“I’m so done,” Flora said. “I just can’t handle it anymore.”

“I know,” Cassie said, flipping a blonde lock out of her eyes.

“What are you saying, guys? What do you think we should do?” Caroline asked.

The three teenagers were sitting at the Starbarks in Gloaming Gap, the fairy coffee house in the back cabinet of the much larger human one, and they were scheming. Okay, Flora and Cassie were scheming; Caroline was wondering if this was okay to do. She was always a little more circumspect about these things.

“It’s just not fair,” Cassie said. “We always get blamed for their sloppiness. I hate that.”

“That’s why we’re going to change it, “ Flora said.

“How?”

“We’re going to show the people in this town what’s really going on.”

Caroline sucked in her breath. “I don’t know. Is that a good idea?”

“It’s about time,” Flora said. Cassie nodded. They leaned in and began to plan.

***

People never seemed to learn. The fairies tried to give them hints about the truth without completely undermining their role as secret keepers. An occasional yeti print left unburied, a spaceship left out just a moment too long in a corn field. Yet still people called the stories about these things “Fairy Tales.” This was a complete misnomer.

It belied the very work of the fairies themselves. They spent their days maneuvering shrubbery to hide a woman becoming more hirsute in the full moonlight and tucking away the anachronisms left by time rifts. The last thing they wanted was to be noticed by anybody, and this fairy tale nonsense was a perpetual problem for just that reason.

They did all they could, personally, to be discrete. Their tiny houses – no larger than the size of a small cereal box – were made from things they gleaned around them. Country fairies had houses of bark and moss, leaves and grass. City fairies built their homes from the granola bar wrappers and empty straws that littered the gutters. Their size and relative stealth – centuries of flying without the mask of mechanical background noise had made them very quiet – kept them unseen by nearly everyone, except the most astute children.

So here, you can see, why teenage girls might be frustrated. All this work and none of the glory. And then they are blamed for the gory stuff that the vampires did. It simply wasn’t fair.

***

Caroline was given the job most suited her – she was to simply act normal. Go about her day of patrol. Hide a leprechaun’s stash here. Tuck away a protruding dwarf curtain there. Nothing fancy. Just every day stuff. Since the girls often traveled together but not inseparably, this might keep people from guessing what was happening.

Cassie, as the voice of the coterie, was to prepare their press release. At the prescribed time – the aptly named “witching hour” – she would send her notice to all the major papers, both human and creature, to let them know of the full plan.

Flora, the unspoken leader, was to sequester the entire population of fairies in Gloaming Gap – all 587 of them at the last census – in the Town Hall between the stone and the flagpole near the human town center – on the pretense that there was a supernatural emergency that needed attending to. She would begin at 8 PM to gather them in with reports that humans had begun asking too many questions – using fictitious blogs and Twitter updates as her evidence – and ask that everyone gather for a brief meeting at Midnight to devise a plan of action. When everyone was assembled, she would lock the doors of the hall and leave everyone there (a supply of food and water would be available) for the next several hours. This way, no one would see fairies, but all the people would see the other creatures. The vampires and witches, time travelers and sasquatch would make a big enough name for themselves that the idea of fairies would seem impossible at best, unlikely at worse. The plan seemed flawless.

On the selected evening, the girls gathered at Starbarks again to finalize their movements. “You’ve got it, right, Cass?” Flora asked, her hand around her tiny mocha-frappa-hooey.

“Got it. Sixteen copies of the press release here. Our lead line is, “So you thought there was no such thing as monsters? You’re wrong.”

“Guys, you’re sure this is a good idea, right? I don’t want to get anyone in trouble.” Caroline’s eyes were wide.

Flora rolled her eyes. “No one will get in trouble, and no one will get hurt, Car. It’s okay. Now, let’s go.”

So the plan was put into motion. People started trickling into the Town Hall and soon the place was full – all 587 fairies tucked into every corner. Flora flitted about talking to folks just to keep them keyed up enough that they wouldn’t notice when she closed the doors.

Meanwhile, Cassie was flying all over town, dropping press releases on desks and shooting off emails on her fPhone between stops. The town was blanketed.

Caroline walked her normal circuit. She picked up a tiny glove that a fairy must have dropped on the way to town. She burned a picture of Nessie that someone actually managed to get home to Pennsylvania. She did her job, just as she always did.

Flora pushed the doors of the Hall shut just as Cassie tweeted the last link to the story. Caroline finished her circuit, and they all gathered back at Starbarks. Now, it was just a matter of time before the truth was revealed and fairies got back their reputation – i.e. no reputation at all. The girls helped themselves to their drinks – since their fairy baristas were all at the Town Hall – and settled into the comfy wingchairs to wait.

Eventually, they fell asleep.

Hours later they woke to find . . . nothing had changed. They were still alone in the coffee shop; people were still walking around beyond the cabinet doors in front of them. No one was squealing in fear, and the flash of cameras was missing.

As the girls stepped out onto the street, the lack of drama continued. People were still wandering to and from the stores in the strip mall, totally not seeing the mermaid swimming in the fountain. Others were climbing into their cars, which were parked over sewer grates where the zombies murmured; apparently, zombie moans sounded like engine noises. It seemed that people were simply used to seeing what they expected to see. The girls’ efforts were all wasted.

They made their way across town, totally disappointed in the situation. “I can’t believe this,” Flora kept saying. Cassie was near tears. Caroline stayed quiet.

As they approached the Town Hall, they heard the murmur of voices inside, and quietly let the door swing open while they watched from the cover of bushes.

A flood of fairies poured out by the flag pole. Hundreds of them swarming around the square. In their frenzy to escape, they neglected the gift of stealth, and before the flying creatures could contain themselves, people were pointing and shouting – “Oh my word!” “What are they?” “Is that a fairy?”

For the next few days, the newspapers were full of stories and blurry photos captured on phones. Facebook was flooded with status updates about where you were when the fairies came out. For a short time, #Fairy was a trending topic on Twitter. The world was full of fairy tales.

At Starbarks two days later, Flora and Cassie groaned.

“Here we go again,” Caroline said under her breath, and smiled.