Longing and Belonging Hat

        I do not belong here.
        I am Faerish, but I'm not of Faerie. I am of Diathan, the domain of mortals.
        I do not belong here.

        I am here because I can be here, in Faerie. Time is different: no-one ages, no-one dies; life is eternal. I'm a spirit among spirits: I have freedoms that in Diathan I only touched upon in distant dreams. I live, here; I can be, here.
        I can leave, here, if I choose.

        My parents were of Faerie; they, who flit and shimmered through millennia. But, as befalls us, all my kind, they wearied, and they left the circle to be mortal. They did not know Diathan is different. They did not know that they'd meet, they'd fall in love, they'd have a daughter.
        They did not know that she, too, would be Faerish.

        In Diathan I seemed a mortal, being, as I was, of mortal forms. Perhaps sometimes my skin was paler than the norm, my hair too black, my eyes too round, or too unround. Some mortals seem to be like that, I wasn't strange.
        My parents told me what I was, and where I'd go, and what I could become. They told me I was not of Diathan, but Faerie. Oh, they told me of the joy I'd have, the senses mortals cannot comprehend, the vibrancy, vitality, the life.
        They didn't tell me of the single mortal vice denied the carefree souls who dwell here.
        But they didn't know of Michael, that I loved him.
        I am not of Faerie. I am of Diathan.

        At the crest of time, when patches of domains can intertwingle, I was bade to make the journey through to Faerie. Michael, as he wouldn't understand, was told I'd be away the weekend at a cousin's wedding. I'd be back on Monday.
        If I wanted: if I chose to leave the circle.
        If I didn't, no-one living now would ever hear of me again, nor I of them.
        I knew I'd want to; I was sure I'd want to. How could it be otherwise? To be in love is all a person needs to be, and I loved Michael.
        Michael, who I needed most right then: I wanted him to hug and hold me tight; I wanted him to stroke my hair, and listen as I sang my fears, my cluttered thoughts; I wanted him to tell me all would be just fine.
        I wanted him.
        I wanted him to know my plans, I wanted him to be my strength.
        I wanted Michael then, for ever more.
        I longed for Monday.

        At the circle, in the forest's heart, the time appointed: in I stepped. My parents watched, themselves denied the chance, their having given up their right of Home the instant that they left. They will be waiting for me at the circle's edge tomorrow, should I choose return.
        Tomorrow, I should say, for them.
        For me, it is some 30K tomorrows 'til the crest returns; it's nearly ninety years.
        In Faerie, time is different.

* * *

        The realm in which I dwell is rich in shape and auras. All is beautiful, and I am filled with warmth, with joyfulness, at mere existence. Everything I see is so profound it wells within me 'til I have to squeal, and laugh, and sing, and dance, and live the moment. Nothing here is like the drib-drab world of Diathan I left behind, it has excess of all that's wonderful and glorious.
        Except for love: there is no love in Faerie.
        Had I known, would I have come?
        Without it, will I ever muse to leave?

        I try to think of Michael.
        In my mind's eye, I can see him. I can conjure up his image, I can speak to it, and make it smile. I know I have a feeling for him, but I cannot recollect it. Yes, I have desire, but I don't have love. What was it that I felt? I know it was intense, but was it like the colour of a Winter orchid, or the scent of Old Man's Beard? Dancing bees, the rush of leaves, the softness of the sunrise: these I understand.
        I may not understand love, but I understand I understood it once.
        And understand I will again. One day.

        My grandmother is here, and her grandfather. They remain content to live forever, basking in the moonlight, skipping shallow streams, and revelling in insubstantiality. Perhaps I, too, may tarry here awhile.
        But what I've lost, they've never known.
        What I have waiting for me, they may never know.
        I cannot feel my love for Michael, but, upon my exit from this land, I will.
        I hope I will.
        I hope.
* * *

        It is the time of quarter-first. Today, the circle lives, the worlds are close enough that mortals who attend will see we Faerie-folk, we spirits of their night.
        In Diathan, it's several hundred years ago, although the circle's place remains the same. The people present dress in clothes I'm unaccustomed to; but then, they dress in clothes.
        I watch my grandmother begin her dance: beguiling, energetic, sensuous, apace. She aims to charm a mortal, nothing more - a harmless game. I make to join her, but I see a couple, hand in hand, their faces dimly lit by Faerie glow. They look into each other's eyes, they smile.
        I think of Michael.
        I do not belong here.
* * *

        The moon is full, and mirrored in the ripples of a Winter's pond. I kneel to look, and spy myself. I recognise my face, but I am changed; I'm more complete, I have dimensions that I never knew I had in Diathan.
        Yet is this all facade? Am I, at once, a multi-faceted reflection of the world I see? What is there to me, other than embodiment of exultation?
        What, in Diathan, was different? There was something, something I could give, I know, but here the giving's meaningless.
        I stand, I laugh, I shake my hair and feel it tumbling down my back.
        This is not Diathan.
        In Diathan, I had no wings.

        Memories of merry times drift pleasantly across my mind. I've lived in Faerie longer now than Diathan, and here feels normal to me.
        But I shan't allow that! I have lost a thing I cherished, and I cannot let myself forget, or be misled by downy dreams or thoughts of endless ease. This is not me, I have no place here.
        Yet it is, and yet I have.
        I feel consumed, not consummated. This is wrong.
        Still can my will prevail? Or am I lost already?

        I rode a trout today, and drank the dew from spiders' webs. I tagged and tigged and hid and sought, and life was never better.
        I like this place. I feel of Faerie.
        So, I spin a child. I do not call him Michael.
* * *

        It is the time of quarter-second. Now, the bonds between the realms are at their weakest. We are no mere shadows in the circle on this day, but semi-solid forms.
        I start my dance.
        I see a boy, his youthful face entranced. I spread my wings, and flutter to his fore. I take his hands, he joins me, and his girlfriend's cry of anguish floats him by. My nakedness bewitches him, my eyes of deepest violet draw him in. I tease him, toy with him, I'm coy, I'm lithe, seductive. Overcome, he clasps me to his body, passion flowing, puts his lips to mine of cherry red and -
        I am gone. I leave a tinkling laughter in my stead, my jest complete.
        The girl is weeping. Sadness? No, it's not...
        She loves him? This is love?
* * *

        I teach my son to spin. He asks me of my parents; curiosity.
        I tell him all about them, of their life in Diathan, but something's flawed. My story's incomplete, but how?
        I have two parents; he has one. My parents paired, connected by a longing that I know by name as love, but not by feeling. Yet I did know, and I must know once again, I must - I tell myself I must!
        My son sees nothing odd with what I've said at all.
        He is of Faerie.
* * *

        It is the time of quarter-third. I glimmer at the circle, and see scientists with instruments. They will not sense our presence, for we make it so. The crowd of others is not great, as men with batons keep the people back. Yet, there among the few who watch I see a mortal once of Faerie, sad, but seemingly at peace.
        He nods to me, I'm sure of it. A message, from Diathan? Is he telling me my recollection isn't false, there is a thing worth having there, beyond the limitless experience of Faerie? Something so sublime he can't lament his leaving here?
        Will I gain wisdom if I ever choose to part?
        What use is wisdom anyway?
        What use is love?
        Unlike the others in this place, I've been to Diathan before. I know what use is wisdom, and I know that love is worth mortality.
        I cannot echo feelings of love's power, but I yet retain the facts.
        I must resolve to leave. I must go back to Diathan.
        And yet, the stars shine brightly here in Faerie every night.
* * *

        It is the time of quarter-fourth.
        My grandmother can not believe my choice. What fancy led to my decision? What compels me, after only ninety years, to leave? It's my first crest, yet she has seen a thousandfold of crests, and still finds daily things to awe, delight, inspire her being.
        I tell her that I do not see the reasons for my settlement.
        I tell her, though, that when I'm mortal once again, I will.
* * *

        My parents cry with joy more genuine than any joy I felt in Faerie. I sense tears of happiness within me, stirring memories of things I haven't felt for ninety years.
        I'm mortal now, I can't go back, but who would ever leave Diathan when it offers even this?
        I hug my parents; they hug me. I made the right decision?
        Then, I think of Michael. Michael! Oh my love!
        All doubts dispel.

        Now I am home.
        My bedroom: heart a-pounding, phone in hand, I dial the number. Michael's number - ninety years of fluttering leisure hasn't prised it from my mind.
        A girl answers.
        "Siobhon," she says her name is. She seems quite pleasant. She's Michael's girlfriend, matter-of-factly. Did I want to speak to him?
        I drop the handset, stunned.
        He's been two-timing me. Michael! He loves this Siobhon.
        The news rips through my soul like a chainsaw. I fling myself face-down onto the bed, sobbing into the pillow, beating, beating with my fists. I'm torn through, the pain is almost raw - how could he do it? Didn't he know how it would shred me?
        Ninety years I waited, ninety years - for this!

        I belong here.

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk)
24th January :\webdes~1\ longer.htm