The first bubble rider sprites were spontaneously created in a cast iron cauldron, over a dying fire of oak logs and ash. They neither appeared by accident nor on purpose, and came alive when a witchy love potion was left simmering for an extra 69 seconds while the witch was daydreaming.
A love potion over a hot flame always brings bubbles to the surface, but on this occasion, while the witch’s mind wandered, the bubbles became airborne, revolutionizing the transport and packaging of love potion numbers 9 through 29. As the postal service also came to learn, air mail was cheaper and more efficient.
Now this first crop of bubble riders, having had no formal training, were exceedingly difficult to control. They chose their targets based on their own childish criteria, often finding themselves trapped under down comforters large dogs and curly wigs. Extrication was sometimes impossible, and ultimately most returned to the witches for disciplinary training. It became so sought-after – for witch and fairy alike – that a highly competitive Academy was established to ensure an appropriate education.
Over time, bubble riders have become the primary resource for the transport and delivery of the love potions made by witches. While black cauldrons are still used almost exclusively, the vials are no longer necessary, and because of the delicate sprite wings, white magick has replaced black. A clean and airy potion is created from the symbiotic dance between witch and sprite fairy. Compared to the dark and heavy potions of old, these newer potions are nearly impossible to detect.
The teacher of the bubble rider sprites was trained as a witch in a very old and cold town called Ice-on-Green. The air froze her nose and smelled like pine boughs. The only time she ever left the cabin was on a full moon, and that was only after drinking something warm and mind altering, because nobody could do a moon-dance otherwise. The ordinary folk in Ice-on-Green were farmers or sailors, and they were so pale from long periods without sun that they glowed like the moon when they went sneaking through the woods in search of pixies and gnomes and fairies. It had long been the practice of the witches to forewarn the little people by making especially hideous cackling noises. The pale ones often claimed there were no fairies in the woods, but in actuality they were too petrified to open their eyes and look.
On one particular night when the monthly moon-dance was about to start, the witches became aware of the presence of a man who was not afraid to be in the woods at night. He was about to alter the course of history with no weapon but the warmth of his heart. Witches would desolve into puddles at his feet, and they would bestow upon him the name Beloved. For when Beloved arrived, Fate stood on the edge of a precipice and froze.
A true bubble rider sprite, I am told, is smaller than an acorn when fully mature. An entire classroom of children can fit inside one acorn, as long as there are plenty of windows. I assume that this is the reason we never see them, only the evidence that they were here.
The adult sprites look forward to retirement, just like we do. If you ever looked in your glass of soda, you can see that a fully grown sprite would not get very far on a bubble. Their memories are clear, though, and they love to tell stories about their days of high adventure. I’m not sure we can expect them to be entirely truthful, though, so I have a special face I make when I think they are pulling my leg.
By the time a bubble rider has outgrown her ability to ride a bubble, and then completed her task of sharing her memories, she is ready to become an ordinary fairy. This moment is measured by fitting an acorn’s cupula on her head like a hat. When it no longer fits, she has transformed.
Last year, I sent my first bubble riders on a mission of joy. Their message was as simple as it was complicated:
What I offer is an ear. A shoulder. An embrace across the miles. A tickle. A story. A lick. A song. A picture. A gift. A dream. A sip. A tear.
Here is the story:
…and when the bubble riders were certain he was asleep, they found their way under covers and pajamas, coaxing an erection that they could happily use on their playground. While he slept, they rode their makeshift sliding board until it was nearly dawn. When he awoke, he could not remember any of the details from his dream, but he was certain it was a good one.
I soon discovered that these particular fairies were highly specialized, and I never again saw such passion.