Fantasy Coming of Age Mystery

               “You are grounded for tonight.”


               “You are forbidden from going to the festival.”


               “If I see you sneaking into the festival, your grounding will last a whole moon phase instead.”

               “But all my friends are going to be there!” Fayetta spat out.

               Elvina shook her head. “You should have thought about that before you fooled with the farmer’s son.”

               “It was just a trick! I thought-“

               “A cruel trick that had no warrant or warning. We have rules, Etta.”

               “But I-“

               “Enough!” Elvina said, the air growing dark in her fury. The light returned with her patience as Fayetta stood admonished. When the air was still once more, Elvina turned away.

               “There will be other Harvest Festivals, Etta,” she said, speaking over her shoulder, “Stay here tonight. I am being generous in my punishment.”

               Fayetta said nothing and looked at the floor. She watched as the silk lining of Elvina’s dress fluttered a little and then disappeared through the door. Elvina’s silk ceremonial dress matched her silvery hair and both would glow white and shining in the bonfires tonight. Everyone would shine like Elvina tonight. They’d dance and sing and eat cakes in their beautiful dresses and she’d be stuck here.

               Grounded! The night of the Harvest Festival!

               Fayetta looked up from the floor and kicked at the wall. It was so unfair! So what if she’d taken the boy’s eyes for an hour or two? She was born to cause mischief! Why should she be punished for it?

               Elvina hadn’t seen it as playful mischief, though. She’d been furious, eyes blazing and teeth glinting in the moonlight. Fayetta had given the boy’s eyes back then. Now she looked towards the little silver mirror that hung in the center of their house and sighed. She’d looked so good with the boy’s blue eyes. If Elvina had her way, she’d be stuck with her dumb green eyes for eternity. Green like everyone else’s.

               Fayetta stomped to her room, the wooden floor creaking under her small feet. She sat down with a huff at her windowsill and looked down onto the forest floor. There was no flurry of activity, no animals or neighbors chatting among the moss and brush. Jut emptiness. Everyone was busy prepping bonfires and baking cakes. She could smell the moist honey cakes on the wind. If she wanted, she’d be able to watch the whole festival from Elvina’s room. Her window had a better view of the Clearing.

               The sun was sinking into evening. The fires would start soon. Fayetta watched the breeze play with the leaves that framed her window. A squirrel ran across the roots of their house and stopped. It looked up at Fayetta, cocking its head to the side. She didn’t have to talk to it to know what it was asking- she growled in response, baring her sharp teeth, and the squirrel hopped away towards the Clearing.

               Even the squirrels were going to the festival.

               Fayetta flopped down onto her bed, burying her face in her pillows. She couldn’t bear the thought of checking Elvina’s window. Watching the festival come to life as the sun set would just make her more upset. Maybe she would try to sleep instead. Sleep and forget about the stupid festival and the stupid fun they were having.

               A soft beat of wings made her raise her head. Just outside the window, her friend Moth was flapping excitedly. Fayetta crawled out of bed and back to the window, holding out her hand for her furry friend to rest. Moth took the seat gratefully.

               “What’s new, friend?” Fayetta asked.

               Moth whispered and Fayetta leaned down to hear. Her friend’s soft antenna grazed her ear.

               “A human crossed the mushroom bounds?” she repeated in surprise, “That’s- That’s-!”

               Exciting! That hadn’t happened in years and years! But as exciting as it was, she knew she couldn’t do anything about it. She pulled her ear away from Moth and looked at her friend with a pout.

               “I finally have real cause to mess with a human, on the night of the Harvest no less, and I’m grounded. This is the worst day ever.”

               Moth’s antennae sagged.

               “Oh, friend, it’s not your fault. You didn’t know. It’s my own fault for borrowing the boy’s eyes. Yes, borrow. Elvina made me give them back, so it doesn’t count as stealing.”

               Moth’s wings flapped a little. Fayetta smiled.

               “Thanks for the offer, Moth. But I wouldn’t want you to miss all the fun. Go to the festival. Just, y’know, careful with the fire.”

               Moth flapped in earnest and took off, looking back once before flying out her window. Fayetta waved and looked down at the forest floor again.

               She should’ve asked Moth what direction the human was coming from. Maybe if the human was close she could see it pass beneath her house, the human none the wiser. Even if it did, Fayetta might have trouble seeing it- there were several branches that narrowed her field of vision, even from this high. Elvina had said not to leave the house. The tree was their foundation, so-

               That decided it. The branches, the trunk, the roots were all her house. She couldn’t go any further than a few feet in any direction from the top anyway. Those few feet might be enough to catch a glimpse of the fool who had wandered into their forest. She perched on her windowsill, picking which branch was closest. With a quiet spring, she leapt forward and landed like a ballerina, one toe pointed on the rough tree bark.

               The branches her stage, Fayetta caught snatches of notes from the festival on the wind and danced in her tree. A graceful leap here, a backflip there, and she found herself on the very tips of twigs, balancing with nothing but air below her. She made her way around the tree dancing, the light of the sky beginning to burn with the fire of evening.

               She stopped to catch her breath on the west side. Orange light shined warm on her face and she smiled. Staying home wasn’t all bad, she guessed. It was easier to dance when Elvina wasn’t watching.

               Below her a stick snapped and it echoed through the trees.

               Any other day and everyone in a mile radius would have flown over to see what made that noise. No animals were so loud and careless and they certainly didn’t make noises like that when flying or dancing. But today the festival had them all distracted and unhearing. All they could hear was the music and the crackle of the fire. That left Fayetta alone to witness the intruder.

               A human.

               Fayetta peered through the leaves to see bright blonde hair, a blue dress, and black shoes. The shoes looked like they’d been shiny at one point but were now covered with the dirt and mud of the forest. The human was small, about as small as Fayetta at full height. She wasn’t sure how humans kept time, but she guessed it was a child, a girl child. Like her.

               The child was headed directly for the Clearing. She’d run right into the Harvest.

               Without thinking, Fayetta called out to her. “Hey!”

               The child stopped and looked around, blue dress swirling around her stockinged legs. She didn’t look up.

               “Hey. Up here!” Fayetta called again.

               The child bent her neck back, a hand at her forehead to shield her eyes from the sun. Warm, brown eyes, the same color as the trunks of the trees and the rotting leaves on the forest floor. Fayetta looked on in envy. Those eyes were so much more interesting than boring old green.

               The child didn’t say anything, but cocked her head, much like the squirrel. Fayetta giggled.

               “I wouldn’t go that way,” Fayetta said, “You should probably turn around.”

               The child looked down and then side to side before looking back up. “I’m lost,” she said.

               A lost human child with beautiful brown eyes who had crossed the mushrooms on the night of the Harvest. It was like all of Fate had given Fayetta everything she ever wanted on a silver platter but being Capital-G Grounded stopped her. Her teeth bit into her soft inner lip, trying to hide her anger.

               Before Fayetta could formulate a reply, the girl sat down on the ground and looked up at her. “I’m tired.”

               She looked at the child’s red cheeks and dirty shoes and hatched a plan.

               “You wanna come to my house and rest a minute?” she asked, grinning. She kept her lips closed to keep the pointed teeth out of sight.

               The girl looked down and fiddled with her dress with filthy hands. Then she looked back up and nodded. Fayetta pulled herself back from the canopy and ran for the house.

               Their home was nestled in the top of the tree and, while they didn’t need help getting to the top, some animals or friends who had spent their magick would visit and need assistance. Fayetta threw down the rolling ladder they had for such occasions and waited at the top.

               The girl came over to investigate. Fayetta saw her below, beginning to climb, and ran her tongue over her teeth. The girl was trusting and had broken the sanctity of the mushroom circle, surely Elvina wouldn’t begrudge Fayetta a little mischief? Or brown eyes?

               Fayetta waited eagerly at the top and lamented that humans were so slow. Halfway to the top, the girl looked exhausted and Fayetta grew impatient. She waved her finger at the girl and felt the magick tug slightly. The girl trembled, but color came back to her cheeks and she began to climb again.

               When the girl reached their porch landing, Fayetta stood waiting. The girl’s cheeks were red with exertion and her blonde hair frizzed and messy.

               “You live in a tree?” she asked.

               Fayetta laughed. What a stupid question! And to ask it at the top! The girl watched her laugh, brows furrowed. Without bothering to answer, Fayetta turned, opened their door, and walked in. The girl followed.

               “You really shouldn’t be here, you know,” Fayetta said as soon as the door closed, “This forest isn’t for you.”

               The girl looked around the house, at the branches in the ceiling, at the trunk going through the middle of the house. “It’s on my Daddy’s farm.”

               “Doesn’t mean it’s your Daddy’s.”

               The girl shrugged.

               “Do you know how to get home?”

               She shook her head, blonde frizz flying. 

               “Y’know, if you want to go home, we can make a trade.”

               “What kind of trade?”

               “I take you home, but I get your eyes.”

               The girl hesitated. “I don’t know. I like my eyes.”

               Fayetta thought for a moment. “What if I show you something you’ve never seen before and then I take your eyes?”

               “What would you show me?”

               “Something amazingly beautiful.”


               “Here,” Fayetta said, holding out her hand, “Come see.”

               The girl didn’t take her hand and Fayetta shrugged and lead the way to Elvina’s room. Fayetta pulled the curtains from the window.

               The setting sun bathed the forest in gold. The Harvest festival was in full swing, bonfires sparkling, celebrants dancing, cakes and berries and mulled wine adorning every surface. Animals danced too, their fur on fire in the evening light, mingling and swinging with the beautiful people who danced with them. The music strained to reach them, but what they could hear were jubilant, harmonious chords sighing on the wind. Fayetta’s heart sank a little as she watched, wishing she was there.

               She looked over at the girl and saw her brown eyes wide, her mouth open in wonder. Fully distracted.

               “So, can I have your eyes?”

               The girl watched the dancers for a minute or two more before shaking her head. “I want to see this again someday.”

               “But what about getting home?”

               The girl’s gaze broke from the festival and looked down at the ground. “I don’t know. Maybe I want to stay here.”

               “But don’t you want to go back to your Daddy?”

               The girl shrugged. “He and Mommy just worry about my baby brother now. They’re all scared his eyes turned green.”

               It was Fayetta’s turn to stare at the festival. The little boy’s eyes had turned green after she stole them. She’d ruined a perfectly good set of blue eyes and been grounded. Nothing had gone the way she thought. And the girl was only here because of her. They were together in Fayetta’s act of selfishness. 

               Fayetta sighed. Mischief had its price. Even if she did take the girl’s eyes, they’d just turn back to green eventually. The girl was still fair game for trickery since she crossed the mushrooms, but could she really call it fair after what she’d inadvertently done?

               “I’ll show you how to get home. I’m sure your parents miss you.”

               “Are you gonna take my eyes still?”

               Fayetta frowned, looking at the bonfires in the distance. “No.”

               “Okay,” the girl said, standing up from the window and walking out of the room. Fayetta thought she might want to stay and watch the festival longer, but the girl was already climbing down the ladder.

               “Hey. Wait. This is easier,” Fayetta said, flicking her finger.

               The girl floated off the ladder and gently to the ground. Fayetta followed and stood beside her on the forest floor. It was technically sneaking out, but she wouldn’t go near the Clearing- if Elvina found out, she had a feeling she wouldn’t mind much.

               They started walking towards the farmer’s house. The mushrooms weren’t far and both were quiet. The girl stopped and turned towards her. Fayetta looked down to see the mushrooms, their rounded white and brown heads peeking out from the undergrowth. She stood on one side, the girl on the other.

               “Are you a fairy?”

               Fayetta looked at her from the other side of the invisible wall. Brown, burrowing eyes stared back.

               Fayetta grinned, sharp teeth on display. The girl didn’t flinch. Neither spoke.

               “What’s your name?” the girl finally asked.

               “That’s a bad question to ask us. I wouldn’t do that again.”

               The girl nodded.

               “But you can call me Etta.”

               “My name is Jeanie.”

               “I’d stay out of the forest from now on, Jeanie.”

               “Okay. Thanks. Bye.”

               Fayetta watched Jeanie bound off in the direction of the farmhouse. When the girl disappeared into the fields, Fayetta turned and flew back home, her translucent wings silent in the air. Maybe stealing eyes wasn’t worth the trouble. She’d just have to get used to her green ones.

July 17, 2020 22:03

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Maleigha Colove
16:14 Jul 23, 2020

I really enjoyed your story telling! The imagery you used was very engaging and immersive.


Cyndy Reads
17:01 Jul 23, 2020

Thank you so much! :)


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