Matilda Blows Into Town
“Ouch!” Matilda yelped as she rubbed the knot on her head, slapping her hand over her mouth as she remembered one yelp too late that she needed to be quiet. She did not want anyone to hear her or discover that she was somewhere she didn’t belong.
She cursed her own curiosity, which always seemed to get her into deep water. Although…this time, she mused, it had just gotten her deep into a huge, dark and musty travel trunk.
She could hear her Gran now: “Girl, that head of yours is as hard as it is pretty. You really need to think before you act!”
Well, Matilda thought, that advice should have kicked in about five minutes ago, right before she’d left the safety of the shadows on the porch and practically dove into this trunk. Perfectly in time with the wind that had whipped up all of a sudden, it must have been the trunk’s lid that had blown down and smacked her square on the head.
She tried to get her bearings, but it was pitch black inside. If she hadn’t been lying flat on the bottom of the trunk, she might not have even known which way was up. Matilda steadied herself and slowly made it to her feet. Her head swam in circles; and, as she lurched sideways, she tried to catch herself, but there was nothing around her to hold onto. She found herself tripping over things she couldn’t see and finally landed again in a heap on the floor.
Deciding it was best to stay put until her head cleared a bit, she settled herself more comfortably and pulled a sharp, hard object out from under her tush as she tried to think her way out of her little predicament.
Little did she know that this little predicament was about to change her life.
Not only that, but later on, she would remember that she’d actually asked the universe to help give her a push.
Well…maybe not a windblown push into a trunk that smacked her in the head…
But these things can’t always be controlled.
You see, Matilda had been resisting her coming-of-age “adventure” that all of her cousins and friends had embarked on already.
It wasn’t that she was afraid.
No, Matilda had enough courage to lead a rebellion. Which—by the way—she had done. But that’s a whole different story for a whole different day. It was just that she was comfortable at home, and she was her mother’s only child and the only one left of the grandchildren still living at the old homestead. It was that very thing that made her feel a little guilty at the idea of leaving them.
And for Matilda, guilt was what always got the better of her. She was always trying to sort that out—find just where guilt might be useful and where it was just a hindrance.
Maybe she was a little afraid, if she was going to be perfectly honest. But it galled her to think that.
Even so, it was mostly the fear of how Ma and Gran would react when she told them she was going to be moving on. She’d been practicing telling them in her head for more than a year, ever since her cousin Aiden had taken his own coming-of-age trip. But she just couldn’t do it. And, to be honest, she couldn’t come up with a good adventure of her own other than following in Aiden’s footsteps. So just this very afternoon as she bid her dear cousin goodbye before he headed back to the city, she had asked the universe to help her find a way to make her move.
It was a long-held belief that Gran had instilled in her that anytime you wanted to change something in your life, you simply needed to visualize it and trust that it would happen if you asked the universe to take over. And then, it was just supposed to be a matter of patience as you sat back and waited for the opportunities to roll in.
But right now, Matilda wasn’t thinking about the fact that she had asked for this to happen. She was only thinking about how to get herself out of it and how to get her world to stop spinning.
All that spinning was making her feel a bit ill.
“Okay, girl! Time to shake it off and get out of here,” she said under her breath.
Maybe an unwise choice, as every time she actually tried to shake it off, her head began the long, loopy swirling again; and even though she couldn’t see anything in the dark, she felt her eyes rolling around and making her feel dizzy.
What if I’m blind? she thought suddenly, the idea making her panic a bit more.
You’ll learn soon enough that Matilda often gets upset about unnecessary worries. She lifted her hand in front of her face and waved it back and forth through the air, but she couldn’t see it.
“Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Oh, dear!” She chanted as she again tried to stand. But this time, she didn’t even get fully upright before she toppled, knocking things over and landing in a heap, falling deeply into a concussed sleep.
While she rests a bit, maybe I can catch you up on her story so you understand a bit better.
Let’s see…Where should I begin?
I guess I’ll tell you a little bit about fairies in general…
Oh! Did you not know Matilda is a fairy?
Well, she is—and quite a beautiful fairy at that.
She has wild beautiful red hair that’s never neat and a face that is covered in a wild array of freckles.
She’s a picture of Irish charm at its best—a stereotype if there ever was one. And if a
human spoke to Matilda, they’d say she has a lovely brogue, but fairies’ voices are so diminutive against the noises of the world that they sound to humans like tiny bugs buzzing around their ears. If they could hear the frequency that fairies speak in, though, their language is quite the same for all ethnicities; and people would love listening to our adorable Matilda.
Fairies are quite petite—usually just over three inches tall and what most people would politely refer to as “pleasantly plump.”
You see, in order to keep warm when you are so small, you must have some layers of protection on you. Opposite of the human culture, fairies who do not carry enough weight are often teased, bullied, and ostracized. The heartier you are, the larger your wings must be to keep you aloft; and wings are a most-prized possession for fairies. Wings come in just about every color combination you can imagine; and, just like humans who notice one’s eye color, fairies tend to pay special attention to the colors of one’s wings.
Bigger is better in the fairy world.
It’s important to know that although it’s commonly believed that all fairies come from Ireland—the land of Leprechauns, pots of gold, and unicorns—that is not strictly the case. It might, perhaps, be where they originated; although there is no proof of that, but over the centuries, like all beings, they have migrated around the world and now come in every ethnicity and every race.
Matilda, interestingly enough, just happens to actually be from the homeland. It is like the gypsies who are now in every country on the globe, just turn on Reality TV if you don’t believe me. There are some pretty wild and entertaining shows about the lives of Gypsies around the globe.
What is common among all fairies and very unique to their breed is that they are each born with gifts.
The lesser gifts are similar to ones that humans might possess—gifts like creativity, healing, and optimism.
But some seem to be almost magical, and these are called “greater” gifts.
They seem magical to humans; but fairies understand and take advantage of the Quantum Field, where thoughts are real and what seems impossible is quite possible. Fairies try never to limit themselves as humans do, but some fairies have an easier time using this limitlessness than others.
One of the more impressive of these greater gifts is the gift of Fire, which means that some fairies can actually make themselves glow. The gift of fire is too cool and one that Matilda has always coveted.
Then, there is the gift of Shape-shifting, which means that a fairy can take on a different shape to hide or blend into their environment.
Some fairies possess the gift of Disruption and can manipulate machinery and electronics, causing them to have a bit of a hiccup or giving them a boost in their power.
There is the gift of Speak, as well, and fairies with this special gift can actually hypnotize creatures and humans to varying degrees so that they can plant ideas in their heads. This, of course, is done only for self-protection, for fairies believe in a no harm way of life.
Back to the “lesser” gifts that I mentioned…but I don’t want to waste too much time boring you with that. You can wait until you meet Matilda and her friends properly and learn about them that way.
Fairies inherit their gifts, so they are all aware of their family lineage to a much greater degree than humans, who apparently have to go on TV to find their ancestors. When fairies are first born, most gifts are not readily apparent—though the gift of Fire is noticed quite early on, as infants and toddlers will glow brightly when frustrated or angry.
Most gifts, however, start to emerge around their fifth year; and fairy families are always on the lookout for what skills their offspring might possess so that they can nurture those gifts.
Unfortunately, Matilda’s gifts are all lesser gifts and rather mundane—So don’t get too excited.
As I mentioned, fairies’ gifts are handed down from one generation to the next, and fairies are always talking about their grandmothers, mothers, and great uncles. They are quite interested in understanding their lineage.
So what is Matilda’s gift?
Matilda’s is a gift for healing, passed down from her three-times great-grandmother on her mother’s side. She innately knows what herbs soothe an aching stomach and what gemstones to tuck under your pillow at night to ease your dreams. Those without this lesser gift don’t show any interest and couldn’t remember even the easiest of remedies like mallow tea for an upset stomach due caused by overindulgence. But no matter—even those who do possess this gift seem unappreciative of their skill and wish with all their might for one of the greater gifts.
All fairies want the greater gifts, gifts like Matilda’s uncle, who can make a cat fall asleep simply by singing to it. Such a gift comes in handy, as cats often don’t like wee fairies.
One more thing important to know is that fairies and people should never, never, ever mix.
There is not a single lore or legend that has a positive outcome for fairies when they mix by design or accident with humanity. Fairies get on just fine with most animals—well, with the exception of the occasional cat or a bird that might just mistake them for a bug before they realize they’re about to swallow a fairy. There are actually very few animals that can’t hear the frequency of a fairy’s voice and can even learn to communicate with them almost telepathically. And because animals are also at the mercy of humanity, they often have plenty in common with the plight of a fairy, and most fairies have many animal friends.
Of course, fairies get on well with leprechauns, mermaids, and other fantastical beings. But they are taught from birth to never be seen by people and told to avoid humans at all cost, as the danger in being seen is potentially being caught and caged. Whenever a fairy disappears, it is believed that they have been captured by humans and are being kept as pets.
This history goes back to the traveling gypsies of old who made money by showing off their captured fairies like prized butterflies in a circus. Matilda’s own pa disappeared and never was heard from again, though Gran insisted he was a lout and was just off shirking his responsibilities. Ma, more reasonably, says he loved Tilly dearly and would never have left her if he could have avoided it.
In the old country where Matilda is from, most fairies choose to live outside of the cities to stay clear of people and become gatherers as they build their lives in nature. Fairies tend to find life in the country the best option, staying safely away from the city. They live in family clusters with other fairy families to form communities where everyone helps one another and bonds together if something happens. They tend to live within a day’s trip to their extended family groups, and that connects them to other fairy groups far and wide. This is how they meet and marry and move about.
This also affords them opportunities to leave home and find their independence.
And while they may be outside the city, they are still near enough that they can easily access major transportation as well as food supplies that might not be readily available in the country.
Only the most daring of fairies venture into the bustle of cities to actually live, and those who do choose this lifestyle and make it back to the woods for a visit say that the food is better, the lodging more plentiful, and the excitement beyond compare.
Matilda’s cousin Aiden, who is a bit older than she, moved into the city as soon as he came of age, flitting off to civilization to live in all the bustle. Each time he returns home for a visit, he hungrily eats his gran’s homemade meals and tells tall tales of his adventures.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I will let Matilda tell you her story.
You will hear about Aiden, too, and many others that she will meet on this adventure.
Oh! I see she’s stirring and trying to wake up…just time to tell you her story.
Chapter 1 – Miss Matilda
Oh hello my name is Matilda and I literally blew into town, Boston that is, a big bustling city in the US of A. I didn’t actually blow in to Boston, I came in a trunk on a ship, but it was gale force winds that landed me here from my beloved Green Isles. I’m going to tell you that wicked awesome story about how I came to make my life in this vibrant city so far from my homeland and how I have started to work on my Bostonian accent.
When I first arrived I had a hard time understanding Bostonian and Bostonians might have had a hard time understanding me, if they could have heard me. I have since slowed my speech and straightened out word placement and my friends now follow my meaning quite easily. I am working hard on improving my Bostonian still, you know dropping my R’s and saying Wicked Awesome all the time, but I sometimes forget and slip into my natural speech patterns.
My long wavy hair is a bright red, thick and some days very untidy. Ok, well every day it could be considered a mess. I tend to whip it up in a messy bun on top of my head because I have so many better things to do than fix my hair. I make my own clothes these days, which is not my favorite task, so my wardrobe is quite eclectic. My shoes are often in need of repair. My wings are my favorite thing about me, I love the iridescent sheen of olive green and violet. For a fairy, wing color is kind of like eye color is for humans. I am a healthy and stout fairy so my wings are large and strong.
An important thing for you to know about me is that I always, always and forever have a smile on my face. You see no matter what, I see the good and the bright in the world. This is one of my lessor gift, the gift of sun, well to be honest I only have lessor gifts which irritates me a little. Basically having the gift of sun means a bright outlook on life, a positive philosophy, you know a sunny disposition. This I inherited from a great uncle. I never met him, but Gran said I was the first in the family since him to show this trait. It did not feel like a gift at all to me, a lame one for sure, I always wanted to glow or shapeshift like my cousin. But I have come to accept that being sunny is a gift, it makes me quite accepting of others as I see only the good in them. Very few fairies, and fewer humans it seems have the gift of Sun. It is certainly a wicked awesome gift to never feel sad or blue because I can see the sun that will rise on the morrow and brighten my day.
Like right now, on this unexpected and sometimes frightening adventure I find myself on. I am seeing the good it in even through my moments of panic. I feel a bit wicked because me cousin, Aiden, who is quite the adventurer and can shapeshift, he would die of envy if he knew about my adventure. I am finding some pleasure in his assumed envy. I used to envy his adventures and fantasize about going into Kilkenny with him, to see what life was like but I never had a brave enough heart. That in itself is odd because Irish fairies believe that your name draws to you the skills it boasts, and Matilda means Powerful and Mighty. But I was raised to be a good fairy, to obey my Ma & Gran and to always be polite and ladylike. Propriety did not squelch my curiosity though. The most disobedient I dared was to sit in the rafters of Granny O’Doul’s porch, listening to her tales and adventures told to her grandsons each Saturday evening. But despite my pretty good behavior it seems to not have been enough, because here I am in Boston having an adventure. Gran would be scandalized if only she knew.
It was at the O’Doul’s farm that I got myself into trouble. You see me cousin, my cousin that is, I am trying to change my accent to Boston. My Cousin, who is wicked cool, I already mentioned Aiden right? I can be a bit scattered brained. Anyways Aiden means Little Fire, which totally describes his enthusiasm for life. He told such wonderful tales of his life on the streets of Kilkenny, weaving amongst people and not being seen. As I might have told you one of his gifts inherited from his father is shape shifting. He can appear to humans as no more than a bug, A Dragonfly is his favorite, or a leaf, branch, just about anything really. He use to try to teach me how to do it but it was not in my gift repertoire. This gift makes it easier for him to flit through the lives of humans without being seen or caught. He wishes he also had the gift of Speak like my paternal uncle, but this is a rare skill and not one passed down through Aiden’s lineage.
Anyhow, Aiden had recently been home to visit and had sparked my imagination. Living that close to humans and weaving in and out of their exciting lives sounded like the adventure of a lifetime. I spent most of the evening practicing in my head telling me gran and ma that I was going to be going with Aiden to Kilkenny to finally come of age. But it never came out my mouth so when it was time for him to leave I flew with him to the boundaries of our wood to wish him goodbye. He was getting a bit impatient with me as a storm was brewing and I kept stopping to gather berries and mushroom and my very favorite type of tender moss.
Did I tell you I like food, a lot, I think about it all the time and always make sure I have snacks in my satchel.
He was impatient to head back to his adventures “without first getting a soaking Tilly,” he kept telling me. I was pretending the whole way that I was going to follow him in and taste that life myself. But when the time came, I just kissed him on his cheek and said goodbye. I decided right then it was the last time I was going to chicken out, so I took a deep breath, I closed my eyes and I saw myself smiling, far from home, I saw myself having a grand adventure and actually becoming an independent fairy. The vision was so strong that I actually could see an unfamiliar huge, white and impressive bridge behind me while my future self, smiled and waved to my current self. As the vision faded I sent my wish off to the universe and headed back to the wood and tomorrows chores.
Even though the wind had picked up a bit it was still light as I set out to trek back home. On the way I took the shortcut, and this took me right past the O’Doul’s farmstead. I noticed one of the farm trucks parked in their drive instead of out at the barn and thought to just flit by to see what was happening. It was Sunday eve, so I did not expect to see Granny and the little ones gathered on the porch as was their Saturday evening tradition.
By the time I settled myself out of sight in the rafters of the porch, the wind was noticeably stronger and getting a bit erratic. Blowing first down and east then up and south, whipping wildly, as my Gran would say. I was just in time to hear Granny tell the 5 little O’Doul grandsons that “On the morrow this trunk will be headed to America along with all of Maeve’s possessions.
“The Lord blessed me with all you little boys living here in the old country, but not one little girl. No she had to be born to my errant daughter Maeve who went off to America to find her fortune. Fate is more like it, never did she make it to the big screen, now she is stuck in the middle of a brown unappealing prairie, whatever that may be, with her 4 year old daughter, my one and only granddaughter. I’d hoped and prayed that Maeve would miss home and bring that child back across the sea, but no, she LOVES her man and her new life, but yet this lovely life does not afford her the ability to visit her dear old Ma. Pictures, pictures that is all I have of this life of hers and of my precious little Maisy. Maisey was me maiden name don’t you know it? Maeve couldn’t even spell it right, leaving out the ‘e’, ‘It’s more American.’ ” Granny O’Doul finally took her first breath.
Like grandmothers everywhere, Irish grannies were good at using guilt to try to get their children and grandchildren to act as they would like them too. My gran always said “I shouldn’t have to guilt ya, ya should know right from wrong.” But Grans right was not always right for me and sometimes she used guilt to try get me to do something that had nothing to do with what I considered right or wrong.
Anyway Granny O’Doul’s story continued. “Well I’ve been cleaning out my attic as you boys know and came across Maeve’s doll house. Her dear old Da made it for her, every little stich and piece. Well you boys never had a bit of interest in it, so I’m shipping it off to America with the rest of this pile, just another piece of Ireland across the sea.”
A dollhouse? I wondered what that meant. I knew what a doll was, my Ma having made me many in my younger years, but never did they have a house of their own.
As Granny spoke the wind was picking up and in the rafters it could even be said to be howling at this point, but down in the body of the porch where it was protected by the screens, it was not as noticeable. I was having trouble hearing Granny’s tale and was having to hang on with both hands with my wings tucked in tight so they didn’t catch the wind and send me flying. I was beginning to worry that I would not safely make it home. I was already formulating my own tale to tell my Ma & Gran as to why I did not come straight home and instead got caught in the storm and was delayed. But rather than leave as I should have right then and there, I inched lower down in the rafters to find a safer perch and hear the remainder of Granny’s tale as I wanted to know what this dollhouse was. Curiosity can be a curse.
Granny was prattling on to the boys all about the dollhouse and all the fancy trimmings. I wanted so badly to look in that trunk, but Gideon, the youngest was hanging over its edge pulling things out, putting them back in and rummaging about in there so I dare not be seen by trying to get a closer look myself. A little Chamomile would do that boy some good, he needed to relax a bit, although to give credit where credit is due, he is a fun loving little guy who gets teased unmercifully by his brothers and cousins.
With the wind picking up and the feel that the storm was ready to hit any minute, I knew I really should head home but if Granny was right, by tomorrow the trunk would be gone and I would never see its contents or find out what a dollhouse was. Well, I’m sure you can guess my fate. Just as the first raindrops began to fall Granny ushered the boys inside, I hurried to the open trunk but the wind was so strong that it almost whipped me past the lid, I had to grab hold and pull myself around to just get a peek. It was dark but I could make out a small house, just my size. All the other items were hidden in the shadow. I was trying to decide if I should venture in out of the wind when the wind decided for me. It whipped up and caught me, it slammed me against the lid of the trunk and knocked the wind right out of me and smacked me in the noggin. The lid slammed shut and there I was in the dark, trapped and alone, feeling dizzy and woozy for sure. I even think I might have fallen asleep for a little while but I can’t really remember.
Anyways you see why I say that I was blown into Boston. My whole journey and adventure started because of a storm with Gale force winds and my curiosity.
Chapter 2 – The Unexpected Journey
After getting knocked in the head it took me a bit to recover my breath and assess my situation. I remember trying to stand up and tripping, falling and finding no walls around me to hold onto, but I don’t remember much more until I woke up. But that doesn’t make sense since I hadn’t been a bit tired. Anyway when I woke up there was just a little bit of light coming in through the keyhole but it was dim due to the time of day, and heavy storm clouds that were blowing in. I began to panic, not about being stuck but about how I would explain to my Ma and Gran about staying out all night. They would assume that I followed Aiden into Kilkenny and surely send my Uncle Bradon in after me. My Uncle, like his son Aiden, had desired a more exciting life and had spent many years traveling about, but on a trip home to visit family had fallen in love with me Aunt Maggie and never left again. I immediately began to reformulate my tale of getting caught up in the wind and being blown off course, not too tall a tale but one with enough danger that they would just be grateful that I made it home safe. With my story in place I decided to settle in for the night and munch on a few berries and daydream about America and the little granddaughter Maisey, Maisy?
Did I tell you, some Fairies, like Claire, have the gift of fire, where they can make themselves glow? I wished I had that gift so that I could explore the contents of the trunk while I had the chance. My healing gift made me think about all the things I wish I did have, like some Kyanite as it would calm me right down, a bit of yellow jasmine tea would not hurt either, and something like valerian for my headache. But as the darkness grew deeper I entertained myself rummaging through the trunk by feel to find bedding and formulating plans for my escape.
You see I was sure that they would open the trunk in the morning before it was loaded onto the truck to head out to America. They might want to add some items or make sure that the wind did not damage the contents. When the lid opened I would have to make my escape, flying faster than I ever had before so that I looked a blur and be mistaken for a damselfly. I would have to be ready and close to the lid to not be seen for a fairy. I dug around in the dark and found what felt to be a blanket. It was quite heavy but with persistence, did I tell you I am persistent? I was able to drag it to the lid and wedge it in to the hinges and make a bit of a nest for myself, I also have some ingenuity. From here I could even see out the keyhole to watch the tree branches blowing around. With this in place I settled in and let the wind and the rain lull me to sleep, hoping that my Ma would not be too frantic and would assume I was safe with Aiden.
When I woke of the morning it took me a bit to remember my predicament, you see my little nest was rocking gently like a hammock and lulling me back to sleep. Wait! What!!!! I jumped up and flew to the keyhole to see to my dismay that I was on the truck and bouncing down the road. I did not recognize a bit of the landscape and truly now began to panic. I flopped, which I do not typically do as it is not ladylike and my Gran would wicked freak, down to the bottom of the trunk to catch my breath and think. As I told you I am quite the optimist so I was sure that I could find a solution if only I could breathe. Maybe I could breathe better if I was near that keyhole. I flew up but, nope, no better up here. Did I over sleep did they not open the trunk did we leave in the middle of the night how would I find my way home what will my mother think happened to me when Uncle Bradon returns from seeing Aiden only to find out he left me at the edge of the wood. Breathe!!!!! Think!!!!! Use punctuation!!!!!!!!
OK, how will they send the trunk to America, by plane, the nearest large airports are Dublin or Cork, would someone open this trunk before loading it? Who was driving the truck, was it family who would want to add something to the trunk, would I be able to escape and find a truck so I could catch a ride back home? Breathe, Breathe….. OMG! That is Bostonian for Oh My GOSH!!!!! I was in a bit of a panic. But my bright side soon kicked in and I began to think about all the good that could come if this. Like I am having my once in a lifetime adventure, I will have stories to tell Aiden. I can maybe taste some city food when we stop and I escape, maybe even have time to find some fabric for a new dress for my Gran and Ma to make me. Yup this is not working, I am still panicking. All this panic takes a lot of energy and I soon fell into my little makeshift hammock to snack a bit and try to rest until my chance came. No sooner had I settled my mind did the noise level increase and the truck slow. I scurried to the keyhole and peered out at a city for the first time in my entire life. It was sooooo crowded, sooo busy and dusty, dirty. There were honking horns and yelling people everywhere. It was too cool, way cool.
It did not take long for me to realize I was headed to the port. Through the keyhole I saw a sign to the airport which we did not head for, but instead turned towards the sign with a ship on it. I could smell the ocean I thought, just as Aiden and Uncle Bradon had described it from their adventures. The port could only mean one thing, a Ship!!! Oh no, I remembered a story about one of my great, great cousins who took a ship to America and it took 3 weeks. In 3 weeks surely I would starve, and die. Where would I go to the bathroom in this trunk? And how would I find my way back home and what would my Ma think???? Breathe Matilda, Breathe!
The truck stopped and I could hear the doors slamming. This would be my only chance to escape, I grabbed my satchel and crouched in the upper corner of the trunk. I felt it lift in the air and drop to the dusty ground. There was a conversation happening outside confirming my worse fear, this trunk was headed to America on a ship. It would dock in a place called Boston in 4-5 days depending on the weather. Wait 4-5 days, was it going to fly there? Ships take weeks don’t they?
Oh no, they’re walking away, they did not open the trunk. No goodbye pat even, come back, come back I need a ride home. I don’t know my way back to the wood. I didn’t dare yell out cause if they do hear me they will know me for a fairy and capture me. Humans could understand fairies, if only they could hear us but unless I had the gift of Speak, which I don’t, I could not convince them to just take me back home. But in my mind I was screaming at them and flitting around the trunk, holding onto my messy and wild hair.
I heard the harbor master call to a couple of laborers and tell them to stack the trunk on the loading dock. They plopped me down near the shore where I could see the ocean, the waves and all the birds, wow it is so cool, just like my Uncle described it. I have only ever seen the ocean in my imagination but it is more beautiful than I expected. I want to dip my feet in and feel the waves. But wait I am stuck in a trunk headed to America and I have no way out, this is no time to admire the scenery!
The day was young though, the sun was just heating up, bright after a day of storms, I had plenty of time to figure out how to escape. My trunk quickly began to get very hot and uncomfortable in the sun. Grateful now that I was scavenging yesterday I dug in my satchel and snacked on a few berries and moss. The moss is moist and almost tasted like a drink of water.
The light was better during the daytime with a beam of sun coming in the key hole, so as I calm down I realize that it was a perfect time to explore the dollhouse. I figured I may find a key or something that might help me escape. So I got the house to rights and begin to unpack the boxes within, I found no key but I did find the most exquisite furniture I have ever seen. Comfy couches and chairs, a beautiful canopied bed and a small trunk full of quilts and pillows. It was much cooler at the bottom of the trunk so I satisfied my curiosity by digging through these treasures. Each time I started to feel lonely and a bit scared I would remember that each day brings new adventures and all that and it would perk me right back up to my naturally optimistic self. I eventually unpack some books and soon found myself dozing off in the heat on the gorgeous couch with a good book on my belly.
When I finally woke it was dusk. It was much cooler and much darker, so much so that I could no longer read and again I wished I had Claire’s gift of fire. I wish she were on this adventure with me, no I take that back, I really don’t as she would be so scared and her panic would make me even more afraid. She is a bit of a negabunny as my Gran calls her, negative and never hopeful, kind of the opposite of me. I definitely don’t want to be worried about dealing with that while I am in my own panic.
I scooted up to the keyhole to see what I could see. My view was the same, but the ocean looked dark and scary at dusk. I saw birds, large and white pecking at the ground near to the shore. Maybe one would help me if I can get them to hear me and then actually find me. I start by yelling but not a one even lifted their head. I remembered seeing a trumpet in a box below so I flew down to try to remember which box it was in. By the time I locate it, it is nearly too dark to see. I stuck it out the keyhole and blew as hard as I could, have you ever blown a trumpet? It was not easy to get good sound out of, so it took me a few tries. The birds seemed to have settled down and all had their beaks tucked into their wings. I was just about to blow it again when a large feathered white face peered into the keyhole. I back up quickly as her eye took up the whole of the space. She cocked her head this way and that.
“Well who are you?” She said to me in the nicest of English tones, “and how on earth did you stow away in this old trunk?”
“I am Matilda and I came to be in here quite by accident and I need help to get out.”
“Well how do you plan to escape, you appear altogether too big to get out this hole.”
“Well do you think you could help me?” I ask.
“I don’t see how I can help, I am without a key and my beak is too big to get in there and I’ve no fingers now do I?”
“What is your name?” I inquired, just to keep her talking, it was so soothing to have someone know where I was.
“The name’s Elena isn’t it?”
“I’m very thirsty do you think you could get me a touch of water?”
“Well now that I could manage, I suppose” said Elena as she flew off and I lost sight of her. I felt much more hopeful, a bit of water first then a plan to get me out, I knew there would be a solution. I flew down to find the buckets that I discovered earlier in the day and was just back at the keyhole when Elena appeared. She opened her beak and there in the bottom beak was cool clean water. I reach out the keyhole with one of my buckets and fill it with water.
“I am going to put this on the floor and come right back for more. Please wait” I said. When I return with the next bucket she was ready for me. I fill the bucket and drank from it immediately I was so thirsty, I refilled and flew back down to store it safely below. “I have a plan.” I said when I returned to the keyhole, “Maybe you can push the trunk over and it will break open and I will be able to escape.” That’s my ingenuity at work again.
“Well now that is all fine and good isn’t it, except you will spill your new water and this trunk might as well be a car for all I can push it. You my girl are headed to America and you better get used to the idea.”
“But my Ma and Gran will be so worried. They don’t know where I am.”
“Well now Matilda I think you better tell me your tale.” Elena settled on top of my trunk and I spilled the whole story to her, I talked and talked and talked, my Gran says I have the gift of gab but I think it isn’t a real fairy gift and that she is just joshing me. I was lonely and scared and talking to a giant, friendly white bird did make me feel better. Elena did not say a word and I finally realized that she must have fallen asleep. I crawled into my nest and slept myself. Tomorrow would be another day, another day to figure it all out.
Morning came early to the docks, the sun was not even up when men started arriving with their tea and biscuits, readying themselves for work. I could hear them shooing Elena off my trunk. “Shoo ya filthy bird, off you go now, me mates and I are to load this trunk and ya don’t want to be on it and sail to America I’m thinking.”
I heard her wings flap and she called back to me, “Don’t ya worry girl I won’t leave ya.”
My trunk was tussled and bumped, I could see myself getting closer to the bridge that span the space to the ship. I knew I would figure out how to get out before they put me on that ship as I was sure I was not meant to go to America. But my trunk was now crossing the bridge, oh no, oh no, I need a plan now…… and down some stairs, and up on a pile of boxes and I’m on the ship, I am below stairs and I can see right out the window, to the waves beyond. I am actually on the ship and apparently I am going to America. This can’t be…..
I have 2 buckets of water and a satchel of berries, moss and mushrooms. It will be 5 days before I arrive and have my next chance of escape. But escape to where, I will be in America where I don’t know even a soul. I think it is time to truly panic. I tried to get a panic on but my sunny side kept interrupting reminding me that there is always something positive to every situation.
So I spent the whole of my first day worrying then calming myself, I mean I was getting an adventure wasn’t I. I was just stuck in this trunk and could not witness or enjoy it. I thought about what Aiden would do, but this was expected of him, no one would even worry about him, but my Ma and Gran would be worried sick. If they knew I was OK I would feel better and be able to settle in and enjoy all this potential fun. I wished I had asked Elena to go find my wood and let them all know I was ok.
I kept hearing my Gran saying “If you can’t fix it, deal with it.” I finally came around to the belief that she was right, there is nothing I can do about letting them know I am safe, so instead I would plan to enjoy every day. Well maybe not the first 4 days, it is dark in here and I have to pee! But I must say it is good advice, when you let go of what you can’t control you do relax enough to notice all sorts of opportunities.
Chapter 3 – Across the Ocean
That first night as the tide and waves lulled me to sleep I heard a knocking. I peek out the keyhole to the window and whom do I see but my new friend Elena. She couldn’t open the window but she wanted to let me know I was not alone. I automatically felt better. I dug around in the trunk until I found a piece of rope which I made a lasso out of, my cousin Aiden reads Wild West novels, I spent the whole of the evening trying to lasso the window clasps so that Elena could get in. I finally succeed late into the night and only hope that Elena would try again tomorrow.
In the morning when she reappeared the window was open, I was enjoying the fresh sea air and had emptied a bucket of water and filled it with….. well you know. Elena gracefully emptied it for me and returned it for me to use again. She brought with her some bread that she had found on deck with some pieces of fruit that I have never seen nor tasted but found quite wonderful. She told me that she intended to go to America with me, to make sure I was ok. She begin to tell me her story of how she came to leave London and ended up in Ireland. You see she had a love, and during a storm he was blown to sea. He landed in Ireland and sent her message that he was safe and sound and she should follow. However by the time she arrived he was gone and rumor had it he decided that she was not coming so stowed away on a ship to America, just like me. Her plan was to settle me safely and go off to find him. Edward is his name, and it all sounded quite suspicious to me but being polite and loving the company I did not want to cast doubt on her plans or his integrity.
The days passed slowly, not all the books actually had words, some were blanks, so I read my way through the ones that were actually stories within the first 2 days. I read about heartbreak, hardships and drama and quite decided that all the characters in these books could use the gift of Sun. When I was finished the last book I began to rearrange the dollhouse and decided that I would like to live in such a house with all these fine pieces of furniture, curtains that matched and rugs to cover the floor. I had some favorite pieces and once I found the blankets for the bed, I made up the canopy bed and snuggled in to wait for our landing.
Elena visited me a few times a day and would regal me with tales of her travels and her gallant love Edward. Who sounded like a cad to me. If I had anything with me I would make her a necklace of moonstone so that she could make sure that this was in fact true love. Since she could not fit through the window and could not hold on all day, her visits were short. But each one she brought me some fine snack that she had secured from an abandoned plate above deck and while I ate she would tell me tales and keep my spirits bright.
Each night before I fell asleep I would think about home and wonder how my ma and gran were faring. I was quite sure that they would have my uncles and cousins on the hunt for me. If only I could let them know I was ok I would feel better. Of course this thinking reminded me that if only I had not let my curiosity get the better of me I would not be in this position. This reminded me that negative thinking and regret only leads to feeling worse. It was during one of these cycles of destructive thinking that the pieces fell into place for me. I was reviewing the events that led up to my situation, escorting Aiden to the boundary of the wood, wishing I was brave enough to go with him, kissing him goodbye, and as I watched him leave, asking the universe to help me find my adventure. WAIT, WHAT????? Hold the presses! I Asked the Universe to Help Me have and Adventure????? What was I thinking????
I fell asleep feeling quite indignant that the universe answered my wish in this manner but by morning I woke feeling much more settled. It seems that overnight I had been able to accepted my responsibility in the events of my life, I stopped blaming the weather, my curiosity and the O’Doul’s and once I stopped blaming and took responsibility I felt so much better, so much more in control of where my life was taking me. It was like magic and a great relief to stop blaming and take back some control and power in my life, my sunny attitude reemerged and my predicament became the adventure it was meant to be.
Much sooner than I would have imagined came the day that Elena flew to the window to tell me she could see land. That a huge city rose in the distance and today would be the day we landed. I was so excited at the prospect of getting out of this trunk and stretching my wings and properly seeing my adventure go by. I prayed that little Maisy and Maeve would be on shore and open the trunk right there so I could finally get out. I was hoping that I could hitch a ride to their house and sneak into their home and live in this dollhouse when it was not in use. My Gran would be scandalized to know I was even considering living off of a human but I had fallen in love with this house, the candle sticks, the rugs and the cozy pillows. I know this would be a risk but I felt a need to stay close to something I know, something from my homeland, until I had a plan to get back home.
It took nearly all day for the ship to dock and the freight to be unloaded. I could hear the men organizing all the boxes and trunks, some were being stacked on the deck to be transported to the trains that would head west across America, some were going directly on shore to be loaded onto trucks and brought into the city of Boston. Some were even being loaded on Cahs, which I soon realized meant cars, in Boston speak. Finally all boxes and packages that were in front of and on top of my trunk were distributed to their piles and my trunk was lifted and brought out on deck. I found myself chanting for the pile that was being loaded onto individual cars, I prayed there was a pakked ca, that is, parked car, in Bostonian, waiting for me.
“Yo Cap where’s the trunk headed?”
“Goes on the train, headed west to the prairie, it has a long trip left to go. Stack it on top of that pile and it will be picked up in the morning headed out to Kansas.”
Oh no, Kansas? What is Kansas, what is prairie and a train that sounds like a long trip and would Elena want to go with me and oh no, oh no, ohnoononoono. The final boxes were stacked up, those lucky enough to be headed into the city were off on their trucks and cars. Mine sat stacked 3 high in the open air as dusk fell. I was not sure what had happened to Elena but I settled in with a small snack and a drink and cuddled on my bed covered with quilts determined to keep my spirits up. I must have dozed off cause when I woke to Elena’s squawks it was full dark. “Girl you there? You never believe this, Kansas is way out west, girl you’re headed to the middle of this country, on a train, with stops, that is another 2 days at least. Girl? Matilda? You ok?”
“Oh Elena what am I going to do? I am missing my whole adventure being stuck in here, what am I going to do? I am finally excited about having an adventure and I’m stuck in this, this trunk.” I might have stamped my foot, I do that sometimes.
“You don’t worry, Matilda, I am going to find some help and by tomorrow I will have a plan to get you out so you can have your adventure.”
“OK, you’re right I need to keep my chin up and keep hoping, tomorrow is a new day.” For the first time since boarding the ship I slept in my nest and looked out the keyhole at the moon thinking of home and Aiden and all the adventure that I was missing until I finally fell asleep. If only I had known what tomorrow would bring I might not have been able to sleep. But again Grans advice to take responsibility for what is mine and to stop worrying about things that were out of my control came in quite handy.
Chapter 4 – Land Ho
Morning came quickly and just like in Ireland, started early on the docks, there was a lot of activity and noise but no trunk movement. I washed up, ate and drank, and packed up my satchel with all my things and waited for the big plan to arrive. Finally the men approached the pile of boxes bound for the train, my hopes sunk as I had not heard from Elena all morning, but I kept the faith that she would come through and my adventure would start. The men began chatting and talking about what to move first and where to stack it. Just as they lifted my trunk I heard yelling and flapping and before I knew what was happening my trunk was falling and crashing to the ground. It shook me up enough that it took a minute for me to realize what had happened. Elena and her helpers must have flown at the workers, making them drop the trunk.
I quickly flew around looking for an escape route but to no avail, the top had not broken open, in fact my trunk seemed to be sitting on its top. When the men righted my trunk, everything shifted inside so that I had to duck flying objects, but that is when the lid flew opened and as things tumbled out I flitted free and scurried this way and that trying to get my bearings. The wind on the dock was brisk and I had a time trying to right myself, what with birds flying this way and that, dock workers arms flapping. I could not see Elena so tucked in my chin and headed inland. I was immediately swallowed up in the beak of a large grey bird. Oh no, I was not meant to end my adventure in the stomach of a bird! I kicked and pounded and yelled until finally the bird landed and spat me on the ground. It gave me an awful look, quite disgusted and flew off leaving me sitting in the cool green grass on land with bird slobber in my hair.
On land? I made it, I was free! I danced a bit of a jig right there in the grass, I even plopped down in the cool morning dew and sighed a huge sigh of relief. I was in Boston and I was going to have my adventure. For a moment I realized that I was very far from home and I had lost sight of Elena and I’m sure, she of me. But even that staggering moment of loneliness did not deter me.
It seemed relatively safe to be hidden in the grass seaside for the moment. My Gran would really be disappointed with the loss of manners and all this plopping I was doing. I took my first deep breathe of American air. I realized that I had some choices to make now that I was free. I could hang around until the ship left on its return trip to Ireland, find my way aboard then find my way back to the wood once we landed in Ireland. But what if it did not return to Ireland but went to the next port of call further away still. If it did go right back home the whole of my adventure would be riding to America in a trunk and then back to Ireland in the rafters of a ship. There is no adventure in that and since the universe had gone to all this trouble to arrange this adventure for me I decided to discard this plan. I could follow the trunk and end up in the prairie with Maisy, I don’t know what a prairie is but 2 more days of travel seemed overwhelming and now that I was out of the trunk, I knew that if I never saw that doll house again I would not be sad. First things first I decided, I’m hungry and quite sick of moss. My mushrooms and berries were long gone and Elena’s pickings got scarce towards the end of the trip.
OK, brave heart right? All fairies have brave hearts. I stood up and peered over the top of the grass. There is so much to see, the ocean, which I had not yet gotten a chance to touch, the ship, the tall buildings, streets, cars, trucks, trains and people everywhere. Cities sure are busy. As I let my gaze move up I saw the most amazing bridge, a white bridge, with long sloping wires holding it all in place. Where had I seen that before, it sure looked familiar? The thought left me and I looked up in hopes of seeing Elena but instead I caught a wonderful scent. Follow your nose, my Gran always says.
As you know I don’t have the shape shifting gift and have not often been around people, at Granny O’Doul’s I was always hidden. So I didn’t know what to expect if I venture out of this tall grass. Will I need to sneak, travel at night or can I boldly fly where I chose and people will not even notice me due to my size? I don’t know the answers and am a bit afraid to test it, but my stomach is demanding that I find that smell. I took a deep breath and strutted around a bit in the grass, I picture myself as a damselfly, I hear Aiden’s advice, “If you believe you are a bug, humans will think you are a bug.” Gran always said this was great advice in all areas of life not just for shapeshifting purposes. She says you have to believe in yourself and your dreams, that if you do, nothing will stop you from achieving them. Well my dream is to safely get to that wonderful smell and have myself some lunch.
I took one last deep breath and lifted off. The wind was still brisk here on the shore so I had to concentrate on fighting my way towards the wonderful scents of human food. The closer I got the less the wind was fighting me and I realize that I had forgotten my fear of being seen. I spotted colorful huts and umbrellas with people clustered around ordering food. Aiden says never steal food from humans, go around back and find their leftovers. So I skirt around the little huts.
Just as I round the corner I hear a child say “Mom, did you see that fairy? Did ya?”
“Honey” the Ma replies, “That was just a bug.”
“Can we catch it mom and put it in a jar? Can we?”
Of course I panicked a bit and hurried around the back and nearly smacked, face to face, right into a young boy who was hauling a bag out of the hut. He swatted at me as he threw the bag into the giant metal box. It burst open and food spilled everywhere. I was still thinking about life in a jar so I headed down into the tall grass to hide and catch my breath. As soon as the boy went back into the hut I quietly and carefully made my way into the leftover box. The box was full of fruits, vegetables, meat which we rarely get to eat, breads and rice and other grains. I didn’t know where to start. It all looked so good but there is a smell back here that is not at all pleasing. I decided to find a plate, gather my choices and fly somewhere cleaner to eat. Maybe where I can see the ocean and dip my toes in. I could use a swim as I was feeling quite dirty from this adventure and my clothes were looking a bit worn. Fairies always try to look clean, stylish and presentable and I don’t look any of those things after my long journey.
I found a scrap of plastic and filled it with a variety of fresh options, I even stored a few things in my satchel for later. With a plate full I headed back out front to find a safe place to hide and eat. Maybe I will make my life right here on the dock. That way when I hear of a ship headed for home I can just hop on once I tire of my adventure. I realize that I am being forced to come of age, just not in as planned a manner as Aiden did. I am having to learn independence, discover my confidence and courage and make it on my own. I only hope that I am prepared. I reminded myself that I asked for this so need to make the best of it. That is when I remembered where I had seen that bridge, I guess I was meant to come to America.
I decided to perch atop one of the bright umbrellas, I figure no one will look up there and if they did maybe they would just see an unusual butterfly. Either way it will be too high up for them to catch me. I was just settling in when 2 young women chose the table below my umbrella and begin to eat and chat.
“So, when I was up in Vermont I was driving some back roads between Bristol and Middlebury, an old short cut, and I saw these fabulous fairy houses. I had forgotten all about them.” one of them said.
“Fairy house, what do you mean? And by the way did you bring me some VT Maple Syrup?” the other countered. Well you know my ears perked up, Fairy House? Gran always said there is no coincidence, things are put in your path for a reason, listen up and trust. She says sometimes you just have to take risks when possible doors open for you. If you ignore it the door may lock up and your chance will be lost.
“Yeah my mom sent you fresh eggs, syrup, cheese and of course I stocked up on ice cream. Anyways I remember these houses from when I was a kid, my dad used to drive us that way just to see them but I had forgotten all about them. They are about 3 feet tall and made of stone. They are spread out on an old farm plot that must have been 3 family members who each subdivided and built not only their own homes but each a fairy house too.” I felt a bit deflated, 3 feet tall, those are giants’ houses and I’m not even 4 inches tall. Yikes what if American fairies are the size of Leprechauns? So much for coincidence.
“Anyways when I got back to Boston I immediately started cleaning up my back yard and building a fairy garden for myself. You’ll have to stop over to see it” she continued. “It is not nearly as grand as 3’ stone houses but I got a few bird houses, a dollhouse, I hung some lights out of the tree and on the fence, I’m cultivating moss even. You can check it out when you come for dinner on Friday.” Now this, birdhouses and doll houses, this is sounding more promising I thought.
“Oh Madeline do you think you’re going to cultivate fairies too?” the other joked. “You’re so wicked weid.” That means weird in Bostonian. “How was the Wedding?”
“Just wait till you see it, you’re going to want me to do it at your house. Beau and Tuukka love it. The Wedding was beautiful, right on the shore of Lake Champlain. But I got a bit distracted with the whole fairy thing, I think it will be my next series of books.”
As their conversation moved on to work and friends, I finished my food, and crawled to the edge of the umbrella. I wanted a look at this girl who created a fairy garden. She was cute, dirty blond hair up in a messy bun, well who am I to judge? She had an easy smile and laughed heartily. My gran always said those that laugh the loudest are the healthiest. I wondered if I should follow her home. How far does she live from here? Would there be food available? What is a fairy garden anyway, does it have vegetables and berries and fairies?
Just then the wind blew through and everyone slapped their hands down on their paper plates to keep from losing their lunches. It caught me a bit off guard as I had my beautiful wings stretched out and full after being cramped up for so long. I lost my hold and I tumbled Willy Nilly off the umbrella, smack into the girls’ satchel. Before I could right myself and pull myself out a loud clanging started and in came her huge hand. I had to back deep into the corner of the bag to avoid being grabbed. She pulled out what I now know is a phone and began chatting about dinner plans. I barely avoided getting clobbered by the phone as it was tossed back in and the bag lifted onto her shoulder. I found myself trapped yet again. My adventure was taking another turn and I was stuck inside a satchel and unable to see. Madeline shouldered her bag, said her goodbyes and headed away from the shore.
Wait I was planning to go dip my toes in the ocean after my snack! Aiden would never miss all these opportunities but I kept getting myself into these bad situations. Maybe I was not cut out to be an adventurer.
Chapter 5 – In the Hood
Madeline, who at the time I did not really know, boarded a T, which is Bostonian for train and headed out of the city proper to her neighborhood, which all the cool people seem to call the Hood. I was jostled many times as her phone buzzed and it was dug out and dropped back into the bag. I found many interesting things in the bag that I thought could come in useful but I was afraid to take anything for fear it would come up missing and she would actually look in here and find me. I would be caught for sure.
I found a little pocket that seemed to have nothing more than a forgotten tissue and a sticky piece of gum so I climbed in and hid myself out of the way of her hands. My heart was racing and I was kicking myself for again getting myself into a predicament. The T stopped many times and we even switched to a different T at some point until finally Madeline was shouldering her bag and we were on the move again.
She seemed to know everyone and chatted people up all along the route. I could see nothing, but I could hear it all. I was not sure how I was going to get out of this mess but figured she would eventually throw her bag down and get busy with something else. It was quite hot in there and I was starting to sweat. It was then that I realized again that I had been in the same clothes for a week and I felt dirty and dusty and really wanted a change. I was just feeling sorry for myself when we bounded up some stairs. In came the giant hand rummaging around and pulling out some keys. I heard the jangle of a key, the opening of a door, yikes unexpected barking and the sniffing of dogs!!!!
“Hey Boo, you big old hound dog, how are you? I see you Tuukka, I love you too. Let me put my bag down, why you sniffing it, I have no treats in there for you. Oh I bet you can smell the puppy I petted at the T station. Here let me distract you with a cookie”
Whoa, finally the sniffing stopped, the bag started to swing gently, I peek out to see that it has been hung high on the wall on a hook with the dogs far below. I can see that I am in an entry way, the walls are brightly colored and the dogs butts are wagging away at the hallway table as Madeline finds them a treat. The big hound dog is still looking at the bag with a tipped head and a knowing expression in his eyes, but a cookie is not to be passed up. I have never really known dogs, the O’Doul’s have a herd of sheep dogs but they are not very friendly and are always busy with their chores. They work all the time and rarely do they go in the house as far as I can remember.
Madeline ushered her dogs into the body of the house, and I heard a back door opening and slamming shut, the house went quiet and calm and it seems like it might be a good time for my escape. I zoomed out of the bag and directly up the stairs. Why? I don’t know? It seemed like a good idea at the time and I was a bit panicked. At the top of the stairs was a window that looks out the back and I could see Madeline and the dogs in the back of the yard. The big hound looked right back at me, I scurried backwards and plastered myself against the wall. That is when I noticed 4 doors and decide to peek in. 3 of them are nice neat colorful bedrooms and the fourth a washroom. The house was very still and quiet, so I peeked out the window and darn if that hound doesn’t look right up at me.
There is another set of stairs so I headed up trying to put some distance between me and the dogs. There is only one room at the top of the stairs and it is very messy, perfect, lots of places to hide. The window was open and I could hear Madeline chatting with her dogs out in the yard. “How was your day? Should we take a walk? Do you think any fairies would like to live here?”
Oh yeah, with all of the activity that had happen since falling into Madeline’s purse I forgot about the fairy garden but I didn’t dare look out the window again, I didn’t want to give my hiding place away. I heard them all enter 2 floors below so I dove into a pile of fabric. I heard footsteps of a large dog headed straight up the stairs, sniffing the whole way up. But “Beau, wanna go for a walk?” stopped him and down he went. When the front door shut, the house went silent again and I can finally breathed a sigh of relief.
I flew out and surveyed the room, there was a sink in the corner and I headed straight there to see if bathing would be an option. Sure enough there was a bowl of cold water, just like the pond at home. I will need to wash myself and my clothes which means I will need something to cover myself with while my clothes dry. This room is filled with cool stuff, fabric on shelves, glitter items in jars and dishes, thread, needles, glue. Everything you can imagine. Madeline must like to make things.
I flew from one pile to the next until I had gathered scraps and items to assemble a new outfit, I was quite pleased with my options and excited that I would have something new to wear while I wash out my old. I love clothes you see I am just not really gifted with making them, my Ma always made my clothes at home saying I was all thumbs when it came to fabric. But she is not here and I have no choice but to cobble together an outfit for myself. I am drawn to bright and contrasting colors, which my Ma says clash with my red hair. I sure do miss my Ma.
By the time I was done creating my new outfit however I could hear the door open and the family returning. I dove onto a top shelf with my new clothes and hoped the hound forgot about me.
“What are you doing? What are you sniffing?” I hear one of the dogs say.
“Wasn’t a puppy from the park we were smelling, something is not right. I gotta find it” I peeked out and saw the 2 dogs enter the room, one with its nose working overtime, the other just following along with a happy little bounce in his step and his tail wagging up a storm. I ducked back down and wished I had had a chance to bath, then maybe he would not be able to smell me. “There it is, up there.” I peeked out and sure enough he is looking right at me. How did he do that?
“What is it????” says the little black and white one with the floppy little ears and the constantly wagging tail.
“Don’t know what you are,” he said to me, “never smelled one before, never saw one before.” he said to his little companion, “but you might as well come on out cause we know you’re there.” This was directed back at me by the big, black and tan dog with the long ears and twitching nose.
“Puppy supper time guys, where are you, come on???”
“Oh puppy supper time Beau, that’s us, let’s go, let’s go.” The little one, Tuukka presumably, was hopping around in circles and tugging his big friend by the jowls toward the stairs.
“We’ll be back little person, you can’t hide.”
Little person, what? Fairies are nothing like persons. We are small, we have wings, we have gifts and we can fly. Whatever on earth made him call me a little person? I can’t imagine what the resemblance is. I don’t know what I should do. I don’t dare strip and wash because if they eat fast I will get caught with my pants down. Well I don’t actually wear pants, I like skirts and dresses but I always wanted to say that. I decide I am pretty much stuck until they go out again or the house is asleep. I figured that one of the things he smells is the food that I have in my satchel so I decide it was suppertime for me too.
Before I was even done eating the dogs are back and the hound plants himself right at the foot of the shelves, waiting me out. Tuukka is too anxious, too young and too full of energy to settle so he paces around the room sniffing and playing with everything. A bit of my, “Cool It’, mint tea would calm him down a bit, I can’t help but think.
Eventually Madeline comes up too. “What are you two doing up here anyways? Waiting for me to work in my studio? You’re both acting funny.” She sets to work pulling down some fabric and heating up a gun that squirts glue. “I’m making some things for my fairy garden guys, what do you think? They will need a wheelbarrow, maybe a windmill to generate power, a bird bath. Maybe some curtains, and if we get any fairies to move in I will need to insulate the houses for winter and make sure there is a place to leave food all winter once the garden is cleaned up.” While Madeline chatted away to her pups Beau lifted his head and listened. As some point in her monologue I think it clicked in that maybe I was a fairy because he started to look from her to my spot on the shelf and back again.
She worked until it was quite dark outside. Often she worked quietly and sometimes chatting to her dogs. She answered her phone often and sometimes just hummed. I watched her fascinated as I had only ever been close to Granny O’Doul and her grandsons. Madeline was much brighter, vibrant and happy. She was fun to watch and soothing to listen to. When the moon was fully visible out the window, she stretched and yawned. “Ok you two last trip outside and then its bed time. Come on.” She shut the window, switched off the light and headed down the stairs with Tuukka on her heals. Beau however rose slowly and stretched. “If you are a fairy, you’ll have to find a way to get outside to the garden, because fairies don’t belong in the house.” My Gran would love this guy.
Chapter 6 – In the Garden
When the house finally quieted for the night, I ventured out, the moon was bright and it gave a safe and pleasant glow to the room. Madeline called it her studio. She had washed up before leaving and there was a bowl of warm soapy water in the sink. What a luxury. I stripped quickly, and dove in. It was luxurious. I swam around, dove under and scrubbed away all the grit and grim of my week long journey. I pulled my clothes in and washed those too. For a while I just floated in the warm water and looked out at the moon and thought about this incredible adventure. I wondered how my Ma was holding up, if Gran was telling her “I told you so.” I knew Aiden had been called home to help find me, and probably all 4 local families were on the hunt. I wondered if Elena was looking for me too or if she had found that rake Edward. I wondered if I would ever see home again.
Finally with so much to do I got out of the water and donned my new clothes. I was quite happy with my efforts, the colors were mixed, bright and awesome and worked well with my beautiful wings. The fit was a bit sloppy but I found a cord and made a belt out of it and voila I had a nice stylish blouse dress. I wrapped my wet clothes up and tucked them into my satchel. Once I made it outside I would find a place to dry them. I flew leisurely around the room and collected a few items I thought I might need that would not be missed. Beau was right the house is not a place for a fairy, I needed to get outside.
With my satchel full I headed quietly down the stairs, I could hear the dogs snoring in one of the bedrooms so I hurried past and down the next flight. The front door looked like it would be hard to get out of because there was no place to hide in preparation for it opening other than in Madeline’s bag. I drifted through the house looking for an open window, which apparently you don’t do in Boston. I had not yet seen the rest of the down stairs but soon found myself at the back of the house in the kitchen. My stomach rumbled a bit so I took some time to search out some crumbs. Madeline must like to cook cause there was a plate of muffins, some cookies and some fresh bread, there was fruit too and I made myself a snack and sat down to partake.
“Headed out are you?” Yikes, I had not heard Beau come in, I jumped so high I toppled my snack to the floor. “So are you a fairy?”
“Yes.” I whispered.
“Never seen a fairy, didn’t know what she was talking about these past few weeks. But makes sense now, you are like a tiny human, with wings and really weird clothes.” He said with a curious tilt to his massive head.
“What? We are nothing like humans!” I might even have stamped my foot. “We can fly, we have gifts and we don’t cage humans.”
“Well may be not, but you both have arms and legs and both have messy hair and attitude. Madeline has gifts too, she’s an artist you know? So are you going outside where you belong?”
“OOH she smells better doesn’t she Beau?” chimed in Tuukka who had snuck into the kitchen and was cleaning my snack from the floor.
“So?” asked Beau again.
“Yes, I was just going to have a snack,” I looked down sadly as the last of it disappeared into Tuukka’s mouth. “Then I was going to find my way out if possible, if not I was going to find a place to sleep near a door so I could get out first thing.” I said with as much dignity as I could. Did he just say what I think he said, smelled better indeed.
“Well you can use the dog door and Madeline will put all those left overs out on the stump tomorrow morning for breakfast.” Beau said and nosed a flapping door that was way down near the floor.
“We aren’t allowed to use that at night, Beau, you can’t break the rules.” woofed his buddy.
“I’m not going out, she is.”
I flew down and inspected this door. “Where is the knob?” I asked.
“No knob, just push.” he said as he gave the door a jab with his snout. It swung out a bit and crashed back in. It looked a bit scary to me but I wanted to act brave. I flew nearer and pushed but did not even get a bit of movement.
“I don’t think I’m big enough.”
“Well, I’ll push it and you fly through behind me.” With that, out he went. Tuukka began to squawk if a dog can do such a thing.
“You broke the rules, you broke the rules, come back in before you get caught.” In came Beau.
“Calm down Tuuk, sometimes you have to break the rules to do the right thing, as long as breaking the rules doesn’t hurt anyone and could help someone, it’s OK. Why didn’t you come out?” he asked me.
“The door slammed shut too fast, if it hits me it will squash me like a bug.”
‘Aren’t you a bug?” asked Tuukka with a tilted head and sincere eyes.
“No she’s a fairy. Madeline is getting her wish.”
“Oh please don’t tell her, please don’t tell her.” I begged.
“Cool your jets,” this means calm down apparently, “little fairy, dogs can’t talk to humans. You’re safe. Get on my back and duck your head and I will carry you out.”
“No Beau, you aren’t allowed, you’re breaking the rules, you are breaking the rules.” Tuukka was jumping around at this point his nails clipping out a tattoo on the tile floor. I wish I had some aconite to offer him so he wasn’t so fearful. I wasn’t sure if I dared to ride a dog, I never had done before. The O’Doul’s dogs were loud and rowdy and a bit scary, they would never have offered me a ride.
“Come on, I don’t bite, well I do, but I won’t bite you.” said Beau.
I knew I needed to be brave, from this day on in my life it might just be me, no Gran, no Ma, no Aiden or Uncle Bradon and Aunt Maggie, not even my new friend Elena. Beau and Tuukka might be my only friends. Still I procrastinated, “What kind of name is Tuukka anyways?” I said by way of putting off the dog ride.
“Oh I’m a rat terrier, we’re smart, fast, athletic and loyal.” said Tuukka.
“So you name your rats in Boston and it is a rat name?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“Tuukka is the backup dog, get it a backup dog?” says Beau. “No I can see from you face you don’t get it, guess you have to be a Bruins fan. So are you going to get on or what?”
“Ok, ok” I flew close and he turned himself around so he was facing the door, I lower onto his back and grab hold of his necklace. Tuukka was bouncing around moaning about breaking rules and getting in trouble but Beau seems unconcerned. “OK I have hold of your necklace, go slow please.”
“Necklace, do I look like a human? That my dear, is a collar and all the loved dogs wear them.” He had totally distracted me and when he stopped talking I realized I was already outside and headed towards the back of the lawn. I looked behind and Tuukka was fretting with his head out the door but his feet firmly planted in the house. “Back here is the fairy garden, she has a few houses set up, some more furnished then the others, that to your right is the garden, you can find fruit and vegetables there, I will rummage in the garbage for you whenever I can and bring you bread and grains and cookies. Well maybe I’ll eat the cookies, but don’t worry I can get you anything you need.”
We had stopped at the back fence, from Beau’s back I looked around and saw the most beautiful of sights. In one corner there was a huge old tree offering plenty of shade and protection from the rain, there were bird houses in every little nook and cranny, all the way to the ground where there was mossy floors and a wonderful door that looked like it went to a root dwelling. These are important to a fairy cause although it is fun and cool in the summer months to be swinging from a house in the branches when the cold hits you want to be underground or tucked into a tree trunk quite protected.
There were paths, weaving under large shade plants and bursts of what looked like colorful plants popping up all along the fence. The back fence would provide plenty of protection from anything predatory getting into the back yard. The vegetable garden was just a short jaunt away and the berry bushes just beyond. “OK hop off so I can get back inside before Tuukka bursts his bubbles. I’ll check on you in the morning.”
I flew up, a bit scared for him to leave me out here. “You sure I’ll be safe?”
“Only scary thing out here is the neighbor’s cat, but she is usually in at night, I’ll talk to her in the morning and make sure she knows you are under our protection.” With that he turned and was gone.
With no choice, I flew up to explore the homes that were available. Once I was as high as the highest I looked back and saw Beaus butt disappear into the house. I peeked in the first house and was brought up a bit short when 3 pairs of eyes looked back at me.
“Can I help you?” Hoo, I let out a breath, just a bird mother and her babies.
“No sorry to disturb you so late, just looking for a place to spend the night.”
“Well avoid the nest a level up it belongs to the Squirrels and they are a bit territorial. Nice enough but prickly. The only other dwelling taken is the rabbit hole but I suspect you would not want that anyway, wet with the rains. All the other dwellings are available. Good night dear. Oh by the by, what is your name?”
“I’m Chicky, and this is my brood. Good Night dear.”
“Good night, nice to meet you.” I flew lower down and peeked into every available space I came across. There were many to choose from but with just the moonlight and no fire powers, I decided to just chose a cozy one for the night and decide in the morning. The first one I entered had a hammock with a rug on the floor and a little table. I dropped my bag and fell into the hammock not realizing how tired I was. But then I remembered my wet clothes so I got back up and hung them out around the room in hopes that they would dry out in the night breeze.
It had been a long day at the end of a long week, everything had worked out, nothing as I had planned but it had all worked out. Gran always says “You always get what you need, not always what you think you want.” That certainly was true, I had wanted to be rescued before I was shipped off to America, but in retrospect, everything that I had actually needed, like food, water, help and friendship, had been provided for me. Tomorrow I would have to assess if this would be my new home or if I would try to journey back to Ireland. But right now I just wanted to sleep. I drifted off listening to the night sounds of Boston, there were crickets, an occasional plane and some traffic sounds from the front of the house. I heard what I thought might be a tree toad but I wasn’t sure as I had only ever heard tales of them, never having met one before. Maybe tomorrow I would.
Chapter 7 – Making a Home
In the morning I woke for the first time feeling refreshed and relaxed. I had bathed, I had on new clothes and I had eaten and slept in a safe and dry place. I could hear the dogs’ necklaces, oh right… collars, jangling as they made their rounds in the yard. I wondered about Beau’s comment the night before about all the loved dogs having collars, did this mean that there were unloved dogs in America? This would be a question I would have to remember to ask. Right now I wanted to know more about where I had landed last night.
I peeked out and was amazed at what I saw. The back yard was more lush and beautiful then it had looked in the night. It was so much bigger than it looked from the upstairs windows, it was greener and more full of surprises then I could see by moonlight. From my perch in the branches I could see that there was a bird bath that could serve as my water source, but there was also a spigot and hose attached to the back of the house. The one at the O’Doul farm dripped just enough to get a drink from. There was a partially empty little plastic pond but that would not be of much use to me as the water looked green and gross.
Madeline had a picnic space for entertaining, a clothes line, her gardens, and a tool shed. She had replicated all that for fairies at the base of the tree. There was a clothes line set up, and on the picnic table there were bowls and cups and utensils just like in the doll house. There was even a miniature tool shed. Madeline was setting out the newly created wheelbarrow and windmill, she was watering the moss and all the shade plants at the base of the tree. On a mossy stump sat what looked like breakfast to me, bread and cheese, and some berry tops. The garden looked plentiful, with tomato plants, lettuce, peas and beans, strawberries, black berries just starting to berry and blueberries bushes that would ripen later in the summer. There was an elderberry bush although it was too early to have berries and a crab apple tree. I was so impressed and awed at this lush, compact and peaceful sight that when I heard the loud crocking it nearly undid me. I scurried back into the leaves and hide as best I could.
“Beatrice you little Beasty, get over here right now!” I could only see the top of a grey head on the far side of the fence but I could see that both dogs were headed to the gate to witness the noise. “Go pee and hurry back Beasty, don’t pee there, hey stop, don’t scratch that.” I slipped out and flew high enough to see over the top of the fence and there on the back deck of the house next door was the oldest women I had ever seen. She was wearing a tie dyed house dress with a bandana in her hair, her jewelry was large and shiny and looked to be weighing her down. Her voice was gravelly and deep and hanging out of her mouth was a cigarette with an inch of ash. No wonder her voice was so harsh.
She continued to bleat at her cat who was a long haired wild looking thing and Beasty seemed the perfect name for her. She was huge and did not look overly friendly. Madeline hollered over the fence. “Morning Ethel, how are you this fine day?” Ethel began grumbling about her cat while Madeline watered and hummed away. It was not long before Beasty jumped to the top of the gate and down on to our side of the fence. She spat at Tuukka who jumped back and mumbled “Beast”, he then moved out of her reach. She wove her way around Beau’s legs rubbing her ginger head under his chin. I hoped that he would have his conversation about protecting me now.
While everyone’s attention was turned I flew down and lost myself in the shade plants to see if I could find my way around down here. Madeline had thought of everything including little signs along the path to point to the garden, berry patch, and the pond. I started out by finding the path to the bird bath. Once I made sure that no one was paying any attention to me I closed my eyes, strutted a bit and started thinking myself a damselfly. I then lifted up to the bath with all the confidence in the world that anyone who looked would see nothing but that.
“What, may I inquire, are you?” I was so startled I lost my flight and landed square on my butt on the ground. Before I could scurry back under the cover of the leaves a Crow dropped out of the bird bath and onto the ground next to me. “You look like a human bug.” What was with these Americans? Fairies do not resemble humans!
“I am Matilda and I do not look like a human.” I was about to say I did not look like a bug either, but I had been trying to look like a damselfly so maybe I did. Believe in yourself, right?
“Well then what are you exactly, a bug of undermined origin? One who can speak coherently?”
“I’m a Fairy.” I said
“Well. My, my, my. I have always thought that to be a tall tale. Fairy indeed? I truly thought that fairies, like leprechauns and unicorns were nothing but, well for lack of a better idiom, a fairy tale.” He leaned down quite close to me and sniffed, he inspected my wings and my clothes, even the hole in my shoe. “Stand up please and present yourself?” I stood but did not really know what he expected me to do. He waited, for lack of a better idiom, as if patience were not a virtue. My favorite Gran saying was that patience was its own reward. I had learned that this means when you finally figure out how to be patience the reward is that you stop feeling anxious all the time. But I could not figure out how to use this in an idiom for this crow. “Well?” He said when I did not respond.
“Well what?” I was saved by Chicky who chose that moment to land on the birdbath.
“Good Morning to you Matilda, how did you sleep? Mr. Blue, you’ve met our newest resident?”
“You knew we had a fairy living in our midst? You should have reported it directly Ms. Chick.”
“A Fairy? Well I was wondering what you were, a tiny human with wings was the best I could do when the brood asked.” Again with the human thing! “Are you finding your way around ok Matilda? Have you met the Squirrels, they were up early squabbling again this morning. Then there is the rabbit family, Mr. Blue here, Beasty and oh yeah you’ll meet Major later today.” With that she got herself a drink and lifted up into the air and was gone from sight.
“A chatter box that one, always with a brood, sometimes 2 a season. So tell me about that lovely accent, if I’m not mistaken it is of Irish decent is it not?”
I spent the remainder of the morning getting acquainted with Blue. We started at the birdbath where I refreshed myself and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. He gave me a tour of the garden rows and we feasted on the lower hanging peas and early beans. “Looks like the baby bunnies have started on these, bet we’ll find them in the strawberry patch.” Sure enough a few rows later we came across the cutest family of bunnies, I had never met such young, small bunnies. They giggled and squealed and begged me for a story about fairies, but their mom told them to let me get settled and one day soon I would visit them and teach them all about my world. Blue showed me to “The Stump” where we found some crumbled up muffin, Blue informed me that every day all year long there would be food scraps left on this stump. I made sure to stay on the far side of him so if Madeline looked over she would see only a crow.
Blue was quite intelligent, and well read, he seemed to be well travelled but had never met a fairy. I found out later however, that he had never traveled beyond the boundaries of the greater Boston area, however his favorite place to hang out was the library where he learned about everything from book discussions that he overheard. He wanted to know everything he could find out about me, but I wanted to check out all the houses, choose one and get settled. I pleaded exhaustion from my journey and promised to meet him for dinner.
I wanted to see what Madeline had in her herb gardens so that I could make some healing teas and poultices if needed. I wandered out of the garden and back past the birdbath and under the plants and bumped smack into Madeline’s sneaker! She was leaning over fiddling with a cord. I scurried backwards and took refuge under a big droopy leaf to watch and wait for a better time to head back to the tree. Beau and Tuukka soon settled down to watch and I inched over to say hello, I wanted to make sure that Beasty would not eat me as cats are wont to do.
“Looks like you are getting a goldfish pond today, Matilda. Madeline just secured a promise from Beasty that she would not eat them this year. You notice Tuukka she did not promise not to chase them?”
“Did she promise not to chase me?” I asked.
“She won’t eat you.” Beau replied, “Have you picked a house out yet.” I did notice he did not add that she promised not to chase me.
“Well no, I got involved in meeting all the new neighbors, getting a tour of the gardens and was just headed back to scope out the house choices. I met Chicky, the rabbits, heard about the squabbling squirrels and had a nice breakfast with Blue.”
“Then you’ve met everyone but Major & Beasty. I suggest when you meet her you call her Beatrice or Ginger either of which she likes better then Beasty.” Beau said, Tuukka had already lost interest and was sniffing down the rows of the berry patch.
“Tuukka, there is no chasing the bunnies please.” Madeline said as she dusted off her knees and hands. “OK guys I’m headed out to buy fish for this pond and food for tonight’s party, be good and make sure Beasty doesn’t come wreck my new pond now that I have it all cleaned out and running.” With that she was off. I ventured out to inspect this pond. It was quite large and set back against the fence and partially hidden by the shade plants. She had changed the water and plugged in a cord and the pond was bubbling quite nicely.
“Last summer she put in this gold fish pond, but Beasty kept coming over and catching the fish. Madeline gave up when she started to feel like she was just sacrificing the poor things. But with her new fairy garden she has decided to try again. Tuukka and I will have to be on guard to make sure Beasty gets the message.”
“Oh I can help with that too, I want to help.” I said, and yawned, I was pretty beat and was feeling that if I didn’t nap soon I would surely fall right in that little pond, I did not know about time change and jet lag and its effects on you at that time in my life. “I think I’ll go house hunting and take a nap.” I said
“Hop on my back and I will get you to the tree, you have had a busy few day and do look quite tired.” When we got back to the tree I thanked Beau and flew up to the house I had left my satchel in. It was cozy and I loved the little hammock but I decided if I was going to staying for a while I might as well look at all choices. This house was high up and gave me a great view of the yard and a bit of Ethel’s yard also. But the next one down had a great porch that would be perfect for entertaining, well if I knew any fairies to invite by that is. My I did not realize how lonely I was, I had been so busy on my adventure and met such nice creatures that I had not had much time to realize my loneliness. Well no time to dwell on that now, I need a nap, a house and a meal to fed Blue this evening, in that order. I returned to the house, plunked down in the hammock and promptly fell asleep.
I woke to Madeline’s singing and peeked out my window to see what she was about. I could not see her from here so I flew out of the house and down around the tree, I was peeking down and had just caught sight of her kneeling at the edge of the pond when I saw it. It looked like a dollhouse! It was tucked up safe and sound in a nook of the tree on the Southside. It was beautiful, I flew up and from its front porch I could see the whole of the back yard, I could see the fish pond, which now had 2 orange and white fish swimming in it being admired by Madeline and the pups. Tuukka so interested that Madeline was holding his collar to keep him from jumping right in. When I peeked in the window of the house I realized that it was actually a house on the front of a hole in the trunk of the tree, so it went quite far back. The floors were the hardwood maple of the tree itself, I could see a kitchen with sink, and table and cupboards. A sitting room with curtains and a couch and chair, there were stairs going up and I followed them to an upper window and found a beautiful bed room complete with a canopy bed, a quilt and about a million pillows. The room even had an upper door that opened to a smaller deck. It occurred to me that this could belong to someone else who was out of town at the moment. Major maybe. So I flew up to find Chicky sitting her brood.
“Chicky that house that is tucked around the corner with the great porch, who does that belong to?”
“No one dear, Major just finished work on it and Madeline was up on a ladder the next day prettying it up. I’m sure it is still available.”
I returned to the perfect house and tried the door. When I entered I noticed it smelled a bit musty and needed an airing out. I opened all the windows on the bottom floor and a nice breeze blew through. The front sitting room was nicely appointed with rugs and curtains and seating as well as plenty of windows to let in the light. It opened right into the kitchen which was an open design with cupboards, a table and chairs as well as plenty of working room. A small powder room was built into the trunk to the left of the kitchen area. Behind the kitchen was a large room that was actually built into the trunk of the tree, this would be the winter sitting room, away from drafts it would be warmer and snug. It however was completely empty. There was a back stairway that led down into the tree, probably a second exit route, and up to a large back bed room which was also empty. In the hallway upstairs was plenty of storage, a second powder room complete with a mirror. I had never ever owned a mirror, I was so excited. The front bedroom like the summer sitting room was complete with bed, rugs, curtains, pillows and quilts.
My tour of the house complete I went in search of items that I might need. First to the tool shed at the base of the tree, where I found a broom, extra bolts of wool and flannel fabrics, candle holders and candles, extra buckets, and an assortment of items I knew I would eventually use. I made numerous trips to my home with the items I wanted to use and each trip back down scoped out the empty houses for extra furniture for my winter rooms. I moved some chairs, some paintings, the hammock and a table or two but most of the items were just too large for me to manage on my own.
Chicky offered to introduce me to “Those bickering Squirrels.” Sure that they would help me get the larger pieces into my new home. She warned me that they always seemed a bit angry but were perfectly friendly. I understood her meaning as we approached their nest. We could hear them bickering from outside. If I could find a bit of carnelian to offer as a gift for their nesting place it may help to calm some of that argumentativeness. They were happy to make my acquaintance, well maybe not happy, but overjoyed, no not the right word….. These are the things they bickered about. During the afternoon of moving they argued about which piece to move first, which route to take, who should walk backwards, where to put the piece down and even what each piece was called, a couch or a divan. But within a short time I had my winter rooms full of furniture and had started to braid myself a rug out of the wools to cozy it up. Before they left I invited them to dinner as a thank you and asked them to invite Chicky on their way back up the tree. I mentioned that if Major was back he would be welcome too.
I cleaned up my projects and went in search of dinner appropriate for birds, squirrels and fairies. I did not know what type of creature Major was but hoped he could find appropriate fare with the spread I put out. I slipped down just before dusk to let Beau and Tuukka know that I had met everyone but Beasty and that she had not made an appearance all day. I wanted to thank them both and let them know that even though I could not entertain them in the tree I appreciated their kindness. Madeline was busy setting a large outdoor table and her grill smelled wonderful. She was chatting to her pups the whole time and never noticed a little fairy flitting about. Just as I was heading back to my tree I heard her say, “Let’s put on the fairy lights.” I stopped midair and turned in time to watch her flip a switch. When I turned back around the whole of the back yard including my tree was trimmed with the tiniest of white lights. They twinkled and glowed and I was charmed. I would entertain in style.
Major turned out to be a woodpecker. He had taken a day or two off after completing construction on my home while Madeline put the finishing touches on it, he was quite pleased with the outcome. He was a bit stiff early in the evening being of military background, but soon loosened up and joked and teased all in attendance. The squirrels never stopped bickering but interspersed their ongoing dialog with compliments about the food and the lights and Majors newest construction project in the yard behind our fence, which they had checked out earlier in the day on a nut collecting jaunt. Chicky was the first to leave, not wanting to leave her brood too long, Major escorted her home and the squirrels soon followed. Blue helped me clean up then the two of us sat and watched Madeline’s’ company laugh and enjoy their evening.
“Well Matilda, you have done quite well building your new home in such a short amount of time. You seemed quite settled in.”
Blue must have noticed my slight frown in the glow of the fairy lights.
“What is the matter, you seem a bit sad.”
“I feel a little torn Blue, you see half of me wants to go home and see my Ma and Gran and let them know I am OK, but the other half of me loves this new adventure I am on. Who wouldn’t love this garden in all its charm? Going home seems like an overwhelming task, staying here almost easier. But I will get lonely being the only fairy and even though you have all been so welcoming I will need friends of my own kind. I just don’t know what I should do or how I should feel.”
“I certainly do not want you to go home that is for sure. You are the only other intelligent being in this whole yard! What can I do to make you want stay?” said Blue
“Blue everyone here has been wonderful!”
“Don’t get me started, Matilda.” With no encouragement from me he did get started. I really found out Blues true colors. I wished I had access to Grans stones because he could use some sodalite to absorb his sarcasm and negativity. “Chicky, nice girl, good mom but really she is so scatterbrained she never finishes a sentence. Major he is kind of basic don’t you think? The squirrels, really no need to say more, the Bunnies too busy being parents to talk or think about anything else. Beasty, her name says it all and that Beau, if he can’t smell it, it doesn’t exist, Tuukka can’t stop prancing long enough to think much less hold a conversation. Really I can’t think of one neighbor worth spending time with other then you. Yes they are all nice but nice does not cut it as companions to keep you occupied through the long winter months. I have to go hang out at the library to find intelligent conversation, in fact I have thought about relocating entirely but I was raised here and live in my family tree.”
Well hearing his tirade my gift immediately kicked in. “Blue, shame on you, Chicky is busy with her brood, she is a good Ma and she still takes time to make sure that everyone in the yard is cared for and connected. Major has a sense of humor, he is industrious and gallant. Parents should be focused on parenting and obviously the bunnies are good at what they do as all those little guys were perfectly well behaved today when I met them. Beau and Tuukka are wonderful, helpful, honest, protective and most of all inclusive, they made me feel right at home and part of the family. The Squirrels, well they never let conversation lapses occur so your party has no awkward silences and they are helpful. I can’t speak for Beasty or Ginger, not having met her but she is impressive looking.”
“Well little Miss Sunshine, don’t you just see the good in everyone. I grant you all the attributes you brought up but none of that will keep you warm come the long winter.”
“Unfortunately Blue, neither will you because you don’t fit into my new home.”
With that we sat in silence and watched Madeline’s party start to break up. “Well, I’ve an idea.” said Blue. “Make a list of all you would like to see and experience here in Boston and I will make a list of all the things I think you should see too, things that will impress you and make you want to stay. While we explore we will try to formulate a plan to attract some friends to this beautiful if intellectually stunted neighborhood. Deal?”
“Deal.” I said, I knew deep in my heart already that I would not be going home. “I’d like to also formulate a plan to get a message to my family so they can stop worrying that I am in a jar on a shelf somewhere.”
“Fine idea, I will meet you here tomorrow at 9AM sharp and we will adventure.” With that he flew up into the tree and across the yard towards the front where I assume his family tree must be.
Chapter 8 – Making Plans
I loved my new bedroom! The canopy blew lightly in the breeze from the window, I could hear the leaves rustling in the wind, and occasionally I could hear a morning dove coo softly somewhere nearby. When the wind blew just right it would move the leaves and the moon would be visible. I did not fall right to sleep. I warmed myself a drink on a fairy light that had been woven into my kitchen window and sat in my window seat in the front bedroom and just contemplated my life. At some point this evening I knew that I would not try to get home to Ireland. At least not right away, I would make this my new home. Along with that realization came some sadness that I would not see my Ma or Gran anytime soon. That Aiden and I would not raise our children together and that I would be forgotten by Claire and my crew within the year.
The life I assumed I would have was not to be. For some reason it was sent off on this tangent, this adventure, this journey. Well OK not for some reason, because I had asked for a bit of a push. If my gran was right, there was a reason for everything. I did not know what I was meant to learn or meant to do in my life but here I was and I needed to make the best of it. Blue was right I had 2 priorities that I needed to plan for. First was to figure out how to get a message home so that they would not worry and maybe, just maybe finding that means might provide me with the ability to always stay in contact with my family. The second priority was to find fairy friends. I knew I could not be the only fairy in Boston. As I have told you most fairies chose not to live near humans and fairy life is more abundant in the country. But there had to be some living in Boston, this city was so much larger than Kilkenny where Aiden lived.
There were not many fairies in Kilkenny but he knew of at least 3 conclaves of them and his consisted of 3. He had a friend named Collin, who was about his own age, his family had been swept away in a storm and only he remained. He came to Kilkenny quite by accident and bumped into Aiden, the two of them found lodging together and soon discovered and aged Fairy Grandfather living quite near. They all helped each other out and occasionally they would head across the town to an enclave of about 5 fairies all of a family. Apparently the Da was a wonderer and when his wife passed he moved himself and his 4 kids into the village. Aiden had heard tales of a third in Kilkenny but had never gone looking for them as they were purported to be quite rough and untrustworthy.
So I figured it only made sense that a city the size of Boston must have some fairies living within its boundaries. I could not face life alone, I maybe could make it through one winter with no company but felt quite sure that come spring I would be looking for passage home. My eyes finally became too heavy to keep open and I curled into bed and was soon asleep.
I woke in the morning to Chicky singing above me and the water sprinkler below. I rose and stretched and dug my toes into my nice lush rug. This really was the most beautiful home. Breakfast was left overs and a quick trip to the bird bath to wash up and say hello to Beau and Tuukka. I was back and changed into a new outfit when Blue showed up. “What do we conquer first?” He asked.
“Well I was thinking that one thing I did not get the opportunity to do was meet the ocean. I traveled all the way here on top of it but never once touched it. I was thinking a trip to the shore, lunch in one of the food huts and maybe I could see my friend Elena who helped me to escape my trunk. She may be headed back to Ireland and willing to carry a message home.”
“Sounds like a plan. Let’s head to North Shore, the beach is nice and not as busy as the port you would have arrived in. I realize your friend may not be there but if our plan is to show you the sights let’s see one you have not yet seen. How do you prefer to travel on your own or on my back?”
“Well it would depend on how far it is. I suspect that long distance for me is a quick jaunt for you.”
“Then hop on and let’s get started.” Blue was a perfect tour guide. He knew every building and park and pond. He educated me about the history as well as things to avoid if I ventured out on my own. We stopped at a few of his favorite places and he introduced me to his friends. Well I should say he showed me off, none had ever actually met a Fairy. I found this a bit discouraging as it only reassured me that finding fairy friends would be a challenge. Soon I could smell the sea and it quickly came into view.
“We should have a plan in case anyone spots you.” said Blue. “If you think you are in danger of being caught and inspected fly straight up in the air and try to get at least 10’ up, no one could reach you there. I will fly at them and distract them then meet you at the 10’ mark and fly you to safety.” With those instructions he began dropping in altitude and aiming for a patch of grass that abutted the sand and sea. Before jumping off his back I removed my shoes and tucked them into my satchel. When my feet hit the warm sand I thought I was in heaven. We had found a pretty secluded spot on the edge of the sea grass where humans did not seem to want to be. For us it was perfect, the little sand flees that the humans were avoiding were a perfect snack for Blue and the sea grass was good camouflage for me. I felt the waves for the first time, I tasted the salty water and got a bit dizzy as the waves washed the sand from under my feet. The water was chilly but refreshing. I scrutinized every sea bird but did not see Elena. I wondered if she was still chasing Edward around the globe.
Blue and I spent most of the morning in our spot but as the sun rose to full height I began to worry about my skin as I had not brought a hat, in fact I no longer owned one, I would have to search the tool shed for something to use to make myself some protection from the sun. I should whip up a lotion of aloe as well, maybe Madeline had a plant in her sun room. My family had an aloe plant that had been procured many years earlier and was babied and nurtured through the generations due to its usefulness. I had seen many plants growing in Madeline’s house during my late night tour my first day there, I was hoping aloe would be among them and that I would find the courage to enter the house again and get myself a clipping.
When Blue and I were ready for some real food, fairies don’t eat little fleas, we headed to the food huts and perused the left over boxes in the back. We each made our choices and I put them in my satchel. Blue knew of a nice park on our way home that was shady and cool that he thought I should be acquainted with. We found a spot near the fountain and settled under a shade plant and ate our snack. We talked about ideas of how to get the word out that we were looking for fairies and a currier to take a message to my home. We both fell asleep with full bellies in our shady spot.
When we woke it had grown quite overcast, there was a chill wind and rain was in the air. I was just about to mount Blues back when I spotted what looked like a fairy scurry deeper into a tunnel of overgrowth on the far side of the fountain. I immediately turned and dove in after her. I saw her transform from a little chubby old grandmother fairy to a leaf. I could just make out the edges of her shape shift. Remember I have a cousin and an uncle who can shapeshift I have seen it enough to recognize the blurry edges as not quite real. “Hello, Grandmother Fairy.” A polite young fairy always addresses unknown elders as Grandmother or Grandfather. When she did not re-form into her fairy self I tried again. “Grandmother, I saw you shift, I can see your outline against the leaves. I have family with the shapeshifting gift you see.” Still there was nothing, no movement, no response. I was just about to try again when Blue stuck his head into the tunnel.
“What are doing? I thought you were right behind me, hurry up it is going to rain and rain hard and we have a bit of a journey to get back to your fairy garden.”
“I can’t leave, I saw a Grandmother Fairy, Blue, but she seems too scared and won’t show herself to me.” Blue peered past me and cocked his head. “Tilly I don’t see anything, I think you’re just lonely, come on let’s go home.” No one had called me Tilly since I last saw Aiden, it made me feel a bit sad but a bit more determined too.
“Grandmother, I’m lonely, I got here quite by accident all the way from Ireland on a ship and I am far from home and could really use a friend.” Still no movement, no sound, the longer my eyes adjusted the clearer her imprint looked to me, I could see she was older and a bit round, that her clothes looked ragged. I was just going to try again when there was a big boom of thunder. It shook the tunnel of leaves and in her fright she lost her cover and I saw her quite clearly.
“Matilda it is time to go now or you won’t make it home tonight. Let’s go.”
I just caught her eye when she faded back into a leaf and was gone again. “Grandmother if you need a safe place to stay I have a beautiful garden with many dwellings to choose from or you could stay with me. Please show yourself to me.” There was another long rumble of thunder and I turned back to Blue, I knew we had to leave but I wanted her to come with me.
“Get on Matilda, we can come back tomorrow and you can look for fairies again, but let’s get home safe tonight.” I reluctantly got on his back and as we flew away I looked back and saw Grandmother Fairy peeking out of the tunnel at me through the misty rain.
The next morning I was up early and I had a plan. I would go back to the park and make sure that Grandmother saw me then slowly lead her back here to the garden. I wished I had a chunk of rose quartz to offer to help sooth her fears. I first arranged one of the furthest houses for her as I thought if she was that scared she might want to settle on the far side of the garden. I swept it out and got the squirrels to move some furniture into it for me. I laid a rug and curtains and put some quilts and pillows on the bed and couch. I left the windows open to air it out then went in search of food. With a full satchel I set off to find Blue to talk him into taking me back to the park.
On the way across the yard I heard Madeline ask the dogs if they wanted to go to the park. Whoo Hoo I could get a free ride and escort to the park, I was not sure if I could find it on my own without Blue. I asked Beau for a ride and he told me to tuck myself in behind his big ears so I was hidden and we set off. I found that their pace was quite slow with all the stopping and marking of territory that 2 male dogs will do, so soon I lifted away from him and flitted up high above eye level ducking into the leaves and branches of trees while following close enough not to get lost.
Madeline chatted to her dogs the whole way there, she stopped and chatted to her neighbors and the store owners we passed, even to the mailman. I did not think we would ever get there. It also looked very different getting there by foot and I worried that I had joined a journey to an entirely different park. When we finally arrived I told Beau I was going to fly up high to see what I could see. Sure enough there was the fountain, it was the same park and my heart felt quite light and excited. I headed straight there and found the tunnel of leaves but it was empty. Oh no what was I going to do? I flew around the park keeping my eyes on Beau and Tuukka so I would not miss my escort home. I investigated every tree, nest and root dwelling in the park. I met a family of chipmunks. I had never seen one before and thought them to be just small squirrels but they were quite chatty and educated me about the difference between the 2 species.
I never caught sight of another fairy. I was feeling better though just knowing that there were other fairies in Boston, and if this particular fairy did not want to meet me at least I now knew that there were some around. When I saw Beau looking about for me I knew it was time to head back. I flew down and told him I needed to learn my way here so would follow them from high above to see if I could find a more direct route. This gave me a much better view of the neighborhood and even allowed me to take a few shortcuts over houses, I learned that I could get to this park quite quickly and it would be a good place for me to extend my home area too. When we neared the house I swooped in and gave the pups a smile and a thumbs up so they knew I made it home.
When I got through the leaves towards my house what did I see but the infamous Beasty, sitting on a branch with her paw in my door. I felt a bit put out by this and knew that I needed to take a stand with her, be firm but also keep my distance until I could feel her out a bit. Cats can be hard to deal with, sometimes they just leap and swallow without a “how do you do.”
I found a spot a little higher up, just out or her reach and at an angle where she could not easily leap at me. I struck a pose as Gran would say and I cleared my throat quite loudly. She turned too fast she lost her balance and had to claw the branch and right herself. “You scared me nearly to death, what do you think you are doing?” she demanded in quite a hostile manner, if I could get her to drink some mint tea it might calm her temper and attitude a bit. I know that Cat Nip is part of the mint family but I had not seen any in Madeline’s garden. I vowed to hunt some down and develop a “Cool Cat’ blend to test out.
Be brave when dealing with felines is the rule. “What do you think you are doing? Your paw was rummaging around in my house where you have no business at all, and don’t fit. Now clean yourself up and present yourself!” I still did not know what this meant but I liked the sound of it.
“You, young lady do not tell me what to do, I am larger then you and have been in residence longer. You are a trespasser and I want you to vacate this house immediately.” She hissed, a definite bully this one was and not very nice.
“I do believe that you reside in the next yard, do you not? That would make you the trespasser, now I know Beau allows you to enter his property so I won’t ask you to leave the yard but do leave my home IMMEDIATELY!” Just then I heard Ethel croaking from her yard.
“Beasty, where are you, come home right now.”
“You’re mommy is calling you, your outdoor time seems to have expired. See you tomorrow?” I tried to say all of this with a firm but friendly tone, if you can make friends with a cat that is always the best option.
“Hisssss…….” And down she went. I watched her all the way to her back yard and did not feel great about the encounter. I don’t think we made friends but at least she knows I am not a pushover.
I went into my house and tidied a bit as I had run out early this morning and she had mussed up what she could reach, I snacked and decided it was time for me to meet my new fish neighbors. I know that fish are a bit skittish, that shadows on the water can scare them, so I found a shady place where my movement wouldn’t be noticed and sat to wait for them to surface. I was quite quickly joined by Tuukka, “Hi, how are you, did you have fun at the park today? I love the park, I like to chase the squirrels and the birds and the chipmunks and the fairies. But I like to come home too because….”
“What did you say Tuuk, the fairies, you like to chase fairies?”
“Well sure, not to hurt em, but just to chase them, you know like a game of tag?”
“But I thought I was the first fairy you had ever met and you haven’t chased me.”
“You are the first but I met one at the park today and I chased her a little but she kept disappearing.”
“Where, where did you see her?”
“At the park, duh.”
“I know, but where at the park, I saw her yesterday too in a tunnel of leaves by the fountain but I couldn’t find her today. I want to make friends with her and invite her to come back here to live, the park is no place to live, too many people and dogs, well no offense.”
“None taken. She was over by the trash cans, I think she was food hunting. I can be patient.” He must have seen my surprised look because he said “Please, when a rat terrier is on the hunt he can be more patient then a saint, for lack of a better idiom as Blue would say.” This made me chuckle as Blue was certain that the dogs held no intelligence at all. “Anyways as I was saying I can be quite patient and quiet when on the hunt and she seemed to just appear and disappear, first she wasn’t there and I was waiting for her to come back but then all of a sudden she was back right before my eyes.”
“She is a shape shifter, it is a fairy gift and she can turn herself into things in order to hide. We need a plan to get her to trust us so she will talk to me. First off, you can’t chase her, OK?”
“Sure, sure. But how will we catch her?
“With kindness of course.” Just as I said this a fish surfaced and peeked out at us, I could feel Tuukka vibrating with excitement, “Patience little hunter.” I reminded him. Then I proceeded to show him how to make friends with kindness. I had brought some stale bread and began feeding the 2 fish as I spoke softly and soothingly. I do not know how to talk to fish, but I have a cousin who claims to have that gift. But they learned that neither Tuukka nor I were a threat and from that day forward always surfaced to greet us and welcomed us into their pond.
The next morning I rose early, tidied my home, tidied myself and flew to the front yard trees to see if Blue wanted to come with me to the park. I had a plan and he would be the perfect partner in crime. He was pruning his feathers when I arrived but agreed to accompany me. “I am trying to learn my way around so I am more self-sufficient Blue, would you mind if I lead the way today to see if I can find my way there?”
“Absolutely, excellent idea, now let’s hear your plan.”
We set off and I began to explain. “First I have to scope her out, yesterday she was around the trash bin looking for food, then I thought we could settle near her, close enough that she can hear us and we will just talk to each other about our lovely home and all the vacancies, the abundant food and the safe environment. She will hear how wonderful it is and either show herself or follow us home.”
“Good plan but we don’t really know what will motivate or inspire her. Lots of vacancies might tell her that it is not a good neighborhood.” He had a point and if she was shape shifted I would not be able to read her reactions and facial expressions.
“You’re right, let’s keep it basic, inviting and fun.”
“Now all we have to do is find her and sit within earshot, which might not be as easy as you think.”
It was early and the park not yet too busy. We decided the fountain was the place to start and headed there settling under the shade leaves where we could see the water and the tunnel I had first spotted her in. I snuck closer and looked in and sure enough, there she was with her back to me. I could see that her clothes fit her poorly and were in poor repair. Every fairy likes color and fashion and her fashion looked way out of fashion, old and dingy. She smelled a bit like Ethel. I had found one motivator. I could also see that the ground was quite wet in the tunnel, probably from the splashing of kid and dogs in the fountain. Messy floors might also be motivation to find a clean dry home. I backed out of the tunnel. Settled near Blue and cleared my throat.
“Blue I am so happy that I found the Fairy Garden, I love my nice clean house with its dry floors, the rooms are so airy and having the back rooms will be cozy come winter.” Blue didn’t miss a beat. “I know and I love the curtains and rugs you made out of the fabric that Madeline left you in the shed. I meant to compliment you on your daily new outfit as well, you sure are a good seamstress.” I had to roll my eyes at this, knowing I am not.
“Why thank you, there are so many options available in the shed to make clothes and additions for my house. Don’t even get me started on the food availability.” I noticed some movement out of my peripheral vision and thought it might be my fairy friend shape shifted into a leaf, it seemed to be one of her go tos.
“I know we never go hungry at Madeline’s. If she isn’t leaving us food, the garden is so plentiful and in the winter, which you have not yet experienced in the garden, she always makes sure that there is food for every meal.” I flitted up in the sky hoping I could get her to follow us toward home in order to hear more of our conversation. I flew up to the next tree and turned my back on her hiding spot. Blue followed.
“Let me know if you see any movement Blue, see if she tries to come closer to hear us, if so we can lure her all the way home. Don’t be fooled though she can shape shift.”
“There is a damselfly coming from that direction, keep talking.”
“I think the best thing about the garden is how safe I feel there, my house is up in the tree and I have a back route out of it through the trunk if I need it. The fence that goes all the way around keeps out the riff raff and is like a security blanket.”
“Being so close to this park is awesome too because you can keep coming here and hopefully meet other fairies so you aren’t so lonely.” Blue looked me in the eye very intently, I am not sure if it was cause he felt he went too far or he was sure she was there listening.
“Well we have probably been at the park long enough today, I have not seen any sign of fairies and I am quite hungry. I noticed the strawberries were looking ripe and I want to collect a pea and tomato for my dinner. Shall we go?”
“Good idea my dear, let’s take our time and stop to smell the roses, shall we?”
“Brilliant!” I said. We lifted off and floated down to the cape roses that grew in abundance in Boston parks. I dove right in and turned with the leaves protecting me from view to see if I could tell if she was following. Sure enough I saw her transform from a leaf in the tree we had just left to a damselfly and head to our bush. Just as she got close I rose out of the bush and hollered to Blue, “Race you to the playground.” The playground is on the edge of the park and it is just a short flight over two streets worth of house to get to Madeline’s. If she got that far I figured she would come the rest of the way. I knew I would have to be patient once back in the garden so I did not frighten her off. We sat on top of the swing set for a time pretending to watch the kids but really we had our eyes peeled for a damselfly. When one alit on the frame of the slide next to our swing set we gave it one last shot. “OK I’m ready Blue, no looking back, let’s forge ahead and get some lunch.” We set off at a relatively slow pace but steady and directly headed for home. I had no idea if she followed but when we hit Blues tree he made a show of saying goodbye while heading into his tree. I continued to the back yard and down into the berry bushes. I got myself a berry and a pea and a small tomato and headed through the shade plants towards my home tree to wait to see if anything happened.
I waited nearly all afternoon and never saw any shape shifting movement around the yard. In the late afternoon Madeline must have come home and the dogs came out to get some fresh air and exercise. Beau came trotting out and stopped dead in the center of the lawn, I saw him catch a scent and try to follow it with his nose. He ended up at the back fence sniffing up into the bittersweet vine that wove itself up the fence and into the bushes. I assumed that meant that my new friend had arrived but I was worried that his intensity would scare my new fairy companion so I flew down to say hello.
“I think you have a visitor Matilda.” He said when I arrived at his side. “She smells a bit ripe, old maybe and like Ethel next door.”
“Well let’s not scare her Beau. Now that we know she is here let’s see if we can help her feel welcomed.”
“Well if she was listening we could tell her that the dwelling at the root of the big maple is clean and dry and quite large and everything she needs is quite close at hand.”
“Or if she was listening I could tell her that there is a bird house near the top of the pine on the far side of the garden that she may prefer if she just doesn’t like to be around others.” I chimed in.
“Well if she doesn’t like to be around others why is she here in our garden?” Beau asked. I knew he was right to ask it but did not want her to feel pressured and leave.
“Let’s go say hi to the fish shall we Beau?” He mumbled all the way to the pond about unfriendly fairies and said he did not really like the way she smelled. But I was patient and asked him just to keep is nose on her so I knew where she was. I spent the remainder of the day making myself as non-threatening and visible as possible. As evening fell I sat out on my porch and played with a little guitar that Madeline had added to my tool shed. My cousin Aiden played but I had never learned so it did not sound like much. I was just about to give up waiting when I noticed Grandmother Fairy blending into the leaves at the edge of my porch.
“Grandmother, I know you are afraid, or not friendly but I want you to know that you are welcome here, I have a spare bed room if you would like to use it or you can find plenty of houses up and down this tree that you are welcome to use, the only one currently in use is the one at the top.” I got no response so I sat quietly and hummed until I decided that I had done all I could and I might as well go to sleep. I got up and stretched and had my hand on my door knob when I heard an Ethel like voice, “I like others.” I turned and hidden in the leaves was Grandmother.
“Come in and have a warm cup of my ‘Slumber Deep’ tea Grandmother.” I turned and walked into my home leaving the door open for her to come in at her own pace. By the time I returned with 2 cups of tea she was huddled in a chair in the corner of the room. “I’m Matilda, I hail from outside of Kilkenny.”
“I am Greta, a very long time ago I was from outside of Galway, do ya know it?”
“I’ve never been, it is a long way north of my wood but we had neighbors whose family came from up that way. The O’Brien’s.”
“Ah well there are enough of those aren’t there?”
She took the tea and the cake that I put on the table next to her and settled a bit more comfortably in the chair. “How did you get here to Boston?”
“It’s a long and sad tale, one too long and sad for a dark night like tonight. But on the morrow when the sun comes up I will tell you my story.” I made small talk about all the creatures, Madeline and her craft room, and the new life I was making for myself while she finished her snack. When she was done I asked if she would like to stay in one of my bedrooms or find a house for herself. “Tonight I would like bath, and to take off these ancient clothes that no longer fit me. If I may sleep in the safety of your home, on the morrow I will decide what I need to do for my future.”
I brought her to the bird bath and while she bathed I raided the tool shed for fabrics for an outfit for her. I met her back there with a nice piece of flannel to dry herself with and wrap up in and we headed back to my home. We spent about an hour making her a night gown of soft materials and an outfit for her to put on tomorrow, one that would fit her less snugly and be more comfortable and fashionable. She chose the back bedroom and before I was even settled in my own bed I could hear her soft snoring. My heart felt so full, I had found a friend. The world really did send you what you needed.
Chapter 9 – Making Friends
I woke early and gathered some nice berries and Beau brought me some grains which I whipped up into wonderful Oat Cakes. I had just taken the ‘Early Morn’ tea off the heat of a candle when Greta entered the kitchen. She was wearing her new outfit, a dress of pretty green with an apron and shawl, we needed to find materials for shoes today for both of us and decide where she would live.
“Good Morning to you Grandmother, sit and enjoy breakfast with me.”
“Call me Greta dear, you’ve no idea how rested I feel. I have been in those too tight clothes since I was jarred and brought to America going on a decade ago. Sitting in a bird cage for 10 years in the same outfit sure can make your waist band tight.”
“Tell me your story Greta, we have all day to lounge and enjoy our time.” Greta settled at the table and served herself some tea and a cake.
“First off dear I have to tell you how grateful I am for your perseverance. If you had not kept coming back to the park to encourage me to follow you I would still be alone, dirty and in ill-fitting clothes. But before I tell you my story tell me yours and all about this garden.”
I told her about my adventure and all the creatures I had met along the way and those she would be meeting later in the day. I warned her about Beasty and told her about my 2 wishes, one to meet another of my own kind and one to figure out how to send a message home to my family. By the time I had finished she had eaten 2 cakes and refilled her tea and was ready for a tour of the garden. I began to suspect that she did not want to tell me her tale. I showed her the garden, and the berries where we found the bunny crew snacking, we met the fish and flew up to introduce her to Chicky whose 2 little ones charmed us. Major was working in another yard and the squirrels were out and about. She was hesitant to fly across the yard to meet Blue so I figured we would wait for him to appear. We decided to start with the root dwelling at the base of my tree. I suspected that we would find a back door that went right up the stairs to my back hallway. When we reached the ground we surprised Beasty who hissed and swatted at us. Greta stood tall and smacked Beasty right in the nose. “How rude of you Miss Cat. Mind your manners around your elders.” Beasty was so surprised she did not know what to do, she sat down and rubbed her nose, tilted her head and looked almost apologetic.
Just then we heard the back door open and the pups head out, Tuukka was prancing and singing but brought himself up short when he ducked under the shade leaves and came face to face with Beasty. It took him just a second to see us and realize that a confrontation was occurring. He puffed himself up, all 10 pounds of him, big and spit at Beasty, “You, you, you better go home right now Beast, when Beau finds you’ve been bothering our fairies he will be mad. Now shoo, go home.” Tuukka was prancing around like a prize fighter. Beasty who was just recovering from her encounter with Greta hunched her back and was poised to spring when we heard Beau from behind her.
“Ginger to avoid becoming a beasty, I think that is quite enough, I don’t know what you have gotten yourself into but you have overstayed your welcome, go home please and don’t come back until you are prepared to be polite and respectful to our new residents.” That was all it took and Beasty turned into a pussy cat, she turned and rubbed all over Beau and purred so loud I thought she would shed. As if on cue we heard Ethel crocking from their back yard.
“Come home Beasty, time for your brushing.” She used it as an excuse to excuse herself leaving the pups, Greta and I.
“I…. thank you Tuukka for sticking up for us, I know she scares you.”
“Who me? She doesn’t scare me.” Beau, ever the gentleman saved Tuukka pride by introducing himself to Greta,
“Madame, I am Beau the resident hound dog. You are under my protection here.” Greta came forward and smiled at both pups and thanked them for welcoming her. Tuukka wanted to show her around and play with her if she was interested but we had a mission to settle her into a home so we excused ourselves and headed off to the root dwelling. Beau followed as did Tuukka.
“I like the idea of a root home except that they often flood.” Greta said.
“Not this one.” Beau offered, “it is built on a bit of an incline and never floods. I have never been in due to my size but the squirrels tell me that the back stair way goes all the way up the tree, on the way joining with Matilda’s home.” In we went and aside from it needing a good sweeping and some added furniture it was quite nice. It was a bit smaller than mine, with only one sitting room, one bedroom and a kitchen inside the trunk of the tree, but there was a large pantry and the powder room was huge. It would need a new rug and curtains but the door was heavy and secure and there were plenty of windows to bring in the daylight. Up the stairs we found 2 large bedrooms, both empty and a linen cupboard and another powder room, the back stair case was steep but we flew up and sure enough there was a door that entered my hallway. Between my home and hers there was a plethora of spare rooms.
We spent the whole of the day finding furniture, weaving rugs and collecting blankets and items that Greta might need. She liked the idea of living this close to the ground as she felt that flying had become more difficult after all her years in captivity. Her beautiful red and orange wings had weakened with inactivity and her body had gotten too stout for her wings to carry long distances. Generally fairies like to stay on the stout side, it is harder to swallow a stout fairy and the stouter the more resilient. But we build our wing strength to go along with our size. Fairies who cannot build up their body weight are often teased for being mites. I never had the problem, being of a good stout build but did on occasion hear my friend Claire’s brothers teasing her for her slightness. You don’t know Claire but this bullying from her brothers, there are 4 of them, sure has taken a toll on her personality. I don’t think that she is very confident, and this leads to all sorts of conflicts. My cousin Aiden in particular avoids her, of course she has an obvious crush on him.
I could not wait to hear Greta’s story but was beginning to suspect that I never would. That evening we decided to eat on my porch as Madeline was entertaining and had a bonfire going. It was so lovely and Blue joined us in time for dessert and coaxed Greta into telling her story.
“It all started off as a normal day. I woke early as was my nature and left the house without leaving even a note for my family, to collect some berries for jam making later in the day. The berry patch bordered the farmlands that we lived on the outskirts of. There was rarely any humans there early in the morning. So I was not paying attention and did not see the man sneak up behind me and capture me in a jar. He had apparently passed out under a nearby tree the night before and was just awakening with the sun. He was so excited to have caught me, yammering on about how he always knew there was fairies and how he would make his fortune on me. I have the gift of speak and shapeshifting but he could not hear me through the jar and each time I shifted into something he would shake the jar and shake me out of my shift. He did not realize for a few days that I needed oxygen, I faked it a little.” said Greta, then took a sip of ‘Be Strong’ tea that I had brewed with Rosemary and sage to soothe her throat. “I pretended to fall unconscious partly in hopes of a chance for escape and partially cause it was getting quite stifling in the jar. He took the hint and poked holes in the jar and added some grass which I promptly ate as I was starving. I could now try to use my gift of Speak to convince him to let me go. I began to put in his ear that no one would believe him, that he should keep quiet about me and just let me go.” Greta closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“It is so wonderful to finally be free. Well some of my speak got through cause he never shared his secret or showed me to the world but he panicked and decided that he needed to leave Ireland and come to America to live with his great uncle. He did not feed me the entire week that we were at sea, I guess he was too deep in his cups or simply forgot. We landed in America and he moved into a room above his great uncle. It was then I learned his name was Joseph MacAulay. Soon after we settled he went out and came back with a bird cage that would be my home for the next ten years. Once in the bird cage I could use my speak gift and lulled him into the understanding that I needed to be fed and that if he told anyone about me he would be thought to be crazy. I tried to speak him into letting me go but he resisted listening to that. For 10 years I lived in the cage in the same clothes with no way to wash regularly, repair my clothes or get any fresh air or exercise. He smoked up that room good and my lungs and voice soon became so raspy that I could barely use my gift of speak at all, my ability to shape shift got weaker and weaker, I guess when in captivity you lose much of your powers. You start to lose your belief that you are powerful enough to make your thoughts real. You get discouraged and it dampens your abilities. My depression only made it worse.
Joseph, he was a despot. There is no other word for him, he drank and rarely worked, often he passed out and when he did talk it was all rambling and nonsense. I had lost faith that I would ever get free.”
Again Greta closed her eyes and just took deep breaths of the cool evening air. Madeline’s bonfire was glowing nicely and her guests were singing and laughing, the air filled with their joy. I went into the kitchen and fixed another cup of nice soothing herbal tea for her. I brought out the leather we had found in the shed to make ourselves new shoes in hopes that a mundane task might distract her from her sadness “One day this summer,” Greta began her story again as she started to stitch the new shoes, “when it was so very hot. Joseph came home in his cups, but the room was so stifling that he opened the window before he fell asleep on his couch. Well a bird, a nice white bird with an English accent landed on my window sill. She was calling out ‘Edward, Edward are you around here?’ ”
“Elena?” Matilda wondered aloud.
“I was nervous” continued Greta, “but I called out to her. She dipped her head into the opening and asked why I was in a cage. I explained my predicament and she began to tell me this story of getting her friends to fly at the porters on the dock until they dropped the trunks and the lids falling off and fairies escaping. I did not really understand much of what she said but it was the first time I had spoken to an intelligent being in 10 long years. I did not know if her plan would work for me but I was desperate and willing to try anything. She used her head to push the window open enough to get in then flew off to find some help. When she returned she had 4 or 5 other birds of all shapes and sizes. They filed in and 2 of them took my cage in their talons and knocked it to the floor, the noise woke Joseph, but the others flew around the room making such a racquet he did not know what to do. My door broke open and I flew out the window and did not even stop to say thank you. Next thing I know I am in the park and Matilda is trying to talk me into coming here.”
“So now you know my story. I thought that when I was free again that I would regain my powers to shape shift but you could see me in the park so maybe I have lost that gift forever. If I still had it I would try to make my way home as I long for my family. But without it I would not dare.”
“I could sense you only because I have an uncle and a cousin with the gift Greta. I could not see you, just the shifty edges that I know to look for. You still have your gift but please don’t leave, you just arrived and I have been so lonely.”
“Well dear I am tired and grateful and do not see myself heading anywhere, anytime too soon. But back to the Green Isle I do intend to someday go. I want to check on my family, see if my children had children and hear my native tongue again.”
“Well ladies it has been an entertaining evening, Greta, Matilda and I have been trying to go out into Boston so that she can experience this adventure of hers fully. We have 2 goals, find fairy friends and find a way for her to send her message home to her family that she is OK. We would love for you to join us on tomorrow’s excursion as I have come up with a plan.”
“Blue I thank you for the invitation but I think that tomorrow I would just like to stay here, there is much to do on my home still and I would like to put up some berries for the coming winter and make myself a few changes of clothes.”
“What is your plan Blue?” I said, “I can’t wait to hear it.”
“Well I am thinking that the geese and ducks that can be found on all the city’s ponds are migratory. If we can befriend one maybe they will pass the word along that you are looking for friends. Not only do they hit every park and field in this city but they fly from Canada to South America every year.”
“Oh I love that idea, they could tell any fairy they meet to come to Boston and meet me. I would have friends! Do you think any of them migrate to Ireland?”
“I don’t believe there are any that migrate across the Atlantic however they might meet a bird in South America that migrates northwest, those birds might meet others that migrate from Alaska to Europe and so on. It would probably not be the best plan to pin your hopes on getting a message home via migration.”
“Yes long trip that message would take.” offered Greta.
We said good night and I made sure that Greta was tucked up and feeling safe then made my way to my porch. I watched as Madeline cleaned up her yard and let the fire burn low. I watched the pups take a last tour around the yard making sure all was well. I felt very grateful that at least for now I had a fairy friend in Greta and a safe place to live and so many neighbors to help me. I was grateful that we had a plan to meet others. Greta’s story made me believe that Elena was still hanging around Boston looking for her despot of a boyfriend, Edward. If she was, she would know some bird headed back to Ireland on a departing ship that could carry my message home. I feel asleep on my porch hammock feeling uplifted and happy.
Chapter 10 – Plan Stage 2
Blue showed up on my porch soon after I completed my morning introductions of Greta to the bunny family who was also harvesting in the berry patch. The back yard was quite quiet, I had not seen the pups or Beasty and the house seemed empty. Greta and I had flown up to the third floor window which was opened and I showed her the studio that Madeline worked in. She planned to build up enough nerve to enter and look around for useful items for her new home and her desire to put up foods for winter. I knew how she felt, going inside the house once you have escaped is quite a challenge. I was not sure if she would manage to do it before I came back and we agreed that I would accompany her if she did not get in, when I returned. I still wanted to look in the sun room for aloe.
Blue and I headed to a new park he knew that had a river as a water source instead of a fountain. It was further out so I rode on his back. When we arrived I realized that it went on forever. There was so many people using the park and the birds seemed to take no notice of them. Blue had informed me that he did not have any migrating friends so we would have to start with a fresh slate making friends. Crows apparently are split, some chose to migrate and some chose to stay, Blue is from a family of non-migrators. He thought if we had a hard time making an acquaintance he had a distant cousin who was currently living outside of the city that he could get a message to who might be able to give us an introduction. He did not think it useful to go that route however, simply because crows who do migrate don’t generally go very far afield. They move only as far as their breeding grounds and back.
We found a spot in a tree that had a branch that hung over the water. It was a bit of an inlet and there was a congregation of a few different types of water birds. He pointed out Canadian Geese, Mallards and Coots. The Mallards were beautiful with their colorful feathers, the Geese impressive with their long necks and the Coots quite entertaining in their awkwardness. With neither of us having any experience with befriending water fowl we decided to start with a Mallard. We chose one and I flew down making sure to keep my distance so I did not become lunch.
“Hello.” I began
“What on earth are you? A runt human, a misshapen damselfly?”
“No Sir I am a fairy and I have a favor to ask.”
“Really and what makes you think that I would do you a favor? Do you see how beautiful I am, my wing feathers are the brightest on the whole of the Charles, possibly in all of the city. I am too busy attracting a mate to do favors for fairies, if there truly is such a thing as a fairy.” With that he dove into the water and came up a few feet away shaking the water from his wings and preening. I flew back to Blue.
“That was a waste of time, he wouldn’t even listen to my request, he is too busy being beautiful and looking for a mate to listen.”
“Don’t get discouraged there are hundreds of migrators here to ask, go ahead try again, I will see if I can strike up a conversation with some of ones on shore who are scavenging for scrapes.”
Blue headed down to the ground and I steeled myself and picked my next target. It was a stately long necked Canadian goose. She was quite beautiful and was gracefully swimming along the shore with little ones behind her. I thought a mother might be a bit more sympathetic. Boy was I wrong, as soon as she saw me hovering above her brood she flew at me screeching for me to get away from her chicks. I barely got out of there before she caught me. Back up to the tree for me where I sat and caught my breath and checked the condition of my wing that she had nipped. I decided it would eventually heal if I treated it with the lotion of Marigold I had just finished making. I did not think meeting water fowl would be quite so difficult. Blue was actively making his rounds with those on shore so I kept trying, I approached more geese both white and the Canadian variety, I tried a less colorful Mallard and even a coot or two, but I had no luck. Some were interested in what I was, some too busy catching fish or potential mates to bother with me at all and some too frightened to even listen to me. I was getting hungry and decided to find Blue and go in search of lunch.
I spotted him below deep in conversation with a coot. Now if you have never met a coot I have to say that they are a bit awkward, well they are altogether clumsy, you see their feet are quite large for their very round bodies. This one in particular looked quite healthy shall we say and he was lifting his big feet way up in the air as he walked around looking for scrapes. I flew down to join them.
“Aw Matilda this is Quack” Blue looked at me and raised his eyes in a ‘don’t laugh’ expression.
“Hello Quack” I said.
He straightened and looked me over. “Yup that is a fairy, same as I saw down south just last season.”
“You know another Fairy?”
“Don’t get excited it was way down in Mexico, a long way away Matilda.”
“Yup, didn’t know what she was but she looked a bit like you, small human with wings, messy hair and wild clothes. I had never seen one before. Course it was my first time in Merida, I had always before gone to the coast. But there was this beautiful coot that I was trying to meet and where she went, I went.” Just as he said this he tripped over his big feet and ungracefully fell, smacking his chin on the ground.
“Oh dear, let me help you.” I said.
“With what?” he asked as he pulled himself back to his feet, this must be a common occurrence for him as he didn’t even stop his story. “Where was I? Oh yes I went to Merida, it is a large city full of parks and it was in the Park of Americas that I found her.”
“No Bertha, the love of my life. She was the most…..”
“Could we get back to the fairy please?” I asked.
“Sure, Sure. Let me tell you my story.” he began, and then bumped his head on the trash can he had apparently not seen.
“There are 4 sections to this park and one is much quieter and less used by humans. This is where I finally tracked down Bertha.” He stopped speaking and closed his eyes and sighed, no surprise this tripped him up and he stumbled. “I could not for the life of me figure out why she was here in this park as there was no water in sight. I found out quite too late that her grandfather had a terrible sense of direction and did not like to ask for directions. Anyway, I was trying to look nonchalant, hoping she would notice me but in my nonchalant ness I wandered away from the flock and found myself under some shade plants. It was quite a relief, it gets quite hot there you know? Anyways from above I started to get squawked at by 2 toucans. Get it 2 toucans? It was so cool in the shade that I did not want to move so I decided to engage them and find out what their problem was. This is the conversation I had with them.”
“Hallooo, my name is Quack and I am just cooling down a bit, your home is quite hot, what with no sea breeze.”
The 2 of them flew down to a low branch to inspect me.
“Who are you and what are you doing here? We don’t get much duck traffic, what with no water!” one of the Toucans said.
“I know what self-respecting water fowl comes to a park inland where there is no water. I don’t know what that flock was thinking, but you see there is a girl and she is soooo pretty.”
“So you came all this way, out of your way, for a girl?” They looked at each other and started cracking up. When they finally regained their composure they introduced themselves. “I am Raul and this is my partner Pedro. We have lived here in El Parque de las Americas most of our lives.”
“Well you are not very welcoming to lost and waterless coots.” I was not sure how they would take this but was feeling a bit put out by being laughed at.”
“Coots, is that what you are? Well you old coot.” They jabbed each other with their wings and laughed some more. “You are welcome here at the park but this is our little alcove and you have invaded it.”
“Well rest assured I am harmless and simply waiting in the shade for this flock to realize there is no water here and fly off, I will follow and win Berthas affections.” I told them. Just then the fairy I was telling you about flew up to them and hugged each around the neck. I had never seen a fairy before and thought that the heat had gotten to me and I was seeing things. Surely toucans ate damselflies.
“This is our daughter, Jazzy.” Raul proudly announced. Now Coots may look dumb but we aren’t and I knew that this was not their natural born child. I looked at them with enough disbelief that they decided to elaborate.” Just as Quack said this he was hit in the head with a bird dropping, it so surprised him that his whole head dropped down and again his chin hit the ground. He lifted his head and chuckled at his luck.
“Excuse me for a moment while I go rinse off.” While he was gone Blue and I excitedly exchanged looks. We did not know how his story would end but if he was willing to return to Merida he could spread the word that we were looking for friends. Of course Jazzy may be perfectly happy in her hot and waterless home.
“Anyhoo, these 2can daddies could not wait to tell someone their story. So I got comfortable and settled in. Pedro started ‘You see it all began when Raul and I decided that we just did not want to live the conventional life. We had heard that there was a rather rich Don who was looking to fill his gardens with wildlife. It was advertised that those chosen would live a life of luxury, wanting for nothing. We allowed ourselves to be captured and sure enough we were kept in style. We had protection during storms, air conditioning when needed, fresh water and fruits year round. The draw back was that we never saw anything beyond the wire fence enclosure that kept us captive. But we were happy enough and treated well and all was good. Visitors were always complimenting us and admiring us.
This all changed the day that the Don got a special delivery. It was a tiny little baby bug. He was so excited that for a few weeks he kept it all to himself. We never got a look at it or a chance to meet it. One day the Dons workman came and hung a large bird cage out in the enclosure, we could not figure out its purpose since we were effectively captive anyway. However the next day when we woke up there was the tiny bug living in the cage. We soon realized that it was not a bug at all but a little fairy child who promptly reported to us that she had been kidnapped from her home and shipped here against her will. She was just a tiny little thing but she was spitting mad and determined to not be held captive.” Raul picked up the story from here, “Spitting mad, when she gets mad or excited her little wings flap and lift her right off the ground. She was such a little Chiquita and so alone that we moved our place of residence nearer to her cage, we parented her and began to devise a plan to free her. We realized that she was too small to make it on her own and that we would have to be on the run ourselves. Quite early we figured out how to get her out of her cage, she was able to come and go whenever she would not be missed by the Don. But getting us all out of the enclosure proved to be the task. It came quite by luck when the Don decided that he needed to add to his menagerie some mammals. The enclosure had to be enlarged, they caged us next to Jazzy and opened the fencing for expansion, pulling the roofing wire off. We simply waited until night fell, let ourselves out, then let out Jazzy and flew all night long to get away. Pedro and I decided hiding back here in the city of our birth was our best bet for not getting caught. So we found this parque and settled in to raise our girl.’ ”
“Jazzy sat smiling and nodding through the whole story, she now chimed in ‘these guys saved my life. I was never able to return home because I was kidnapped so young that I did not remember where I was from. They have become my fathers. Now if I could only find another fairy to befriend, my life would be complete. I go out every day to see if I can find signs that others exist. I barely remember my family, or I think I do, and sometimes I dream, but it is all very foggy.’
Well the story was a captivating one, and when it was over I realized that it had cooled significantly and the Park sounded totally different. I peeked out from under the shade plants to see all the park lights on and humans gathering for some sort of event on one of the other sections. The Coots were gone. I panicked a bit and took flight but they were nowhere to be found. Raul and Pedro offered to let me spend the night in their alcove, I accepted and found some tasty dinner. I left early the next morning and after an exhaustive search of the city headed back to the coast where all Coots belong. I never saw Bertha again.”
“Oh Quack, you have made my day. I was hoping that this story would end with Jazzy looking for companionship. I have been lonely and even though I have just found a friend I don’t think she will stay much past the year.”
“So fairies migrate?”
“Well no, not on purpose, but I think that Greta will stay for this year only, get herself strong again and then try to find her way home. I am hoping I can locate my friend Elena and get her to help escort Greta home. Do you know Elena, she is a sea bird who speaks with an English accent?”
“No can’t say that I do, sorry. Well if there is nothing else I will get along and do a bit of fishing.”
“No wait, what we are hoping,” said Blue “was that you would carry the message on your migration that there is a fairy….” Just then Quack, was bumped into by a gaggle of young snow geese, he lost his balance and went tumbling over. He righted himself, shook himself off and waddled back to us as they ran off giggling and cackling into the river to play. It left Blue and I quite breathless.
“You were saying?”
“Yes, let me think” Blue collected himself because watching Quacks mishaps can take the breath out of you. “Oh yes, we were hoping that as you continue your migration you would spread the word that there is a fairy in Boston who is looking for companionship. That she lives in a beautiful and plentiful garden that has many vacancies. We are hoping if you find yourself in Merida again that in particular you will tell Jazzy and maybe escort her back to Boston so she won’t be so lonely.”
“Well that is a lot to ask a fellow,” Quack tilted his head in thought. “I mean I would feel responsible for her getting here safe and any other fairies I met, I would worry that they would not make it to Boston safely.”
“Fairies are very resilient.” I said, “Just think about Jazzy surviving from such a young age, and I survived in a trunk for a week, and then there is Greta who lived captive for 10 years. You really would not need to be responsible for anything but spreading the word, any fairy who took on the journey would do so at their own risk and responsibility.”
“Well I will be headed north tomorrow and if I meet any fairies I will tell them about the garden in Boston. It will be a few months before I am back in Mexico but if the weather permits I will detour into Merida and catch up with Raul and Pedro and let Jazzy know if she wants to hitch a ride back with me she can. Well didn’t I just take on more responsibility then I wanted?” Quack said.
I smiled warmly at him and gave his chubby neck a hug and told him we would see him next season. We gave him directions to our garden so that he could pass it along and set off to find ourselves some lunch.
We followed the river to the docks to my favorite restaurant, took our lunch choices and found a spot near the shore to partake. I was feeling very excited and Blue kept reminding me that any visitors were months off. But I had Greta and knew that she would stay on through the winter at least since she was home setting up jams. Gran was right if you set your mind to something, your thoughts and your excitement will create it.
We had just finished our lunch and were picking up our trash when a shadow fell over us. I looked to my left and saw big orange feet. I looked up and there was my dear friend Elena. “Elena” I screamed and flew up to hug her. “I have missed you, I thought of you every day. I never got a chance to thank you for saving me.”
“Girl what happened to you?”
“Oh Elena this is Blue my next tree neighbor” They greeted each other warmly and I continued. “One of your helpers tried to eat me! He finally spit me out in the grass but I could not see you, before I could come looking for you a wind blew me into a purse and now I live in a fairy garden at Madeline’s.”
“Slow down Matilda, who is Madeline?”
“Oh Elena I have so much to tell you will you come back to my garden and spend the night?”
Elena agreed to follow us home and once there she found a perch near my house that suited her. I ran down and got Greta who had a happy reunion with Elena as well. I went off to get some snacks and arrived back at my porch just as the fairy lights turned on. “Elena, have you found Edward yet?” I asked.
“Well isn’t he the sly one? Seems that he blew out of town on a gale force wind. Sound familiar, I am beginning to believe that Edward could not tell the truth if he wanted to.” I felt quite relieved as I never felt good about Edward.
“So what are you going to do?” I asked.
“Well I quite like it here but I liked Ireland as well and England before that. I am thinking that I will become a world traveler, not following Edward from continent to continent but just on my own. What do you think?”
Greta and I looked at each other. “Well Elena I think that not following Edward around the world is a good decision. Where are you thinking of traveling to next?”
“Well I just don’t know, I might want to see that prairie in Kansas, or head down to Old Mexico, or trip over to Tripoli, is that a real place do you think? I want to go anywhere Edward is not.”
“If you ever decide to return to Ireland I would love for you to get a message back home to my family.”
“And I would love to be escorted home by a bird as brave as you.” chimed in Greta.
“Well it is a plan then, when I head back across the ocean I will come collect Grandmother Greta and a message for the fam. Now however I think I am off to the Poconos, I don’t know what they are but the crew tells me it is much cooler there this time a year. Now that I know where you live I will be back” We all hugged and said our thank yous and goodbyes and Elena was off. Greta went to bed with some hope in her heart and I went in to compose a letter to my Ma & Gran so that when Elena came back through it would be ready. I told them all about my adventure, those I had met and the dangers I have faced and the things I have learned. I finished it off with the number “3”, my Grand da always used the number 3 to say I Love You, 3 simple words. I fell asleep on my window seat looking out at the moon feeling very sunny and grateful indeed.
Chapter 11 – In Conclusion
Greta and I had a very full summer. We fully explored the garden, put up food for the winter, made teas and salves and dried healing herbs. Greta rarely left the garden but Blue and I continued our Boston adventures a few times a week. On one such adventure we found ourselves in China Town. This is a vibrant, busy section of Boston that sits on the orange line of the T. Often Blue and I would catch the T, it was fun and exciting and easier on Blue then carrying me everywhere. We had wandered down the streets and down alleyways looking for lunch. We came across and nice little back alley patio, it was set on a bed of tumbled stones. It was a treasure trove for me as my healing tools lacked any use of gems since coming to America. Many stones were quite large but we returned numerous times any time our travels took us on the Orange line to scavenge for gems that were appropriate size for my use. I was able to find a sodalite for Blues home, a carnelian for our squirrel friends and some rose quartz for Greta that I wrapped in wire and she wore on a chain around her neck.
On an excursion into Madeline’s studio with Greta I found a nice bottle to keep all my gemstones in that allowed me to see what I had and what I might need. Greta had gotten quite brave and would enter the studio in search of particulars on her own. Often when I returned home she had added a nice homey touch to our shared dwelling space.
In Midsummer the yard was all a buzz with the upcoming July 4th celebration. This would be a first for me but Greta had witnessed, from inside her cage, 10 of them. Madeline’s preparations were huge with lots of food, decorations, music and even new flowers. Everyone who intended to be around committed to bringing something as a pot luck. It was fun eating nuts raw as the squirrel family did, and snacking on such a variety of bird seeds seasoned with fresh herbs. Madeline’s guests were raving about her Boston Baked Beans. Everyone at my party told me that if there were any leftovers that became available to the garden crew that we should grab some. I did not know what to expect as beans in Ireland are not so sought after. But I was assured that Boston was known as Beantown, and this was why.
Greta was a bit hard to convince, it took all week to talk her into going to see the parade with us. You see she reasoned that if she had ended up in the park when she had escaped, then the home of James could not be too far away. She knew she had not traveled too far once she escaped. But there would be a block party and vendors and fun. I really wanted her to go and she finally consented. We found a comfy spot high up in a tree, in the park where we could watch from safety, Greta unpacked a huge picnic and we settled in. The parade was awesome, there was even a fairy float with cute little girls dressed as fairies with fake wings and everything. We watched and cheered at the frog jumping contest and snuck in to the barbeque for some chicken scraps. When the festivities ended we started home and that is when Greta saw her old captor, James. He was staggering around the park, yelling about fairies and escapes and wild birds. Everyone was avoiding getting near him. He finally fell onto a park bench and sat mumbling to himself. We skirted far around him and avoided any chance of him seeing us.
It was decided that we would do best to move a few houses down and perch on their roof to see the firework display to its full effect. I was so excited by the time night fell, I could hardly sit still. It took forever to get full dark. Madeline and her crew had just left to head to the park to watch. Greta and I swooped in and served ourselves some of the homemade peach ice cream that Madeline and her guests had made, we also tried her whipped cream that topped her strawberry shortcake, which was to die for. We were just about to leave to join the others when I remembered the baked beans. Greta had said that Joseph often ate baked beans out of a can and she had been given his leftovers and they were nothing to write home about. But I wanted to try them anyway to say I had experienced all that Boston had to offer. We could find nothing on the table that looked like beans and finally found ourselves faced with a large crock topped with a heavy earthenware lid. The sauce that was dripping down the side of the crock was sweet, rich and dark. There was no way we could dislodge the lid so had to satisfy ourselves with the dripping sauce. I vowed to get Blue to find me a restaurant in town that made Boston Baked Beans for me to try as just the sauce was something to write home about.
Greta and I finally made our way from roof top to roof top until we happened upon the whole fairy garden crew. Greta stayed well back from the edge for fear that James would wonder by and look up and see her. The fireworks were loud and beautiful. They cracked open over our heads in beautiful and colorful displays of sprinkling lights. I had never been so close to fireworks before. The huge booms of noise, shook me to the core and thrilled me beyond compare. I found myself holding my breath waiting for the next one. We watched until the very end. Even after they stopped I felt like I could still see and hear them in the sky, the vibration was just that intense. When we finally got home I went right to my desk and wrote about the American celebration of independence so that when my letter got to my family they could read all about it. I again found myself looking out my window at this beautiful garden feeling very grateful indeed.
Summer in Boston can be hot and we spent a good deal of time playing in the fish pond. The fish were quite friendly and welcoming. Their pond was well hidden in the shade of some large leafy plants as Madeline did not want them to overheat and she was hoping that tucked back under the bushes they would not attract undue attention from Beasty. She sometimes added ice cubes to cool the water on the hottest of days.
Beasty had been keeping her distance, because Greta had been using her gift of speak on the cat all summer long. She had to try many approaches until she found the one that worked and stopped Beasty from being such a bully. She told Beasty she would turn her into a rat terrier, a fate worse than death apparently.
As I got more familiar with Ethel, Beasty’s owner I came to sympathize with the cat a bit. Ethel was a hard women, she rarely smiled. She always had a cigarette in her mouth, she never had anything good to say or report about her day, her week or her pet. Madeline engaged her in conversation every time she saw her and I never heard anything good come out of the interaction. But she sure was colorful in both clothing choices and language. It was important to find something good about everyone.
It was late in the summer on a particularly hot August evening when Ethel was out on her back porch calling to Beasty. “Ethel, she is over here snuggling up to Beau” Madeline yelled over the fence. “Come over and have a nice cold drink with me and sit on the back porch, there is a bit of a breeze, you can take Beasty back with you after you visit a bit.” Greta and I had been hanging out on a tree above the back deck watching the TV that Madeline had playing in the sun room. She could be outside in the cooler air and still watch through the window. We loved some of the reality shows that were often playing on the set. We debated how based on reality they actually were. It was one of our favorite evening past times. Madeline muted the sound when Ethel approached and poured her a cold glass of her homemade sun lemon hibiscus iced tea. The jar she brewed it in leaked just enough for Greta and I to have borrowed some throughout the summer and it was a favorite or ours.
It took a while but Madeline drew Ethel out and got her talking about the good old days which apparently weren’t so good for Ethel. She had had a hard life, with parents who were not always there for her, being passed from one family to the next and often just being left alone. Her married life seemed no better with a husband who she often fought with and eventually left. She never had children but Beasty was her 5th cat. She liked to watch TV, she did needle crafts and took trips with the local senior center. She talked about how the neighborhood had changed and how everyone moving in was young and how some had kids that bothered her to no end. She’d had a hard life and could not, no matter how hard Madeline tried, see anything from a positive point of view, she was a poor me type lady who would always feel like a victim, never able to pull herself out of her doldrums.
I can’t say it was a pleasant visit but when she left I had a better appreciation of Beasty and her harsh manners. I was glad when Madeline turned the sound back up on the TV and we caught the end of one of the reality show cause as much drama as it was it was brighter and more uplifting then the visit with poor old Ethel.
Oh I almost forgot to tell you that I asked Blue about Boston Baked Beans, since I couldn’t get them out of my head after tasting Madeline’s, he told me we would have to visit a downtown staple that served the beans as well as the best rolls in city and they served a cake called the Boston Cream Pie. I was intrigued, a cake named pie. We traveled into Boston on the red line out of Cambridge and got off at the Park St station. I had brought with me some containers so that I could bring back my haul to share with Greta. We found the leftover box in an alley behind the restaurant. It was a cramped alley with very little place to hide. Blue perched on the box and acted as my look out. I dove in knowing that I would need a bath as soon as I returned to the garden, not only are beans in Boston sticky business the cake was filled with sticky cream and gooey chocolate topping. I have to say I ate my fill down there, and then I packed up a piece of a roll and a container of beans and another of the famous cake. That night after I had bathed, Greta and I had a real Boston meal. I became a fan of those beans as did Greta and we decided to learn to make them ourselves. It would require finding or making a Crock and a source of molasses but the hunt would be worth every bite. The cake and the rolls were delicious too but a bit beyond our capabilities here in the garden, whenever we craved those, Blue and I would have to head into town on a BCP hunt. (Boston Cream Pie)
Greta settled into the garden quite well, she found her freedom such a relief. She went back to all her favorite activities which included gathering fruits and vegetables, cooking and baking. She slowly lost her fear but rarely left the protection of the garden. Often when I awoke there would be a note for me saying she was doing an early morning harvest of something to put up for the winter. We had found an unoccupied root dwelling near the entrance to her door that we converted into a root cellar to store all the food she was putting up, we would not go hungry this winter that was for sure. Every time I helped her preserve something and store it down there I hoped that she would still be with me this winter to share it. Each day that went by during the summer that Elena did not return was a relief to me. I really wanted Greta to be happy, to get home, to see her family after all these years but I would be lonely if she left, I loved having her here.
So this is how we spent my first summer in Boston, it was fun, many peaceful nights, long stories from Greta of her life before America and trips all around the greater Boston area with Blue. My letter home to my family, if it was ever delivered would be full of my adventure, my friends and my benefactor Madeline. I went to sleep each night grateful for my new home and my new friends. I was finding my place in the pack that made up the garden, I was the only one who knew anything about healing and I was the only one who never gave up hope or fell into negativity. I was never lonely any longer having found Greta and she was quickly turning into my surrogate Grandmother.
My life was good here in Boston and it was getting better every day, I suspected that I had many adventures ahead of me, I had not yet experienced all four seasons here in America. In the months to come I would probably meet so many new creatures from all over the globe, I would learn so much and have so many exciting adventures. I went to sleep every night with a smile on my lips and hope for what tomorrow would bring.
This whole adventure had been a study in quantum theory. You see I knew I need to come of age but I was letting every excuse stop me from doing it. I was putting limits on myself left and right. But as soon as I decided it was time, I put my wish out to the universe, I put no limits on how or when it would happen, and even though I would not have chosen it to happen quite this way it was exactly what I needed.
Matilda’s Dictionary - Sample
Words Matilda thinks you may have to learn the meaning of in Book I.
She has put them in order of how they appear in her story not wanting to take the time to alphabetize them.
Predicament – An unpleasant, difficult, dangerous situation, I currently find myself in these a lot.
Stereotype – A widely held image or idea of something. Often very simplified and frequently offensive.
Brogue – Although it is the word for a sturdy leather shoe that might be called a wingtip, oxford or a buck, it also refers to the beautiful accent of the Irish. It used to refer to Irish being spoken with an English accent but here in America it is the opposite.
Diminutive – Unusually small or tiny, elfin or undersized, you know, Fairylike.
Ethnicities – A socially defined category of people or fairy that share a common national experience. Irish vs American.
Ostracized - Excluded from a group.
Quantum Theory - This is a tough one to explain, you see we fairies naturally do this and I didn’t even know it had a name until I met my friend Quack. He is a coot, who you will meet and he explained it all to me. Basically he said the reason that fairies have gifts that appear to be magical is because they believe that they can. We aren’t as limited as humans about what is reality and want is thought, to us they are the same thing. I can’t shapeshift, which is the ultimate example of Quantum Theory but that is mostly because I am too scatterbrained to focus. But I can easily understand how others do it, it is simply blending your energy with the energy that you want to mimic and voila, you are it.
Coveted – A desire to have or to own something.
Mundane – Dull or lacking in interest and excitement – not my favorite thing.