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Fantasy Happy

Millie sat at the rim of the darkened cottage, the scent of peat fire churning in dense ringlets around her. In the center of the chamber, circling the cooking fire were the elders. They called a gathering to confer over what should be done to save the season's yield of grain. 

“It has already been months of no rain, the harvests will not endure much longer.” A female said, anxiety lacing each word.

“We can have the youths collect water from the creek.” Said a male.  

“That may work, albeit challenging. Others would need to contribute.” Said a more youthful voice. Millie couldn't help as her chest puffed out in pride of her mother's contribution.

The first female spoke again. “It will not be enough.” 

They spoke for hours, spinning around the same ideas: Children hauling pails of water from the creek and clipping the harvest prematurely in hopes they spare some of the grain. 

But there was an itch in the back of Millie's mind telling her there was something more they could do. 

She couldn’t think of what. What could she, a girl of nine accomplish that the entirety of the village elders could not? 

The group dispersed, leaving Millie walking home clasping onto her mother's hand as the heat of the night made her linen shirt cling to her skin. 

“Can I do anything to help?” She asked her mother. 

Gently squeezing her hand her mother said, “We will all gather the water and hope it will hold us until the rains show up again.” 

But Millie could hear the unspoken words. It will not be enough. 

Her shoulders sagged and her eyes watched her feet for the rest of the walk home. 

At twilight, Millie sat up in her cot. Squeezing her flimsy blanket in her hands she strolled over and threw open the shutters to the small window. Immediately the hot air struck her face, enveloping the room with the dry earthy scent of the fields, causing her to step back and glance at the form of her sleeping mother. When her mother didn't move Millie returned her attention to the window. 

The sky was dark, streaked with shimmering stars. Millie always thought of the stars as little fairies that overlooked the simple folk of the Earth. She observed each star, gauging to see which one was watching her. A fairy who has noticed their struggles and would offer her the help she needed, if only she would ask. 

To the right between a large glimmering star and farthest away from the moon, it was a fairy that began to twinkle. It was calling to Millie. 

Her heart jumped in her chest. Hope started to blossom as her hands idly twisted the blanket. She dared to linger her eyes on the fairy reaching to her. 

It blinked some more and Millie knew for sure she had the right fairy, and she made her plea. Whispering the words and blowing them out to the sky, “Save my village, spare rain for our harvests.” 

Locking her eyes shut until her cheeks grew tired, she repeated her words over and over, blowing each one to the sky. She dared to open her eyes only once she thought a suitable amount of time had passed.

Her heart plunged within her chest as the fairy started to flicker out and fade. They must have drifted farther away – rejecting her call for aid. 

Closing the shutters, her eyes stung as she returned to bed. That night Mille fell asleep with her tears soaking into her blanket. 

The next morning, she jolted up in bed. She had a dream – a vision. A message in a dream! 

Her smile radiated with the brightness of the sun as she ate her portage with zeal. Her mother observed her every movement, her eyes brimming with questions she dared not ask in case it spoiled the magic. 

Waving goodbye to her mother, Millie merrily joined the others as they began the work of hauling pails of water from the creek. 

The others all clustered together, followed in a line walking with steady purposeful steps, but none of their steps were as light as Millie's. She soared across the distance until she was at the creek well before the others. 

Without looking to see if someone was watching, she ran. She flew as fast as her little legs could carry her. In the trees, the heat turned to warmth and the buzzing of bugs surrounded her. When her lungs were burning and each breath was a chore she halted. 

She had followed the creek until she reached a clearing. Her vision had shown her where to go, so she was not frightened. Her fairy had told her to find the answer here, in the woods. 

Looking around and drinking in the warm air she noticed the trees lining this space with purpose. She had never been here before. It was the circle from her dream, where she would encounter the lady who would help her.

But, she was alone. 

Slowly Millie walked to the center of the space. It was greener than the rest of the forest and it even smelled green. The pine needles and moss covered the edges of the grass. With the chirping of birds in the trees, she almost felt like she was still living her dream. 

“What are you doing here, child?” 

Millie whipped around to face the woman who spoke. It was her. Her hair was a grey bunch on top of her crown and her gown was patched and mended in too many spots to count. 

In her vision, the woman wore a smile, but here she did not. She glowered at Millie, making her want to plunge back into the shelter of the trees. 

Her mouth was open, so she closed it. The woman was waiting for an explanation so she opened it again. But, she didn’t know what to say. 

Her palms started to feel damp, and her senses darted in every direction landing nowhere useful. She clamoured, “The fairy …” but broke off.

The woman's brow furrowed. “You believe in the faeries?” 

Rubbing her palms down her dress, Millie nodded. Maybe she made a mistake coming here. No one knew where she had gone. Who would find her if this woman decided to carry her off?

The woman watched as her hands fidgeted in her skirts, unsure what to do next. She strained to choose words that wouldn't sound crazy. “The star, I asked them for help.” 

“Your fairy was in the stars?” The woman's brow rose in question.

To Millie's relief, the woman's tone softened and feeling encouraged she offered a smile.

“I watched them – the stars. For a fairy whose gaze was drawn to my village. I asked them for help, and … they sent me to you.”  Holding her breath, Millie waited for the woman's reply. She would either shoo her away for being crazy, or the fairy had sent her to the right place.

The woman took so long to answer Millie's heart started to beat faster. She was just a crazy child, lost in daydreams and wishes. She should not have come. 

The woman twisted around, her face turned to the sky and her hands firm on her hips. 

Deflated, Millie’s eyes began to burn with embarrassment and shame. She flung around, turning away from the woman. She will run back to the creek. Go back to helping her village the same way everyone else was. She should be bringing water to the fields, not venturing into forests looking for magic and fairies. 

“Wait.” The woman spoke, her voice calming and full of warmth. “If you desire my help, I will give it.” 

Millie didn’t turn around right away. Her eyes were wet and her heart was thrashing about in her chest. The woman was going to help her? She hadn’t made it up, she didn’t dream of fairies just to wander into the woods alone without reason. 

She brought the edge of her skirt to her face and rubbed away the drying tears. Then she slowly turned to the woman. “You will help me?” 

Her voice sounded small and timid but the woman nodded and beckoned her closer. “I can guess your plea to the fairies. I would have done it myself, but my gardens did not wither.”

Millie's eyes widened, she knew what she had come here for.

“Now, I will tell you a list, and you must remember each item, collect them and return to this clearing. This area carries the fairies' magic.” 

“How do you know this clearing is for the fairies?” She asked. 

“Dear child, do you think I cleared this circle of trees?” The woman swung her arms wide. “The fairies live here. You can smell their work in the wind. The moss they tend, the beetles they care for; this is their home.” She gave a warm smile as Millie took in the clearing with new eyes. 

Yes, this place did hold magic. It was vibrant green and lush with the smells of fresh earth and all the wild-growing things. It was thriving when Millie's fields, tended to by mortal hands were withering away to nothing. The trees lined the clearing almost perfectly, opening a flawless view of the sky. It was too perfect to be human-made. It was incredible. 

The woman gave Millie a list of objects to collect and made her vow not to forget one. She was to return in the night, under the watchful gaze of the fairy who had given her aid. 

Rushing back through the forest, Millie splashed her bucket into the creek and threw herself back toward the village. 

She rushed through her day’s work with the same smile plastered to her face as she recited her list over in her mind. 

A blue flower: To call to the sky for aid.

A handful of seed: For the harvests, I desire to save. 

A lock of her hair: For my sacrifice and gratitude.

Moonlit dewdrops: To invoke the spirit of the rain.

She found the flower in a bush that had yet to wilt and she gathered the seeds from the dying wheat stalks themselves. When her mother was asleep, she snuck into the kitchen and used a knife to cut her hair. She tucked each item into the rolled-up sleeve of her night dress and she left for the forest once again. 

It was dark and there might have been the cry of a wolf in the distance, but she steadied her pace and marched through the forest knowing the fairies wished for rain just as much as her. They desired the items that would call forth the rain, they would guide her safely. 

There was an instant when she grew tense with the fear of a wrong turn taken, but it was just a blimp of a moment, easily forgotten, and before she knew it she was back in the fairy clearing. 

Here, shaded within the trees, the night air was calm with the smell of promises and magic. The woman was not there, but Millie already knew what to do. 

With the moon bathing the clearing in its light she lay each of the items out in the center of the clearing reciting as she did so. 

She placed the blue flower foremost. “To call to the sky for aid.” 

Next, she placed the seeds in a miniature pile. “For the harvests, I desire to save.”

Twisting her lock of hair, she gently placed it on the grass. “For my sacrifice and gratitude.” 

Sitting back on her heels she watched as each item slowly soaked in the dew that shimmered in the moonlight. She smiled and faced the sky searching for the fairy who watched over her. Only after spotting the flickering fairy, she said, “To invoke the spirit of the rain.”

She waited. Her smile slowly sank as the darkness of the woods began to expand and take form. Nothing was happening. The items lay on the grass, limp and wet. 

The back of her neck tingled. Standing she looked to the trees that surrounded her. Something was watching. Was it the woman, or the fairy? A wolf howled in the distance. The low sound reverberated through her bones. 

She was alone, in the woods, in the dead of night. 

She ran. 

Her feet and lungs ached by the time she scrambled back into her cot. Clinging to her blanket and thoroughly exhausted, she tumbled to sleep. Her dreams flooded with the comforting memory of magic.

Tap. 

Tap.  

Tap.

There was insistent tapping like tiny hands knocking all about her head. Squeezing her eyes to shut the noise out, she tried to hold on to her dream. A dream of wonder, sparkling green moss and guardian wolves. 

Someone gasped and Millie's eyes shot open. 

Her mother was sitting in her cot, her face upturned to the roof. Her mouth opened as a smile grew on her lips. 

She looked toward Millie with a voice full of awe and wonder. “It’s raining!” 

Millie shot out of bed and threw open the shutters. Warm humid air streamed into the room. Rain was pouring from the sky. Sheets of water dropping from dark heavy clouds. Their air was rich with moisture and fulfilled promises. 

Releasing a shriek of delight Millie ran and embraced her mother. They spent the entire day listening to the music of the rain.

January 13, 2024 21:25

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2 comments

Trudy Jas
02:55 Jan 21, 2024

I love fairy tales! Who doesn't, right? It's sweet and wholly believable. Thank you.

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J. D. Lair
00:59 Jan 21, 2024

A lovely fairytale Vivacity! Thanks for sharing. :)

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