“It’s there, I tell you, I put it there yesterday. In a mason jar, sealed good and tight.”
Sean was pointing at the lowest shelf of the garden shed, the old shed at the bottom of the garden, beside the blackthorn bush, the garden shed everyone was afraid to go near. But he knew, even as he pointed, there was nothing there.
He could see his father’s smile, his eyes crinkle, then turn away because he didn’t want Sean to see him but Sean knew.
His lower lip pouts, despite his best efforts. ‘I won’t cry,’ he thinks. He puts his hands in the pockets of his khaki shorts and kicks a dandelion, watches the fluffy bits take flight.
His father makes a show of rearranging the pots on the shelf where he had pointed. He picks a few things up, looks inside them; a glass jar filled with paint brushes, a half empty sack of plant food. He doesn’t want to belittle his son’s discovery.
“No, it’s not here,” he says, “are you sure you sealed the jar?”
“I did, I swear,” Sean says and nudging beside his crouching father’s form, he points, “I put it right there.”
‘What size of jar was it?”, his father asks.
“It was one of those gallon jars,” Sean says earnestly, “from your workshop.” He catches his father’s sidelong glance. The workshop and those jars, in particular, were out of bounds.
“I had to use something, there was no option,” Sean explains, “he was caught in the knothole of the shed wall. He would’ve got away.”
“What size was he? Was that jar big enough for him? Did he have air to breathe in it?,” his father asks.
“He was the size of my hand, but thin, fierce thin,” Sean explains, squinting, as he conjures the image of the elusive fairy king in his mind’s eye, “there was plenty of room for him and I pierced the top of the jar a few times. I even threw in a few blueberries, in case he was hungry.”
His father shares a grave and somber look with his seven year old son, his youngest, a bright boy, bristling with intelligence, pent up youthful energy and mischievous adventure. The jars, he used to store his homemade hooch and the old shed, he used to store that year’s product.
“He was going in there to steal your Fairy Mead, Da,” Sean says. His father smiles and, limbs creaking, he stands tall, his right hand tousling his son’s blond curls, his eyes sweep the top two shelves, counting.
“And you stopped him, son, well done and I bet you gave him the fright of his life. He won’t be back, in a hurry,” his father tells him, “but you mustn’t tell anyone about catching him.”
“Why’s that, Da?” Sean asks.
“Those fellas hate to hear anyone tell about catching them. It makes them angry and they’d surely come back and bring a crowd with them, too. No, we’ll keep this between ourselves but I’m promoting you.”
Sean stares at his father, wide eyed, agog.
His father fishes in his pocket and produces a badge, a shiny badge with a harp and a circle of gold. He kneels and pins it to his son’s shirt. Sean’s lip’s no longer pouting, it’s pursing. He can feel his cheeks glow.
His father winks one eye, silently, then he whispers, “you’re the fairy marshal of this garden.”