The World Inside the Fairie Clock

Submitted into Contest #53 in response to: Write about a few people spending a long-overdue weekend away at a cottage.... view prompt

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General

The woods were cold with winter, and all the fairies had returned to their homes.

A log cabin sat very solemnly in the midst of the grey and brown forest, speckled by shadows of leaves, as if it were waiting for a very serious event to take place. 

Moss and dying vines had crept into the crevices of the cottage and seemed to loosely frame a particular window. If one was to peer into this window, they would see an old man sitting near a dying fire in his old—likely hand-carved—rocking chair. His hound lay near his feet, burrowed deep within the blankets, just like his master.

—But his master was very old and this had been an especially hard winter on him.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

The master closed his eyes with a small sigh.

Tick. 

Tock.

The clock in the corner of the room stopped, just as the master breathed his last.

The clock had once been a pretty thing, hand-carved and brought directly from Ireland, where all magical clocks are made. A little wooden bird sat on its top, perched on a wooden tree, with roots that curled around to hold the clock's off-white face. Now, however, the little clock was dusty and slightly scuffed from being passed down throughout the years from father to son.

If one was to climb through the window they peered through, and perhaps stare at the clock long enough, they would notice a small keyhole. This keyhole acted as a sort of door to the clock, and inside it lay a world that belonged to the fairies during winter. Reader, this particular clock is not so different from its brothers and sisters back in Ireland, but because it is the only Ireland clock here, it is very important to my story.

Inside the clock, past the keyhole, past the gears and cogs and metal bits that powered it, was an invisible, magical doorway of sorts that led to another world altogether. Here was where the fairies lived, so you see, even if you were to dismantle an Ireland clock of your own, you still would not reach the little world.

Inside this world, unicorns whistled golden tunes as they sailed through rainbow skies on invisible wings, and blue and purple grass blanketed the ground, occasionally dotted by sparkling flowers that glittered in the sunlight. If you looked hard enough, just after a rain, you would find happy tears shed by the water sprites. They seemed just like rain drops, but were hard like diamonds, and mildly hurt to step on.

Although this world was vastly different from our own in many ways, every world needs a place to learn and to work, so our story is mainly focused on these particular areas. You see, dear reader, it was nearly Spring when the owner died, and the Learning Place would have been letting out for Spring preparations in just a few days. But now the clock was locked. When a clock owner dies, it stays locked until it finds a new owner. This year, the fairies will be left there to store the world's time forever—until a new owner is found for the clock.

The fairies were unaware of the change brought to their world, so they sat inside the Learning Place, blissfully unaware of their surroundings. When the Liliwith Bell Flowers began to jingle their last for the Winter, the fairies gave a cry of excitement and stood from their circle around the teacher. 

"Goodbye, students! Until we meet again!" sang the teacher, in her light, silvery fairy-voice. All fairies sang when they spoke, and they only spoke when they were truly sad.

The youngest of all the fairies—she had yet to be officially considered "born", because she was mute and could not sing or speak—had blue hair and blonde eyes, with curly eyelashes. All fairies had curly eyelashes that sometimes looked like individual springs, but their hair was stick-straight. She was very quiet—even if she wasn't mute she would still be very quiet—and enjoyed moving slower than the other fairies. She was the last to find out that the clock door had been locked.

A collective gasp arose from the crowd of fairies as one man with yellow, sugar-textured wings rammed into the invisible door. The door seemed to bend inward and turn to thick gel around him, as if it was trying to hold him there. He jumped back, his eyes wide.

"What will we do?!" sang the crowd.

The mute fairy flittered to stand by her mother. Her mother's purple eyebrows drew together in thought. "What will we do, Miandra?" she asked her daughter. Her daughter's wings drooped sadly. She didn't know.

"Return to work, return to work!" shouted the fairy king, his wide, black and blue marbled wings spread wide with his arms. "We must bring in the time! Work overtime, even! If we work faster, we'll be rescued sooner. Surely someone will adopt our clock!"

Silvery notes of fairy-song swirled throughout the atmosphere. How would they bring in the Spring now?

Miandra walked back to her time-bottling station and began to gather and sort the Time. She sorted the transparent bottles into separate piles: Lost Time with those that were Lost, and she flitted far up to set Time that Flies in the air, with its flitting counterparts, and she stacked Family Time in yet another pile, Eating Time on its own, and so on and so forth. She worked the fastest because she did not speak, so by the time the others came to join her, she'd already stacked four days-worth of time. More still leaked like silver oil from the clock's cogs in the far corner of the time-room.

The fairies bottled a year of time, in which the Earth spent in an eternal Winter. The humans never knew how to explain what happened.

One day, the door was shoved open with a wooden scrape, shaking off dust and crumbling wood bits into a cloud, and a young girl with three, hole-ridden scarves wrapped around her face and neck walked in. Sunlight streamed through the door and windows in soft rectangles, highlighting gold particles of swirling dust in the air, as well as thick cobwebs that hung in the corners of the room. The girl coughed as her eyes swept over the old, few furnishings. She had no home, but the cabin looked completely deserted—all grown up with vines and weeds. 

She coughed again and hesitantly stepped inside. "Hello?" she called out slowly. When no one answered, she stepped further inside, her feet scuffing against the wood floor, and inhaled the thick, stale stench of mice and dirt. "Is anyone here?"

Her eyes found the clock on the wall and she traced its unique carvings with her gaze. She whistled to herself and moved towards it before rubbing a gloved finger down its side, leaving a ghost-trail of where her finger had been. "Just like Momma's," she whispered quietly, and grinned beneath her scarf.

Gently, she lifted the clock off of the wall and held it to her chest. 

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. It started to tick again.

She breathed a sigh of wonder. It worked! It still worked! How long had the thing sat there, mounted on the wall like another mere cobweb?

She grinned and placed it back on the wall. Then she turned to the rest of the room and tucked her hands under her armpits. Her gaze settled on some dusty old logs beside the fire, cloaked in webs. She withdrew her matchbox from her coat pocket and started a fire. How long did she stand there, her palms beside the flame, watching the shadows leap and play in the corners of the room, she did not know, but it was quite some time.

She sat in the dusty old rocking chair and gave a contented sigh as she listened to the clock's ticking and the fire crackling.

In the window, a flower bloomed, as if by magic.

August 03, 2020 04:48

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4 comments

J. Ernst
05:36 Aug 09, 2020

I really thought Miandra bottling different categories of time was very clever. Nicely done. Could you please take the time to read my latest story ‘Emma’s Promise ‘? Thank you

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Daisy Torres
06:11 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you!! Sure!

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Corey Melin
03:29 Aug 09, 2020

Always enjoy a good fantasy story. When imagination is put fully in use. Very well done.

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Daisy Torres
03:31 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you so much!!

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