Flash Fiction (21) – Faeries

I heard it too

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Faeries

The girls sat at the table; their feet, unable to reach the floor, swung in rhythm.  They began telling their parents about the fairies they had met in the garden.  Mr and Mrs Freemont exchanged an exasperated glance; this was not a new tale.

“And then Mrs Piddleton.”

“She’s the blue faery,” Carol, the younger one chirped in.

“They already know she’s the blue faery.  Mrs. Piddleton, the blue fairy, told us that we were faeries too.  Only the faeries traded us when we were just wee babies.  They took your real kids and left us in their place.  And Mrs. Havershank,”

“She’s the red one,” another interruption.

Suzie kept going, “Mrs. Havershank, the red faery, said that if we wanted they would come and steal us away.  We could spend the rest of forever dancing in pretty dresses and drinking honey all day and talking to the birds and butterflies, but not the dragonflies because they’re ornery.”

“Then Anna came into the garden.”

“So Mr. Wembledon,” Suzie continued the story, “the green faery, tipped his hat at us and they all disappeared.  But first Mrs. Piddleton winked at us.  Anna wanted to know what we were doing, so we said we were playing cat’s cradle.”

“But you can only play with two people.”

“So she had to leave or someone would be left out and she didn’t want to go but if she had stayed the faeries wouldn’t have come back.  So we made her leave.”

Mrs Freemont interrupted the story right then, “You were mean to Anna?  Tomorrow you two will go straight over to her house and invite her to play.  And you are not to be mean to her again, especially for your pretend games.”

“But mamma, they’re not pretend.  Zecelia said, she’s the pink one and she’s in charge, and she came back after Anna left, and she said that they would come for us tonight, then she kissed our thumbs.  She said it was to mark us so the hobgobs…”

“Hobgoblins,” Suzie corrected her sister.

“What?”

“Hobgoblins, that’s what she called them.”

“Oh, she kissed us so the hob…”

“Goblins.”

“Would know who to grab.”

“Otherwise they might grab Anna instead!”

“And if you look at our thumbs there’s now a little tiny mark on them.”

“Right where she kissed us.”

“And it looks like a strawberry.”

Mr. and Mrs. Freemont had heard quite enough of these fairies.  The girls had been talking nonstop about them for weeks.  They had blamed the fairies for any disobedience, this being mean to Anna was only the latest in a string of incidences where the girls had been rude, unthoughtful, mean, or sneaky.

After dinner and baths and quick goodnight kisses the girls were in bed and the parents were downstairs cleaning up dinner.

Mr. and Mrs. Freemont could hear the girls up in their room.  Between cracks of thunder their peals of giggles wound down the stairs and tickled the parents ears.

There was a particularly large clap of thunder and the neighborhood dogs started barking.  The dogs stopped barking, the storm instantly died, and the girls were utterly quiet.  Mrs. Freemont was the first to notice the complete silence.  She looked at her husband, his voice broke through the silence, “I hear it too.”

It was foolish, both Mr. and Mrs. Freemont knew their girls were upstairs, they probably fell silent because they fell asleep.  But the parents needed to see their baby girls just to release the foreboding feeling that pressed down on their chests.  They swiftly went up the stairs and quietly pushed the bedroom door open.

The girls’ beds were empty, the sheets tossed about the room.  The window was open and the curtains rippled in a soft breeze.  There were two tiny strawberries on the window sill.

Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine

Charming (enchanting seemed too punny, even for me)

Sweet

Delightful

This is a very cute Cinderella story.  Unlike the original Cinderella story, this Ella doesn’t sit around wishing and hoping for things to happen.  She stands up, jumps in, and takes charge of her life.

I think one of my favorite things about this book is how clueless Ella is that Char (the prince) has a crush on her.  Char drops hint after hint after hint, but Ella retains her naivete until Char spells it out for her.  It was refreshing to have a female character who doesn’t spend the entire book either chasing a boy or waiting for him to save her.

Ella Enchanted, Ella Enchanted book, book, Gail Carson Levine

This is definitely a children’s book, so if you’re looking for great literature go elsewhere.  But if you (or your kid) wants to whittle away an afternoon in an immense fairy tale this may be your book.

The Last Slice of Rainbow; Joan Aiken

Short

Fantastical

Fairy-tale

My mother gave me this book when I was a kid.  I though I loved it and read it many times I foolishly got rid of it when I was a teenager.  However, I have recognized that mistake and have recently repurchased (and revisited) this collection of short stories.

My personal favorite of this collection is the story for which the entire book is named: The Last Slice of Rainbow.  It’s about a boy who gets a rainbow of his very own to keep, if he can.  But, as he was warned, keeping a rainbow is quite challenging.

The rest of the stories are just as fantastical and imaginative.  These are simple children’s tales and when I was a child I found them quite delightful.  However, upon rereading them some of the magic was lost.  As an adult, the stories seemed a bit more contrived.  But, as an adult, I am no longer the Aiken’s chosen audience.

If you have a child who loves to play pretend and can disappear into her imagination for hours a day, this would be an excellent book.  If you, as an adult, are looking for a way to spend the afternoon there are more enjoyable reads to be read.

The Last Slice of Rainbow

The Wild Swans: Hans Christian Andersen

Beautiful

Moving

Long

As the inscription on the inside cover can attest, I got this book when I was 4 years old.  I don’t know if I could read it at that age.  I don’t know if I loved it at that age.  My memory of that age is spotty at best.  But what I can tell you is that I remember my mom reading it to me.  And that at some point in my life I could read it.  And that I loved this book and still do.

This story is one of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories.  It is a beautiful fairy tale about a little girl, her brothers, and their stepmother (I’ll give you one guess who the villain is).  The brothers are cursed and to lift the curse the little girl has to make them shirts from nettles, and she cannot speak until the task is completed.

It’s truly about a young girl who loves her brothers so much that she is willing to sacrifice anything to save them.  Her commitment and hard work pay off.  But not without a price.

This is not a short fairy tale.  And for younger kids it may take a few readings before the whole thing is completed.  But the story (along with the illustrations) make it easy to enchant a whole family and everyone will be ready to sit down for another reading.

I love this story.  And I think one of the reasons I love it so much were the pictures that went with the story.  My version was illustrated by Juan Alonso Diaz-Toledo.  And his watercolors captured not only the scenes and emotions of each page but also my imagination.  I have distinct memories of looking through this book, seeing one of the pictures, and then making up my own story to fit that picture.  Like I said, these illustrations are magical.

Hans Christian Andersen, The Wild Swans

This is the version I have at home.  I don’t know if it’s still in print, but if you plan on buying this book make sure whatever version you get has amazing art.  Enjoy!