But not entirely open. The door opened a few scant inches, and Willow peered at him. The fairy king shifted back and forth, waiting for her to recognize him.
That moment never came. Willow stared at him, frightened almost, and she refused to open the door.
“Can I help you?” she finally asked.
“Good evening,” he said with a smile.
She didn’t smile back or return the greeting. If anything, she became more uneasy, the door hinges squeaking as she closed the door.
“Wait!” he cried out. “I am a traveler in this city. I am looking for lodging.”
In the face of his need, the woman seemed to edge the door further closed. The fairy king gestured at her house, baffled. “You have a… residence,” he managed, struggling for the right word. “I hoped to stay here.”
“There’s a Scub Motel over on Sunset. You can stay there.”
As she began to close the door in his face, he jammed his foot in the way. “Now wait just a moment…”
He wrapped his fingers around the door and pushed it open against her. The next few seconds blurred. Willow screamed, yanked her foot away, the door swung open, causing him to trip inside her hovel, and lightning struck him from a bright orange device in her hands.
Then he wailed, shuddering and shaking and hurled himself off her doorstep and into the street. The door slammed shut behind him with a crash.
He flung himself onto the sidewalk, heaving for breath. “It appears Willow has acquired some strange new power in my absence.”
The fairy king dragged himself along the sidewalk and across the grass, smearing mud and grass-stains over his front. Digging one elbow into the path, then another, he inched himself along like a worm. His head swam from the drink, from the shock, from his own fuming. He reached out, his knuckles trembling, and tapped on her door.
“Help me… I need a place to stay!”
He heard her shifting on the other side of the door. With a groan, he knocked again. “Hello?”
He heard Willow tiptoe away from the door. Sighing, he laid his forehead on her doormat and waited.
“Surely she cannot be so heartless as to leave me out here without at least a hammock.”
Lights spilled over the windowsill of every room in the house, and the fairy king waited. He waited, and waited, and waited for hours, and wailed at the door, but Willow never even approached the door. He was hurt and tired, and as the moon sank towards the horizon, he mustered the energy to stagger away from her house.
“A tactical retreat,” he grumbled to himself. He considered stopping to breathe some life into her tulips, but he was too angry, and he remembered that he had sworn off magic, which made him angrier.
He limped up to Willow’s neighbor’s house, and he saw a man peeking at him through the drapes, but no opened the door. The next person’s house, he knocked incessantly, until an old woman turn on a light and shouted at him, threatening him with some long metal tube. Baffled, he limped to the next house, but no one answered there either.
Everyone had bars on their windows—fitting, he thought, given their barring nature—and the street was dirty and spotty, his lovely soft shoes practically ruined. Then, as he reached a sign that read “STOP,” and another that said “YIELD,” he gave a great sigh and saw another that read “SUNSET.”
“How very fitting,” he snapped at the sign. “I cannot yield. I will not stop.”
Gritting his teeth, he staggered across the street and walked in the opposite direction of SUNSET, YIELD, and STOP, which was very metaphorical for him. Leggy would appreciate the gesture.
He walked until he could not walk anymore, and then the fairy king heard the sound of a cat meowing, a dog barking. He collapsed beside a building labeled SUNSET SHELTER, which was also a metaphorical gesture.
Exhausted, he knocked on the door. But no one answered.