I’ve received a request from a lovely young lady for a story about fairies. What a great idea! And I thought to make the story more whimsical, or maybe just goofy, than usual. Which brought to mind a snippet of a story a fiend helped me start years ago that I never finished.
So this story is dedicated to two wonderful ladies.
Jael – for such a great story idea! May your own writing and reading always be an adventure.
Marjorie – who gave me the image of Squirrel Ivan Van Hoven. Your imagination is delightful.
Now on to the story!
Moira raced with the shadow of a bird. The red-feathered hawk flew above her, high in the sky with its wings stretched to catch the current of the wind. Flapping her wings as hard as she could, she tried to keep her own shadow inline with the bird’s as it flew across the ground, the trees, the brush.
The larger shadow paced ahead and was gone with a single flap of the hawk’s wings. Moira settled on a juniper bush and slumped. She’d never be fast enough. Her shoulders ached by what most fairies could do without exerting themselves. She’d been born too small to be of much use.
Miniature Moira. It was the term the others teased her with when she couldn’t keep up.
The wind played through the bush, swaying it beneath her feet. Maybe a moment with the wind would cheer her. Rising into the air, Moira hovered in the leaves of an aspen tree, enjoying the play of the wind across her wings and the smell of new leaves in the air. If she moved her wings just enough to flutter with the leaves, she could hold the position for hours. Too bad she couldn’t maintain speed that way.
A squirrel scampered into the field in front of her.
Moira sucked in a breath to call a greeting but then the air whooshed from her without sound. The squirrel clutched a small paper sack in one paw. He boasted two crooked front teeth and two hairs sticking straight up from the top of his reddish head.
When he pulled out the sandwich, Moira’s doubt disappeared. Squirrel Ivan Van Hoven, sworn enemy of anything with wings. He hated fairies for their ability to make non-winged creatures fly since he found it the cruelest choice of nature to make a flying squirrel—without wings.
Beside him on the log settled a toad the size of a rabbit.
“They’ll never see you coming.” The words sprayed from the squirrel’s mouth along with globs of boysenberry jam from his sandwich. He was obviously picking up on a conversation Moira had missed.
She shuddered, then stilled, as the squirrel looked her way.
“How many do you need?” the toad eyed the sandwich for the yellow bees stuffed between the slices of bread.
Moira held in another shudder. Boysenberries and bees on wheat. It was Squirrel Van Hoven’s trademark.
“Ten or so,” he answered while catching a bee that escaped his bite and stuffing it back in between the bread.
Squirrel Van Hoven had launched an attack against the fairies six months before. He’d allied with mosquitoes then but had been thwarted by netting the fairies made from moss.
The toad was new. She’d never heard of the squirrel working with toads but that wasn’t important, their plan was.
“You’re sure?” the toad croaked.
“Positive. Ten fairies for their wings. You produce that and you can have my stash of bees.” He held out the sandwich as proof.
Ten fairies. It was the perfect number. Mixed with a few other choice ingredients, the wings would make Squirrel Van Hoven float…indefinitely.
The toad’s tongue flicked across his narrow lips and he rumbled a croak deep in his throat.
“Done,” he said. With one bound he was back in the trees and gone from sight.
Squirrel Van Hoven bit into his sandwich and chewed slowly. He caught a blob of jam escaping from the back of the bread. Instead of licking his paw clean, he spit on it, and then he pulled back and pitched the jam at Moira.
The sticky mess splattered the leaves and her wings and weighed her to the ground.
“Spying?” Squirrel Van Hoven chuckled. “Fairies make poor spies. You glitter your dust with every flap of your wings.” His crooked toothed grin was smeared with jam. “Good luck warning your friends. That jam won’t come off for days.” Cackling and dripping jam, he scampered from the clearing.
Moira pulled a wing around to inspect the damage. Her fingers stuck to the gossamer.
“Ich!” She tried to pull free but whatever Squirrel Van Hoven used in his jam glued her fingers to her wings. “No, no, no…” she muttered. She had to warn the fairies of the toad’s attack but without her wings she’d never make it home in time. She’d barely make it in time even if she left right away.
“Spit on it.”
“What?” Moira didn’t see anyone near her.
“Spit on it.”
Her eyes swung to the ground. In a glob of jam dropped from the squirrel’s sandwich was a bee.
“How do you think he eats the stuff without gluing himself to everything?” the bee asked.
“His spit?” Moira recoiled.
“Any spit will work.” The bee worked on his own body, spitting and working it into the jam stuck to his wings. Clearly it was working.
“Yuk,” Moira spit on her fingers. With a bit of work, her hands came clean but the damage to her wings was extensive.
“This’ll take forever,” she moaned, holding one wing carefully by the top edge.
The bee, done with himself, buzzed over.
“It is bad,” he buzzed. “I’ll find help.”
“No! Wait!” But the bee was gone. “Warn the fairies.” She said to the thin air. Her own problem was small compared to the squirrel’s plan.
Moira went back to cleaning her wings, spitting on her palms and working globs of jam out of the gossamer.
Mr. Squirrel Van Hoven certainly knew what he was about. By hitting her wings, he’d not only grounded her but stopped her ability to produce fairy dust.
Without the dust, she couldn’t float home either.
A particularly large spot of jam stuck a section of wing to the top of her shoulder.
Moira had almost worked it free when a hum reached her ears. It grew in volume until it droned, vibrating the air around her. The sky filled with yellow bodies and the bee from earlier landed in front of her.
“Brought a friend or two and half my cousins,” he said, gesturing at bees landing all around him.
“Go warn the fairies!” Moira shooed them away.
“Other half of the cousins have that covered,” the bee waved at the sky where a mass of others still flew.
“Oh,” she felt a tug and turned to find several bees spitting on her wings.
“You’re spitting on me!”
“You’ll smell sweet,” several buzzed back.
Moira couldn’t think of a response. Their legs as they worked felt like the tingles she got when she put her feet to sleep, except there was no pain, just tingle.
“There you go.”
The bees held out her wings and dust glittered in a cloud around them.
Several of them caught by it started to float without moving their wings.
“Oops,” Moira caught them before they floated away.
“The toads are coming!” The cry was faint, shouted by a tiny bee high in the air, but it caught everyone’s attention. “They’ve got boysenberry bombs!”
To Be Finished on Thursday