Author: BurnettBowman PM
A war in fairyland has caused the Queen's children, Lola, Gemma and Brett, to be sent away for their own safety. This is the story of them finding their way home. Credit to Lanton (their DeviantArt name) for the cover.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Chapters: 3 - Words: 3,922 - Published: 02-16-13 - id: 3101443
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Birthday Party
At dawn Lola tiptoed out the door of the tiny rubber-coated home in the towering ceiba tree that she shared with Brett and Gemma. She yawned and stretched and fluttered the sleepiness from her wings. She breathed deeply, filling her lungs with warm, moist tropical air. This was the part of the rainforest day that she loved most. Emerald, the name she and her cousins dubbed the rainforest, was a lively, pleasant, magical place to live. She stood perfectly still listening to the hum of insects and small animals that lived in the recesses of the woody liana vines twisted around the trunk of the tree. Their buzzing, clicking, chirping and croaking added to the perpetual clatter of the rainforest. It sounded musical to her ears. But recently she had begun to hear another sound, a low rumble that seemed out-of-sync with the natural rhythm of Emerald. She tilted her head to the left, then to the right, and cupped her ears with her tiny hands, but on this morning she could not detect the disturbing sound.
Lola always woke before Brett and Gemma. Her twin cousins were younger than her and seemed to require more sleep. Most mornings she sat cross-legged on the glider outside their home, braiding her raven blue-black hair and waiting for Brett and Gemma to stir from their beds. Lola smiled as she thought about the glider. It had been Brett's idea. He had sketched a design for the swing on the back of a broad plantain leaf. Then he cut twigs and branches to the right size and lashed them together with vines softened in rainwater. It had taken more than a month, but bit-by-bit, he constructed a real swing large enough for the three fairies. She and Gemma made cushions for the swing from silky kapok fibers that grew around the seeds of the ceiba tree.
If this had been an ordinary morning Lola would have rocked on the glider until the twins awoke. But this day was special. It was Brett and Gemma's eighth birthday. To celebrate, the three fairies and their friends, Mirabel, Agaly, and Filbert, planned to picnic on top of the ceiba tree where they could bask in bright sunrays and survey the leafy canopy below.
Rrrrrk, Rrrrrk. Lola knew that sound. It was Filbert's happy purring call. It meant the big toucan and the others would soon arrive. Quickly Lola woke the twins; then ran to a nearby bromeliad plant to fetch water from its vase-like leaves to make hot cocoa and cassava flat bread for breakfast. When the friends arrived the fairies were ready to begin the climb to the top. It would be an arduous hike, but it was the twins' favorite birthday tradition.
Brett had first met Filbert three years earlier. They had both been foraging in the forest for sapodilla fruit when they backed into each other. At first Brett was afraid of the big toucan, but the bird's gentle nature quickly put him at ease. The two collected fruit together the rest of that day and at dusk Brett invited Filbert to come home with him and meet Lola and Gemma. The toucan's brilliant black, yellow and red feathers, iridescent blue feet, and large green and orange beak reminded Lola and Gemma of a rainbow. Filbert was loud and clumsy, but he was friendly, funny, and full of interesting stories. They spent that evening eating sapodilla and sharing stories and discovered that they liked each other. The fairies and Filbert had been friends ever since.
Agaly was just finishing his breakfast when he heard Filbert's purring rrrrk, rrrrk. He put his breakfast dishes in the cupboard, picked up a small bag that held his birthday gift for the twins, and trudged slowly toward the home of his neighbors.
Agaly's full name was Agalychnis Annae, but everyone called him Agaly. Agalychnis Annae was such a big name for so small a fellow. He was a tiny tree frog only two and a half inches long. His bulging golden eyes, shiny leaf-green back, orange colored belly, and sky-blue side stripes gave him a striking appearance. But it was his pleasant disposition and friendly nature that the fairies liked best. He had been the first to welcome them to the neighborhood when they moved to the ceiba tree. In the years that followed Agaly and the fairies had become good neighbors and good friends.
When the fairies first met Agaly he was a happy, energetic fellow. He loved games of hopscotch and often challenged Brett and Gemma to races around the tree trunk. But lately Agaly had become sluggish and slow and often seemed sad. It was true that several members of Agaly's family had mysteriously disappeared. The fairies thought that was the cause of the changes they observed in their friend. When they asked about the disappearances Agaly said it was something called 'endangered' but he didn't really understand what it meant.
Last week the fairies and their friends, Agaly, Filbert and Mirabel – a graceful, winged creature whom they had only recently met - planned a birthday hike for the twins. Agaly said he would not be going. Everyone was disappointed, especially the twins.
"You have to go," cried Gemma. "You're my best friend. It won't be a proper birthday picnic without you."
"No, no," replied Agaly wearily. "I'm not feeling well. I feel very tired and don't think I can make it to the top."
Then Filbert had croaked in his husky voice,"Rrrrk. I'll carry you. You can cling to my back with your suction toes and ride to the picnic."
And so it was decided. The friends would meet at the home of the fairies early on the morning of the twins' birthday. The fairies would pack a picnic basket with cassava flat bread, tapioca pudding, fresh sweet sapodilla fruit, and graviola tea. They would share their food with Filbert who loved fruit. Agaly would bring a basket of crushed beetle bodies and insect larva that he alone would eat as the others had no appetite for dead insects. Mirabel would bring sweetener for the tea made from the sweet nectar of the many flowers she sampled.
When everyone had gathered, they began their upward hike. Filbert, with the picnic supplies clutched in his big beak and Agaly clinging to the feathers on his back, half hopped and half flew in his clumsy way. They were the first to reach the top. He spread the picnic blanket and laid out refreshments for the others to eat when they arrived.
The fairies trekked over the smooth parts of the upward trail and used their wings to fly over rough spots. They reached the top a short time after Filbert and Agaly, hot and tired from the long climb. They dropped down on the picnic blanket to rest and ate the fresh fruit Filbert had spread for them.
Mirabel flew all the way but arrived long after the others. She was a monarch butterfly and simply could not resist flitting among the countless flowers growing on vines wrapped around the tree, inhaling their sweet fragrance and tasting their sugary nectar. She reached the top lively and energetic. The hike had been easy for her. She was, after all, a monarch. Her great-great-grandmother had journeyed thousands of miles, all the way from the Amazon rainforest to North America to lay eggs on the leaves of milkweed plants that grew in that distant land. Mirabel had been born there and, when still very young, had flown thousands of miles back to the Amazon. It was a journey that she would soon begin again.
The picnic began with eating and talking and laughing. Later in the day Mirabel, Brett and Gemma explored the top of the tall emergent tree. They flew to the edge and peered at the lush canopy below hoping to spot their home. They gazed into the clear blue sky above, a rare sight for the fairies whose home under the lush canopy of the ceiba tree provided only glimpses of blue sky. They gazed far into the distance, counting other emergent treetops.
"Brett, Gemma, Mirabel!" The three heard Lola's call and raced back to the picnic area. Cups of tapioca pudding were set around the edge of the blanket and birthday presents piled in the middle. Lola and the friends sang the happy birthday song to the twins. Then, while the others ate pudding, Brett and Gemma opened their gifts. From Lola each received new clothes made from silky kapok fibers, a dress for Gemma and a shirt for Brett. The garments were soft and billowy and dyed to their favorite colors. It had taken Lola a long time to make the new clothes because she could only work on them in the early morning before the twins awoke. Gathering and dying the silk and weaving it into cloth had been hard work, but seeing the twins flutter and dance in their new clothes made the effort worthwhile.
Next the twins tipped up the bag that held the gift from Agaly. Out rolled a tiny blue and green marble trimmed with slender streaks of gold. It was a magical marble that shimmered iridescently when held to the sun. When they looked deeply into the marble, the twins saw fish swimming in the blue parts and humans and animals walking on the green sections.
"Where did you get this beautiful marble?" Lola asked Agaly.
"My grandmother gave it to me just before she disappeared," Agaly said in a slow sad voice. "She told me our family was endangered and the marble would help us find a new home. But now all of my family has disappeared and I am too tired to look for a new home. I don't know exactly what it is, but it is the most beautiful object I have. I hope you like it."
"We love it," the twins chirped in unison. Brett grasped the tiny marble tightly in his hand.
Then Mirabel flew close and delivered her birthday gift, a soft butterfly kiss on the cheeks of each twin. She gently fluttered the tips of her forewings softly touching each twin leaving a glistening mark that felt like a summer breeze. "That's butterfly dust," she said as she flitted away. "We butterflies are covered with it. It's the substance that gives my family the power to fly safely on our long journey to the north and back again. It will keep you safe too." Then, with gentleness, she brushed a powdery kiss on Lola's cheek too.
"May I see your marble?" Mirabel asked. Brett opened his hand and Mirabel studied the tiny object. "This is not a marble," she declared after several minutes. "I've seen objects like this in the homes of humans, only much larger and not as magical. Humans call them globes. They are like maps of the planet."
"What's a planet?" asked Gemma.
"And what's a map?" chimed Brett?
Mirabel looked at her fairy friends. She realized that although she was much younger her travels had made her wiser. "Well," she said, "a planet is round like your marble only much much bigger. It's big enough for thousands and thousands of fairies, and birds, and butterflies, and frogs, and many other animals and plants to live on it. It is so big that when you stand in one place you cannot see the end of it. We're on a planet called earth." Mirabel was quiet for a moment before she went on. "And a map," she continued, "is a guide. It helps travelers journey from one place to a far away place and find their way back again."
"Do you have a map to guide you when you travel to North America?" asked Brett.
"Oh no," said Mirabel. "Monarchs don't need maps. We know the way. I don't understand how we know, we just do."
"Do you see many interesting things when you travel?" asked Lola.
"Oh yes," answered Mirabel.
"Tell us!" begged the twins.
"Alright," said Mirabel. She settled on an orchid blossom near the edge of the picnic blanket and folded her black and orange wings above her body. The fairies and Filbert sat in a circle around her mesmerized by her stories. Only Agaly seemed uninterested. He was fast asleep on the far edge of the blanket.
Mirabel talked of many things. Animals that the fairies and Filbert had never seen, water called oceans that were so broad that when standing on one edge the other edge could not be spotted, machines with wheels and honking sounds that humans used to travel about, air that was so cold white crystals fell from it, and plants that smelled and looked and tasted different than any in the rainforest.
"There's one especially wonderful plant," said Mirabel dreamily. She closed her eyes as she remembered the pinkish blossoms and sweet aroma of the milkweed plant. She could nearly taste the tender leaves with their milky juices that she had enjoyed when she was in her caterpillar stage. She was about to tell her listeners about the plant's seed-filled pods that contained silky fibers similar to the silky kapok fibers when she was jolted off the orchid blossom by a thunderous crash.Chapter Three Danger In Emerald
CRASH! BANG! BOOM! CRASH! Everyone, even Agaly, who was awakened by the blast, stared in the direction of the deafening sound. At first they saw nothing. Then, from the distance, they heard crackling and snapping sounds and the pounding of many animals' feet running through the forest. Suddenly, with an eruption of terrifying noise, a flock of blue heron burst through the canopy and flew over the fairies' picnic area. The gust from their panicked flight pushed the fairies down and sent Mirabel tumbling across the top of the tree. The big water birds had an uneasy glare in their eyes. Agaly covered himself with the edge of the blanket remembering that great herons sometimes lunched on frogs. But these herons were not looking for food. They were flying fast away from the blast.
"What's happening?" asked Gemma in a frightened voice.
"I don't know," answered Lola.
"Look," shouted Brett, pointing toward the east. "What's that black-gray column raising up from the forest floor?"
"I don't know," said Mirabel anxiously, "but I've seen it before. When my sisters and brothers and I flew to the forest last fall there was much of that black-gray stuff. It rose up from large stretches of ground where there were no trees or plants or animals. It smelled bad and stung our eyes. Some of it had hot ambers that singed our wings. Three of my brothers flew into a really black column and died." Mirabel looked sad as she remembered her brothers. "I don't know what those columns are," she continued, "but they're dangerous."
"Look," Brett yelled pointing again to the east. "It's one of those dangerous black-gray columns. This one is really big and close!"
The stunned picnickers watched silently as the menacing column grew larger and larger and drifted toward them. It reached their treetop full of hot black-gray particles that burned their skin, stung their eyes and hurt their nose. Agaly began to cough. He sank to his orange belly. His golden eyes closed and he lay very still.
"Lola, I'm afraid," cried Gemma clinging to her cousin's hand.
"RRRRK," crocked Filbert. "RRRRK! We must leave! Everyone hurry! RRRRK! RRRRK!"
The alarmed picnickers rushed to the liana vine and began the difficult downward trek. Mirabel and Lola, holding Gemma's trembling hands, were first to leave. Brett, clutching the blue and green birthday marble, followed his sister and cousin. Filbert folded the corners of the picnic blanket into a sling around the coughing frog and, with the sling dangling from his massive beak, carried Agaly down the tree trunk.
At the fairies' home halfway down the ceiba tree, Filbert set Agaly on the glider. The frog continued to cough uncontrollably. Lola worried that Agaly might disappear like other members of his family. She prepared a medicinal potion from graviola fruit that an old grandmother who lived in a village at the edge of Emerald had taught her. The old woman was a curandera, a healer. The tonic, with its sour-acid taste, calmed the ailing frog's cough and, once again, he fell asleep.