The Fairy and I (Part II)
“Do you see?” the silver fairy asked me.
I nodded, for indeed I did see this magical view she laid before me and could not speak for fear my voice would break its lovely spell.
Her eyes narrowed. “But do you truly see?”
I looked at her, and did not understand.
But I was about to see most clearly.
“Do you not think them beautiful?”
I gazed again at the golden fairies and nodded vigorously. “They are marvelously fair,” I risked all to whisper, and was delighted that the vision remained.
She nodded, a sad, slow nod. “You do see. You see that they are much more beautiful than me.”
“No!” I cried in a louder whisper, and my body started. “I do not see that at all! You are surpassing lovely, fairy.” I said the truth of my small heart, and it was then I noticed it, something in my fairy that the others did not have; that thing which made my words feel sound. There was something in her eyes. A depth lacking in the golden Fae dancing about the pond, their tiny selves so much more shallow, like a pool unfilled.
The loveliest fairy shook her head. “Oh, my dearest child, you do not see. Come, let me help you.”
I tilted my head, my brows furrowed in confusion. I raised my eyes to hers, eager to know what I could not see. She slid a small hand under my chin, and pointed my eyes toward the golden fairies. “Look carefully at them. Do you not see how their hair falls, shimmering and shining gold all down their backs? There is not a fleck of silver to be seen.”
She felt me nod, and turned my eyes to her. “Do you see these silver hairs? They were but flecks once. How much more course they are now. So, you see, their hair is more beautiful than me.”
I knew it was a grave crime to contradict, and so I kept quiet, though I thought what she had said did not seem so.
Again, she moved my face to see beyond the tree, at the fairies who darted along the water, stopping to stare at the image captured there.
“Look at their eyes, how young and how merry! Full of glow, and unlined, the color uniform on every inch of them. No cares or worries hamper these.”
I saw the glowing young eyes, and longed to tell her of what they lacked—the depth, and more than that could not be seen, like my beautiful fairy’s eyes’ twinkling. But I could not, for she spoke when I would have summoned courage enough to have my say.
“My eyes have lines from worries and cares, my irises fade as the years fall. There is blue that resides close beside, a permanent fixture. And smoothness fades to a dim memory. So, you see, their eyes are more beautiful than me.”
I grew a kind of uncertainty then. This fairy, so wise, and far older than I, must know great truths. Who was I, so young and unlearned, to see things differently? I was taught that elders are often right. Perhaps my knowledge was born of some fault, like pride, selfishness, or some such thought—those thoughts so quick to be seen in children, yet so rarely acknowledged in those of greater age. I was to be wary of these things, though at the time I was not certain what they were; I could not be right when she, my teacher, was so very sure I was wrong.
Once more she turned my eyes toward the frolicking trio. “You see their wings outstretched and taut, their movements so strong and flexible? How smooth their skin! How able their bodies! They could fly for lengths and not grow weary. The gossamer of their wings…” her voice came to my ears with a longing and an agony. And I knew I could not mention the grace of her gentle movements, the delicacy of each fold of her skin. Nor could I go beyond and praise her fearless calm to speak to one such as me—surely had I shown myself to the young fairies, that would flee upon sight of me—for I knew she would not hear me.
“This drooping skin, and crinkling of gossamer that would not bare me more than a length or two at most without rest; the slow movements, each chosen with a sight more care.” My fairy sighed, and the words that followed were engraved upon me, “So, you see, they are more beautiful than me.”
She had said it thrice, and the magic moved; I knew then the truth of her words. I had been wrong, but now I could see that youth was more beautiful than my beloved fairy.
“Now hurry home, dearest child. Make the most of your beautiful years. For all too soon, you will see, that time has slipped away, and your beauty is lost.”
I turned to my teacher with a startled gaze, then rushed fast and quick, along the forest floor, out of the trees and in the door, up the stairs, and, with not a moment to lose in the fury of my youth, fell asleep.
(To be continued next Sunday...)