Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~ Stephen King

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If You Dream of Fairies

Whimsical Wednesdays

If You Dream of Fairies
is a story I wrote for my daughters and niece last summer. I will present it here in serialized form. It was my first foray into fiction.

In case you missed something:
If You Dream of Fairies - I
If You Dream of Fairies - II

If You Dream of Fairies

The girls were rarely actually alone in the garden. They were quite comfortable and friendly with the various life forms that inhabited their special place – the garden that seamlessly spanned their two yards. They barely noticed the flying, crawling or squirming creatures anymore.

One afternoon in the late fall, Maria was helping Liz decipher what Liz thought was an impossibly complex formula and Maria thought was just plain common sense.

“What was that?” Liz exclaimed, lifting her gaze away from the book that had been troubling her and turning it towards a tree right there in the middle of the garden.

“I didn’t see anything.” Maria replied, gently attempting to redirect Liz’s attention back to the book that lay opened across both of their laps.

Liz turned her eyes back to the book, but her attention remained divided for the rest of the afternoon. Something had scurried through the fragrant golden leaves that had already fallen from the trees in the garden and the yard. She was certain of this to her very core. She never argued with Maria – what would be the point in it? – but every molecule in her body informed her that something had happened. Something that she was aware of and that Maria clearly was not. The feeling was somewhat unnerving. It caused the fine hair on the back of her neck to stand on end. She couldn’t decide if she liked the feeling or not.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The girls loved watching the changing of the seasons in their garden and in their yards. In the winter, they did their studying indoors, usually huddled together in front of the fireplace in one of their homes. But when their studying was done, they would bundle up and head to the garden, where they’d brush the snow aside with hands ensconced in brightly colored mittens their mothers had knit for them by hand. Liz was particularly compelled by the tree in the middle of the garden, where she remained certain beyond the shadow of any doubt that something noticed only by her had scurried by just a few short months ago.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As the snows of winter melted away, the friends watched their garden anxiously, waiting for the first flowers of spring. The low, hearty crocuses were always the first to appear; first yellow, then purple. Liz and Maria gloried in them. They met in the garden every day, both before and after school, to gauge spring’s progress. Crocuses, then daffodils, then tulips. Their mothers had planned the garden so that there was an optimal profusion of color at all times. As one breed peaked then faded, another breed was just reaching perfection.

When Maria reached the garden first, Liz always slowed her approach, just to be able to look at her. Sitting among the conglomeration of spring colors, Maria looked as pretty as any painting Liz had ever seen. Liz liked painting, but couldn’t seem to quite grasp the knack of it. She thought that if she ever did manage to get good at it she might like to paint a picture of Maria on the garden. She could see the whole scene clearly in her mind’s eye – Maria sitting with her legs tucked under her, the soft halo of curls framing her face, looking not at the artist, but at one special, single flower. One lucky bloom out of the multitudes, singled out for Maria’s attention. She figured that would be sort of symbolic of their friendship. The art teacher was constantly pointing out the symbolism in great art.

She pictured herself, too, sitting behind an easel, touching the handle of the brush to her lips in concentration before making the final stroke that would forever capture this moment perfectly in time.

She sighed, a little overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.

She plopped down next to her friend and the magic wasn’t exactly broken, but it wavered a little bit.

“I’m going to cut my hair.” Maria announced, in response to nothing in particular.

Liz gasped at the thought of it. Maria’s hair was so lovely – it was the envy of all the girls at school. To cut it – to even talk about cutting it seemed almost sacreligious.

“Yeah, right.” Liz said, pulling gently on a silky curl and letting it bounce back into place. She pulled on a strand of her own dark hair. It fell flat.

“I’m doing it, Liz. You’ll see. I’m cutting it as short as a boys.”

Liz laughed because now she knew it was a joke for sure. There were many things Maria resembled, but ‘a boy’ was certainly not among them.

The next morning, before school, Liz arrived in the garden first. She tried to imagine what a painting of her in the garden might look like. She carefully struck a pose, designed to make her look thoughtful and serene. Mid pose she sensed rather than saw something rustling through the ground cover near the base of the tree. She shook her head vigorously. Just a bird or something. Maybe a chipmunk. Or a baby bunny. Oh! What if it was a baby bunny? She abandoned her pose completely to seek the source of the movement.

It was at that very moment that Maria came bounding across the lawn, graceful as a ballerina. As she came closer, Liz could see that she’d done it. She’d cut her hair. It was very short. Shorter, as she’d promised, than a boy’s. And somehow, it made her look even more feminine.

“What do you think?” Maria asked, doing a little pirouette and running her fingers over her head.

“Dang, Maria! You make boy hair pretty. Are you from another planet or something?”

“I come in peace from planet boy hair.” Maria answered in a staccato voice, holding out her hand to help Liz up so that they could walk together to the bus stop.

It wasn’t until they were on the bus and everyone was making a fuss about Maria’s hair that Liz had a quiet moment to think about the feeling she’d had in the garden that morning. She thought about it until their first class began, but then she concentrated on the teacher’s words. If she could grasp this stuff the first time around, she and Maria would be able to spend more time exploring and less time studying.

She concentrated with all her might.

1 comment: