In an airport examination room, Johnson stares down at the blonde girl hunched at the table. Although her passport says she’s twenty, she’s smaller than his thirteen-year-old daughter. Johnson stands tall in his navy Canadian Border Patrol uniform which he’s sure intimidates her. But it also serves to stretch the chronic ache in his back.
“You should call your parents, Samantha,” Johnson suggests. Although he wants to tell her to call a lawyer.
“I’ve done nothing wrong.” She clenches her hands in her pink-streaked hair. A silver four-leaf clover glints in her ear. “And I prefer Sam.”
“Okay, Sam. Maybe, your parents can offer some advice.” He hopes she will cooperate if he plays “good cop.”
“They have enough to deal with.”She wraps thin arms around her body encased in a baggy hoodie. She’s hiding something. He’ll call the female customs agent if she needs to be searched.
“The canine unit already confirmed you’ve smuggled something in.” Her duffle bag sits on the table between them. “Talk to me.” Canine Charlie had, in fact, ripped into her bag before the handler got him under control.
Johnson waits a full minute before turning her bag upside down and dumping its contents.
“Hey!” She rises in her seat, but Johnson places a burly hand over the pile and stares her down. She sits with a sigh.
Johnson sifts through rumpled clothes. She doesn’t flinch until he picks up a travel-size shampoo bottle.
“What’s this?” He sits down facing her.
“Shampoo?” Sam shrugs, but her eyes widen, so Johnson knows he’s hit pay dirt. He opens it, and instead of liquid, it’s filled with shimmery white powder.
“I swear, it’s nothing bad.” She holds up a small hand, looking more like a girl scout.
He frowns and places the bottle down in front of her. Then he fishes in the bag and pulls out a matching-sized conditioner and shower gel. He lets out a long breath. He’s been through this a thousand times. Most kids smuggle in drugs because they’ve been coerced. Lord knows, he’d prefer to arrest whoever put her up to it.
“Come clean, Sam, and I may be able to help.” His tone remains gentle. But he needs to get her talking. He squeezes the open bottle, and a glittery white cloud poofs out. She squeaks, and he looks over at her.
“Don’t! It’s not mine.” She cups her hands around the cloud as if trying to redirect the contents back into the bottle.
“Did someone force you to bring drugs into Canada?”
“No.” She laughs. Johnson frowns at this, so she covers her mouth.
But not before Johnson sees the significant gap in the bottom row of her otherwise pearly white teeth. He wonders – Meth or Coke?
“What is this stuff?” Johnson places the bottle under his nose.
Her daring “go-for-it” stare makes him jerk it away from his face. And a sweet scent perfumes the air. “That doesn’t smell like any drug I recognize.”Johnson’s eyebrow quirks up because the enticing smell reminds him of candy floss.
“You’re not going to believe me.” Sam’s hands grip the table’s edge.
“Try me. If I send it for testing, we’ll be here all night. If you help me, we’ll be done in time for dinner.” Although her dinner will be served in jail, he thinks.
“Fine. It’s…” Sam hesitates but finally whispers, “fairy dust.”
His frown deepens.“PCP? That’s a serious drug!” He knows what a dozen different drugs taste like. He sprinkles the glitter onto his palm and touches his tongue to it.
“You’re wasting it.” Sam’s eyes fill with unshed tears.“You’ve no idea how long it takes to make that.”
Johnson feels his palm tingle and his tongue go numb. “Like I thaid, dwugs.”
Sam snorts at his Elmer Fudd lisp, but he glares at her.
“I’m not lying,” she glares back.
He shakes his head and places the bottle back on the table. Then, he pulls a small tube of hand sanitizer from his shirt pocket.
“NO!” Sam flies across the table to knock it away, but he steps back and squirts some of the gel onto his palm.
“Whaith your pwoblem? You’re alweady in gweat twouble.” He rubs the lotion into his hands and wrists.
“I warned you.” She rests her elbows on the table and places her chin on her hands to wait.
“Warned me about what?” he asks. But before Sam can answer, Johnson shrieks, waving his hands in the air. Well, he waves his stumps because his hands and wrists have disappeared. He points the stumps toward his face and can see exposed bone and veins. But there’s no seeping blood. “MY HANDS? THEY’RE GONE!” He screams.
Sam laughs. “Relax. They’re not gone.”
“Wait? Am I hallucinating?” He taps his fingers on his cheeks. “Because I can feel them.”
“Don’t do that,” Sam warns. But again, it’s too late. He smooths his hands over his entire face.
She glances at the two-way mirror behind him. She’s pretty sure they’re alone. Because if anyone was watching his skin fade away, they would have raced in.
“Calm down, and I’ll tell you what’s happening.” She rubs her fingers into the glittery residue on the tabletop.
“Fine, tell me.” He sucks in deep breaths. It’s revolting to watch because his nose and chin are gone. His teeth chatter through missing chunks in his cheeks. He looks like a plastic 3D model a professor might have, where the muscle and bone are visible with no skin covering.
“Some effects of fairy dust are temporary,” Sam assures him. “Your… er… hands will reappear.”
The panicked look in Johnson’s eyes reveals he desperately wants to believe her.
“People experience different side effects depending on how the dust is used. Some become invisible. Others can fly.” She licks the glitter from her fingers, hovers up to the ceiling, and flits back into her seat.
His eyes go wide. “That’s incredible.” But his mind is back on his own problem. He shakes his stumps. “But how do I get my hands back?” He shudders at the exposed bone. “I can’t go home like this.” His eyes are pleading.
“You had a light dusting. Listen, your lisp is already gone.”
He flicks his tongue in and out, feeling no numbness. “You’re right.”
“Based on your size, you’ll probably be completely visible again in five minutes.”
He narrows his eyes on the shampoo bottle and lifts it. It looks like it’s floating in mid-air. “Where did this stuff come from?
“I prayed while in a stone circle, and a fairy appeared. But I had to promise a few things in return.” Sam grins to showcase her missing teeth. “Apparently, European Fairies believe Canadian teeth are stronger, therefore, more magical.”
“Why didn’t you fly yourself home and save all this hassle?”
“From Ireland to Canada?” Sam rolls her eyes. “Think about how much dust that would take.”
But Johnson is thinking about invisibility and flying. What else can this dust do? Should he confiscate it?
Sam must read his mind because she blurts out, “The dust also has healing properties. My sister has cancer.” There’s a sadness in Sam’s eyes that he finally understands.
“This will cure her?” He lifts a bottle closer to inspect it.
“Hopefully,” she sighs.
But Johnson’s not listening. He’s staring down with his eyes crossed. He drops the bottle, whips around, and stares into the mirror. “OH, MY GOD! MY NOSE IS GONE!”
As he turns back, Sam grabs the bottle and blows a sparkling cloud into his face. He gasps.
“Sorry. I promise everything will be fine.” Glitter swirls into his open mouth. He coughs, sucks in, and coughs some more. Then, he slumps into the chair.
She gathers the bottles, stuffs them in her pockets, and readjusts her hoodie. Something squeaks. Johnson opens his eyes and blinks a few times. His hands have reappeared, and so has most of the skin on his face.
“You’ve already searched me and found nothing,” Sam says while shoving everything back into her bag.
“I did?” He scratches his head. The clock on the wall reads 6:00 pm.
“Yes. It’s dinner time, and you said we should go home.” Her voice is firm.
That sounds familiar. Johnson stands, stretches his back, and waits for the familiar ache. But he feels nothing. He rolls his shoulders, and there is no pain at all. In fact, the only thing Johnson feels is hungry. He sees no reason to detain this girl further.
“Stay out of trouble.” He scribbles his initials on her customs card before leaving.
When Sam is safely in her car, she unzips her hoodie.
She pokes the tiny winged stowaway nestled in her bra. “Welcome to the land of fluoridated water.”
The Tooth Fairy squeaks and then flies up to circle Sam’s head.“You got my dust?”
“You bet,” says Sam. “Now, let’s go save my sister.”
N.E. Rule attended Toronto Metropolitan University for both creative writing and business communications. Her writing portfolio includes software specs, marketing copy, and training materials. However, her passion is fiction. The characters in her head are getting louder, and refuse to wait for her spare time to come out and play. https://sunrisestrategy.com/writing.php
5 thoughts on “Tiny Smuggler – by N.E. Rule”
Thanks, everyone, for your kind words!
Wow! Loved N.E.’s little flash fiction story. Definitely a winner here!! Thank you so much for sharing, Miriam.
Excellent imagination. Very good descriptions.