She spotted the elf straight away, gliding through the throng of clumsy humans with graceful ease. He looked different - always did - his dark hair cut short, and wearing a charcoal grey suit, simple and stylish. The last time she saw him, he was a punk; he had a new persona going on whenever they caught up. She waved and he saw her, sitting at a table outside the café sipping a Coke. They hugged and she said hello, called him by his old name.'It's Anthony now, I changed it a year back,' he said, sitting down. 'I remember back in the forties, you were Arthur. "Young Art" your friends called you. I liked that name,' she said. 'They call me Ant now. It's a good name, hip but conservative, you know?' Anthony saw the waiter and waved at him. 'You still Sylvia?' he said. 'No. I'm Tiala again.' 'Well that's going a way back.' The waiter came to the table and Anthony asked for a green tea, twist of lemon. Tiala lit a cigarette, and Anthony scowled. 'That's disgusting, no one smokes any more, you know?' He eased back in his chair, checking the street out. 'So, Tiala, what d'you do nowdays?' She blew smoke at him. 'I was doing jewellery, selling traditional-style stuff to these neo-pagans. That's why I went back to being Tiala.' Anthony snorted and almost spat the word, 'Wiccans. Man, they don't even worship a fucking god, just talk about the Moon and Mother Earth like they've ever stepped a foot off concrete. Did you make much money?' 'They wanted ankhs and pentagrams and Celtic knots, they weren't too interested in my bronze work.' 'So now you're doing what?' 'I'm a dancer.' 'What, teaching middle-aged women folk dancing, that stuff?' 'No.' 'Heh, you're a stripper.' 'Yeah.' 'Good money?' 'I've got the wrong body for it. I can dance better than any of the women, but my boobs are too small, and these men seem to like tall women. I do all right, men like to watch me dance, but if I was five foot nine, or a few cup sizes bigger, I'd do better.' 'Just so long as they don't install an iron pole. Hey, remember the nineteenth century? Everything was iron. You couldn't go near the cities or your brain'd explode.' 'They're aluminium.' 'Hey, maybe I'll come see you dance one night.' Tiala smiled. 'Are you that desperate to see a pair of tits?' Anthony's pot of tea arrived, and Tiala asked the waiter for another Coke. She said, 'So, Anthony. Ant, Jesus. What are you doing?' He flashed his perfect teeth. 'Real Estate. I sell houses for McDonnell and Lewis Realtors. Makin' a shitload,' he said. Tiala crushed her cigarette in the ashtray. 'Hmm. So I guess your Communist days are well and truly forgotten.' He grinned again. 'Heh, I was just trying to get laid; it impressed the hippie chicks.' 'They were all so stupid.' 'Man, I loved the way they dressed up, though, flowers in their long hair, fashionable rags. You know who they reminded me of? Elf girls, back in the old, old days.' Tiala raised one perfect eyebrow at that comment, said, 'I never looked like that, did I? When did I put fucking flowers in my hair?' She pushed her crow-black hair out of her face. 'You didn't, I guess. But you had that tiara, the vine one. And you dressed similar.' 'Okay. I certainly never had hairy armpits though.' 'True.' 'Is that what the whole commune thing was about for you? Reliving the old ways?' 'They aren't even close to the same thing. I tell you one thing, the music was better in the sixties. And the drugs. I much prefer acid to that old shit, wormwood and nightshade and, what was the other one? Willow bark?' 'That's aspirin. You're thinking of Hand of Glory.' 'Belladonna, yeah.' 'I don't know about this new businessman thing you've got going on. I liked when you were a punk, your gelled hair. Reminded me of when you were a warrior with your hair spiked up with animal grease.' The waiter arrived with Tiala's Coke. Anthony said, 'know what I hated about being a punk? Heroin. Everyone did it, and I'll tell you something; it's a shit drug. What's that thing that guy said? If you use it to destroy yourself, heroin's great. If it's for recreation, it's bad.' 'Sartre said something like that.' Tiala sipped her Coke, and grimaced. 'Why do you drink soda if you don't like it?' Tiala ignored him, and Anthony went on, looking around at the people on the street. 'Yeah, Hand of Glory,' he said. 'The old witches used to stick it up their arse, you know, with a wooden pole. Flyin' high on a broomstick.' 'That's a myth.' 'No, I read it.' 'It's a myth.' 'Hell, you'd know. I was back at home those days living the proper life of a faerie.' He refilled his teacup from the pot. 'Yeah those were the days.' 'I thought you hated living in the barrows.' 'I'm a soldier, I get a little stir crazy if I'm cooped up too long. But it was okay. I didn't hate it until the people started forgetting us. Before then we were worshipped as gods one day a year, I loved that. You remember?' 'I remember.' 'Christians couldn't find a way to turn Samhain into their own festival, so they turned us into nothing. Bastards. I tell you, I was in America not long ago, eight, nine years back? They do Halloween there. Love their holidays, the yanks do. I reckon, if you wanted to restart the tradition, that'd be the place to do it. You could buy some land, build a faerie house in it, and hold an annual party there. Before you know it, you've got people worshipping elves again.' 'I hear America's pretty fundamentalist.' 'That's the best bit, rebuilding right under Christianity's useless human nose. Yeah, that'd work - the pagans would love it.' Tiala said, 'So, why don't you do it?' ''Cause I don't give a fuck, is why.' Anthony said. 'It's a dead religion, and we're a dead people. Sure, it'd be nice to relive those old times, but I'm not gonna go to all that trouble. I'll stick to realty, thanks.' 'So I assume you don't maintain the traditions any more.' 'Praying to some forgotten agriculture gods? Hell no. I was over that a long time ago. Anyway, I only really cared for whatsisname, the war god. A quick prayer before battle, you know? I don't fight any more, and what do I care if the crops fail? I buy my bread at the supermarket. This is my point. Our religion, our traditions, they have no relevance, no purpose.' 'Oh, I don't know.' Tiala made a cooing noise, and a nearby pigeon fluttered over to the table. It looked at her, and cooed. Tiala replied, burbling in a good imitation of a pigeon's voice. The bird looked at her for a moment, then tottered over to the table edge and flew away. 'There,' said Tiala. Anthony watched the pigeon flying away and said, 'What did you say to it?' 'You used to be so good with animal languages, you tell me.' 'I told you, I don't remember all that stuff, I haven't used it in ages. What'd you say?' 'I told it to tell all the other pigeons that you're a cunt.' 'You didn't. What the fuck did you do that for?' 'I thought you didn't care about all that any more, what does it matter what the pigeons think of you?' 'Goddamn it, they're gonna shit on my car. Thanks a lot.' 'Get over it. So tell me, that thing with starting a religion in America, did you think of it just then, or have you been working on this idea for a while?' 'Thought about it, back when I was at that commune near Byron. Be some kind of guru, you know?' 'But you wouldn't do it now?' 'I didn't do it then. I thought; what spiritual advice could I give? I'm a warrior, not a wise man. I'd get all these followers and organise them into an army. Australia's answer to Charlie Manson. Or that Waco guy, Koresh. You could do it, though.' Tiala lit another cigarette. 'That's what I was trying to do with the pagans. I thought; I could sell some jewellery, if they like Celtic culture so much. Give them a taste of what went before and go from there. Maybe even some careful use of magik. But they didn't care. They're so far removed from nature, most of them, I wonder what they see in it all, sitting in their suburban homes, chatting on the internet about the Earth Goddess.' She sipped her Coke. 'You never answered my question,' Anthony said. 'Why do you drink Coke when you don't like it?' 'Because,' Tiala said, 'that's what people drink.' 'You try too hard, you know that?' They sat there in silence outside the café for a while, the two fair folk, Anthony scowling at the pigeons occasionally. Finally, he said, 'Iliriel's dead, you know.' 'I heard. Suicide, right?' 'Drank drain cleaner. That's kinda suspicious, I reckon. He was always a traditionalist - he would've fallen on his sword or something.' Tiala thought about it. 'Drinking poison's traditional.' 'Still, it doesn't make sense. I think he was killed' 'I think it was just suicide. Remember he was one of the elders trying to get us all to unite against humanity, a few hundred years back? He was depressed because we've lost everything. He never really adjusted to the new world, so he killed himself.' 'Yeah, I guess. Anyway, it's a damn shame. He was one of the oldest, Iliriel was. Older'n me by a good four hundred years at least. Before the Celts and everything.' 'I never knew him.' 'I met him a few times, but that's about it. How'd you hear about it?' Tiala said, 'A little bird told me. So are you going to the funeral?' 'I'm too busy at work to go halfway around the world to watch some guy get buried on such short notice. You?' 'I can't really afford to travel at the moment. 'You need money?' 'No. Anyway, I never knew him.' 'I'm happy to lend you some.' 'No.' 'Whatever. Look, I've gotta go, okay? It was great seeing you again, we've got to get together more often. None of this once-a-decade shit, all right?' 'Sure,' Tiala said. They both rose, smoothing out their clothes. They hugged and said goodbye, Tiala calling Anthony by his old name again. He said, 'hey, quit calling me that, it's Anthony now, remember? You take care, girl.' And walked away. Tiala sat back down again, lit another cigarette and sipped her Coke. Anthony - once Kalarian Aldred, renowned warrior-chief of the house of Daanai - stepped into the crowd of people bustling about the busy street, and Tiala watched until his small frame disappeared amongst the ever-moving mob of large, coarse humans.
x x x
Just a conversation, you’d say, a conversation between two old friends. Why would Markette post this at anotherealm? If you have to ask, you won’t understand. Look up “dialogue” in a good writer’s primer, then read this again. Our Aussie friend has a fine ear and a facile pen. Welcome aboard, Jesse. Reader’s comments to our BBS, please. -GM