An Alternative Midsummer Night's Dream

Submitted for Contest #99 in response to: Write a story about somebody reminiscing on an event that happened many summers ago.... view prompt

37 comments

Jun 20, 2021

Fantasy Fiction Happy

I would like to share with you a secret dating from many moons ago. A secret for your ears alone, mind you. This is the true story behind the events which would later inspire a man named Shakespeare to compose one of his most famous and well-loved tales.

It was the afternoon of the sacred summer solstice, the longest day of the year, although back then, it was known under the Olde English name of ‘Sunstede’. Niamh of the Golden Hair was feeling the irresistible itch to do mischief. Since arriving to serve her apprenticeship at the fairy court of King Oberon and her aunt, Queen Titania, three weeks earlier, she had played the role of the good little fairy to perfection, but was now feeling ready to burst.

As she whirled and pirouetted around a sun-dappled glade, flitting from shadow to shadow, she became aware of a rustling and a muttering and felt the low vibration of magic being conjured into existence nearby. Craning her ears to hear more clearly, she was surprised yet delighted to make out the lilting voice of Puck, King Oberon’s merry servant, and she fluttered up into the wafting branches of a large willow overhead, to observe.

Alone for once, Puck was engrossed in gathering pansies whilst chanting a mysterious magical incantation. From the rhythm and the sound of the ancient lyrics, Niamh sensed it was a frolicsome sort of spell. In fact, it felt exactly like the kind of rascally spell she had been just dying to create since her arrival at the fairy court.

Young Niamh had so far been much too timid to approach the King’s serf, despite suspecting a kindred crafty spirit the moment she had first set eyes on him crouching at the foot of his Master’s throne. Could this be her chance at last?

Floating soundlessly down from her hiding place, she alighted on a fern, her heart hammering nineteen to the dozen. Here, in the midst of nature, far from the pretentious pomp and pompous protocol of fairy court etiquette, Niamh finally felt bold enough to overcome her timidity. It was now or never!

Crossing her fingers, she took a deep breath and coughed.

“Why, sir, I do believe I recognise some of those words,” she mumbled shyly. “It sounds as if you’re conjuring up some fun. That wouldn’t be a cunning spell you’re weaving there, would it?”

Puck glanced up from his work then flipped head over heels in a backward somersault, scattering his precious posy of pansies hither and thither. He stared wide-eyed through his bandy legs at Niamh, who was peeping back at him from under long, curly golden eyelashes.

“Please may I help?” she added, fluttering her gossamer wings as seductively as she knew how.

“Well, I never!” Puck exclaimed. “If it isn’t Queen Titania’s pretty protégée! Pray tell me, my dear, and what might you know about which sort of magic I may, or may not, be creating?”

“Just about enough to make out that’s a morsel of mischievous magic you’re making,” the young fairy whispered demurely. “I’ve been secretly studying an ancient book of spells I discovered in my aunt’s trunk. But I do hope you can teach me more.”

After extricating his head from between his legs, Puck perched on a log, cocking his head on one side and stroking his pointy beard. He stared at Niamh in silence, his nose twitching until the hint of an impish grin formed at the corners of his mouth.

“Hmmm,” he said thoughtfully.

As he pondered, he began to rock back and forth upon the log, a gleeful expression gradually creeping its way across his dimpled cheeks and up to his twinkly emerald-green eyes.

“With these pansies, King Oberon has commanded that I create a love potion to smear over your dear mistress’s eyelids. If what you say is true and you would like to join forces with me, then between us, maybe you and I could create a little hilarious havoc later this night. But first, you would have to prove you really do desire to learn my craft.”

Waggling his eyebrows, he shot her a sideways look. “So, my dear? What do you say?”

Niamh clapped her hands in glee and giggled, her wings a-quiver. After all, if the only thing she had to do was prove how mischievous she could be, the deal was already as good as done.

***

So, my dear reader, that's how it came about that, with a little prompting from Puck, the head of the worst-ever human actor (and who just happened to be named ‘Bottom’) was, in the twinkling of an eye, transformed into the head of an ass.

What most people don’t know, however, is that it was actually Fairy Niamh of the Golden Hair who cast that spell in order to earn the admiration of her idol, Puck.

With the playful pair plotting together, it was then as easy as pie to ensure that Bottom was the first to pass in front of the fairy queen when she awoke from her afternoon slumber in the shady clearing. Under the influence of Puck’s powerful love-potion, Queen Titania promptly tumbled head-over-heels in love with the bewitched actor.

The famous fiasco which was to follow later that evening would mark the beginning of Niamh and Puck’s secret partnership of tomfoolery, along with a lively romance which would last for countless solstices to come. What fabulous fun the two little rascals had, spreading Puck’s love-juice around, and then manoeuvring so many unsuspecting young lovers into the wrong place at the wrong time.

The truth behind the innumerable impish antics of the mischievous pair has remained a closely guarded secret of fairy folk-lore to this very day, so please do me the favour of keeping this juicy little snippet to yourself. With this year’s summer solstice fast approaching, the bewitching hour shall shortly be upon us. Who knows what magical mischief Niamh and Puck’s roguish descendants might conjure up in memory of their beloved fun-loving ancestors, should the truth be inadvertently leaked into the world of humans?



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37 comments

Jason Ivey
12:45 Jun 30, 2021

Loved this - the imagery was exquisite and brought back magical memories from when I was Oberon in a school play :)

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Shirley Medhurst
14:41 Jun 30, 2021

Many thanks Jason. Hope your magical memories are of the "good" kind of magic

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Deidra Lovegren
14:38 Jun 28, 2021

Lovely! This is a rollicking frolic -- you have such a lyrical, kinesthetic way of writing! How gorgeous is this line? "As she whirled and pirouetted around a sun-dappled glade, flitting from shadow to shadow, she became aware of a rustling and a muttering and felt the low vibration of magic being conjured into existence nearby." (You've written a veritable watercolor painting in prose!) Charmed, utterly.

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Shirley Medhurst
14:47 Jun 28, 2021

WOW - Many thanks indeed Deidra - much appreciate your comment. "Rollicking frolic" - love that line - haha... Might have to borrow that expression from you (Fits with the mischievous pair too) Am about to look at another of your instalments shortly...

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Deidra Lovegren
14:51 Jun 28, 2021

Some are better than others, for sure. "The Play's the Thing" may suit your love for rollicking frolics.

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Deidra Lovegren
14:52 Jun 28, 2021

I snagged this from my bio, but still holds true: Surprisingly, these won: 🏆#67 - "Your Poor Rick" 🏆#53 - "The Play's the Thing" The following stories were shortlisted: 🏅#77 - "As Ice Glazes Rocks" 🏅#65 - "Marshmallow Wrapped In Barbed Wire" 🏅#52 - "Irrumator Praetor Matrem Suam" 🏅#47 - "A Breakup in Five Acts" My personal favorites are: ❤️ “No One Really Explains” ❤️ “Can't Get Enough of What You Don't Need.” If you are really bored: https://sites.google.com/view/deidralovegren/home

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Shirley Medhurst
15:35 Jun 28, 2021

Thank you, will def take a look

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Cathryn V
18:36 Jun 25, 2021

Hi Shirley, what a fun story! Thoroughly enjoyable, funny, and i lighthearted. the alliterations are entertaining. i love the characters !

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Shirley Medhurst
19:18 Jun 25, 2021

Thank you Cathryn, am glad you enjoyed it… 😁

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H L Mc Quaid
14:03 Jun 24, 2021

Fun idea to recast the inspiration for a Midsummer's Night Dream. And I love the 'bones' of your writing, from the sentence structure to word choice, alliteration, and rhythm. A real pleasure. :)

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Shirley Medhurst
14:12 Jun 24, 2021

Thanks very much Heather - Had a lot of fun writing these two characters 😁

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Rayhan Hidayat
21:57 Jun 23, 2021

Ah, this brings back middle school memories. Love the playful vibe, love the alliteration, love the narrator. Kudos 😙

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Shirley Medhurst
08:17 Jun 24, 2021

Many thanks, Rayhan

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Corey Melin
20:17 Jun 23, 2021

Very fantastically, superbly, well done. Well written and I would heavily recommend submitting to many of the fantasy contests that are free out there if you haven’t already. Characters to love

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Shirley Medhurst
08:16 Jun 24, 2021

Thank you very much Corey, I’ll bear your thoughts in mind…

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Kristin Neubauer
11:11 Jun 21, 2021

Oh my gosh, Shirley, I LOVED this - and I’m so glad I read it on the day of the solstice. The voice for the narrator is so perfect as an storyteller from the Shakespearean age that it swept me into that time immediately. Besides, your writing and your dialogue felt simply magical - Niamh and Puck and their world were so alive to me. Brilliant!

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Shirley Medhurst
12:33 Jun 21, 2021

Thank you so much for your kind words Kristin - very much appreciated!

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Silver Pen
16:30 Jul 06, 2021

Hi! Firstly, I’d like to say that you made me glad that I’ve read A Midsummer Night’s dream. Background context makes the story much better! I absolutely love your writing style. In this story, it even reminds me of Shakespeare’s himself! The story is also very well edited, I couldn’t find any mistakes. My favorite line in the story was by far, “As he pondered, he began to rock back and forth upon the log, a gleeful expression gradually creeping its way across his dimpled cheeks and up to his twinkly emerald-green eyes.“ Such a great descr...

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Shirley Medhurst
20:13 Jul 06, 2021

Thank you so much - much appreciated 😊

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Blue Green
05:58 Jul 02, 2021

This is a delightful little tale! You describe the impish personalities of Niamh and Puck so well! I especially liked the line "... a morsel of mischievous magic you’re making”, that positively rolled off the tongue :-)

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Shirley Medhurst
17:38 Jul 02, 2021

Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time to read & comment 😊

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Anneliya Lydia
19:28 Jul 01, 2021

You write beautifully!!!! I also love your narrating voice in this story!!!

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Angelina Tran
14:00 Jul 01, 2021

This story is just—put simply—amazing. It’s poetic and has such strong imagery, painting images in the reader’s mind. Absolutely charming. Congrats on this great work of art! There’s nothing that should’ve be edited from what I see. Thanks for reading my story, as well!

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Shirley Medhurst
20:12 Jul 06, 2021

Many thanks, Angelina - much appreciated

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Roselle Belrose
09:11 Jul 01, 2021

Beautifully written, I especially like the childish yet endearing character of Niamh. Reminded me of someone I knew.

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Shirley Medhurst
09:44 Jul 01, 2021

Thank you Roselle, you know fairies??? 😍

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02:29 Jul 01, 2021

Blog attributes Niahm's apprenticeship for Puck's success. Blog meets prompt. The extensive comments have widely reviewed the blog.

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Shirley Medhurst
04:34 Jul 01, 2021

Thank you for your comment.

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Esha Mahmood
13:50 Jun 30, 2021

It was a great reading! What I love the most about this story is that your word choice was perfect and the tone you set for the story cast a charm upon the readers. And such a creative use of the prompt!

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Shirley Medhurst
14:33 Jun 30, 2021

Thanks very much Esha. Pleased Niamh's magic weaved it's spell... haha

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Esha Mahmood
14:53 Jun 30, 2021

Haha, yes it did.

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Jon R. Miller
13:50 Jun 30, 2021

A superb story. The rhythm was fantastic! It pulled me straight through. And I love stories with a good narrative voice. Terrific job. :>

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Shirley Medhurst
14:38 Jun 30, 2021

Thanks very much Jon. Much appreciated

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Umaya E
10:16 Jun 30, 2021

WOW! You have a beautiful mind! I love your poetic lines. I feel like I’ve been touched by a fairy.

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Shirley Medhurst
11:12 Jun 30, 2021

Aww and what a lovely poetic comment! Thank you very much indeed :)

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Tom D
21:00 Jun 29, 2021

I enjoyed this lovely tribute to perhaps the most iconic of all midsummer stories…using the Old English word ‘sunstede’ was a nice touch and, together with the fairies’ antics, conjured up images of a rich folkloric past!

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Shirley Medhurst
06:55 Jun 30, 2021

Thank you, Tom

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