Authors: Hannah Moskowitz
To Leah G. and John C.
Who always, always, always believed in fairies.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
Moskowitz, Hannah, author.
A History of Glitter and Blood / by Hannah Moskowitz
Summary: Beckan, an immortal teenage fairy, and Tier, a young activist, are on opposite sides of a war, but strike up an unlikely friendship anyway.
ISBN 978-1-4521-2942-6 (hc)
ISBN 978-1-4521-4097-1 (epub & mobi)
1. FairiesâJuvenile fiction. 2. GnomesâJuvenile fiction. 3. FriendshipâJuvenile fiction. 4. War stories. [1. FairiesâFiction. 2. GnomesâFiction. 3. FriendshipâFiction. 4. WarâFiction. 5. Fantasy.] I. Title.
Design by Kelsey Premo Jones.
Typeset in Bulmer MT, Eveleth, 1820 Modern, Formosa, Rougfhouse, Times New Roman, FF Justlefthand,
Bulletin Typewriter, and Quickpen.
The illustration in this book by Sam Weber was rendered digitally.
The illustrations in this book by Cathy G. Johnson were rendered in graphite.
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i do not know what it is about you that closes
Once upon a time
there were four fairies in the city who hadn't been maimed.
The second youngest, the only girl, was Beckan Moloy.
She was sixteen, and there were fifteen fairy children her junior in the city, but most of them had been in a day care a few years ago that was attacked by a gnome custodian, and others had lost eyes and tongues and fingers in various other incidents. Another handful around her age lost feet when they were ten and had gone down to the mines on a dare at a birthday party. Beckan hadn't been invited.
Missing body parts were nothing to cry about and nothing to take too seriously. Ferrum (the oldest fairy city, the living, gasping legend) was nine square miles of cracked cobblestone and iron scaffolding and playgrounds and libraries and was hardly a hazardous space, all in all, so the chunks of fairy that ended up in gnome stomachs were reasonable collateral damage. They were conveniently located around the waterways and farmlands, and they had gnomes to drive their buses and sweep their streets. Sometimes some fairy limbs had to be sacrificed to keep all of that. Call it a tax.
It was only an interesting coincidence that had Beckan make it to this age unscathed, and to have Josha, her best friend, tall, happy,
several years older; Scrap, two months and two centimeters below her, eyes like something burned; Cricket, Scrap's cousin, music in his ears, eyes on Joshaâsomehow slip through as well. Somehow the four of them came to feel like their own generation, as if they were the last vestiges from an old world where things didn't eat each other. But if a world like that had ever existed, these fairies wouldn't know. These fairies had never been outside Ferrum.
So if someone could have predicted the start of the war, which to this historian's approximation was three hundred and forty days ago, it would not have been Beckan. She didn't need a job, as she lived comfortably off her father's money, and he, with only a tooth left by way of a mouth (and only an eye and an ear besides), could protest very little. She stayed home and worked on her welding and thought about skirting around the city on roller skates delivering newspapers, like Josha, or doing whoknewwhat with Scrap and his cousin, Cricket, who somehow afforded to keep one of the cottages dotting the hills on the rims of the city that otherwise housed the richest and oldest and most exhausted with city life. But for Beckan, usually, her father was her only company. The gnome king, Crate, ate most of him when she was ten. A boy gnomeâone she didn't realize until much later was Tierârespectfully delivered his remains. She didn't cry. She knew her world. She made hot-glue flowers and stuck them to the lid of a jar and tossed her father inside. Like most of the fairies, all of whom came from non-fairy mothers (due to every lady-fairy's lack of uterus, a condition that sometimes left Beckan in front of her mirror for long periods, smoothing imaginary lumps on her belly), Beckan never knew her mother. Beckan was half gnome, and that was the only real burden she carriedâthat and her father in his jam jar, usually stuffed in the bottom of her bag.
Beckan was invincible.
Now, it's a year laterâa year into the warâand Beckan stands in front of the mirror thinking about getting dolled up in heels and hair spray (and she thinks about back when she used to wear whatever she wanted).
She touches her hair and immediately wishes she hadn't, because now she can't avoid thinking about how long it has been since she's showered. But the dirtier her skin gets, the less the glitter shows, and the less the gnomes glare and complain and gnash their teeth when she goes down to the mines. She figured that trick out on her own.
She shoves her hair under a black cap. Her sleeves are long enough to cover her hands.
She knocks on Josha's door and says, “Sure you're not coming?”
He doesn't even grunt.
She says, “We'll let you know if we find him. Try to eat something?”
She is almost seventeen, and now she and Josha are the only fairies in Ferrum (in their whole world) who haven't been maimed (and she is the youngest).
Scrap and Cricket's cottage is home now, with its uneven maple floors and squeaky faucet knobs and peacefully necrotic bathroom ceiling. Even after everything, Beckan is still living in a dollhouse, where every chipped dish and mismatched mug and unread newspaper feels perfectly and cleanly placed.
The moonlight's hitting Scrap hard through the glass-paned kitchen ceiling. Beckan has to rub her eyes for a minute after stepping in before she's sure he's really there.
Her sneakers are so thin that she feels the chill of the tile.
He looks up.
She stands in the doorway, her hand on the frame, her fingernails scraping up a few splinters.
She says, “You okay?”
He smiles at her and nods with just his eyes, a bit of paper still clamped between his lips, another bit torn and captured between sticky fingertips.
The rain outside sounds like someone running.
“You ready to go?”
He looks down at his manuscript. “Yeah. When I finish this page.”
“Wouldn't that be nice.”
“What are you even writing about? Hardly much happening.”
Throughout the war, Scrap has written dry diaries of the days. A few lines only, descriptions of the weather and body counts and what there was to eat.
The war has been so quiet these past few weeks, which doesn't explain why he's been writing more.
“Just transcribing,” he says. “Cross-referencing. Moving things”âhe gestures to a torn-out page, then to a different bookâ“to other things. You know.”
She's confused and crosses to the table to take his coffee cup so he can tug on his boots. His right arm is gone now, from just below the elbow, and they're learning to make allowances for that, because there are things to do and pieces to find. (Not Scrap's pieces. Something more important.)
At night, in the rain, their city is more alive than it has been since the start of the war. Beckan watches glitter drip from her fingers onto the ground.
Above them, they hear whispers, giggles, a fire crackling.
They don't look up.
It still seems so quiet, compared to when Ferrum was a real city (when there were more fairies than just their lost little generation, when there was life) and when Ferrum was in the heyday of war (when there was only smoke and noise). Now everything is petered out, quiet. It's not in a fairy's nature to know what it means to sit still.
But it's been a year since the city was really theirs. The fairies used to rule this place, above the ground, with their steel apartments, their manufacturing plants, their white-collar jobs in their industrial city, while the gnomes handled their dirty work in exchange for scraps of meat and the promise of a future immortal baby with a fairy boy. They played nice for their future generations. They loved the hope of having immortal children more than they loved your bones between their teeth. That was the reassurance fairy fathers whispered in gnome-nibbled fairy-children ears.
But gnomes were unpredictable and irresponsible, and a few fairies would always lose a few bits, a few fairies would sometimes lose a lot of bits, but every other fairy threw an extra bit of lamb meat (there was always extra, back then; this was never a thought) down the manholes every once in a while and in return got their trash taken and their jewels dug and their money minted and their roads paved, so who would complain? (They hadn't.)
And then the tightropers came and brought the war and the fairies were caught, quite literally, in the middle of it all. The tightroper radio announcements and fliers used to call it a
And maybe that was why, for the first time in decades, the fairies counted maimed family members on the remains of their fingers and decided they needed to be liberated from a city they'd built and a city they loved.
Anyway, those radio announcements and those fliers had petered out too.
“Fucking freezing,” Scrap mumbles.
you're always hot
you're always cold
hang in the air between them, and Beckan scrapes her shoe against the pavement to block out the silence.