Xeni Spreading Flowers

The moon hung over my head. Its light was welcome, but not necessary. I had a flashlight, after all.

For the past few nights, I had been hearing... well, something- in my flower garden. But each time I called out from my bedroom window, whatever was lurking about scurried away. But not tonight. Tonight I would catch whatever it was red-handed. It was probably a stray cat. Or a squirrel. I just hoped it was a rat.

There was a rat in my bedroom once. I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and the thing scurried right by my feet in the dark. I screamed so hard my parents came running in, wondering if I were being kidnapped or something. Instead, they just found me bawling in the corner. Not my greatest moment, I'll admit. But the rat turned out to be real, and it also turned up dead a few nights later when my dad put a trap out for it.

As I expected, my flowers began to jerk around in pale moonlight. I went from a prone position on the grass to my knees and started crawling towards the garden. My mom wouldn't like me getting my nightgown all dirty, but it was a necessity. If I went running towards the garden, the thing would hear me and run away. I had to at least see what it was, first. Once I was in front of the garden, I jumped to my feet and switched the flashlight on.

"There you are!" I cried out into the night.

The light shone down on the whole garden, but there was nothing there. But I knew there had to be; the flowers kept moving around even in the light. I just couldn't see the animal causing it. Was it a snake? Nocturnal bees? Those existed, right?

"Amy? What are you doing out there?" I heard my mom call out. I didn't answer her, and just kept my gaze focused squarely on the garden. But try as I might, I couldn't see anything there.

Eventually, she came outside to drag me back in. Not before asking me again what I was doing with a flashlight aimed at the garden.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for something." I answered flatly.

"And what is that?"

"I don't know."

"I see. And you couldn't do this in the morning? When there's actual sunlight and you're not wasting our batteries?"

I sighed. "No! It has to be now! Because it's not here in the day!" Sometimes grown-ups just didn't get it.

"Oh, I see. So whatever it is only shows up at night. What kind of thing is that?" Mom asked. This was my chance to explain, so I took my eyes off the garden for a moment.

"It's nocturnal! That means it only comes out at night! Duh~!" I giggled a bit at the end.

"Of course. You're so smart." She smiled.

At that moment, the flowers moved again. I focused the light on the moving flowers, but neither I or my mom saw anything. At least, I don't think either of us did. She'd have told me, right?

"Did you see it?"

"Amy, sweetie, I think it was just the wind. Let's get you to bed, okay?" Mom took hold of my left hand.

"But! I know it's something!" I protested, but I couldn't overpower my mom. And kicking and screaming would only get me a stern yank and perhaps a swat to my behind. I didn't want to risk that. I'd probably already get the scorn for dirtying my nightgown in the grass.

I think it was just the wind.

But I didn't feel any wind that night...

~o~

The next morning there was no school, so I got dressed right after breakfast and ran outside to the garden. Today there was a light breeze, so all the flowers were dancing in the sunlight. Whatever was running around my garden wouldn't be there now. But I really had nothing else to do, so I sat down in front of the garden and stared at them. I wasn't one for productivity or having real "fun" like your normal kid.

The flowers swayed to and fro. Left and right. It was calm, relaxing. I could feel my eyelids getting heavy, and I even started to yawn at a few points. Rather than waste my time there, I could have been in my room. Doing homework my stupid teacher assigned for the weekend. Mom would probably get on my case over it. But it got to a point where getting up was just too much work.

So I sat there, just watching the flowers. Until I saw one of the move. And then another. And another. I was snapped out of my daze as I saw the chain of flowers being moved around came closer and closer to where I was sitting. My heart began to race, but I stayed perfectly still. What else was I to do?

Then, it popped out from under the flowers. Large, purple wings flapping furiously to keep the body afloat. A small body, but it looked like mine. Well, not entirely like mine. This one had short hair. And small boobies. Like a grown-up, but she was a tiny person. I stared at it in awe, until it sort of floated in front of me. I reached out my arm, and the small person landed in the palm of my hand.

"Are you real?" I asked.

The small person nodded, but didn't say anything.

"Are you... a fairy?"

She nodded again.

"Can you talk?"

The small fairy put a finger to her tiny chin, like she had to think about it really hard. Was it such a hard question? Didn't she just have to open her mouth to say something? Like I did? But after a moment, she shook her head.

"So you can't talk?"

She nodded.

"Then how can you tell me your name?"

The fairy shook her head again. I guess a name wasn't important since it was just me and her. But it felt strange just calling her "fairy".

"Can I give you a name, then?"

The fairy nodded. I smiled, already having a name in mind.

"Xeni! That's sheh-nee. It's a special name!"

The fairy nodded, and with that became Xeni to me. Instantly I shot to my feet and went running to my house.

"Mommy! Look! Look at this!" I called out. Within seconds she showed up at the door.

"What is it, Amy?"

"Look! It's a fairy!" I turned to point at Xeni, but she was no where to be seen.

"Where, sweetie?"

"She was right there! Hold up!"

I ran back to the flower garden, but I couldn't find Xeni anywhere. Had I dreamed it? I turned around to face my mom.

"She was right here! I'm not lying!"

"I'm not saying you are, Amy. But she's not there now, right?"

She wasn't calling me a liar, but it sure felt that way. "No..."

"It's okay. I'm sure she'll come back soon. I have to keep working, okay?"

Mom went back inside the house. I turned around, and suddenly there she was again. Xeni flew up right in my face and started shaking her head.

"You don't want my mom to see you?" I asked her.

She shook her head, and crossed her arms. It looked like she was really mad with me.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know."

The fairy shrugged, and flew up to my nose. She gave it a few pats, which tickled a bit. If I couldn't show her to anyone else, and I couldn't talk to her, what was I supposed to do? I could only ask her yes or no questions, and that wasn't as fun.

Xeni flew down to the flowers and signaled for me to get closer. I knelt down in front of the garden, and Xeni scooped up some of the yellow pollen from the nearest flower. She held it up to me.

"That's pollen. It's what makes other flowers grow around them, I think."

Xeni nodded, and flew over to another flower. She dropped the pollen on that flower, and pointed at it.

"I think it's like that, but I'm not sure."

She shook her head and pointed at the flower again. This time, the flower sort of trembled for a split second.

"What was that?" I asked her, confused.

She flew down lower to the stem and pointed at the dirt. I leaned in even closer, and saw that at the base of the stem, there were two other green sprouts emerging from underneath the dirt.

"You did that?"

Xeni nodded.

"Wow! So you make flowers grow anywhere you want?"

Xeni shook her head. She flew deeper into the garden, signaling for me to follow her. I'd have to crawl through the flowers myself, but whatever she wanted to show me was probably important. Close to the other end of the garden, Xeni pointed to a few dead flowers. Their stems had been snapped, and it looked like there were tiny bite marks on them.

"Who did this?" I asked her.

Xeni shook her head, and pointed at the ground. There was nothing there, just more dirt.

"Was it a bug?"

She shook her head.

"A nocturnal bug?"

She shook her head again. To better illustrate her point, she dropped down to the ground and started walking around. With her arms, she made gestures like I'd do to imitate a monster of some kind, complete with mute growling visuals.

"A monster? A little one?"

Xeni nodded, then shook her head. I guessed that meant I was close. She knelt down and tapped on the dirt beneath her feet.

"It comes from under the ground?"

She nodded. She went over to the broken flower stem and pretended to chew on it where there were bite marks.

"So whatever it is, it comes up from underground and eats my flowers?"

Xeni nodded. Next, she flew up over a flower and tried to cover it entirely.

"And you don't want that to happen?"

She nodded, and this time flew up a bit higher and cast a shadow on the flower. I snapped my fingers.

"And the monster only comes out when it's dark!"

Xeni nodded, smiling brightly.

"So that's what's been in the garden at night! I knew there was something there!" But then something else came to mind. "But how do I stop it?"

Xeni nodded her head. She seemed to have a plan. Too bad she couldn't just tell me it.

"So, I guess we just have to wait until it's dark, huh?"

Xeni nodded.

~o~

When night fell, and the moon hovered over the garden as usual, I sat outside by the door. Mom didn't want me rolling around in the grass again in my nightgown, so I hadn't gotten changed yet. That didn't stop her from telling me to get ready for bed, but I ignored her. Xeni was flying around in the air above, making sure no one but me saw her.

"Why can't Mom see you?" I asked her over the course of the day.

She had just shook her finger, like I was in the wrong for even asking the question. I didn't push the question after that.

It didn't take long for the flowers to start shaking again in the darkness. I took hold of my flashlight and started crawling towards the garden. Xeni flew down in front of me and held out both her hands.

"What is it?" I whispered to her.

She pointed at the flashlight.

"I need it to see the monster." I explained.

She shook her head, and tried to pry the flashlight out of my hands.

"I can't use the flashlight?"

She nodded. Maybe that's why the previous night I couldn't spot the monster. Light scares it. I nodded, and put the flashlight to a side in the grass. I looked up into the sky to see the nearly full moon. I'd be relying on its light after all.

I crawled right up to the garden and forced my vision as best I could. I could see the moving flowers, but try as I might I couldn't see whatever was causing it. My vision went from pitch black to slightly visible a few times before I had to rub my eyes.

"I can't see it." I whispered.

Xeni nodded, and flew up right up close to my eyes. She dug into the pocket of her tiny skirt and blew a puff of something into my eyes. I closed my eyes, of course, but whatever it was had gotten in my eyes. As I tried to rub it out, I realized it didn't really hurt? And when I opened my eyes again, suddenly everything had a soft glow to it. Xeni herself was letting off a bright purple light, and the flowers in the garden were all emitting faint white glows.

"Is this how you see everything?" I asked Xeni.

She nodded, then pointed into the garden. Clear as day, I could now see what was causing the flowers to move around. It was a small man, just like Xeni, only dressed in tattered brown rags and wearing a red pointy hat. He had a beard that reached down to his feet, and he was chewing on a flower stem.

"What is it?"

Xeni made a gesture with her hands, but naturally I didn't understand her. Whatever it was, she wanted him gone as much as I did.

"So how do I stop him?" I asked.

Xeni dropped to the ground and scooped up a bit of dirt. She showed it to me, then squeezed the dirt tightly in her hands.

"I have to catch him with my hands?" I whispered.

She nodded, then brought the clasped dirt up to her lips and kissed it. She spat afterwards, then tossed the bit of dirt aside.

"I have to kiss him, too?"

She nodded.

"Eww. Do I have to?" I whined.

She nodded again. If that was the price of saving my flowers, I didn't have a choice.

The small man settled on a flower to chew on, and for a moment had his back turned to me. I pounced into the garden like I'd seen our cat do a million times, arms out and ready to catch him. It was only for a moment, but I saw the small man turn to see me just as I crashed into the dirt.

I felt something wiggling around between my hands, but there was dirt all over my face and I was too scared to open my eyes. From the house, I could hear my mom calling out to me. She had probably seen me jump into the garden. Using my arms, I tried to rub off whatever dirt was in my face so I could see the little man in my hands.

He was there, trying desperately to break free. Xeni was flying around in front of me, panicking. I heard footsteps behind me, so I realized Mom was coming to see what I was doing. I wasted no more time, and planted a kiss on the small man's face. He tasted far worse than the cat.

"Amy! What are you doing?"

Before I answered her, I looked at whatever was in my hands. The little man was gone, replaced by some kind of hamster or something. I showed the animal to my mom.

"It's a gopher! So that's what was digging around your garden!"

"What do I do with it, Mommy?"

"Let it go, but over the fence. It'll find a new home somewhere else."

So I did. Once the former little man was gone, Mom practically forced me into a bath to wash up. I didn't get a chance to see Xeni again after that, but I was certain she'd be happy with how things turned out.

And in fact, once I was done with my bath, I found a flower on my pillow. The petals were missing, plucked so they could form a small path to my bedroom window. From there, I looked down at my flower garden. The part I had crushed to catch the little man had grown back almost instantly, and there were now flowers all around the yard as well.

Just a small show of thanks from the little fairy.