Errr. I was quite muzzy headed when I wrote this. Mae wanted to write a dissertation on how rockstars have taken over the functions of fairies in western society at this point in time and I had to shoosh him and remind him this was supposed to be fiction. Still he's convinced that Danny living in his hazy bubble of unreality with his links to the illustrious dead (Jim Morrison & Co) and his slight air of being both an endangered species (It'll be all video games soon) and an anachronism from a more noble past (after 77' everything had been done) make Danny more of a fairy right now than he is. They're also both grounded in low culture these days, rock music and fantasty novels generally being things not taken seriously by anyone but the teenage.
Mae: And you.
Me: And me. But then, I'm stunted.
We sit in the park, two pairs of spaghetti legs stretched out on the grass before us. Deedee pulls a phone from her pocket, punches in a number and holds it to her ear.
“Namarië,” she said into the plastic. It’s fabulously disorientating watching someone speak Sindarin into a mobile phone. She looks a little uncomfortable doing it, keeps the sentences short, the information without ornament.
Finally she pulls the phone into her lap and clicks the line of communication shut with her finger.
“He’s coming over,” She said.
Treacle is the only thing on earth that makes me feel young. He’s much, much older than I am, much older than father even. He feels like he is older than Valinor itself, although he’s just older than our knowledge of it. It’s tiring just looking at something that old sometimes. He looks to me how I must look to humans.
There’s always brightness ready to throw itself at this black hole of age. There’s always someone young and sunlit ready to let their light shine around the caverns worn out by so much experience. Deedee. Daniel. They’re the opposite of moths, they’re the little flames drawn to darkness.
Deedee is at least an elf even if the only war she has lived through is the grinding, wearing siege against irrelevance. She’s a product of the cold war when mortals chose not to fight us but to ignore us. It’s the sort of war that doesn’t make for heroes, for who can do deeds of valour against an impassive enemy? Daniel is a mortal. (And I’m not in love with him.) Although even he doesn’t quite belong to himself.
Treacle is what you could call a confessor. You know all those stories that end “And they were never seen again by Elf or Man.”? You can bet Treacle knew them before the end and got the story that never made the history books.
He’s never met Maglor, which I take as a positive sign, a sign he’s still living. For the confessions Treacle hears are always of the deathbed variety, he takes the final chain that binds the speaker to the world from them.
Why Treacle? Maybe the ravaged beauties and fallen heroes feel better talking to a blind elf who cannot see the wasted limbs and wrinkled faces. Maybe because he’s Avari, he’s not one of us. His Gods are not our Gods therefore his rules are not our rules. He can listen but he cannot condemn.
After a while, Deedee gets up and goes to the park entrance to guide him through the pathless mass of grass and bodies. They come back together arm in arm, fussing over each other a little, snapping at each other petulantly.
There’s always been something that caught in my throat at seeing two elves as in love with each other as they are. It used to be my old comrade grief laughing with them, yes that’s how we were too isn’t it grand? Now it’s something else. Yes that’s how we could be if the world was fair and flat and free from history. It’s the feeling of grit in a featherbed.
At least I’ve got a featherbed.
It doesn’t do to get bitter. That’s blindness too. It isn’t fair to Deedee and Treacle to pretend they’ve had it easy or that their future is certain. But they have got love, and it’s hard not to be envious of that.
I can see why Daniel chose to ignore this hurt by deciding he is truly, madly in love with me. He doesn’t have much of a pain tolerance, Danny. He’s allergic to most of the world. I have to fight down a smile at this thought. It’s odd how drippy one gets at the thought of frailty. Perhaps it’s strange then that elves don’t fall for mortals more often. But then again we’re all hopeless aesthetes at heart and by the time we’ve got to know a mortal long enough to build up a decent burst of love for them the crows feet are already meandering across their faces.
Daniel’s like the princess in the fairy story who showed her true worth by being able to feel the pea beneath twenty feather mattresses even though she came to the castle dressed in rags. He’s far more sylvan than I could ever be, he’s delicate, ethereal, not quite all there. He can taste a microgram of additive in a morsel of food. Me, I’m tough as old boot leather.
I like to think about Daniel. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure because I know it isn’t good for me, but I do.
Deedee puts her head against Treacle’s chest and he runs his hand gently over the curve of her hip. Comfortable moves.
“Hello Maedhros,” said Treacle.
“Maedhros has just sold out to some rich trick of his.” Said Deedee disapprovingly.
“Deedee.” Said Treacle wearily. It’s so amoral, old age. It’s seen everything and watched the world keep turning. Nothing shocks it anymore.
“I’ve left Xyro and moved in with Daniel.” I said. “He’s messed my hair up and Deedee’s worried by this.”
“Are you worried by this?”
“A little.” I reply.
She was the most misquoted elf in history, Treacle said. Her story’s been told a thousand times in different versions, yet it’s never quite her story. Something has always been changed. She’s the last line in Casablanca, a case of people remembering what fits not what is true.
She’s the elf that meets the knight in the greenwood and makes a man of him. Not by dropping her knickers, because who really cares about whether or not a man is a virgin, but by sending him out on a quest. This, my lad is what you must do to make the history books. You make your stab at immortality and come back when we’re quits.
It’s the aristos versus the bourgeois. I was born with mine; you must earn yours to stand beside me. But even then we’ll never really be the same. New money and pen and ink eternity, they’re not a patch on the old stuff, the real stuff. But they’re what the future’s made of.
She was misquoted as saying –“Then we are kinsmen from afar.”
What she really said after he had tried to impress her with his list of long gone illustrious ancestors was: “My father is one of your dead.”
Danny and I are not Beren and Luthien or even the last and least of their latter day imitators. That’s not because Danny isn’t in his clumsy way heroic and certainly not because I lack the requisite beauty. It’s because the great romantic lovers were a meeting of opposites in an enchanted middle ground. Danny and I, even though he’d tumble to the floor in a breath of Beleriand wind, are not all that different. He is, if you like, a reduced scale model of me.
I’d been in Daniel’s impossibly huge Emperor of the Universe size bed for three days before I heard him sing. Even then, I didn’t actually hear him do it, I heard a Technicolor shadow of him while flicking across the endless ocean of television channels.
He was snoozing beside me. I elbowed him in the ribs.
“Oh yes. Still. That songs old.” He buried his head back into the pillows.
“That great big noise comes out of you?”
He turned his head to the side and laughed. I clicked off the TV.
He laughed but it’s true. His voice doesn’t seem like it belongs to him. It’s like hearing the sound of a double bass coming from a tinkers fiddle. It’s far too deep to come from his skinny chest, too powerful. It has a surprising gravity despite its subject matter being mainly mildly smutty gibberish. In another age they’d accuse him of conjuring spirits.
We were no less strange to each other than when we first met. I knew very little more about him that what I’d learnt at the brief briefing in club Xyro. He sung professionally, he’d made money out of it but only really because he made more money for other people.
There was very little else in his flat to hint at any other identity. The furniture was tasteful and expensive; somebody else had probably bought it. The only thing that a lot of effort had been put into was the bed. Not the mirrored ceilings and rubber handcuffs type of tacky effort that might befit someone of his social standing. (Where do Rockstars stand socially? Pariahs with purchasing power?) It had been fitted out more as a retreat for someone easily snagged on the sharp edges of life. There were pillows of softest Eider feather, and cushions of suede and authentic feeling fake fur. The duvet was the size of my room in club Xyro and covered in fresh linen daily, and there were other rugs and blankets from exotic locations lost in the melee. It was an elegant and expensive burrow for a bunny of means.
I wasn’t quite sure what this extensive boudoir said about Daniel at first. Then I realised it meant he prized warmth and saftey above anything. He needed to be held, and if he couldn't find himself another pair of arms heavy bedding was the next best thing. I thought he must have been one of those Gothic babies one reads of kept in bare metal cots in barren orphanages such was his need for physical affection. It was a ravenous, unspoken desire and everything else, even his libido was subordinate to it.