“Ack!” William barked, stumbling over yet another twig and angrily shaking out the dry leaves accumulating within his shoe. He groaned, huffy and tired. “You know, you could have told me we were going into the woods. I would have worn better shoes; like boots or something—”
“You’ll live.” Alex shot back disinterestedly, very occupied with the forest around her. She peered into the darkness, using the thick moonlight as her illumination. The trees were large and plentiful, their branches collapsing together above her and William like fingers clutching at each other, the green a canopy of rustling. She looked left, then right, then left again, and seemingly having spotted whatever it was she was looking for, she hitched her pants up and raced forward quickly. “It’s this way!” she said, and William halted his bumbling and hurried after her.
It was quiet in the wood tonight, though not silent. Occasionally the movement of an animal could be heard, or a toad, or insect would call out, but mostly it was still. William followed Alex dutifully through the winding forest, his mind somewhat having fallen into emptiness; he trusted Alex, but he hated being roused from a good sleep in the middle of the night. However, a little adventure was always good. He could never say no to it.
Oh Aels. He stopped dead in his tracks at the thought. I’m turning into Alex.
“Have you ever seen the forest so bright at night?”
“What’s that?” William started from his scary realization.
Alex stopped, dropping the hood from her cloak and gazing upward at the sky. “The moon. I’ve never seen it so bright before. Everything’s so clear, and visible. It’s like walking in a dream.”
“Is that why you brought me out here?” William asked exhaustedly, flopping his arms to his sides. “To see the moon?”
“What? No! Of course not! What I have to show is much better. I just…have to find it…” Alex trailed off, looking about again, as though –
“Are we lost?” William pressed.
“Huh? No! No of course we aren’t lost! I’m just, you know, a little turned around at the moment—”
“Owl Mother forgive me for what I may do.” William spoke to the above, “May you know I never intended to do evil in this world but sometimes things really push it.”
Alex rolled her eyes and ignored it, doing another small spin in her circle. She stopped, thinking, then slapped her hood back up and waved to William. “This way; come on! And from here on out, be very quiet.” she hushed.
“Why?” William said loudly while tromping up behind her.
“Shh!” Alex whirled, slapping her hand over William’s mouth. “Just, try, okay?” This time William rolled his eyes and removed her hand.
“I think I can manage.” he said.
Silent, like tender footed animals, the two moved through the trees and underbrush. (William far less tender footed than Alexandra.) After a time—Alex in baited breath and William simply held in curious and confused quiet—Alex crept up and crouched behind a fallen tree trunk, loaded in years of moss and little stems topped with teeny white flowers. She waved to her faithful friend, and William, like a surefooted cat, skittered forward and sidled up next to her, and together, in unison, guided by Alex’s pointing finger, peeked over the log, and there before them in a silver-lit glade, covered in patches of gloriously-glittered red mushrooms, was a little light, bouncing to-and-fro, tickling the tops of the mushrooms, emitting a strange jingling sound. William squinted. Alex stared, eyes popping out of her head. It seemed to be like a firefly, William thought, although, a particularly large one. William tapped Alex on the shoulder and motioned her to ducked down behind the log with him. Trancelike, barely able to tear her eyes away, she complied.
Tucked behind the rotting trunk, the two looked at each other face to face.
“Isn’t it amazing.” she hushed in awe. William, utterly bemused, raised his brows in skeptical disbelief.
“Alex, you brought me all the way out here, to look at…a bug?”
“What?” Alex whispered angrily, “No! I led you all the way out here to see an Aeling faerie!”
“A what?” William whispered.
“Look!” Alex insisted. And again, in unison, the two peered over the log, not even daring to stick their noses out. The little light, purplish and flitty, moved with great finesse and sweeping arcs from one mushroom patch to another, hovering about the red tops before moving on, swift and smooth yet fast and beetle-like. William squinted again, a strange mixed of reservation and well-what-in-the-blazes-is-that brimming in him. Biting his lip, he turned and tapped Alex on the shoulder again, who in her unshakable hypnosis, dipped behind the log, and the two were face to face once more.
“Alex. That is a bug.”
“That is not a bug! That is a faerie! Of what type, I don’t know. Perhaps a pixie. But that is a faerie if I have ever seen one it’s a faerie!” she hissed at the end, angry that her friend couldn’t see what was right in front of his face.
“Alex that is not a faerie!” William bit, hissing as well. “Want to know how I know? Cause faeries aren’t real! That’s how I know!”
“In Dresden Malloroy’s Codex Mediocris—”
“Oh no.” William groaned.
“It succinctly states that idyllic hours for spotting fae folk during the latenight is between one and three o’clock in the morning, on a full moon, during the summer, and that the most auspicious places to look are clover beds, where there’s cowslip, and where there are mushrooms.”
As she stated this, Alex ticked off each of the points on her fingers while William slumped against the log, head tilted back, sighing. Alex gave him a small whack, jerking him back to attention.
“William, I am being serious!” she hissed. “That there,” she pointed up, “Is an Owlish Aeling flippin’ faerie.”
William, still unconvinced, peeked back over the log, and paused. “…I admit, it’s a really big bug…”
Alex, puffing a strand of hair from her face, reached behind her back, and tugging from her belt pulled out a small telescope, which she unfolded and slapped into William’s hand. “Here.” She whispered angrily. “I knew you wouldn’t believe me. So have a look for yourself.”
“Wha—why didn’t you just hand this to me in the beginning?” he asked.
“Because I thought it was obvious!” Alex said, trying to suppress her tones. “I mean that is a faerie if I have ever seen one!”
“But you’ve never seen a faerie before! And neither have I for that matter!”
Alex, irritated and eager, waved her hand for William to gaze. Sighing, William put his right eye to the socket and twisted the knob. Searching, he at last spotted the flighty bulb, hovering over an extra large shroom, and spun the glass into focus. Slowly, through the fuzzy sphere slowly churning into clearness, William’s jaw dropped as, unbelievably, he found himself staring at a tiny person. Nude, with thin, dragonfly wings, tenderly dusting the mushrooms with teeny dollops of gleaming water-drops, placing them just so, as though decorating a cake.
William shook his head, opening and shutting his eyes rapidly. Having shaken himself, he held his breath and gazed back into the telescope.
The little being fluttered, carefully blowing a small bubble from its mouth, as though blowing a kiss, and so gently, took the droplet into its hands and placed it on the very top of the mushroom, skipping back and scrutinizing its work. Very much pleased, it dusted its tiny hands, and jingled, then turned, and looked straight at William.
“Ee!” he squeaked and ducked behind the trunk, clutching the scope to his chest.
“OhmyAelsit’saflippin’faerie.” he blundered out.
“Did it see you?” Alex hushed in alarm. William had gone pale.
“I – I – I don’t know.” he sputtered. “I – I don’t think so.”
Carefully the two peeked over the log. Alex started. “It’s gone!” she said.
William looked about. “Maybe I scared it.” he said, unsure.
Both scanning, Alex slowly stood, beginning to look about her for any sign of the fae, but nothing glimmered. Only the mushrooms. She stood on her toes, trying to see over, or through underbrush, but nothing seemed there. In a sigh of relief, William stood, clearly startled from the event. He stretched his back and let out a big winded breath.
“Well, that was, frightening.” he stated. “I can’t believe that just happened! I think I’m in shock. Is that possible? That I’m in shock? Hmm.” William stepped lazily over the large trunk, his foot searching, and pulling his other foot over he stumbled a bit and it fell –
Directly on top of a mushroom.
Before the crunch even registered, in a sudden blinging jingle, the little fae exploded forth from a pile of leaves, and ringing like an alarm bell and flaring into a deep indigo flame, the faerie blew forward like a gust and made a beeline for William, snatching him by his shirt and peeling it up and over his face, blinding him and locking his arms upward and sending him screaming and careening backward, toppling him over the log and sending him tumbling into Alex yelling as they fell like two pillars into a heap. William, shouting words that Alex had never even heard before, looked up and saw the faerie fluming in her face, it making sweeping arm motions and quick, it kicked her in the nose, then proceeded to attack William with all its little fae might. Whirling about him like a cyclone.
Taking off at speeds that rivaled gazelle, the two bolted, tearing through the forest, the horrible jingling raging behind them, and William practically ripping the shirt from his body so to see.
“RUN!” Alex kept screaming, and the two tore off, William yelping in terror the whole way. Their feet thundering and mowing over everything in their path as they stampeded through the forest, the moon and her shadows chasing after them, the faerie hot on their tail.