Short Story by Stephanie Geary
Stretching up onto her tip-toes, Angelica smiles softly at the setting sun ahead of her. The warm rays streak down and across the land creating beautiful delicate shadows. Everywhere that she can see and far beyond that is filled with brilliant, pretty scenery. Trees and flowers of every type litter the area, creating an enchanting forest canopy. Angelica stretches out her limbs and takes in the view. What she sees is breath-taking; nature at its best. The air is clear and fresh here. There is no smog, no pollution, no litter; all is calm and tranquil.
Up high she can see the whole of the land; she breathes in the heady scent of nectar and her stomach answers with a slow growling sound. Angelica is feeling hungry and looks around for a flower to eat; she tip-toes slowly before jumping over the gap between the branch she stands on and the one next to her.
Flapping her light fairy wings she lets herself fall softly to the ground and spies a beautiful passion-fruit flower peaking its purple-blue head over the long tufts of grass. Fluttering softly towards the flower she lands near its base. Due to her small size the flower towers over her a little so she climbs up onto the stem and breaks pieces of the petals off before stuffing them un-ladylike into her mouth. She chews each piece slowly as she takes in the bitter-sweet taste, closing her eyes in silent ecstasy at the heady delicious flavour. Almost devouring an entire petal, Angelica shimmy’s up higher until she reaches the centre of the flower. Digging her fingers in deep, she pulls out a handful of soft, fluffy centre and eats it silently, her eyes viewing the area for any potential danger.
The life of a fairy is a simple one, but there is potential risk in and around the land that she lives in. Only yesterday she was chased by a squirrel who decided he wanted to nibble on her feathery wings. He had backed off though when she snarled at him, showing her evil-demon like eyes and razor-sharp teeth. From the outside she appeared sweet and delicate, but she had a mean bite when she had to protect herself. Her dark soulless eyes saw danger before it happened; she was always on her guard, always on the lookout. As she grazes on handfuls of the flower she is devouring, she wonders where her friend, Floretta has gotten to. They meet in this exact spot everyday at the same time and she doesn’t appear to be around. Wiping her nectar-smeared mouth on the back of her hands, she stretches up to look around the area. Sometimes Floretta thinks it is funny to camouflage herself amongst the plant life and jump out at the last minute to give her a shock. Angelica does not find this funny and has told her friend repeatedly that it is beyond mean, as well as extremely annoying, but she doesn’t listen.
There appears to be no sign of her, so Angelica hovers lightly above the grass and looks around for signs of where she may be. A passing toad looks up at her as she flutters by and stretches his tongue out in her direction; he wonders what a fairy would taste like and surmises that it would be like chewing on a fat, juicy fly. Angelica looks down at him, her dark eyes shining with contempt making him wince away from her view and hop off in the direction of home. Angelica can see many creatures amongst the land; an earthworm slithers slowly over dampened soil, whilst a field mouse rustles around eagerly in the blades of grass looking for food and an owl watches from up above. The eyes of the owl peer at her with uncaring boredom; the darkening sky has brought him out of his slumber and his head is twisting around looking for tonight’s delicacy; before long he spies the mouse. With a powerful thrust, he glides from the branch and aims downwards; his great wings gliding him ever closer to his prey. The mouse spots him too late; tries to make a run for it but is impaled in the owl’s beak before it can take even one step. The owl carries on flying, taking its victim to a place where it can dine in peace. Angelica watches this with gross interest. The natural way that animals interact is bewitching, she enjoys watching them go about their lives and watching as they move around one another almost unseeing until they are on the look out for food. It amazes Angelica how the circle of life continues; the life and death she sees here is inevitable but natural. There is an order to it, no malice, no cruelty, no second-guessing; death is for one purpose and that is to feed. She continues to look for her friend, trying to spy her familiar tinged pink wings. Beads of grass brush against her skin as she flies around the forest floor looking behind trees and rocks.
‘Floretta, where are you? If you jump out on me again I will bite your wings off.’
Below her she hears a slight rustle and her eyes narrow as she looks at the spot it came from. She draws closer and listens intently, widening her eyes and refusing to blink in case she is pounced on by something wanting to do her harm. Behind her she hears more rustling and freezing she listens as the sound moves closer still. Teeth bared, eyes darkened in both fear and rage, Angelica spins round and bites into the shape behind her; she’s not sure what she is attacking but she won’t be taken down without a fight. Blind with anger, she drags the enemy down to the ground.
‘Owwww, Angelica…Get off me! Owwwww…that really hurts.’
Angelica stands up and looks down in shock at her friend, Floretta. She spies a smear of blood running down her fellow fairy’s arm and realises that she had taken a bite out of her thinking that she was the enemy. The wound will heal quickly as is the way with all Fairies. Recovering from the surprise of again being pounced on, Angelica’s face changes to that of annoyance.
‘Damn you, Floretta. Why do you always do this? It’s not funny at all. How would you like it if I jumped out on you? It’s risky out here as it is, I could have scratched your eyes out, or broke your wings! You really are a stupid mare, you know that?’
While she rants at her, Floretta can do nothing else but laugh. She tries to hide it at first when she sees how angry Angelica is, but with the risk of biting her lip off she opens her mouth wide and lets out a loud, raucous laugh. Angelica is not pleased that she isn’t taking this seriously, she crosses her arms and her eyes grow darker as the rage builds up inside her.
‘Calm it down, Angie…You don’t half get worked up. It was a bit of fun; a laugh! It was so funny seeing you skulking around, I think this may go down as one of the best pranks yet. You looked so scared!’
Angelicas eyes narrow at her friend and she turns her back on her and flaps her wings energetically, taking off in a huff. Floretta follows closely behind, still grinning to herself as she relives the joke.
‘Leave me alone!’ Angelica shouts back at her friend, refusing to make eye contact. Floretta bumps into her deliberately with force, causing her to fly off track and bounce into a tree. Again, she falls into fits of laughter, tears streaming down her cheeks.
‘That is it’, thought Angelica, ‘time to give her a piece of her own medicine.’
Reaching around suddenly, she grabs Floretta around the waist and beats her wings frantically, taking the pair of them higher and higher. Her friend twists in her arms, both jubilant at this sudden change of play and fearful of what Angelica has in mind. Rising higher and higher, past the tops of the trees, she sweats at the over-exertion but continues her upwards path. Finally, she looks into her friends eyes and sees her fear penetrate. They have never been up this high and her friend is unused to heights like this; its not been tested by them but they have heard it said that a fairy’s wings wont work when they get too high. Almost on cue, Angelica feels her wings become useless and winks at Floretta who is still grasped within her arms. There is a split second of silence as they hover temporarily in the air and then they fall with speed back towards the ground. Floretta and Angelica both cry out, the rush from the fall is both exhilarating and terrifying. The air rushes at them from below and they cling to one another as they freefall rapidly. Floretta lets out a cry of terror as she sees the ground getting ever closer.
In all her panic, she forgets that her wings will now work; Angelica doesn’t…. waiting until the very last few feet she suddenly pulls upwards and flaps her wings enthusiastically bringing them to a sudden halt only inches from the floor.
Floretta squeals in relief and punches Angelica on the arm, sending her falling backwards until she lands unceremoniously on the ground. They both look at one another, eyes narrowed in anger. It is Angelica who smiles first, her sharp teeth showing as she giggles.
Floretta’s eyes widen and her mouth also shapes into a smile. Before long they are rolling around in the grass roaring with laughter, both clutching their stomachs. Slowly they regain composure and sit up and move closer to one another, resting they’re heads against one another. They hold hands and watch as the trees sway softly in the gentle wind.
‘Now that was fun,’ Angelica says, breaking the silence. She giggles again and squeezes Floretta’s hand.
‘Fun for you maybe; I thought I was going to become fodder,’ Floretta tries her best to feign hurt at her friends joke but can’t help but smile.
‘I have told you that I don’t like it when you jump out on me, I thought I would get my own back.’
‘Be honest, you were scared when I creeped up on you; probably thought I was a predator coming to feast on your puny fairy body didn’t you?’
Floretta laughs again at the memory and takes a sideways glance at Angelica who is giving her best, ‘you annoy me’ face, but her eyes are not dark enough and simply don’t portray the anger like they did earlier.
The light is dimming in the forest, welcoming the fireflies who are swarming around, lighting the evening up with their peaceful glow. The night-time in the enchanted forest brings its own dangers, different creatures come out to play, some of whom are not nice to be around in the dark. Stretching her arms up and fluttering her wings softly, Angelica shakes off the feeling of tiredness. It is time for her to leave, time for her to get back.
Floretta is looking directly at her, eyes searching to see if tonight will be the night that she stays. Life can be so lonely in this forest when Angelica isn’t in it, but she knows she can only stay for short periods. The knowledge that she always comes back is enough to stop her from pinning her friend down and forcing her to stay with her.
‘Time for me to go,’ Angelica responds, answering her friend’s quiet thoughts.
‘This sucks big time, can’t you stay a little longer?’
Stroking the back of her hand, Angelica looks at Floretta and smiles warmly.
‘If I stay then they will miss me, I can’t stay here permanently…we have spoke about this. I can’t choose one place to be because I love being a part of both. You are the bestest friend I have ever had, and I am so glad I met you here, but I have people waiting for me, people who love me too.’
Lifting herself off the floor, she reaches down and kisses Floretta gently on the cheek.
‘Now go and find yourself a spot to hide out for the night, you know its not safe for you out here at night-time. Get some rest and I will come back tomorrow. Okay?’
Floretta bats her eyelids and pulls a sulky face, playfully pulling on Angelica’s arm as though trying to prevent her from going. They both laugh and hug each other in goodbye.
Watching her flutter away, Angelica hopes her friend finds somewhere safe to hide out. The forest at night doesn’t just hide different dangerous creatures, it also welcomes un-earthly, evil beings. And these beings don’t like outsiders, especially someone like her.
Crawling back up onto the branches of the Oak Tree, she walks quickly towards the large mirror which floats magically in front of her. Placing her hand on the frame she looks around her, ensuring there aren’t any prying eyes.
‘Take me back,’ she whispers the familiar words and waits for the shift in the reflective glass. The surface ripples and swirls, appearing almost like water. She reaches into the mirror and steps gingerly into it, hoping the room on the other side is clear.
On entering the battered attic, Angelica is magically transformed back into a normal sixteen-year-old girl. The fairy wings are gone, the sharp teeth are no longer evident, and her eyes have changed from dark, soulless black to light blue. She is now 100% human; no trace of Fairy to be seen. Turning back towards the mirror she sees her own reflection staring back at her, she throws the dusty sheet back over it, hiding it from view and smiles to herself. She wouldn’t want it to be found by anyone else; the portal is very precious and only true believers would truly love the other world as she does. It has been 2 years since she first found this mirror. Following a move with her family, she had come into the attic to explore and found a host of interesting pieces. The mirror was like any other normal mirror, but when she read the inscription that was found written around the frame she noticed a change in the surface of the glass. Reaching into it with one hand, she was sucked into the Land of the Fairies. From that day onwards, she was introduced to a wonderful world where nature was at its best. The bonus was that she had made a lifelong friend in Floretta. There had been many adventures beyond that mirror; she was going to miss it.
In a few months she will be leaving for college; starting her educational life and leaving this mirror behind, she doesn’t know for how long. Floretta will be upset when she finally knows but Angelica has avoided telling her. The thought of leaving this other world behind causes her pain. Her heart loves both her human life and the one she leads as a Fairy. There are days when she wonders if she could leave here and simply exist in the land with Floretta, but she knows she would miss all that she loves about her world. She always knew that the day would come when she would have to decide which world to stay in for good; she can’t continue to live in two worlds. It makes her feel torn, she doesn’t know who she is when she is between worlds.
The day will come when she exits Floretta’s world for the last time. She will cover the mirror as she does now, and she will push boxes in front of it and she will leave it behind for good. Her friend won’t understand but she must do this. For now, she has a few months to enjoy the small piece of heaven she calls her 2nd home. Tomorrow will come and she will be broken as she forces herself to live as 16-year-old, Angelica and not the pretty, feisty Fairy she has come to love.
If it hadn’t been for her strong belief for things that can’t be seen, she would never have found the mirror or even been able to open its portal.
One thing she will always take from this is the power to believe.