More fairies?

“You must be Violet,” said the plump little fairy.

Violet stared back. “Y-You must be Spark…”

The fairy grinned, his cheeks red like cherry tomatoes. “Why yes, I am! How did you know?”

“A cat told me,” Violet replied.

“Ah yes,” said Spark as he rolled his eyes. “Mr. Pots is a bit of a know-it-all.”

“Mr. Pots?” Violet asked.

“Yes, Mr. Pots. He likes to curl up inside pots in the kitchen in the house where he lives. I saw him do it once. He can even fit inside the small ones.”

Spark’s voice reminded Violet of tinkling bells. He wore a pointed red hat with locks of hair the colour of caramel sticking out. Spark’s red suit was the same colour as Violet’s favourite Santa Claus Christmas tree ornament. Spark’s belly was a bit like a Santa Claus belly, too.

“Would you like to meet some of my friends?” Spark asked.

“Um…yes?” Violet answered.

Spark pointed to a huge, over-turned tree stump with roots sticking out. “See that fungus over there? Touch it gently and see what happens!”

Violet saw four layers of bright, sunny-coloured fungus growing on the side of the stump. 

I touched that mushroom and it turned into Spark, thought Violet. If I touch this fungus, will it turn into fairies, too?

A mushroom

Violet walked quickly toward the house with the tiny red door on the tree in the front yard. She couldn’t wait to meet Spark. What did he look like? What did his voice sound like? The cat told her that Spark was mischievous. What did that mean?

Her heart quickened as she turned down the street and saw the tiny red door. She ran up to it, dropped her backpack, and crouched down. She peered into the small window in the door. She could see bright blue and lots of greens, just like tree leaves up against a sky.

Violet gently took the metal door knocker in her hand. As she was about to knock, the door slowly creaked open. Violet gasped as sunlight streamed though the gap. She gently pushed the door open wider. It was a forest!

There was the sound of birds chirping and a soft, fresh breeze blew through the door. Right inside the door was a huge tree. In the tree was a nook where a bright, shiny mushroom stood.

Violet took a breath. She reached her arm through the door and touched the mushroom gently with her fingertips.

There was a flash of light. Violet fell backwards onto her rear end. She blinked and she saw, sitting in the nook, not a mushroom, but a plump, tiny boy dressed all in bright red.

“You must be Violet,” he said.

The Cat (A magical door continued)

Violet couldn’t stop thinking about the tiny red door. She even dreamt about it that night. She deamt that a squirrel lived inside the tree and invited her in for tea and cake. When Violet went through the red door, inside was like a miniature house. It looked just like her aunt’s house. The squirrel gave her lemon cake and it was delicious. The squirrel talked and talked and told her many stories about nut-hiding and running from dogs. When Violet woke up she thought the dream had actually happened, and was disappointed to realize it was just a dream. She liked that squirrel.

All day at school Violet couldn’t stop thinking about the tiny red door. By the end of the day she decided she couldn’t wait for her evening walk with her dad. She would take a few extra turns on her way home from school and visit it again. 

As she walked, with her school bag on her back and a spring in her step, she saw a cat stretched out along a stone wall. “Hi, Kitty,” she called. Violet always said hello to the neighbourhood cats. She didn’t remember seeing this one before. It was a swirl of white and orange and brown and black, and it had a very wise look in its eyes.

“Hello, Violet.”

Violet stopped. The cat’s voice seemed to be speaking from inside her head. She stared at the cat. “You saw the red door, didn’t you?” The cat asked. Violet’s mouth gaped open.

“It’s all right,” the cat continued, “there’s nothing to be afraid of. All cats talk, it’s just that not everyone can hear them. Just like not everyone can see the fairy doors.”

“F-Fairy doors?” Violet couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“Yes, fairy doors,” said the cat. “They pop up every now and then. All the outdoor cats like me know where they are. And we know who lives beyond them. The red door appeared just the other day.”

“W-Who lives at the red door?” Violet asked.

The cat swished its tail. “A particularly mischievous fairy named Spark. He’d love for you to visit.”

“He wasn’t home last night,” said Violet.

The cat yawned and stretched out his front legs along the wall, spreading his toes. “Even fairies need to run errands, you know.”

Violet couldn’t believe it. She was talking to a cat. 

The cat stared at her. “What are you waiting for? Go see Spark! You’ll need to get home soon, won’t you? I’m sure your father is waiting  with a plate of cinnamon apple slices.”

Violet’s heart gave a little leap. How did the cat know her after-school snack?

Just then a chipmunk ran across the lawn beside the stone wall. The cat bolted after it, disappearing under a bush. There was a furious rustling in the leaves, and then all was still. The cat was gone.

Violet blinked a few times while she stood on the sidewalk. Then she took a breath, and started walking in the direction of the tree with the little red door.

A magical door

Violet gasped. “Look, Daddy! A door!”

“Where?”

“On the tree over there!”

“Which tree?”

Violet pointed. “That one.”

“I don’t see a door…”

“It’s bright red. You can’t miss it.”

“I still don’t see anything.”

Violet let go of her dad’s hand and ran up to the tree. “Don’t run on people’s lawns,” her dad called. Violet bent down and touched the door gently with her fingertips. It felt like painted wood, and the brass handle was cool on her skin. She peered through the little window. Nothing but darkness inside. There was a little window off to the side and she looked through that too. Again, darkness.

“C’mon, Violet. Why do you keep touching and looking at the tree?”

“I’m seeing if someone is home.”

Her dad sighed. “Let’s go. We have to get you to bed. It’s a school night.”

“Okay, okay…”

After another touch of the door and peek in the window, Violet leapt across the lawn and held her dad’s hand. She looked back at the door over her shoulder as they walked away. “You’re sure you can’t see it?” She asked.

“I couldn’t see it,” said her dad, “But what I do see is that you have a very active imagination.” He gave her hand a loving squeeze.

“It’s not my imagination!”

“Okay, well, maybe we can go for another walk tomorrow night and see if it’s still there.”

“Yes! Can we?” Violet was breathless.

“Absolutely.”

(To be continued?…)

I’m free! Now what?

buzzfeed.com; Stringer/AFP/Getty Images
It only took a second for it to happen: The door of the cage opened slightly. The Upright held a hunk of meat. Freedom overtook hunger and I shot through the gap. The yells of the Upright grew faint as I bounded down alleys and leapt over crumbling walls. The stretch of my muscles felt divine after days of confinement.
I must find the jungle. The stench of the Uprights is almost too much to bear. There is no green, there are no leaves, there is no fresh air. The Uprights travel in things that stink and sting my nose and eyes. The things go fast but not as fast as me.

The Uprights run and shriek and hide from me as though I want to feast on each and every one of them. I could kill them with one bite from my jaws, but the jungle calls more strongly. I run and run and run but I don’t smell it. 

I am free but I am lost.

Little: Chapter 8

Get-out-ggg###–ett##outtt>>>!!!

The terror-confusion-fear-distress was stifling.

BRAIN BURST. Little could no longer smell Mother. Little no longer felt connected to Mother. Like a spider web that had tethered her to her Mother and Sisters had snapped. No connection, no obligation, no motivation to work, no motivation to help. She was Separated. The scuttling and the bustling and the buzzing in the nest told Little that the few remaining Sisters could sense it too: Mother was gone.

Little prodded with her antennae through the stench of abandonment and could faintly smell She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. She was in the same corner of the nest, the same spot she had been for the past two Sun Cycles. Little gently crawled over and over her body. It’s me, your Little, she sang.

g…ggg…get…####… She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless dipped her antennae slightly.

Mother is gone, can you smell it? Only a few sisters are left.

Get…###…g##et…

Little pushed She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless toward a nectar pot. Here, Little sang, Drink the Life Liquid. It’s Lilac. She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless extended her tongue and drank.

Little ensured over the past two Sun Cycles that She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless was full of nectar. But regardless how much Little made her drink, she knew she was hollow, nothing inside. And now Mother was gone.

Grief-uncertainty-loss-confusion gripped Little. With so few sisters left how would they tend to the cocoons? They must be kept warm. The larvae must be fed. With Mother gone no one would be Called to Sky-World to forage. Little could feel the remaining sisters skittering helter-skelter with no Purpose. Then Get-out-ggg###–ett##outtt>>>!!! (terror-confusion-fear-distress) and two more sisters fled the nest.

By the end of the Sun Cycle Little and She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless were all that were left.

Little: Chapter 7

All of the hatchlings became Scentless now. They all hatched with the same poisoned scent, all born with stubby wings, all died within a Sun Cycle. More sisters had fled the nest with the scent of terror-confusion-fear-distress and never returned. Little was still the only one who could taste the poison and smell the infected sisters. Other sisters just knew that hatchlings were dying and thought that Sisters were being called to Sky-World, many never to return.

I must tell Mother, Little scent-sang to She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. I must tell Mother that our sisters are fleeing to Sky-World and not coming back. They are not being Called. They are not leaving to forage. They are fleeing from something…

Disturbing Mother is against the Rules, sang She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless.

It is the Apple Life Liquid, Little sang. I’m certain! And the Apple Life Powder too. Sisters drink the Apple Life Liquid, they become sick and flee; hatchlings are fed Life Powder and they are born deformed and sick and they become scentless. I must tell Mother!

Before She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless could protest, Little followed the scent of rose-rain-rimmed-with-flame. She climbed and climbed up the cocoons and nectar pots and when the scent was strong she new she was very close to Mother.

Suddenly sour prickles scattered through Mother’s scent: G-g-G-G-g-g-g-G–Get….###…o-O-o-out…

(Terror-fear-shock-fear!) No, Mother! Little scent-screamed. No! Don’t leave!

Leave? She is not leaving, a Sister sang. What is the matter? No one disturbs Mother!

But she is sick! She will leave!

The sister bunted Little with her body. Stay away from Mother or you will get the Stab!

Little froze. Stabs were never used with sisters. Stabs were used only to protect Mother or to protect oneself in Sky-World.

You are the same Sister who chewed through pots, sang the Sister. Leave! Leave Mother alone! Follow the Rules!

The Sister bunted and pushed Little and she tumbled over other sisters who were sitting on cocoons. Little stood up at the bottom of the hill of nectar pots and cocoons and scanned the air for the scent of the Sister, but she was not near. Then she scanned the air for She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless.

Nothing.

Maybe she is taking a Scentless sister to Sky-World? Little skittered over to the tunnel leading to Sky-World. She climbed up the tunnel until her eyes stung with the blast of COLOURS AND LIGHT. She smelled a faint waft of the dreaded terror-confusion-fear-distress (Get-out-ggg###–ett##outtt>>>!!!) She tried not to drown in panic as she scrambled after the scent trail. Then Little saw She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless, a few bee lengths ahead, scuttling farther and farther away through the grass blades. Too far away. She never went this far.

Wait, wait! Little Scent-screamed. It is me, your Little! Don’t go! Wait for me! Little buzzed her wings, lifted off the ground slightly, and zipped ahead. She landed a few bee-lengths in front of She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. The terror-confusion-fear-distress from She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless smelled stronger and burned Little’s antennae. Please don’t go, please don’t go! Little approached her when suddenly She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless pounced.

STAB! STAB! STAB!

Little frantically dodged the stabs and untangled herself from She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. She scuttled back. Each stab had released a pungent scent of KILL-terror-DEATH-terror-KILL-TERROR-TERROR! It made Little’s stomach squeeze and her brain scramble. She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless stood still, a cloud of fear-exhaustion-confusion-fear surrounding her.

It was me, Little softly sang. Why did you try to Stab me? (Confusion-devastation-fear-fear-abyss-of-unknown…)

I don’t know, sang She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless. (Fear-exhaustion-confusion-fear…) I…I don’t remember.

Please don’t leave, sang Little.

Leave? Why would I leave, my Lovely Little?

Both of their scents smelled slightly more peaceful.

Let us return to the nest, sang She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. There is much work to be done.

Little: Chapter 6

      Sit, sit, compulsion to sit… There were no scentless bodies, so Little sat on a cocoon, curving her whole body around it, keeping the young one inside nice and warm. Grow, grow, I will keep you warm to grow, Little scent-sang. Her thoughts kept drifting back to She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless, and how she showed signs of the mysterious, terrifying sickness.

      A scent slowly wafted from the cocoon. I am ready, I am ready!

      Oh, lovely sister, sang Little. Let us see you! She crawled off the cocoon. She couldn’t wait to smell the beautiful scent of a hatchling! They smelled of rose-rain-spice with several more layers of sweet.

       The hatchling chewed a hole through her cocoon. SoUr-SiCkNeSs-SoUr-SiCkNeSs… 

        Little froze. (Panic-panic-panic!) Hatchlings are not supposed to smell like this! Help! Help!

        Sisters gathered. Little could smell She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless as she squeezed up beside her.

        Another one, sang She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. All the Sisters could smell the wrong, pungent smell of the hatchling.

        Sorrow-sadness-sorrow-sadness… The sisters all sang. The nest was engulfed in a heavy cloud.

        The hatchling pushed her body out of the hole she had chewed in the cocoon. Little gently crawled over the hatchling one, two, three times. Her wings are too small!

        SoUr-SiCkNeSs-SoUr-SiCkNeSs…Get-out-ggg###–ett##outtt>>>!!! The hatchling’s scent stung Little’s antennae.

        She will be Scentless soon, sang She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless.

        Sorrow-sadness-sorrow-sadness… Mother joined in on the song.

        Little crawled down the hill, squeezing between her sisters, and chewed a hole in an Apple nectar pot.

Little: Chapter 5

Little helped She-Who-Takes-the Scentless carry the dead body through the nest to the entrance hole. She did not know what would happen after they heaved the body up the tunnel toward Sky-World.

The light in the tunnel became brighter and brighter the further they went, stinging Little’s eyes. Then–

COLOURS AND LIGHT!

Sky-World! Oh, the flood of scents! The flood of colours! The multitude vibrations in the air of lives buzzing, flying, crawling, breathing…And when Little looked up, the Sky stretched on forever, up, up. Little felt a tickle at the back of her brain that all of this was familiar somehow. The vivid green of the grass blades that surrounded them flooded Little with bliss and the breeze through her fur was refreshing. Even the soil beneath her feet felt different from the soil floor of the nest.

Little and She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless carried the body a bit further and then laid it on the soil. Little watched as She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless stepped back. Little smelled She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless scent-sing a song she never smelled before: (Earthy-sunlight-spring-breeze-garden-burst…)

O Eternal web

Woven in this shell,

Unwind and flit and flutter forth

And weave a new Life well.

O Eternal Life

Flee this body, dead and gone,

Leave us this Sister’s memory as

The circle cycles on.

She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless placed both antennae on the body and bowed her head. Then she turned and waddled back toward the nest.

What will happen to the body? Little sang.

She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless stopped. She will become the soil, the sky, the grass, the leaves, the wind…

But how? Asked Little.

No one knows, my Little. We just trust.

She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless disappeared into the nest tunnel. Little drank in Sky-World as she stood near the lifeless bee body. Then Little searched and searched with her antennae but indeed the body was truly scentless. As she stood Little felt a friendly swirl of peace surround her, the body, the grass, the Sky, everything. It embraced her, it embraced everything.

Soon She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless returned with another body. She placed it nearby the first body and began to scent-sing:

O Eternal web

Woven in this shell,

Get-out-ggg###–ett##outtt>>>!!!

Unwind and flit and flutter forth

And weave a new Life well.

O Eternal Life

Flee this body, dead and gone,

Get-out-ggg###–ett##outtt>>>!!!

Little skittered up to She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. She could smell her own panic-panic-panic!

Sister, sister! Little scrambled over She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless again and again. Stop! Stop! What’s happening! Little tried not to drown in her fear.

Little could smell a waft of terror-confusion-fear-distress, same as the sister she had once smelled in the nest. Then as quickly as it started, it stopped.

What is the matter, my lovely Little?

(Panic-confusion-panic-confusion) Your song…your scent…what happened?

Nothing, my Love…she smelled confused.

Are you certain?

Yes! She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless sang a soothing song of peace. Worry not, beautiful sister. Let us go back to the nest. There is much work to do.

As She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless turned to leave, Little drank in her scent, her presence. Please, she sang. Please do not drink from Apple. Promise me you will not drink from Apple!

I promise, my Little.

But Little knew it was too late.

Little: Chapter 4

Little scuttled down the tunnel to the nest. The darkness hurt her eyes after all the colours and light of Sky-World.

She felt an overwhelming urge to vomit.

Little heaved her heavier self up the brood, squeezing between Sisters until she found an empty nectar pot. Then Little leaned her head over the top and vomited all the nectar she had collected from Cherry. She felt much lighter.

Thank you, small Sister, scent-sang the Sisters who sat on surrounding cocoons. Thank you for bringing back energy to buzz, to move, to fly… Then Little scraped the balls of pollen from her back legs into another empty nectar pot. Thank you, lovely, her Sisters continued to sing, for bringing back energy to grow.

Little stretched her tired body over a cocoon. Then the scent of She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless pricked Little’s antennae. My little one! She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless sang, You were Called! You have been to Sky-World and back! And I smell Cherry. Ah, you chose a good source. Such sweet Life Liquid from Cherry. Well done, lovely Little. Well done! Little felt the warm body of She-Who-Takes-The Scentless squeeze up alongside her.

The colours, the light, the scent-songs… Little began. She was almost too tired to scent-sing.

Spectacular, isn’t it? Sang She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless. Now sip. Sip the Life Liquid.

Little’s antennae wriggled up and down as she searched through the scent-songs and Mother’s scent-beacon to find a full nectar pot. Little concentrated her antennae and then Apple Apple Apple was the scent she detected from within the pot. Little knew, without being told, that the Rule was never to drink the nectar you provide. It must be left to Mother and Sisters. Her antennae focused on a pot nearby, two sister-bodies up and three over. Little squeezed her way between the bodies, and since the scent of Cherry from Sky-World still clung to her fur, each sister she passed was thankful. Oh, Lovely! They sang, Thank you, thank you for your Sky-World gift!

Little found the pot, dipped her head over the side, stretched out her tongue, and drank. SoUr-SiCkNeSs-SoUr-SiCkNeSs… Little flinched and rolled up her tongue. Apple was one of the first Life Liquids she had drank after she hatched. She knew what it tasted like. It was not this.

Little scent-sang to She-Who-Takes-the Scentless to try the Life Liquid. It tastes fine to me, sang She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless. In fact, it tastes more exquisite than other Apples I have imbibed.

Little tried it again. SoUr-SiCkNeSs-SoUr-SiCkNeSs… Something was wrong with the Life Liquid. Dreadfully wrong. Her Sisters could not drink this. She chewed the side of the wax pot. The click-click of her mandibles alerted She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless. What are you doing? She scent-sang. In the darkness no one could see the hole Little had chewed in the pot. The tainted Life Liquid oozed out and trickled down. It flowed over the feet of the nearby Sisters and they buzzed and scent-sang, What’s this? What’s happening?

Little searched with her antennae for other pots with Apple. She found three more. Each one tasted of SoUr-SiCkNeSs-SoUr-SiCkNeSs, and in each pot she chewed a hole to let the Life Liquid leak out so no Sister could drink it. Soon an number of Sisters’ feet and fur were sticky and wet from the oozing Life Liquid that Little had released. Anger-surprise-anger-surprise, they scent-sang. The song had a tang that made Little uneasy.

Our Life Liquid pots are leaking!

But our pots do not leak!

Someone has chewed holes!

BETRAYAL! The pungent scent-song flashed through the nest like lightning.

Rose-rain-rimmed-with-flame. Mother’s scent-beacon slashed through the scent-clouds.

Who? Demanded Mother. Who, who, who?

Little was silent. She-Who-Takes-the Scentless was silent.

Mother’s scent-beacon changed to Rose-rain-rimmed-with-FIRE-FIRE-FIRE!

Little knew that chewing holes in the pots was not betraying her sisters; betraying her sisters would be to not speak up. Her sisters must know of the poisoned Apple. Little squeezed her way through sisters’ bodies up towards Mother.

When Little was two sister bodies away from Mother she stopped. She could smell her own scent-cloud of distress-fear-distress-fear… It was me, Little sang. I chewed the holes in the pots.

Little’s scent-cloud hovered in the silence.

Little felt two large antennae poke and prod her head and fur. She dared not breathe. Little, sang Mother. Why?

(Distress-fear-distress-fear…) It tasted wrong. So wrong. We must not drink it.

The scent-songs of several sisters puffed up from nearby: (surprise-anger-OUTRAGE!) It tastes just fine! Betrayal, betrayal, betrayal!

Betrayal, betrayal, betrayal! Echoed the entire colony. All except Little and She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless.

Terror-fear-I-want-to-flee… Little stood still as soil.

Stay with She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless, sang Mother. I will not Call you to Sky-World to gather Life Liquid and Life Powder again.

The surrounding sisters pushed their way back so a space formed around Mother and Little.

Little was enveloped in a scent-pulse from Mother: STAY-STAY-STAY-STAY.

Then a BRAIN BURST and Little’s desire for Sky-World vanished. Her memories of Sky-World vanished too.