The Melancholy Fairy Queen
Time moved slowly for the fairy queen. One would have thought it would move quite quickly, for she was very old. But that is the thing about being immortal: time becomes a very funny thing; the fairy queen had grown weary of so much time.
And so the fairy queen set out on a long journey to find the one person who she knew was older than she was. For there was a hermit who lived in a cave near the sea who was said to have been born just after the world came into being.
When the fairy queen reached the hermit, the sight was not what she expected. She did not find an old man sitting lethargically in a chair contemplating the sea's waves in an ancient, melancholy kind of way — the way in which she had herself sat in her own throne among the court of the Fae. Instead, she found a middle aged fellow dancing around a fire with a little boy. The little boy giggled and laughed and chortled at the man's funny dancing. And the man was laughing, too. When they had stopped to rest because they were both rather winded, the fairy queen stepped into view.
'Where is the hermit who was born just after the world came into being,' she asked.
'That would be me, Fae Queen,' said the middle aged man, breathing the last of the laughter and wiping the sweat from his brow.
'But you are so young!' she exclaimed.
'I do not think I could find as much as three wrinkles on your face either, Fae Queen,' he replied with a grin.
'What I mean is, here you are, so old, so very ancient, and with as much vigor as if you had only had a true forty years!'
The fairy queen was almost angry, to see this ancient hermit without a drop of melancholy, while she herself, even younger, could hardly summon the will to get up from her throne, let alone dance with a small child.
'And you are wondering where your vigor has gone?' the hermit asked the fairy queen wisely.
The queen startled at the abrupt nature of his question, but nodded at its truth.
'How often do you laugh, Fae Queen? How often do you dance? Not the dance of the Fairy Court, solemn and languid, but the dance of one who is free? How often do you eat a favorite fruit, but only a bit so that its flavor will never grow dull? How often do you smile into the face of a small child?'
He stopped his questions, for he knew the fairy queen could not answer them well.
'Until you do those things, your life will be as any other; be you immortal or not, it will feel too long.'
The fairy queen swallowed. And then nodded again. She tilted her head and thought about the nature of his words. She could argue, but then the sight before her made her know that she would come off the worse in that debate. For she had done none of the things he asked of for a very long time.
There was nothing more to say, and nothing more to ask.
Then, the fairy queen made her way home to her court, and sat on her throne.
She sunk into her melancholy, and languished.
As she sat, sunken, she heard tell that one of the members of her court was with child. Her melancholy grew and grew. Until the day the child was born. For the fairy queen had had enough of languishing. She graced the home of her court member, and looked into the eyes of the newly born child. The fairy queen saw a gleam in the fairy child's eyes — it was a gleam that made her smile. When the child chortled, the fairy queen laughed.
And suddenly all her years were as nothing and her heart was light. For she was young again.