5. I let the fairy out of the hamster cage

        I had to let the fairy go and on Tuesday I let her out of my mom’s old hamster cage where I’ve been keeping her in my room.  I couldn’t put it off any longer, Madison was putting too much pressure on me to free the little fairy.  So I let the fairy out of the hamster cage.  Madison had me, she knew I wouldn’t risk Mom learning of the fairy.  So I let the fairy go, and if the fairy left, so be it.  I was hoping the fairy might stay with me, of her own free will, then Madison would have nothing to complain about, but I knew it was a long shot.  I had planned to gain the fairy’s trust first, slowly, in degrees, little by little, line upon line; unfortunately, Madison was not giving me the time to go slow.  So I set the fairy free.
        On Tuesday, after getting the ultimatum from Madison to free the fairy in 24 hours, I left school at lunch to check on the fairy and skipped my afternoon classes.  Teachers are usually not a problem for me, I keep my grades up, and when you look at the big picture you really don’t need to be in class when you can learn the material faster straight out of the book.  I knew I couldn’t miss football practice though, not with a game on Friday.  Coach Timmons is the offensive coach and keeps his eye on his players like a hawk watching mice.  He’s also the shop teacher, and to him the only real excuse for missing practice is laziness.  Coach Timmons might be a small man, but he has a booming voice and loves to yell and you don’t want to antagonize Coach Timmons, especially if it might jeopardizes your standings on the football team.  Not that I’m worried, I’m the leading rusher on the team and have outscored everyone this season except the quarterback.
        So I got home in a hurry, only had a couple of hours available with the fairy before I had to head to the practice fields, and it irritated me no end when I came in the front door and found Unger with my mother.  Randy Unger, our next door neighbor, has been paying more and more attention to Mom lately.  Unger is a married man.  Mom must have been expecting him, for she was dressed, nothing fancy at least, just slacks and a blouse, and she had combed and curled her hair.  It was good to see her out of her pajamas and robe, but not on account of Unger.  He had on his uniform, he’s a major out at the base, claims he was a friend of Dad’s, but I have my doubts.  He’s a large burly man, bigger than me, and is shaped kind of like a bear, an overweight bear.  He has an irritating, deep, grainy voice and it’s so obvious to everyone but Mom he’s trying to worm his way into her affections. 
        He knows I don’t approve of his presence and times his visits accordingly, only coming by when he doesn’t expect to find me home.  They were both seated on the couch, apart and not together, but still on the same piece of furniture, and it struck me as just a little too familiar.
        I threw my backpack full of books noisily onto the end table next to where he was seated and slouched into the matching sofa chair, facing them.  That put a damper on the conversation.  After a good ten to twenty minutes of listening to awkward small talk between him and Mom, wasting my time but for a good cause, he finally got the message - I wasn’t going anywhere.  He scowled at me, I didn’t care, and then make some polite good-byes to Mom and excused himself at last.
        “Really, Michael,” Mom exclaimed, as soon as the front door shut.  “Didn’t you realize you were intruding?”
        “What did he want?”
        “Just stopped by to see how I was doing?”
        “I bet!”
        “Michael, stop it.  Why aren’t you in school?”
        I shook my head.  “Not feeling too well,” I said.  “I’m going upstairs to my room.”   It wasn’t a total lie, Madison had succeeded in causing my stomach to feel nauseous, again.  Besides, Mom couldn’t very well complain about others not feeling well.  She signed with resignation as I passed, not up to a confrontation.
        I bounded upstairs and hastened to my room.  I was shocked to find someone had been cleaning up.  It looked like Mom had been in my room to gather up dirty laundry.  I hurried to the fairy cage on my desk and took the cover off.  Much to my relief, the little fairy was still there.
        The fairy was sitting on a doll sized chair facing her little doll table with her elbows on the table and her head in her hands.  I so was relieved she hadn’t been discovered, and also pleased to see her.  “Hello little pixie, it’s me, Michael.  I told you I’d be back at lunch time.”
        The fairy blinked her eyes at me.  I thought she might of seemed at least a little pleased to see me.  This was so much nicer than having her shoot me angry looks or shake her fist at me.  She pushed her chair back and stood up and stretched.  She was wearing one of the doll dresses Madison had given her.  It was a white Navy nurse’s dress and had small red crosses on the shoulders and rank on the collar.  It was one piece with a short skirt and closed in the back with a square of Velcro at the neck, which the fairy had left open to accommodate the added bulk of her folded wings.  She looked like a little miniature nurse and it struck me as somewhat comical.  I hand to restrain myself from laughing.
        The fairy must of seen my amusement, for she came up to the bars along the front of the cage and took hold with both hands.  She pressed her face into the bars, peering at me mischievously.  She smiled openly, then she said, “Mee-el.”
        The fairy said my name.  She was speaking to me.  I got my face up real close and this time she didn’t shy away.  “That’s right, Michael,” I said softly.  Then I pointed at her.
        The fairy looked down shyly, and then she told me her name.  I couldn’t follow her speech though, the syllables were spoken too softly and in a high pitch and all rolled together, but I got that it started with a B and had at least three or four, or maybe five syllables.  I tried to repeat it back.  I thought it sounded something like Boudicca, a historical person we’d studied recently in English Lit Class, a Welsh queen I think, but the fairy shook her head at my pronunciation and repeated her name again.  On my second try she shook her head all the more vigorously, grinning with amusement and bounced up on her toes.  She said it a third time, but I had learned my lesson.  “How about I just call you Bonnie,” I said.  “That can be your name, Bonnie.”
        The fairy seemed pleased and repeated it back to herself, rolling the n’s, “Bonnnnn-nnnnie.”  Then she pointed at the door to her cage and said, plain as day, “Bonnie out.”
        I was startled to say the least.  The fairy could talk somewhat, and had apparently picked up some level of understanding from listening to me and Westley.  She wanted out.  Well, it was what I had been planning to do anyway.  I glanced over my shoulder  to ensure the bedroom door was shut, and then to the window to check that it was closed.  She would be limited to the room, but I was more than a little apprehensive, it had been hard enough to catch her the last time, when she got out unintentionally thanks to Madison.
        Had to give it a try and hope for the best.  Carefully I opened up the cage and then stepped back to see what the little fairy would do.  There was no mad rush for freedom this time, no drawing of little daggers, no trickery, no frantic flying about the room.  She stooped and stepped carefully, even daintily, out through the doorway of the hamster cage, and walked in a gliding step across the desktop, like she owned the place.  She looked up at me questioningly.  When I did nothing, she uncurled her wings.  Those wings of hers are really quite astonishing and large for her size.  It’s amazing how she can compact them so tightly onto her back when curled and folded.  I could see that each wing had four transparent sections subdivided by thin ribs of cartilage, the thickest parts along the top.  The membrane of the wings sparkled as sunlight passed through. 
        The fairy paused at the edge of the desktop, and then dived off, wings extended and parallel to her body.  This time she didn’t drop or lose any altitude and immediately started an ascent.  She worked her wings up and down in rolling motions along the sides of her body, propelling herself forward and up like it was a natural feat for her, which I guess it probably was.  Her flight didn’t so much resemble that of a bird, with a strong flapping of wings, or the frantic buzzing of insects, it was more of a rolling, uneven, floating motion - like a butterfly.  She wasn’t real fast, but steadily gained altitude.  She used her hands and arms to aid her back muscles in the movement of her wings by grabbing onto a thicker section cartilage near the top of the middle filament that protruded slightly, which seemed suited just for that purpose, and pulled down and up in synchronization with her back muscles, moving the wings down and up in a fluid synchronous rolling motion.
        I stumbled back onto the bed and sat with my back to the wall, entranced.  First the fairy flew up and around the ceiling light fixture, then made a larger arc, circling the room.  She flew over to the window and landed on the window seal, feet first, and quite gracefully.  There she shucked off the little nurses dress and kicked it away so that the dress dropped from the window seal down to the floor.  She had her normal fairy clothes on underneath, the leather jumpsuit costume.  She stared out the window for only a moment, and then took off again.  From the air she explored items on a bookshelf near the ceiling, then across the room to take a look at the closet shelf and my ball caps, and then back over the dresser top.
        I held out my hand, palm up, to see what the fairy would do.  She approached and hovered above me for a moment, and then attempted a landing in the palm of my hand.  She was light, not weighing any more than a plastic toy, but it startled me and I jerked my hand back slightly, so that she was not able to maintain her footing.  She fell out of my hand and onto the sheet covered mattress of the bed, but she managed to right herself as she fell, such that she hit on hands and feet and didn’t crumple her wings.  She immediately stood upright, laughing at herself, and started to run towards the edge of the bed for another takeoff, but tripped on a fold of the sheet and sprawled on her face.  She giggled and curled up her wings and rolled into a setting position with her legs straight out in front of her.  She tested the springiness of the bedding with her hands, stood up carefully this time, and then uncurled her wings for another try.  This time she got airborne, but had to run a good ten steps on the mattress before leaping forward and up.  It was incredible.
        My phone buzzed.  I grabbed it up and saw it was a text from Madison.  I also noticed the time and was surprised to see so much of the day had already elapsed.  It was almost time for football practice.  The phone buzzed again, so I opened the message.  “I’m serious, let the fairy go!”  I tossed the phone back on the bed.  If only she knew.
        I glanced at the fairy, who was hovering above the globe on my dresser.  I had to leave for practice and was worried it would be difficult getting her back into the fairy cage.  We were making great progress and I didn’t want to spoil it by trying to catch her.  She wasn’t acting afraid of me at the moment or angry with me or anxious to escape, and it was awesome watching her flying free around the room, and out of the cage.  The experiment had worked far better than I had hoped, and maybe now I could let her roam around the room whenever I was home, but for the moment I needed her back in the cage so I could go to practice.
        “Bonne,” I called to her.  “Bonnie.”  She alighted on the dresser and looked back at me.  She knew her name.  I pointed across the room to her cage on the desk.  “Time to get back in,” I said.
        The fairy understood well enough, for she turned her back to me.  Not this again.  At least she didn’t try to run or fly away; but still, how to get her from the dresser to the desk and back into her cage.  “Bonnie,” I spoke more sternly.  When she looked at me over her shoulder, I pointed firmly at the cage.
        The fairy’s whole body seemed to shrug.  Then she squared her shoulders and took off and flew from the dresser straight to the desk.  She landed in front of the cage, but instead of cooperating like a good little fairy and getting back in like I expected, she stomped around behind the cage, put her arms to the bars, and commenced shoving with all her little might.  The cage gave way under her force, she’s amazingly strong for one so small, and she slid it right across the desktop and off the edge of the desk.  It went crashing to the floor making a terrible racket.
        I leaped to my feet in amazement.  The fairy folded her arms in front of her, defying me.  I was at a loss as to what to do.  She was obviously not going back into the cage without a struggle, and I didn’t want to undo the progress we had made.  I had no choice but to let the determined little fairy have her way.  She was not going back into the hamster cage.  I figured it would be okay as long as I could keep her confined to the room.  I grabbed up my practice sweats and loaded them into a gym bag, along with my cleats and some socks.
        At the door I paused at the sight of her sitting calmly on the space bar of my computer keyboard, watching me curiously.  I took a photograph of myself out of my wallet, a baseball card type only with me in my football jersey, and laid on the dresser next to her.  “Goodbye Bonnie, I will be back in a few hours.”
        She didn’t respond, so I left her there, shutting the door firmly in place behind me.  I took a piece of paper and wrote in very large black letter, “DO NOT ENTER MY ROOM UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!” and taped my sign to the bedroom door.  I figured that would be sufficient to keep Mom from going into my room again, but I was wrong.  Feeling greatly optimistic about the progress we had made, I left the house and left the little fairy our of her hamster cage and free in my room.
        I’ll save the telling of the disaster I found upon my return for the next blog.  But I left feeling confident that if a little more progress could be made, perhaps Madison could be convinced not to rat us out.
        So, as everyone reading this post can see, I’m not mean to the fairy.  I let her out.  I just want her to stay.  Wouldn’t you?

     Octobeer 12, 2012
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