“Touch” by M. Kate Havas from So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction (Lethe Press, 2009). Edited by Steve Berman.
Trinny is attracted to girls and surrounded by straight peers. When the story opens they’re in the woods, engaged in a drunken game of Truth or Dare. Trinny’s about to French kiss a tree rather than risk having someone ask her about her sexuality.
She does, indeed, French kiss the tree, and it turns out to be a very bad idea. It attracts the attention of faery folk, most notably a harsh faery woman. The next thing Trinny knows a week has passed and she barely has any recollection of it, except for the time she spent dancing with her new mistress and the other revelers.
It barely registers with her when her friends tell her she looks like a homeless person. She has bits of twigs and leaves in her hair and bags under her eyes. Her boyfriend Ryan is convinced she’s on drugs. So is her best friend Chelsea. Not that Trinny much cares. She only wants to return to her faery mistress. When Chelsea tries to get her to open up about having a substance abuse problem, Trinny gets the bright idea to bring Chelsea with her into the faery world, so she can see for herself just how wonderful it is.
The thing is, her mistress has forbidden her to even tell anyone about what she’s seen, let alone bring someone into their realm. (If you’ve made it this far into the anthology you should know that it’s not wise to cross one of the fae.)
I enjoyed this story but I was left waiting for a conclusion that was never drawn. Especially after a visibly shaken Chelsea asked, “Trinny, can’t you see what this is?” I wanted to know what it was, precisely, that Chelsea saw. Was the Faery queen really a junkie? A bag lady? An animal? A figment created by a diseased mind? Did Chelsea just see them that way? Was it due to a protective spell Trinny’s mistress cast? At the very least I wanted the girls to talk about it afterward, and compare notes. Wouldn’t you, if you were them?
I did appreciate the happy ending, though. Given that the story was pretty gritty and bleak throughout, I wasn’t expecting that, and it was nice.