Three Boys available on my Zazzle shop “Aletteke”
It was a lovely and warm evening in late spring. The scented air of a well-kept herb garden mingled with the neighbour’s roses every time a breeze rolled through the valley. Ms. Smith’s herb garden was legendary. All year round Stella supplied The bakery, the restaurant, and the pharmacy, as well as selling to the people of the valley directly. People would come to a stop in front of her house where the slightest of breezes would bathe you in a lasting scent of thyme, lavender and oh so many of nature’s fragrances.
Stella herself had inherited the herb garden from her grandmother who just a few years ago she died at a ripe old age of one hundred and four. Old Fran, as she was affectionately known, was not only a herb grower, but an accomplished herbalist, quite often the only medical professional in the entire valley. Even the town doctor had been known to consult with Fran, and to this day he used her recipes for salves and infusions when it would serve every bit as well as modern medications.
Stella inherited not only the house and herb garden but was helped out of many hard-bound volumes written by various centuries of women containing generations of knowledge of herbs and naturopathy. Had this lineage of women lived anywhere but the Valley they might have provided morbid entertainment to worked-up crowds wanting to see the local witch burned at the stake. Not here. Not in this valley. This valley above all held life and personal freedom as holy. These women were simply talented herbalists, no-one could conceive of the valley without Stella, Fran, and their ancestors. By some strange providence, no boys were born into this bloodline for going back many centuries.
Stella herself came into this life at midnight of the summer solstice. Her mother, the always frail Angela, died later that same day. Tears of joy and sadness ran together in the Valley that day. Harold Smith, a builder by trade raised his only daughter and was helped by Fran, who had energy you’d expect from a younger woman. Fran’s daughter, however, like so many in the maternal lineage was frail, and with age lost strength in her legs and was exhausted, unable to garden with the energy of her ageing mother. When she married Harold, Fran worried that bearing children would be too much for her daughter. She lived only so long to be able to hold her tiny daughter, kiss her little face hands and feet, before falling into her eternal sleep.
Stella was a bright and energetic child, slight, blond, and full of mischief. Harold had his hands quite full with that one. She could out-climb most of the Valley’s boys her age. It was Fran’s greatest challenge to turn little Stella Into a young lady. By the time Stella was twelve, she struck a bargain with her grandmother. She would be the perfect young lady for all of every Sunday, but during the week she might or might not, no promises.
By the time she finished her studies the Valley school had more children than just one teacher could handle. Stella was thrilled to be able to teach and stay in the Valley. So quite a few years she taught, and became a great teacher. Then, one summer after a bout of what was assured to be the flu or grippe, Stella’s energy waned. By fall it was obvious that running after twenty little children would be too much-Fran, who was getting older, suggested that Stella take over The herbal garden. Stella, though a bit sad at first, grew to be thoroughly happy in her work. Fran meanwhile, could finally enjoy the friendships which the had cultivated over so many years. In the evening Fran would work on her own volume of herbs, potions, gardening and so on. .-
Stella was quite happy gardening, bundling fresh herbs to sell to the baker, grocer and of course the doctor. Unlike running after naughty children this work did not drain her. Years passed and in that timeless manner so typical of all things in the Valley, Stella’s garden grew the same quality of herbs now that Fran had retired. People still came to a full stop in front of the house taking in deep breaths of lavender-scented air. Walking up to the house for tea with Stella had the added treat of walking on the small Stone walkway with fragrant Thyme growing between each store, with each step the tiny crushed leaves surrendered a powerful scent before they rebounded to live on. If that was not grand enough one walked by the wall of scented tea roses the neighbours lovingly tended.
To be met by Stella holding a tray of freshly baked herbal scores, served with a fresh pot of infused mint, well, frankly what could be better? Invitation to tea with Stella, was highly prized. Stella had an ever-growing collection of fine porcelain teapots, brought back from travels made by grateful friends, as well as from Stella’s own travels. Her newly made recipes now were starting her own proud volume next to Fran’s 882 page volume. Fran who had lived a few years past one hundred, quietly passed away in her deck chair under the lemon tree.
Stella herself had reached an age where it was unlikely she would start a family. There had been suitors, but none who could offer her a life better and more peaceful Than the one she already had here. So it seemed she would be the last of the prized herb gardeners. So it would seem.
Then that awful night that a near lifeless Stella was found lying face down, in a patch of borage. Kayli from next door, while tending those stunning tea roses spotted Stella, her pet apricot toy poodle beside her, softly whimpering. Kayli tore over to Stella who was trying to talk, “help me” was the gist of it. The doctor was called. A small crowd had gathered by the gate. Over the next few days everyone awaited results of tests along with Stella.
Anxious, but in good spirits she greeted the doctor, whose rather grim Countenance, did nothing to put anyone at ease. What he said, he said in private, so the very specifics were not then revealed. However, with her permissions, he gave the boiled down version to the small crowd by the gate. Stella would not fully recover. She was unlikely to walk on her own power.
What followed could only happen in this valley, where every breath is sacred, where no-one ever is left to struggle alone. The town carpenter and the mechanic got together and built a most remarkable chair. Lovingly carved to be comfortable, cushions made for her by yet another neighbour, filled with down lovingly strewn by the racing geese and collected into small bales by faeries, who left them just by the door.
The chair had an oil filled suspension, which could with little effort be lowered to where she could tend herbs in beds a local farmer built, carefully replanting each plant by hand. If that was not remarkable enough, Joe, who had twice sailed around the world (each time after Stella turned down his proposal of marriage) brought some small solar panels from one of his travels, and with group ingenuity fitted them into the design along with a power cel, allowing the chair to move silently once charged. Stella’s gardening would easily keep it topped up. The chair could be raised to where she would stand eye to eye, but safe from falling.
The next few months a young distant cousin came to stay with Stella to learn about the herbs. Although Stella in her chair was going strong, it was good to know the long term future of the renowned herb garden and herbery, was in good hands as well.
Nothing quite so exhilarating as flight now is there? Maybe Tania just believe that because she had heard it so often. Time to find out, how did I actually feel about flight. The opportunity arose when she was offered a ride on Pegasus over the bay at night. She was one of a a very few ever invited to do so. In fact very few members of the community were ever allowed entrance to the island camp. After all no-one wanted it to be known outside the value that flying horses and donkeys and fairies inhabited this valley along with humans. It was a special honour that she should be so entrusted. She was one of the last to take her turn. Tania’s lower lip had been sore for a a while from biting on it. She had learned to handle her flying, luggage carrying donkey, but only to fly her belongings around the secret camp, she’d be much to afraid to take it further than that.
It was more like twilight about five in the morning when it was at last her turn. She shook slightly but was not about to let anyone in on that. Tania had always felt dread and utter horror when about to try something new. Not in her character to let it show, not a chance. She took pride in her stoicism, it was a large part of who she was. In truth Tania was horrified every time she’d mounted a horse. Horses were big and capable of pounding her into a fine mush if they chose and she was entirely unsure of how they felt carting humans about. Tania thoufelt no envy or desire to change places with the winged horse or any horse for that matter.
Once solidly astride, some of the heart pounding fear dropped off. Tania was committed to the ride and so would no doubt get through it. She pulled my coat a little tighter around herself Tania thought she should really have worn something more accommodating to sitting on a flying horse.
“Nudge her”, said the stable boy. Tania almost bit her lip clear through. Sweat was forming on her forehead. She dug her heels lightly into Pegasus’s muscled body, Pegasus flinched a little. Obviously it was necessary to nudge with more certainty.
Sure enough Pegasus took to the sky in one great and confident swoop. So busy dealing with the fear was she to remember much of it or take any great enjoyment. That said, once in the air Tania was very much glad she had not totally chickened out. The view was utterly amazing. The cliff sides were so glorious in the early morning light. From up thee Tania could see clearly the cave entrance where the enchantress, warmly robed, could be seen in her early morning meditations.
The enchantress looked so serene in her elegant robes sitting in timelessness. Unlike mortals like me she knew exactly where the future would take her. Tania in her adulthood was going through most of her life blind sided by events over which she’d had no control. Well, enough envy. Envy is an unattractive state and not one to linger in. Not far away from her stood several of the donkeys, looking sleepily upward. Possibly wondering if it might be fun to come along with us. Maybe not, maybe just noticing that for once Tania had conquered the fear of flying horses and had taken a flight, after weeks of utter reluctance.
There were other more “human” views, bathers had startled at the mineral baths. Tania knew better than to wave, privacy is something we are all entitled to, and bathing was always private. Suddenly Tania noticed she had completely forgot to be afraid. Just then for one second, she was not afraid, not one little bit. Just as suddenly it all came back. Pegasus swooped and landed. Tania took sugar lumps from her pocket and brushed the amazing flying horse before going on her way way.
Before leaving the exclusive camp she was presented with a picture of the flight to remember the moment by, something for her to cherish, always.
Tuttut was in trouble. Poor dear. Two weeks of life, never without mum, meant she was certainly not prepared for life on her own. The old woman was nice enough, and Tuttut enjoyed the attentiveness, the endless treats and the back rubs while the two of them sat and listened to the most glorious music.
Life had changed very quickly and abruptly. First mummy took the nipple away. Every attempt to get back to suckling was met with a sneer and a swat from mum. Tuttut was not sure why. She had done nothing wrong, and at other times mum would lavish her with attention. The very same treatment was given to her two brothers Inky and Jeepers. Tuttut from the very beginning was the most rambunctious of the three earning her the name Tuttut because the whole family was forever saying tut tut when she got herself into one pickle after another. Inky was covered all over with big black blotches on his otherwise white body, and Jeepers had a knack for getting underfoot, especially in the dark. Life is pretty confusing for a six week old kitten suddenly on her own.
Mrs. Lloyd had come to the house and there was a lot of excited chatter. Tuttut had been only slightly aware of humans at this point. Her time was spent with mum. Occasionally mum would take her from the brown cardboard box that was home to her, and by the scruff of the neck carry her to another room. It was very bright in there and all Tuttut could make out were shadowy figures making shrill excited sounds. Mum dropped her on the floor and left to get her brothers. For a while Tuttut scrambled about discovering all manner of new things. Tuttut got better at walking and jumping very swiftly and except for butting her head into coffee table legs had a pretty good time. All the while her brothers were somewhere in the room playing together, she could hear them making hissing noises. Exploring was what Tuttut liked best. New places, new playthings. The world is a very, very big place for a six week old kitten.
The women were now hovering over her. Tuttut rolled over on her back and gave the ladies her most devastating pose. Her little paws shadow boxing the air, she mewed coyly. The new lady kneeled down beside Tuttut and waved her finger near her little face so, naturally, Tuttut pawed the finger, but being new at virtually everything had not withdrawn her claws. She felt her claw sink into the lady’s finger. Tuttut thought how odd it was, expecting the covering of fur that her mother had.
“Ouww”, the woman, yelled out. Tuttut scrambled to get away but before she could Mrs. Brown had her scooped up by the scruff and she found herself dangling just inches from Mrs. Brown’s massive face. “Tut tut, you mustn’t scratch”. The very next moment the new lady had her in her hand and she was softly caressed. She felt the woman’s breath over her, Tuttut tightened up in a ball feeling terribly frightened. She had nothing to worry about, the lady planted soft kisses on her little head and little paw. “Never you mind little one”.
“Alice, this one goes home with me” the strange lady yelled to Mrs. Brown who was assembling a massive tray of tea and cake. Tea in the afternoon was a ritual among the older women in the valley, nearly every afternoon someone was having tea together with a friend, or several friends.
“She is feisty, probably a good mouser” and with that Tuttut’s life changed completely. No more mother’s milk, no more playing with her little brothers. Still, being softly caressed and lightly kissed was very good too, and Tuttut found she like cake crumbs very well and at tea time there were so many of those.
The first few days at Mrs. Lloyd’s were spent inside, learning the rules mostly took all Tuttut’s energy. At least a hundred times a day she would wag her bandaged finger and say, “tut tut, you can’t do that”. Mrs. Lloyd also treated her royally with fresh cream and little fish which she cooked up with parsley and a little garlic just for her. Tuttut had her own soft velvety pillow with her name embroidered on it, a pretty blue pillow to show of her red stripes. Life was good, and only rarely did she think of her brothers anymore. Occasionally she wondered where they had gone to, surely they too had been given to someone to take home at tea time.
Several days into her new life the weather outside had become a great deal warmer and Mrs. Lloyd was spending more and more time in her herb garden. Mrs. Brown grew herbs for the entire community, there were vast bushes of lavender, thyme, rosemary, borage and coriander as far up the hill as you could see. time after time Tuttut had tried to follow her outside but the woman whose name she had now heard was Anne, would quickly push her away with one foot while closing the door swiftly to keep Tuttut inside. Anne, understandably was only worried that Tuttut would stray too far and be lost, as happens to little kittens. Behind the herb garden were woods, where, according to Anne, animals and other creatures roamed that might harm a little kitten. Even large birds of prey had been known to snatch a newly born kitty now and again.
Tuttut had not been discouraged. As they days passed she had become obsessed with knowing where her brothers were. Sitting on the window ledge she spotted a large Catalpa tree, it was very tall, and looked easy enough to climb. It was early spring and it was just now beginning to bud. She watched for hours as birds of all kinds perched in the tree and seemed to taunt the little red kitten on the window ledge.
The moment came early one morning. Anne was about to take her freshly laundered linen out to the clothesline. She shared the clothesline with a neighbour and the two would chat and laugh while hanging the laundry and later taking it down. Anne’s hands were full with the basket heaped with linen, she could not see the little kitten down by her slipper, waiting. The door opened and out ran Tuttut, into the front yard and straight to the catalpa tree.
Goodness, Tuttut marvelled at how tall the tree was when you got close to it. She had to know where her brother were. That was most important of all. So Tuttut packed her fears away and started up the tree. Sparrows flitted branch to branch above her head, chirping away excitedly, no doubt chatting about the little kitten trying so hard to climb all the way up. Tuttut wasn’t bothered by the sparrow, she had plenty to eat and rather chased balls of yarn and not birds. Up she climbed, branch after branch. Finally she had come to a point where the entire valley was within her view. Now she would watch until she saw her brothers.
Hours passed she hadn’t spotted her brothers and was getting just a bit hungry. Even the sparrows were starting to look pretty darn good to her. The sparrows must have sensed that and moved to the smaller maple tree a little further to the road. Anne was taking down the sheets and the neighbour was laughing very loudly. Further to the hills there were clouds, dark one coming slowly closer and the sunlight was fading. There was less laughing now as the women hurried to take down and fold the laundry before it rained. There, there, right by the neighbour’s row of red tulip were her brothers playing in the grass with a ball of blue yarn. Imagine that, her brother were right next door. Tuttut was so excited by this that she mewed loudly and the effort of it threw her balance and kitty fell off the very high branch. Tuttut cried out, and both women came running to the tree as kitty fell from branch to branch trying desperately to catch just anything to stop falling. She did. The terrifying moments while falling had scared her so that she was convinced that coming down from the tree was not at all possible. As the women below chattered and called out “kitty, kitty” and “Tuttut, Tuttut”
Maybe it was that the sun was going down, and she saw much better our of the sun, but besides the birds that hopped from branch to branch there were small lithe figures with gossamer butterfly-like wings one some of the branches and it seemed they were all coming closer to the very frightened kitty.
Oh, and how hungry Tuttut was by this time. Others had come to the big tree also, a few of the local children, and Big Slow Fred who had been fishing in the small lake by the Meeting Hall. He caught a few fish and had intended to give some to Anne for her new kitten.
The scent of the fish was travelling up and Tuttut could smell them. She had to come down from the tree. Big slow Fred had gone into the house with Anne. The small winged creatures, which later she was to learn were called fairies, were sitting beside her now, assuring her she would not fall, they would not let that happen. The small crown was making little noised and yelling “kitty, come here kitty”. “Well” thought Tuttut, “I would if I thought I could”, and mewed a frightened mew.
Oh, how wonderful he smell, the aromatic fish and garlic, oh, how heavenly. She was so hungry. So hungry now that all other fears and thought were banished and getting out of the tree would happen if she had to hit every branch on the way down. Big Slow Fred was holding the small plate of fish which Anne had swiftly prepared. Just then, a terrifying crash which threw Tuttut forward and out of the tree. A bolt of lightening had hit the Maple shaking all the sparrows all over the yard, some staggering with surprise, especially those who had fallen along with the big branch that the lightening had dislodged.
Tuttut was caught by a couple of the winged creatures and supported until nearly by Big Slow Fred’s outstretched and enormous hand. Kitty was safe. Anne was at the door “Come in” she yelled and the small crowd ran for the door as torrents of rain cascaded from the clouds quickly making large puddles on the main road.
The women all prepared a very large tray of tea with lots of cakes and sweets, Big Slow Fred built a fire to warm everyone. and Tuttut was contented to eat the fish by the fire and e the centre of everyone’s attention. The neighbour had come to, and to Tuttut’s delight had brought her two brothers over to play with her. They did play, and ate all the cake crumbs that fell, and all three fell into a much needed catnap on Tuttut’s velvet pillow.
Two sparrows flitted through the bushes and trees looking for something yummy to make a feast out of. Not easy being a bird, having to eat your weight in seeds and berries every single day. Luckily, here in the valley birds were spectacular and highly praised as backyard visitors. The best place for finding a treat was behind the baker’s house at about mid day.
Mid day was when the baker, Bob Brown, took the great wooden paddles and took the pies out of the oven, and if there had been no mistakes he could look at the baskets of berries brought in all during the season from the Lloyd Berry Farm each evening before closing. If there was no need to keep all the berries, as the pies were perfect and the baking was done, the remainder was put on a red pedestal in the back.
The bushes were teeming with birds of all kinds. For a good hour wave after wave of winged songbirds, blackbirds in all sizes, pretty tiny birds and the very plain sparrows and chickadees picked at the berries. Last were two sparrows who had been too busy talking with each other to muscle their way in. There were two cherries left. enough for such small birds, they had already eaten seed from the bird feeder at Anne Lloyd’s house, lots of seeds held together with honey from the combs of the hives in the back of her herb garden. Just the absolute best, to live here in the valley.
The baler’s daughters arrived to walk home with him as they did every day. Lena, the youngest had a special affinity for the sparrows and knew they were last each day at the bird feeder. Just in case they had no berries left, Lena put some of her bread crusts in her pocket from the toast she had at breakfast. The sparrows knew her and would wait. Sometimes Lena and her sister Sylvia would be chatting on and on.
You were never alone in the valley, especially if you were a child. children could get lost in their thoughts and play and had to be turned homeward. Sprites were particularly good at this. They were always happy to follow kids and play with the small ones who had no playmates when their siblings got to school. The dragons dealt with the ones straying for whatever reason into the woods. No child was ever alone. A child in the valley may seem to be talking to themselves, but they never are. There are fairies and sprites and all kinds of creatures who would never let a child be lonely and every child knows the fairies and sprites to be friends until they outgrow the need for all that watchfulness and companionship.
Well, now the sparrows had been lingering, thinking they would have a crust or two from Lena’s pocket, but she and Sylvia were deep in conversation. “Goodness” chirped the one, “what if the baker comes out, and she forgets”. “Oh,” said the other, “we’ll call a sprite to give her a tug and remind her”. Which is just what happened and the bright child with the red apple cheeks placed the crusts on the feeder, without even stopping her conversation. She did not even acknowledge the sprite who was doing all kinds of flips and other acrobatics trying to be noticed. Sprites live to be marvelled at for their antics, quite the entertainers.
So, the sparrows stopped their feat and chirped, “Nice flips and spins, Sprite!”. The sprite glowed with the joy of recognition and continued to entertain the sparrows at the feast until all were quite tired and like the baker and his children, returned home.
music Kevin MacLeod
Or, how little children should mind their elders.
The laughter of children echoed through the pastoral valley. Life here in a community too small to have it’s own name ran at a pace all it’s own. If it was not for the inhabitants growing old and the occasional birth of a baby one would swear life stood absolutely still. You could think that, but you would be wrong.
Days were spent tilling the soil, looking after animals and keeping house. There was but one road going both in and out of the valley. No crimes had ever been committed here, and though a few of its inhabitants had moved out, they were few in number. It was by all accounts a life of pleasant routine.
Not too many people had ever lived here, judging from the graveyard there were more than 300 souls gone to the afterlife from here. Roughly that’s one citizen for every year of the valley’s 300 year life. No-one remembered who founded the settlement or in what year but the first death was recorded in 1706 a Bryce Sand, no indication if it was a male or female Bryce Sand nor what this person did for a living. A life with as little to make it remarkable as each passing day here.
So it came as a great shock that grey October day that three little boys, two brothers and their friend, went missing. October days were slow and lazy, the harvest was already put away and shared with neighbours. The children were all home schooled together at Miss Miller’s house, all twelve of them, just as they had been since Miss Miller was about twenty and she’d be nearly eighty now. The great love of her life had died in one of the great wars and she was unable to commit herself to any other man. Instead she vowed to educate every child born in this valley to be upright and peaceful so there would be no more wars. She was bent over, heavy with the knowledge of all the wars that had come since making the great promise to herself. Still she should be proud of herself, for in the valley itself life had gone without any fights, without any incident whatever.
Her influence carried over into the everyday as all her students, three generations of them shaped life in the Valley. The citizen’s in the valley had counted themselves out of every census in living memory, no wars were funded by this valley and they had no need for federal services, they could look perfectly well after themselves. There was no police, no jail, no court.
They should have been in school that day, that John and Jack and their friend Luke. Somewhere between Miss Miller’s and home the boys had gone missing. Miss Miller had assumed the boys had taken ill with the cold or flue and since the valley had no telephone it was no immediately checked on. No one could have thought it would be anything else.
It was something else. That morning the three had met up as usual. Luke had shared some of his cake with the other two. They had chatted about the new foal at the Miller’s. White horses were born only very rarely in the valley. God seemed to favour brown for horses.
They were nearly halfway to the old schoolhouse when all three heard something. None of them knew what it was exactly, only that no one they knew had a voice anything like it. Still, whatever of whoever it was, was asking for help and the all three knew what needed to be done. They needed to go and see if they could help and if they could not they should fetch someone who could.
There was a small patch of forest where the voice emanated from. A little forests on the east side of the valley before the river. A small brook ran through it and the boys knew there were caves in this forest up against the hillside which were dangerous. The caves were from a long, long time ago, before the families had moved here, when other strange people had lived here. Inside the caves there were paintings of large cat life animals and lizards such as no one had seen ever in real life. Those were stories of course, in modern times no-one had dared go into the caves because they knew it was dangerous and everyone was quite happy without having any danger in their lives.
The boys ran into the forest, convinced that there was hero business to be done. They had long talked of being like super heroes, able to fly, to save the innocent from harm. Maybe this was their day to become heroes. That was a far as they had thought it out. They ran from one direction to the other as the voice seemed to change a great deal. At last they were exhausted and could not run any longer.
John had blisters on his feet and was complaining a lot. Luke was hungry and had started his lunch sitting on a large rock by what might have been an opening to a cave.. Jack had not quite run out of energy and paced up and down the path kicking stones. He kicked one rather hard and it went flying. They heard a small scream, it cam from right over Luke’s head. It was a very good thing that the three had used the bathroom before leaving home or all three would have been standing there in wet pants.
There sitting perched on an old stump, over the cave opening, was the strangest creature. It wasn’t very big but it was very odd looking. It had very large lizard-like eyes, and it’s skin was a little scaly like a fish. It’s hands or where one would have expected to see hands were talons like covered to the nails with small feathers. Feathers, I kid you not. They would have gasped or screamed for sure, but they had no breath at all, not for that moment. They scarcely caught one breath before the next fright.
Just behind the three, standing on another stump, stood another just like it. This one was a bit larger with a very round belly. They struggled to scream. They were starting to turn a little bluish from not breathing. Finally breath came and they let out a blood curdling scream which was met by another as the two strange looking creatures screamed too.
The earth shook a little and they were silent. “oh no.” said the sitting creature. “Oh no,” echoed the second creature. “What, what, WHAT?” screamed the three boys, no longer sure what they should fear more and their feet still frozen to the forest floor. They shot glances between the two creatures and each other. The booming continued, the earth shook and there was a thunderous sound coming form everywhere at once. The little grey creatures with the big eyes were no less frightened than the boys, actually they seemed more afraid and were turning strangely pale.
The sun seemed to appear and disappear and a twirling whooshing sound was overhead they dared look, they might as well, they were not able to run, and screaming had not made anything go away. What they saw was beyond belief. Meaning that if they told this story to anyone they would be laughed at for making up ridiculous lies. Still there it was, a large flying reptile with wings and eyes a fiery orange colour, it had a split long tongue which flitted before them, and talons with long brown nails.
One of the little grey creatures looked up clasping it’s hands, well whatever passed for hands, and pleaded, “let us go, we meant no harm”. A booming voice came from the great lizard, or it might have been a dragon if you don’t consider fire breathing important. “Get away from the humans, or you will have to deal with me. The two ran away into the cave. The dragon, to call it something. for the sake of argument. a dragon will do, perched above the cave opening, he shook his head and mumbled, “halloweenies.”
Now he gazed straight at the boys who had just found their feet and were bouncing around a bit trying to figure out where to run to. “Get out of my forest, the lot of you.” The boys ran and clamoured all the way up the hill to where the graveyard stood but the dragon followed them out. No matter where they ran the beast was not far behind. “Climb into this tree”, yelled Jack. That was where they were headed to, the biggest tree in the valley. Unfortunately, just as they were nearly there they were caught except for Jack as the dragon swooped down and caught them with his brow talon nails.
The dragon had miscalculated and a wing clipped into the old oak and all four of them tumbled down back to front and front to back and out they fell right in front of Miss Miller’s one room school house. Well. the boys thought they were safe. Miss Miller was not scared of anything. They knew that. and surely she would come out of the house running with her cane and thump the dragon on his scaly behind too.
Miss Miller did not. She stayed in and did not even open the door for them. The dragon righted himself and lumbered over them. His talon reached out and the boys cringed. Well they thought they were dragon kibble right about then. They were too tired to scream or cry.
“Never,” said the dragon poking Luke with his talon, “never go into the forest without an adult, those halloweenies play tricks on you, and since you’d eaten all your goodies already you’d have had nothing to pay your way out with. I am getting too old to keep saving lost children from halloweenies, sprained ankles and sick stomachs from eating the wrong mushrooms.” He stood up and looked his most fearsome. “If I see you in the forest again I will let the halloweenies have you.” With that he rose up, flapped his wings and flew off back to his forest.
“Did you see that miss Miller, did you see the dragon?”
“No, didn’t have my glasses on. No one else saw it because school is out and they are all gone home. Besides,” said Miss Miller, “there is no such thing as dragons and no-one will believe you. Next you’ll ask me to believe there are creatures called halloweenies in the forest who tricked you? No boys, you were loafing off in the forest where it is dangerous, now go home and stay on the path.”
They did stay on the path and never did they see the dragon or the halloweenies again. That was on October the 31st, coincidence?
Adults unlike children did not see the fairies with whom they shared the valley. Despite that the fairies did have a little something to do with their lives. Very often an adult shakes their head wondering why a lost object has just reappeared even though they’d looked for it right there many times before. Or a knot in the knitting yarn seemingly impossible to unknot becomes undone almost on it’s own. All the little things that cannot be explained away, that is the work of the unseen little people. They might be mischievous too and play little trick, turn the tap on a little as you walk away. Nothing really nasty, just mischief. There are rules the unseen world lives by, for instance horrible things are ever done to good people. Mischief is what monsters and gremlins are for. They don’t exist in the adult world, in part because adults do not want to believe in them, and besides that because they are helped to forget. That’s what fairy dust is for, to make the adults forget. Why is that? Why do adults need to forget and children don’t?
Adults don’t believe in fairies because they would ridicule each other for believing in them. Some of the unseen feared they might even be hunted down for research and put them in little cages in laboratories like they do with mice. Just a lot less complicated and much more safe for the faerie if adults do not believe in them. Children on the other hand, should believe in them, often a lonely child has only the little persons in the unseen world for friendship. The fairies just love children, fairies are very much like children themselves, always playing and taking delight in games and observing the natural world.
In the valley the only adult able to see the little unseen people was Big Slow Fred, to him they were very real, and the children soon learned they could talk to him about their small unseen friends and be believed. Sometimes Big slow Fred would even invite some of the kids to watch the goose races at his house with fairies mounted on the big fluffy geese and pixies urging them on. The fairies trusted Big Slow Fred and if he brought the children around they knew those were good children and could be trusted not to try and harm them. Occasionally a particularly nasty child had tried to harm the fairies by throwing rocks at them. the fairies with their magical quickness always got out of the way, but the geese might get hurt. Big Slow Fred would remind them that the gremlins would get them when they found out what a nasty little child he or she had been. Mostly the children in the valley were very good children, but it happened sometimes that a child did something nasty. Even here in the valley.
There are times that fairies and adults come face to face and all the adult is left no memory of it after a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust, and a feeling that all is well. The broad smile appears on their face and that can last a very, very long time.
Big Slow Fred still saw the unseen world, unlike children who, when they reached age twelve or so would stop seeing the fairies, pixies and dragons and the many other members of the unseen. big slow Fred would bring a slice of cake or pie to the evening goose races, to share with his friends the pixies and fairies (of course the geese were not forgotten either). His mom would give him a little extra knowing he would want to share. That is not to say that his mother believed in fairies or the unseen, but she saw no harm in letting Big slow Fred go on believing. Big Slow Fred was never lonely this way. since Big Slow Fred was expected to remain childlike his entire life, she saw no harm in his holing those beliefs.
Other parents would discourage at a certain age, their children to believe in the unseen. The unseen world except for those church figures such as God or angels. As the brains of children became mature, and those beliefs were discouraged the unseen became just that, unseen. They became the lovely thoughts of youth, of childhood, stories rather than real life. Real life is made up of what is just right at this moment in a very tangible way. Real life is always at any moment subject to change.
There were a few other members of the community in this peaceful valley still seeing the unseen. The valley was a wonderful place to live for the seen and the unseen. Those members other than Fred who were still seeing the unseen would not tell, for fear of ridicule, or worse. so, who were these people?
Well, normally if an adult happens to see a fairy, or, let’s say a dragon, then a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust will make sure they quickly forget all about it. It doesn’t happen often that for instance and adult would se a fairy or others of the unseen, mostly when there is a great sadness, a bump on the head or a little too much home-made wine.
Back to the fairy dust. Plain and simple it stops working on elderly or the very ill. They won’t tell you, because it hurts their dignity to suffer the giggle and snide comments. Some like our old Mr. Anshelm worry that their very unimaginative children (his son is the postman) will perceive him as quite crazy and send him to live in a home. Since no old folks home or long term care hospital exists in the valley, it means leaving this very wonderful place, this beloved valley to live in a big city. A big city with far too much concrete, and strangers with terribly busy lives. Most probably also there are few fairies here. After all how happy could a fairy be to live in all this concrete and glass.
So old Mr. Anshelm keeps it to himself that there was a time when he dropped his glasses, two very pretty faeries flew them right up to him and even place them carefully on his nose.. He was a bit frightened at fist, but then took a deep breath and looked again, and indeed there were two very pretty fairies giggling away bobbing and weaving in the air like hummingbirds.
Nowadays Mr. Anshelm’s very pleasant but dull son and the pleasant but dull daughter in law might leave for a day or two. Well, he manages quite well with a little help from the unseen friends. How wonderful for him this has been. His unseen friends will sit down with him and just talk or help him with those tasks that give the elderly man difficulty. Things such as picking up glasses when he drops them. After all without those glasses he could not see a thing.
Some evenings he drops by Big Slow Fred’s and together they will chat and watch the fairies, pixies and geese by the side of the old shed having their races, while sharing conversation and bits of cake and pie. Probably, Mr. Anshelm theory was that adults did not see fairies and the like, because they really had time only for raising new families and looking after their community. Their lives were already so full and busy. There really is no time in the adult’s life to deal with the unseen world. After all if you were consumed by day-to-day living the extra distraction by also being a part of the unseen world, well, frankly, he doubted anyone would be able to get anything done, most especially the much needed work like raising children or doing their jobs. Bakers wouldn’t have time to bake and teachers wouldn’t have time to teach., and, well, you get the picture, surely?
What a shame that children see the unseen and are thought to have wonderful imaginations, while should the old and the sick see the unseen and interact with them, they’d be accused of being crazy and are sent away. Surely, thought Mr. Anshelm, there is much good in the old and sick not feeling so lonely and unhappy when all the other adults are too busy with their own lives to spend much time with them?
Goose Races 2006
illustration – Winged Tales