This month I’m participating in the Story-A-Day May challenge, which can be found here: https://storyaday.org/ . There’s no set length for the stories, but just for fun, I’m aiming for a 1,000 word minimum every day.
These tales will be even less polished than my usual, since I’ll have to ignore the impulse to endlessly revise. But I hope you’ll enjoy them!
Today’s prompt is “The Bridge”, and my story concerns a fairy who breaks the rules to travel between two worlds.
The Fairy’s Flight
Marla’s wings shimmered a kaleidoscope pattern as she flitted between flower petals in a sun-drenched meadow. All this frolicking, day after day, sometimes grew exhausting.
Fairies were strongly encouraged to flit, flutter, frolic, and sing — except for Ellie, whose tuneless warbling was dreadful — to dance, dillydally, and daydream, but never, ever to interfere with mortal affairs.
Though they appeared to share a single world, fairies and mortals were intangible to one another and glimpsed only at certain angles, as if through a small, distorted lens. That was how Marla first saw the young woman with dandelions in her hair.
She couldn’t hear the sobs that shook the human’s shoulders, but they played a melancholy song on her heartstrings. Every few minutes, the woman caught her breath, scribbled in a notebook, and sighed.
Marla tried to fly around and snoop on the words, but the lens between worlds shifted, and she could never find the right angle. Poetry, she guessed. A broken heart, or pining for unrequited love? Even fairies, with their overbearingly chipper attitudes, understood those feelings.
According to fairy bylaws, Marla should have gasped and fled by now, tittering all the while — that was the approved reaction to a close encounter with a mortal. Instead, she sat on a clover and hummed a soft tune. Eventually, the woman looked around with a puzzled expression, possibly hearing a few notes on a faint breeze. When she spotted Marla she startled, then smiled sweetly and waved. Her hand stretched out, but grew distorted and vanished before it could reach Marla. So their worlds were near, but far.
In subsequent days, their chance encounter became more of a routine, unbeknownst to the Fairy Elders. Marla innocently met her daily quota of frolicking in this particular meadow, and the woman always happened along to write in her notebook — often quite upset upon first arrival, but gradually cheered by their silent friendship.
One day, Marla lingered until sunset in hopes of another visit. She was about to leave when the woman came running wildly out of the forest, looking over her shoulder with fear, pursued by a snarling man. The knife he clutched was edged with blood.
It was the venom, rather than volume, of his words which caused them to echo between worlds. “I’ll cut out that lying, peasant tongue, Norah!”
The woman — Norah — silently shouted back. When she tripped, Marla gasped and zipped closer. “Get up, get up!” But her words went unheard, and she couldn’t touch her friend let alone lift her.
The man loomed over Norah.
Marla buzzed around his ear, flew straight through his skull, and chomped her teeth where his nose should be. Her teeth only chattered against themselves. He wasn’t even bothered enough to swat at her, if he saw her at all.
Her frustration built as her wings beat the air. But she wouldn’t give up so easily, even if it meant breaking the cardinal rule.
Marla concentrated all her magical energy. The lens between worlds shifted further away, until it appeared that Marta stood at one end of a dark tunnel. This was the bridge to the mortal world. Before her, a cyclone of clouds swirled, lit by angry flashes of red lightning.
As she flew against a strong headwind, the Gatekeeper appeared at the far end of the tunnel, his ominous silhouette blocking her path. Dragon horns sprouted from his helm, and he carried a tangled staff made from fairy bones.
His voice boomed, “This is not permitted.”
“Try and stop me!”
And he did. His staff thumped the air and a sudden gust sent her spinning head over heels. Her four wings doubled their speed as she regained her bearings and flew onward. Through the cyclone, dodging forks of lightning, she neared the lens to the other side.
The Gatekeeper’s staff thumped again and a wave of raw magic struck her. Marla screamed as her wings burst into flames and faltered. Her eyes blinked away tears. Her fingers, crackling with sparkling fairy magic, clawed at the air to drag her forward.
Near her goal, he could have easily reached out and grabbed her. But his cold, black eyes merely watched her flutter past like a wounded bird.
At the last moment before striking the lens, Marla had an unfortunate realization. She hadn’t considered what a tiny fairy — now wingless — could do to stop a cruel human. That might be a problem.
Marla tumbled into the mortal world and landed on her hands and knees. Norah and the man stared up at her.
Apparently, the lens between worlds distorted things more than she’d realized.
“Holy crap, it’s you!” said Norah, her speech a little less refined than Marla had imagined.
“Die, monster!” screamed the man, trading his knife for the sword on his hip.
As Marla stood, her hand closed around his torso. She gave him a dirty look, by fairy standards — by human standards it was still almost charming — and flung him over the neighboring forest. His wails faded into the distance.
Served him right. She turned about, careful not to squish Norah. The embers of her tattered wings fell upon the dusk-lit meadow like dying fireflies. “Are you hurt?”
“Only a little.” Norah sniffled and wiped her nose on her sleeve. Then suddenly perked up. “Hey, I’ve got a whole list of jerks who could use some comeuppance. Look.” Pages from her notebook spilled out, not filled with poetry or yearning, but lists of names and petty grievances. “You can be my enforcer!”
Disoriented by all these rapid changes, Marla was at a complete loss. “That’s not exactly what I had in mind…”
Norah put her hands on her hips. “You got something better to do?”
From her lofty height, Marla surveyed the mortal world, seeing no tunnels back to her own. Had the Gatekeeper slammed the door shut behind her? One thing was for certain: no one in this world would ever expect her to frolic. “I guess I could give it a try.”
“That’s the spirit!”
So the unlikely pair strolled off to mete out justice — or something very unlike it — upon an unsuspecting world, the giant fairy still finding her footing, and the human positively giddy about her future. But that is a tale for another day.
Thanks for reading, and check back tomorrow for another story!