breathing, panting from their ruckus as they dance on the counter tops, slide their fairy feet through leftover ketchup on the plates, hang from the corners of my picture frames. And everyday, at lunch, I sneak up to the door and fling it open—and am greeted by silence—and the cat. God, they're fast. I look for evidence—patterns in the ketchup like tracks on a junkies arm, lopsided pictures hanging on the walls. Weighted corners and dead plants. I know they've been peeing in my plants because the soil is dry except for one small moist spot.


     I thought I saw one last night out the corner of my eye, hiding in the hills and folds of a tousled blanket. I throw it across the room to check for spillage. No fairy people. God, they're fast.

     When I tell my husband, he tells me to call the doctor. We argue. I look to the cat for help. He knows. I know he knows. Why else would I catch him peering under the refrigerator? When I join him on the floor with a flashlight, he looks at me, then peers under again. We look together. He knows I know. My husband is sobbing now. He pulls me up and cradles me in his arms and I think I see one. Just over his left shoulder, scrambling past the cookie jar. I close my eyes and hold very still. I hear the cat leap to the counter. When I open them again, he's on the stove, licking the bottom of a dirty pan. Can't depend on the cat.

     “Tomorrow,” I say, patting my husband on the back. “Tomorrow I will call the doctor.”

      Next day I phone in sick at work. I wash the dishes, vacuum the rugs, straighten and dust my picture frames, fold and put away tousled blankets, and throw out the dead plants. I take a break and pet the cat and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I greet my husband at the door when he comes home from work “They're gone,” I tell him. He looks perplexed, then relieved. He glances around the house appreciatively. “They're gone and they're never coming back and I didn't call the doctor because they were never here to begin with, just like you said. So you don't have to worry anymore.” I'm lying through my teeth now. Covering my ass. Just like the cat, who is rubbing against my legs, encouraging me. He knows I'm lying. He's purring and I know he knows.

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Fairy-Feet Liar first appeared in THEMA  "An Unlikely Alliance" Autumn 2003 

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