This never happened before. I don’t know if this story belongs in the reality blog or the fantasy blog. I keep them away from each other, just as I do in my life. Fairies actually don’t belong in tiny houses, and my pleasant life demands that they stay on their own side of the river. […]
On the surface, this is a story about Shirley and Norman, but it goes deeper than that. It is also a story about a couple of fairy sprites called Cashmere and Silk.
As is the case with most romantic pairings, this bubble rider team of Cashmere and Silk complemented each other. They could not be more different individually, like root beer and mouthwash, but as a team, they were undefeated. Where Silk was young, slippery, and always behind schedule, Cashmere was wise and fuzzy and strangely punctual. While Silk would arrive by overshooting her target, Cashmere looked more like a poorly aimed bowling ball that was lucky enough to avoid the gutters.
One fall evening, the bubble riders began an unusual assignment in a senior living residence. Norman and Shirly had lived perfectly adequate but separate lives prior to arriving at the residence to maintain a social life. Norman had diabetes. Shirley was arthritic. They had met casually while line dancing and card playing and riding the little bus to the grocery store.
After the first visit from the bubble riders though, Shirley was compelled to confess that she had been having fantasies about Norman. His response was to laugh so uproariously that someone had to go get his inhaler. But later during a game of Skip-bo Norman kept poking Shirley’s shoe under the table, and a passion arose in him as well.
This unexpected turn of events was treated with wisdom and reverence, and a large dose of humor. Life is short, afterall, and precious. Over the next several weeks as the bubble riders kept visiting, Norman and Shirley began to contemplate the possibility of actually consumating this relationship with physical expression. Silk and Cashmere had worked hard at creating this eventuality and were longing for their own gratification.
Finally on the way to the dining hall, Shirley shoved Norman into a waiting wheelchair, scooted him into the elevator, waited until they were between floors to smack the emergency button, yanked out both of their hearing aids, and sat on him.
Never confuse a fairy with an angel. Angels are made in the Heavens. Fairies are grown from the Earth. Angels are sent to deliver God’s messages. Fairies are sent to deliver raw emotions.
This is not to say that fairies and angels do not share the same space here on earth, or that their responsibilities do not intersect occasionally. More than once, neither has accomplished her task because the other was such a distraction. Sometimes, the disputes over who wears the better wings have even called them home for replacements by others.
What they do share is an intense desire to provide some joy that will stick to you long after the feathers have faded away. Neither angel nor fairy has ever been human, so neither is capable of causing a negative response.
Accept their gifts wholeheartedly, even if you aren’t a hundred per cent sure you believe in them.
Lady didn’t realize she had fallen asleep beside the cauldron. In her dream, she was wide awake, still carefully stirring clockwise and testing the temperature. She never saw the sprites on the bubbles that rose from the pot and drifted over the garden wall. She didn’t know that one sat on her forehead and watched her eyelids flutter.
Now we have said before that Lady had not yet reached the age of reason, and she was not mature enough to realize that when they called her “Lady” they were teasing her for believing she knew the first thing about love potions. In fact, Lady was under the impression that “love” was that feeling you get right before you sneeze. It was no use trying to set her straight, and it turned out that her formula was actually quite effective.
And so when the moon was at its peak, the bubble rider decided to come down from Lady’s forehead to play. After sliding down Lady’s nose several times, she found the fingerpaints.
When Lady woke up at dawn, she was staring cross-eyed at the tip of her nose. There stood a pair of tiny fairies, covered in paint, and dancing. Eventually Lady realized it was just one fairy who had done the damage of two. There were little footprints all over her face, and her hair was now red.
And she couldn’t stop sneezing!
While Lady and the gnome slumbered in the garden, dusk quietly blanketed the day. In the veil of time between light and dark, the unattended cauldron bubbled over. Unseen by all, the bubble rider sprites perched atop the bubbles, one to each, and floated away. Three stayed in the garden; two by the gnome and one near the sleeping witch.
The sprites that landed on the gnome’s big nose were nearly sniffed up into his right nostril. In the nick of time they were blown back out, laughing as if in the middle of an arcade game. When one tried to ask the other how he managed to breathe so funny, it came out in such a way that ever after, the gnome would be called “Howie”.
For many nights, and mornings too, the bubble riders visited Howie in his sleep. They explored elsewhere but always returned to his nose, and they always laughed at it. All Howie ever knew was that sometimes he would startle himself into wakefulness with a loud sneeze. If the sun hadn’t risen he would return to dreamland with ease.
Everyone called her “Lady”, although she was only six-and-a-quarter years old. She carried herself with a regal clumsiness unlike any other witch in the three nearest covens. She worked alone with a serious-minded efficiency that drew the attention of her peers.
Lady ignored the gossip because she truly didn’t notice it. She was intent upon perfecting the measurements. A proper potion provides potential perfection, she had heard often enough.
Under a rusty hoe handle, a garden gnome picked his teeth with the stem of a dandelion and observed Lady’s furrowed brow with amusement. He had once believed that he could learn to read the recipe right there on her forehead, but last year he had become a toadstool for six months without explanation, and so he was uncomfortable with that level of absorption anymore. Nevertheless, he did eventually become drowsy, and the dandelion stem fell in his lap as his mouth hung open in slumber.
Lady meanwhile, was starting to lose her concentration as the afternoon headed toward evening. The cauldron before her was beginning to bubble over, and she was getting concerned that her little arms would give out soon. That was all she remembered until her hand came to her cheek and felt the morning dew upon it.
Whatever the weather, the incredibly observant among us are about to catch the fairies working with the witches as they prepare for Beltane. When May Day arrives, it will be greatly influenced by the light of the full moon just hours before Beltane begins. Under the brightness of the moon, the cauldrons of love potions will simmer just a bit longer, becoming infinitesimally thicker and stickier than usual. The fairy sprites will agree that these batches of brew are also sweeter, and therefore more easily attract the unsuspecting recipients.
At dawn on the first of May, when the space between the worlds is at its holiest, the little sprites will ride their bubbles right through their world and into ours. Someone’s nose will tickle. An unexpected giggle will erupt. A neck will feel the gentle breeze of someone’s breath. Shortly smiles will be shared in traffic. A warm memory will suddenly come to mind. A peanutbutter sandwich will take another person back to his third grade cafeteria table.
And couples will remember why they fell in love, and why it is worth any price to feel that way again, even when the heat of the coming summer will cause it to shrivel up again.