This puckish little tale earned an Honorable Mention over at my favorite weekly contest, Flash! Friday. The photo prompt featured a hoodied panhandler and the required element was Character: Spy.
“Dreaming of Midsummer Nights”
A butterfly landed on the edge of Robin’s alms cup and fanned its stained-glass wings.
Robin sucked in his breath and reached out. It graced the grubby perch of his fingers. Robin inspected the glossy thorax, the knobbed antennae, the scrolled proboscis (not Fay!) and shoved it into his mouth. The insect’s ichor oozed bitterness.
He sank back into his rags. Butterflies. How Robin missed the flutter of floral sprites, the hyacinthine perfume of the passages between worlds. But his world had moved on, leaving him with unyielding concrete and stale deodorant.
He couldn’t help but glower whenever a pram rolled past. That babe dandling a stuffed giraffe? In earlier days, Robin would have marked it in night dust for a midnight exchange. The Goblin Traders hadn’t responded to his alerts in decades.
How could they have abandoned him, their best agent?
Pinstriped legs hesitated, dropped coin into his cup. Robin couldn’t bear to look up. A flutter of temporary sympathy was an impoverished substitute for the long-lost revelry of Fay gatherings.
The silver had an odd glint to it. As Robin squinted into the cup, the coin shivered, then turned into an acorn.
Robin surged to his cloven feet and, heart ignited by hope, sprinted after the pinstripes.