There is an old man who sits on the corner of Beth and McKay Avenue and talks. To any passerby, his words would sound like the ramblings of an insane man, but if you listen, if you truly tune into what he is saying, something within you is stirred because deep down, you feel that whatever he is saying is the truth.
I was walking to work when I first listened to him. My mind was empty as I walked down those busy streets, too used to my daily routine. At times like that, any thought could have popped into my head but instead of my own voice filling my empty mind, his voice took over.
“Iron.” He had said and it was the seriousness, the sheer intensity of how he delivered that one word which caused me to look over and meet the emerald green eyes of the pale old man. His facial expression did not change and he kept his piercing stare as he continued to speak.
“Iron fills this city and people do not understand the poison that it holds for both the mind and the body. The buildings poison the mind to believe there’s nothing else out there and the body becomes polluted, impure, plagued with disturbance. I see the evidence in the sunken faces of youth and the bodies lying broken on the sidewalks. This is why they exile us here from my world. They exile us to become poisoned and die.”
A tear formed at the edge of the old man’s eye and I stood back in alarm. A pit formed at the base of my stomach and I turned away from him, too afraid to stay. I tried to push his words from my mind and hurried on to my office.
The words came flooding back to me around midday and they peeled away at my mind until they were the only thing I could think of. Something about what he had said disturbed me and I knew I had to go back to him. So I gathered my things and slipped out of the door unnoticed.
He was not in the same place as he was in the morning. I scanned the corner for him until finally my eyes caught the sight of a pale figure sitting in the darkness of an alleyway.
“I’ve been sitting here for two years and never have one of you creatures come back.” He said as I slowly sat in front of him and gazed into his weathered face.
“Your world.” I whispered, hoping he would take the prompt, and he did.
“Ah yes,” He sighed, “my world.”
He smiled nostalgically and began to tell me the story of his world. There is no iron in his world, he explained, for his people are allergic to it. His cities are built with stone and wood. He told me that humans don’t realize that they too are allergic to the iron. The body requires wilderness and nature to be truly calm. When he finished, he told me he was exiled by his people and left here to die.
Slowly, his eyes closed and he fell into a deep sleep. I knew then that it was my time to leave. His story lulled me to sleep later that night.
The next morning, I looked for him again on the street corner but he wasn’t there. I walked to the alleyway and searched for that pale face. There was a quilt with beautiful patchwork lying in the dirt of the ground. I walked into the darkness to get a closer look.
The quilt moved suddenly and a hand shot out grabbing my own. I looked down upon the old man but his face was so caved in and ill looking that he was almost unrecognizable.
He smiled and whispered, “Thank you for coming back.” Then he closed his eyes and continued to sleep with a smile on his face. I shook my head sadly and wondered if I’d ever see him again after today.
I left for work early the next morning before the sun rose and quickly ran back to the alleyway. It was empty and the darkness seemed sad and haunting. I knew deep down that the old man would not be there anymore.
His quilt lay in the dirt but this time, it did not cradle the old man beneath its patchwork. I put my bag down and sat on his empty quilt. I watched as the sun rose beyond the city, painting it in gold and I swear, just then, that I caught a glimpse of another world, his world, just beyond those buildings.



Vancouver, Canada

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What if what they say is true?


iron fey

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  • orchidrain
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