Kissed by the Fairy King

I have the flu. I am an overwhelmed mess of fever and misery, and of course it's the hottest month of the year. I have been trying to carry on as usual, which is a big mistake. It feels like I've left mess behind me where ever I've gone this week. Mind you, it always feels like that, because I'm an introvert.

Being an introvert is hard. I think even if the whole world were introverted, it would still be hard. Being an introvert with too many opinions is the worst thing. You know you don't have the courage to say them, but you know you can't live your whole life in a secret ditch, so you push yourself and your opinions right out of that comfort zone as fast as you can, before your tiny scrap of courage fails - and often before you've given those opinions a little sensible, calm consideration. Then you're left with not only having spoken up, but having done so in a way you're no longer sure you can support, and people are going to look at you, and think about you, and even if you do hide away in your ditch again you know they're still out there looking and thinking.

I've had people say to me, you can dole it out but can't take it yourself. To which my reply is, yes, that's exactly right! I can give my opinion because I'm trying with all my strength to be a normal participating member of society, because I'm educated and halfway intelligent and I do have opinions - and because I've lived silent on the edge of civilisation, literally, and know the shrivelling pain of that - but the truth is that it is frightening, and it almost always hurts on a physical level, to speak out at all, let alone to cope with answers.

That's why so many of the women in my stories are meek - or seem at first to be meek, until they turn (sometimes literally) into dragons and hellcats. Partly it's because I feel quiet, shy women are under-represented in the fantasy/mythic fiction genre, but partly it's because I can't imagine what it would be like to walk through the world with a perfect sense of ease and entitlement to be there. And that's not a psychological issue, it's an introvert thing.

Perhaps we introverts are actually fey in some manner - our mothers kissed by a fairy king while pregnant with us, or our own selves touched or danced with when we were children, or oak shadows fell into our father's eyes on the day of our conception and so we were born knowing the languages of wind and shadow and old earth dreams, and we don't really quite belong to this world at all.

It's going to be hard to post this, and I might take it away later and now you know why. But I will post it for the others of you out there whose mothers were also kissed by a beautiful, lithe-eyed king of the wild, and magic shivered on down into your soul, and now you feel the rose thorns that threaten to rise if you speak, the hard-edged diamonds, the snakes of ancient magic, and still you fear silence.

illustration by jessie m. king


  1. it is immeasurably lovely to think that I may be the way I am because of a touch of the faery realm...
    I am so many contradictory things and 'fey' would be a very suitable adjective for how I act and feel much of the time. I read somewhere that children who are ill often, or suffer a single but serious illness or accident that keeps them bed-bound for a time, tend to be unusually thoughtful as a result. the body being incapable, they travel mentally (and perhaps spiritually?), becoming somewhat unusual as a result. one might say fey...

    hoping that you recover quickly from your flu.

  2. This is beautiful, Sarah. Please don't take it away.

  3. Yet it feels like this is where we as introverts can shine most—in these private, quiet spaces, where we can reveal and yet conceal the shy beauty of who we are. <3

  4. Thank you for writing this. I find it so hard to share my opinion on things, and to speak up. Perhaps because I feel too much. I feel what the other person feels, or at least I seem to read everyone, without knowing how to stop.
    I can feel so wound up after being around people (though I love being social for a time) that I need to drown myself in chocolate…or anything to calm myself down. It feels a bit lonely being like this. It’s hard to explain it to people. And maybe I’m being a bit over dramatic :) But I always feel I have to gather myself and have some strength before being around people.

    And then I feel or see things that might not be there. Like the energy around a flower, or a knowing that something will happen. It’s easy to think that these things are not real. Like I said, it’s all a bit confusing and lonely, and also wonderful. I’m blurting all of this out lol. I feel rather emotional.

    Hope you’ll heal from your flu soon! And that some light cool rain will fall for you :)

  5. {{hugs}} Sarah. 'Flu in the summer is worse in some ways than in winter ... tho' I'd welcome being able to sit out with the sun on my legs just now! (It is all snow and ice and gray skies) .... A beautifully articulate post, my dear. Many of us live in the darkquiet of the world, and folks always seem so shocked to hear our voices ....

  6. Fabulous post, except the flu part.. hope you feel better soon.
    So many of us can relate. I'm a hopeless introvert, always fearful of being laughed at or worse. I've tried being out there, but always wind up recoiling.
    Your post lets us loners not be so alone. Thank you, Sarah. And take care of yourself, hope you feel better soon. ♥

  7. Oh goodness. I'm sorry you have the flu but I love that you wrote this post. You described so many of my own thoughts and feelings. Down to the bit about wondering if I am, somehow, a tiny bit fey, belonging somehow to the otherworld and not this one. I don't know if all introverts feel this way but I certainly do, every day. More at home in a world of dreams, stories, magic, nonsense, than in this world of rigged elections and oil drilling and high-rise buildings and pavement. The "real world" seems unreal, and it certainly doesn't make sense to me, though I do my best to fumble my way through it. Thank you for being brave and vulnerable enough to share this.

  8. Thank you all for your comments, which I treasure. I'm sorry I don't have the physical energy to reply to them all this morning <3

  9. Thankyou for writing say I see much of myself in this would be an understatement. Reading your words, (there is a beautiful wild spirit in them) I feel less alone. Even though I know we quiet ones are legion.
    It *is* hard to be an introvert, and it always feels as though it costs me greatly - my nervous system, my heart - to speak out, or be fierce. But the silence can also create an awful imploding.

    I hope you feel so much better soon. Flu is nasty any time of the year, but a flu of the hot season is a unique kind of misery. xx

  10. I'm glad I got to read it. I also understand.


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