There were three ways to get out and the great barn doors weren’t one of them. Fifteen years ago, the leprechaun had sealed them in a fit of pique and temper.
He was always a bit growly. His roommates didn’t mind, unless his moods influenced his cooking.
“Dumping pepper in the eggs again,” the blind cyclops muttered to the broken ballerina.
The leprechaun slammed pots. The cyclops retreated to a corner with his knitting. He had a knack for unique tea cozies shaped like unicorns or dragons. The ballerina hopped, first on one foot, then the other. She did this furtively, testing out her strength. She also checked the exits, in rotation: sewer grate, vine door, window. There was a problem with them all. The sewer stank like death. The vine door writhed with ivy. And the window swallowed heartbeats.
“You’re not planning to go out there?” The cyclops scrunched his forehead.
The ballerina shrugged.
“Are ya daft?” The leprechaun pointed one stubby finger at each exit in its turn. “You’ve a choice between suffocation, strangulation and base obliteration. Help the giant make his cozies. Stay out of trouble, girl.”
“But,” she said, “I hear things.” She pointed at the large barn doors. Light broke through the edges, searing. “Crying,” she said. “Children’s prayers. Drowned wishes.”
“Curses,” spat the leprechaun. “That’s what I hear, night and day. Rage, out there. And violence. The world has gone to shit, girl. Stay inside. It’s safe.”
“Is it?” she cocked her head. She’d arrived a hundred years ago with every single bone inside her body shattered. Every one. She knew the cost of outrage.
“In/Out. Stay/Go,” the cyclops timed his words to match the clicking of his needles. “What’s the opposite of safe?”
“Drop the philosophical bullshit.” The leprechaun half-bellowed. “That missing eye of yours? It’s absolute.”
The cyclops merely chuckled.
“Alive,” the ballerina whispered.
The other two turned toward her.
“Alive,” she said again. “For us, that’s the opposite of safe.”
Whispers crept around the barn doors. Please. Help. Please. War. Please. Home. Please. Lost. Please.
The cyclops put his yarn down, set his hands onto his knees and stood. “Some will surely hate us.”
The ballerina nodded, but the leprechaun protested, “There’s no more room for beauty, strength or magic in the rough seams of the world.”
“Then we shall make room,” said the girl.
“I can’t undo the curse,” he pointed at the barn doors.
“Not a problem,” said the cyclops.
He rubbed his palms together. The leprechaun turned off the stove.
When the cyclops broke those doors down, the explosion echoed over rooftops, rifles, sinking boats, politicians, bombs and riots. Light and mourning crossed the threshold.
Thinking of the hero who had maimed him, the cyclops bellowed in a voice that woke the stars up: “Not Nobody is here!”
“And we shall change the world,” the ballerina whispered. Every single bone ached, always.
“Ready?” said the cyclops.
The leprechaun grinned wildly, and the ballerina danced.
Learn more about Wing-Feather Fables here