Originally published on Sky’s Art Bucket
If you’re a fellow creative you’re bound to have more than one hobby.
Whether it be painting, crocheting, or in today’s case, writing: art and all of its forms provide us the ability to share our thoughts and feelings with the world in a way that we sometimes can only express through means of visual representation.
If you’re a fellow writer, I’m sure you’ve heard of Wattpad. A community “where stories come alive.” I myself have just recently begun writing and posting on it again, and today I wanted to share with you the first part of my short story “Faerie Lost.”
No one believed me when I told them about the little boy in the woods.
I spotted him amongst the birch trees, just past the veranda, when out on my daily stroll through the castle garden. The workers bade their ‘hello’s to me as I walked down the cobblestone path that spewed out from the double french doors of the mansion and followed out to the structure, where I made myself comfortable on the iron benches and opened my sketchbook, velvet-covered but worn on its insides from months of use, and a few pencils I received from my grandfather per his dying will, and sketched some of the early morning’s scenery.
I do my best to capture the dewiness of the fauna surrounding me. Sketching ever so lightly, then building as I go, observing every detail. Poppy flowers glistened in the morning light while the vines that crawled all over the portico shook gently as drops of water fell from their leaves, making the slightest “plip” sound as it reached concrete, producing just one of nature’s many sweet melodies. Bees gathered to begin their daily work, and although I am afraid of bees, they’ve never once bothered me. We have a mutual understanding, and so we go about our business in peace.
Seeing him was quite the shock.
I almost screamed when I realized the pair of eyes glaring at me from a distance. I would have, but the sound caught in my throat like the heart that beat profusely through my chest. He couldn’t have been much older than me. Me, a young girl of 14, with brunette hair and teal, soul-seeking eyes, and him, with eyes dark like the night, which hid behind his dark brown, curly yet managed hair and a petite frame that cowered in its realization that I was looking in its direction.
I calmed my breath and called out to him, “h-hello?”
He froze. “Can I help you?” I asked shakily. He turned his head slowly to his left, and then turned back to his right, never losing eye contact with me as he did so. “Are you- – ” I began to ask, “are you lost?”, but before I finished my question he simply disappeared. No movement had happened that suggested he ran, he simply vanished. I was all too suddenly aware of the danger of being out there alone, and so I flew up from my seat and ran as fast as I could to warn the gardeners of him, leaving behind the most precious of my belongings in the aftermath.
The gardeners, after hearing my plea, walked briskly inside and up the stairs to the nearly empty marble office, with its rounded skylight, its wall scaled bookshelves that lay against the back wall, and a single, neat desk, to inform the woman with the fiery red hair and light green eyes, i.e. the headmistress, my mother, who sat reading over her important paperwork, of this “boy” I had seen. She looked ever so slightly over her diamond-studded reading glasses at the gardeners, and they avoided her gaze.
Letting out a deep sigh, she called for the guards and sent them out to look, scolding them slightly for not already being there to chaperone me and keep me safe, and returned to her paperwork. Little did she know, it was me who insisted the guards attend to other matters. I’ve grown so much since their first days of watching over me, and their constant observing as I grew into young adulthood caused me to become irritable, like a bird locked in a small cage.
“Please retrieve my sketchbook and pencils for me?”
I asked the oldest guard, Marde. He was a man of stocky build but had a kindness in his face that mismatched the rest of him. Since my father’s passing, he has been like a second parent to me and is the only guard I didn’t mind having around. “Of course, Muffin,” he said to me, patting my head.
As they took their leave to investigate, I found myself feeling quite awkward in the presence of my mother. Ever since father’s death, she had changed as a woman. She had taken over the family business in his absence and trusts no one but herself to make the calls for the company and its investors. No one went against her word though, for she has always made successful partnerships that would double, and even sometimes triple the profits of the company. I admire her strength and resilience.
I don’t remember much of how she acted prior to that bad day.
The only thing I can recall is the warmth of her hugs and the gentleness of her kisses as she read me to sleep in the hours of twilight, and the sound of her singing voice as it echoed in the halls she and I used to dance down, but even those memories fade from existence at times, as a result of my mother’s current self. It takes a lot to bring those memories back, but I make sure not to forget them.
It’s been seven years since he died.
The house is silent now, save for the mansion staff, whose pumps click against the marble floors; my mother and I’s connection has been lost, and I go to bed hugging the ragdoll hippo my father gave me when I was an infant. I’ve named him pip; he’s the only one who sees my tears.
After about an hour of searching, with myself sitting in the silence of the office while my mother worked, ignoring my presence, the guards came back only to report nothing: no boy to be found, no flattened grass, nothing to provide evidence that he was there, but I know what I saw. In my disbelief, I asked Marde for my sketchbook and he admitted he couldn’t find it. “But I know where I left it!” I cried, tears jerking at my eyes.
“It was nowhere to be found, young mistress.”
In my anger and embarrassment, I ran from the office down the hall to my bedroom where I flopped on the bed with Pip and screamed into the pillow. “He must have taken it, that thief! He’ll pay for that!” How could he take something so precious to me? Did he not witness my gentle caressing of the pages, taking in their scent as I placed pencil to paper? Did he not see how much I loved my sketchbook and my pencils?
Hurt and determined, it was that night I decided to journey into the forest to find this boy, and take back what was rightfully mine.
After my bloodshot eyes closed into darkness, he came to me in my dreams. The scenario of the morning prior replayed in my mind’s eye, but this time, when he “disappeared,” I swore I saw the flicker of wings behind him. How odd.
The next morning I prepared for battle.
Much to the head maid’s disliking, “too unladylike,” she said, I asked for my warm leather boots, a pair of trousers, a camisole, and a light jacket. Comments like those were not new to me, and so I paid her no mind as I gathered the rest of the necessary accessories for my travels.
I found my leather backpack and filled it to the brim: a pair of binoculars – to look from a distance, a heavier jacket -in case I’m out until dark and the weather becomes cooler, and the flint my father gave me- to light a fire if necessary- from inside my bedside table drawer, and from the kitchen I grab some non-perishables: a helping of grits (a poor man’s food, I’m told, but my father’s favorite), some preserved bread, peanut butter, strawberry jam, and some homemade biscuits before I slide behind the head chef, confusing him momentarily as I stole a piece of fancy cheese he’s using to assemble my mother’s weekly charcuterie board, and ran out to the back without saying a word. I caught him as he shook his head, unquestioning, returning to his work, and I proceeded to the forest beyond the veranda.
The forest looks much more intimidating from the inside.
I made sure no one was looking as I snuck between the trunks of the birches and the abundant evergreens, sly in my best attempt and seemingly successful. I grabbed one more thing before making my journey. As I walked past the handyman’s shed that laid just to the left of the veranda, I grabbed some rope, used for marking construction lines: thin, wound into a circle, and attached it to my belt, then took it to a tree to tie it off; it would guide me back home.
I didn’t have a name to call out as I searched for the boy, but my mind spit out the word “faerie” and so, I repeated it aloud. “Oh, Faerieeee! Please, dear faerie, return my sketchbook to me!. Do not be alarmed, I will not harm you. We can even be friends,” I coaxed, and though that wasn’t my true intention, I felt for a moment that perhaps it was a possibility. As long as he returned my sketchbook, he couldn’t be a bad person.
By the time my rope ran out I hit a small waterfall with a creek flowing from it, and in the afternoon sun the sight I saw still reigns supremely beautiful in my mind. I had quieted my calls for the last half hour, and in that silence there he sat. My sketchbook and pencil in hand, staring at the waterfall, black jet hair soaking up the sun as he concentrated and drew what he observed. From his back, they glistened. Faerie wings. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I took a small step toward him, holding my breath, and cracked a branch beneath my weight. He broke from focus and his dark eyes met mine in fear. “It’s okay,” I said as he stood up, “I promise I won’t hurt you.”
He spoke for the first time, “how is it that you can even see me?”
He pondered, his voice soft like dew. From the stories my mother used to read to me, no one had actually seen a faerie, they were simply made up. “I don’t know what you mean,” I replied, “ how is it that you even exist?” We both stood there silent. In the moments that passed, our gazes never faltered. I was afraid if I looked away he’d disappear again, before that could happen, I needed to retrieve my sketchbook. “Please,” I pressed, “may I have my sketchbook back?” He looked down at the velvet cover, questioning whether he should or not, as he found the book and the contents inside to be quite fascinating.
“Is this how you see the world?,” he asked quietly, looking back up at me with sincere eyes.
“Yes,” I said, “nature is important to me, and so is that book and those pencils you are holding.”
Flipping it over in his hand for the second time, “really,?” he insisted.
“Really,” I replied. I took another step forward, and in his surprise at my movement he held the sketchbook high above his head, facing his wrist towards the water, ready to throw. “Please!” I screeched, “please, whatever you do, don’t throw my book into the water!” My eyes teared up and his hardened expression softened.
“Okay, I won’t, just don’t move.”
I watched as he slowly placed the sketchbook on the rock he had been sitting on, reassuring my fear would not become reality, when suddenly, and shockingly, he asked if he could watch me draw sometime, in which I replied “yes,” before he vanished from my sight, as quick as a hummingbird, leaving me behind in the forest to gather my things. I gathered them quickly, and hurried my way home, relieved to have my sketchbook and pencils back but flabbergasted at the fact that that boy was a creature of mythical understanding.
No one would believe me, so I won’t tell.
When I arrived home early in the night, my clothes muddy from my travels, the guards and maids addressed their concerns as I walked through the dining hall where my mother sat at the dinner table, unbothered, even at the witness of my clothing, and where she ordered the newest maid to run me a bath in which case I followed her to do so.
After arriving in my bathroom, the claw-foot tub spewing a steady stream of hot water, I undressed and added some essences and rose petals into the tub, watching joyfully as the oil bubbled at water’s top and ran up my bare legs as I climbed inside. I soaked in its warmth, processing the events of the last two days, still having a hard time believing that it was reality where this was happening. I’m looking forward to seeing him again. As odd as it sounds, the picture he drew of the waterfall was rather terrible but made me all the more curiouser about him. I wished I had caught his name. For now, I suppose “Faerie” works.
At night’s end, I snuggled pip beneath the covers and smiled myself to sleep. Moments after my final gaze into the dark, the door to my room creaked open and I swear I heard someone say, “sweet dreams,” before closing it again. I dreamt it was mom’s voice, but I know that couldn’t be true… if only it were true.
//End of Part One//
If you like what you read, I’ll post monthly updates. Also, if you are a small-time writer yourself, feel free to email me for a feature, and we’ll work something out, at no cost to you! Thanks for reading!