“Oh, what a beautiful day!” Pindi stood on the top of the fence above the fairies’ summer home in the Green Japanese Maple Tree and stretched her arms towards the sky. “I love spring. Just smell the Wisteria and Jasmin. I bet the bees and hummers are happy, too.”
“Mindi”, Pindi called to her twin sister, “Let’s fly over to the frog lantern and see who’s there. There are always frogs and butterflies around the frog lantern. And, we can catch up with the koi. They’re always so big after sleeping away the winter.”
“Mother said to stay nearby today. She’s spring cleaning and may need us.”
“All the more reason to fly away,” said Pindi. “I hate spring cleaning. Besides, we already did our chores this morning.”
They flew off towards the frog lantern, Mindi wondering what trouble Pindi would find today. Pindi always found trouble.
“Hi Bumble Bee!” shouted Pindi. “How are you today?”
“Buzzy,” the Bumble Bee replied. “So many flowers to visit!”
“Hey Butterfly! Hello.”
“Hello fairies,” said the Butterfly, “Where are you going?”
“We’re flying to the frog lantern. Want to join us? We can have a Gathering,” said Pindi. “It will be fun!”
A shadow formed on the ground below the fairies. Pindi looked up and cried “Oh no! Dive Mindi. Look for someplace to hide. Take the butterflies with you. I’ll fly around and distract the Mockingbird. They are so aggressive, and they eat butterflies. They might eat fairies, too.”
Pindi dove and swirled and danced in the air, leading the Mockingbird on a crazy chase. Out of breath, she glanced around quickly to see if Mindi had led the butterflies to safety. She didn’t see them. Taking a quick gulp of air, Pindi flew as fast as she could towards the frog lantern. She flew in through the grill work and landed on the floor in the middle of the lantern. She lay there panting and waiting for her heart to slow down. The Mockingbird tried to reach her through the grill work, but it was too big to fit. It gave up and flew away in search of easier prey. Pindi smiled.
Mindi flew into the frog lantern and landed on the floor near Pindi. “You’re crazy! You could have been eaten! Why did you do that?”
“I wanted to give you time to get to safety. Besides, I fly fast and well. I knew – or at least I hoped – the Mockingbird wouldn’t catch me. And he didn’t.”
Mindi didn’t know what to say. She just sighed.
“Let’s fly back to our home tree and ask Mother and Father if we can have a Gathering tomorrow night. We’ll invite all the butterflies and bees and hummers and frogs. It’ll be fun!” Pindi was on a roll. “Besides, its time to get back. Mother will be looking for us.”
The fairy sisters took off towards the home tree. Pindi was still giggling about out-flying the Mockingbird.
A large crow hovered in front of the fairies. “Stop!” he ordered.
“What do you want?” asked Pindi. “We haven’t done anything to you.”
“I am Raven Feather. I am the leader in the Murder of Crows that rules here. I outrank Ka-a. You gave Ka-a a shiny coin. I want one.”
“I gave Ka-a a shiny coin because he flew me home when it was raining. I can’t fly in the rain,” Pindi said. “Why should I give you anything? You’re just a bully.”
Raven Feather lunged at the fairies and snapped his beak. “I will eat you if you don’t give me a shiny coin.”
“Not again! Why are some birds so mean? Come on Mindi, let’s go. We can outfly this big bully.”
The sisters flew. “You go left, I’ll go right,” Pindi ordered. “Fly in a zig zag pattern. He won’t be able to chase both of us.”
“O-okay.” Mindi was shaking. She didn’t fly as fast as Pindi and she wasn’t nearly as confidant. But she flew to the left, zigging and zagging as she went. Raven Feather started chasing her because Pindi was far ahead.
“I can do this. I can do this.” Mindi chanted to herself as she flew as fast and hard as she could.
“Dive!” Pindi yelled. “Dive.”
Mindi dove. Raven Feather followed. At the last moment before crashing into the ground, Mindi rose. Raven Feather wasn’t as fast and crashed, beak first, into the ground.
“Ha! Teach you to try to bully us!” Pindi called. The fairy sisters flew close to each other and bumped fists. “We’re fierce,” they yelled together.
The next night there was a Gathering at the frog lantern. Pindi and Mindi’s parents, The King and Queen of the Green Japanese Maple Fairies provided honey treats. The bees brought mead. The hummingbirds brought nectar. The butterflies brought small flowers to decorate the table. The frogs ate mosquitoes and sang. Everyone danced and laughed and had a great time.
He didn’t want to look at himself in the mirror. He couldn’t stand up straight enough or hold his head upright to see in the bathroom mirror. So, he didn’t look. But he was told he needed to shave.
He placed a hand-held mirror in his lap and geared himself up to look. He didn’t like what he saw. He was old. His hair was white, and too long. “At least I have hair,” he said to himself. His eyes used to be grey. Now they were cloudy and softly focused. One eye wouldn’t open all the way. Time for another Botox shot to deaden the muscles that constantly fought to close that eye. His face had fallen. His remaining teeth were yellowed. He looked not just old, but haggard. Like someone who didn’t care.
His hand shook as he brought the razor to his chin. He scraped the razor over his face, taking care not to cut himself. It seemed to take forever to finish. At last, he decided he was done and put down the razor down. It didn’t matter to him that he had missed places. “No one wants to look at me anyway,” he muttered.
“Not true!” His daughter was there. She was the one who had made him shave. Next, she would make him go out to lunch. He used to like going out to lunch, especially with pretty women. He thought his daughter was pretty. But now, he hated leaving his room. He didn’t want anyone to see him so old and bent over. He was ashamed.
“Dad, you could have a harem if you wanted. All the women at this retirement complex would love to hang out with you. Betty just asked about you.”
“I can’t see any of them. I can’t lift my head enough. I just talk to the ground.”
“Do you think they care about that? They all like you. You are charming.” His daughter knew her encouragement wouldn’t help, but she had to try. She looked him in the eye. “Promise me you will go down to dinner tonight.”
He tried to cross his gnarled, arthritic fingers in his lap. He had no intention of leaving his room after they got back from lunch. “I will try.”
In the light of day hope is restored.
In the dark of night, fears take hold.
Her lungs burn, her chest heaves.
She slows, bends to hold her knees and gasps for breath
Before running again.
Surely, she is be safe now.
How far has she run?
He can’t possibly follow after drinking all the rum.
Alert to every sound, she looks around
Expecting to see him around every bend
Behind every tree.
Has she really gotten free?
Light catches her eye at the edge of the woods.
Is it a refuge? A step in her quest to be free of him?
To be safe?
Heart pounding, she approaches the door
And raises a trembling hand to knock.
The door creaks open just a crack.
Bloodshot eyes peer out.
An evil grin shows rotting teeth.
“I knew you’d be back.
Come in and meet your fate.”