Fairy Child (558 Words)
It was just like he remembered. The carved stone, mottled-colored with moss, the shadowed garden. The area was well-tended.
“Is that a bell, Daddy?”
The man looked down at the child beside him. The little girl’s arm was wrapped through his. She had seen the small bell fitted into a small alcove on the shrine, its dull metal glow just visible.
The little girl wrinkled her nose. “Are you going to ring it?”
“Maybe. In a minute.”
Darren guided his daughter to a stone bench.
“Can we go, Daddy?” the child asked. “I don’t like it here.”
The man pulled a face, his eyes sparking. “Neither do I,” he said. “But it’s what your mother wants.”
The little girl was solemn. “Why does she want it?”
“I don’t know,” he confessed. “Something about a blessing.”
For a moment there was silence between them. The child pulled herself onto the bench, latching onto the man’s arm once more.
“Is this where you met Mommy?” she asked.
“Oh yes,” said her father. “That was many years ago. She frightened me half to death. She’s a funny one, your mother.” His mouth quirked in a half-smile. “It was a sudden thing and perhaps it wasn’t wise. She had the most beautiful voice I had ever heard. And her eyes—they were like stars.”
“Like my eyes?” asked the child, looking up at him.
“Yes. Just like your eyes.”
“Why did you leave?”
Darren glanced aside. “When you were born, she said the forest was no place for a little one. But she made me promise that on your eighth birthday I would bring you to her.”
The child’s face tightened with alarm. “Is she going to take me away?”
“No.” Her father gathered her close. “No, my little angel.”
A strong wind stirred the trees around them. The bell swayed with a faint sound in its alcove and a new presence emerged from the shadows. The woman, or creature, seemed to materialize from the stirred leaves.
Her hair was wild and long. Her clothes were strange, woven together with vine, roots, and long grass. From her shoulders swept two feathered wings, tawny like the wings of a hawk.
In the man’s eyes was the fear he had felt when he first met her. But the fairy’s gaze was on the little girl.
“Let me see her,” said the fairy.
“No!” The child clung to her father. “No, Daddy, please!”
“It’s alright,” Darren said. “Don’t be afraid.”
The fairy stood where she was. Her strange eyes took them in together.
“You have raised her well,” said the fairy in a low, soft voice. “The child loves you.”
The man lifted his face. “She could love you, too. She doesn’t know you, but she is as much yours as she is mine.”
The fairy did not answer him. She placed her hands gently on the little girl’s head.
“Receive this blessing, daughter of wind,” she said. “I will be with you wherever you go.”
Again, a rough breeze stirred the garden. The fairy’s wings spread and catching the wind, she was gone.
The girl raised her head from her father’s breast. Darren brushed dry leaves from her windblown hair.
“Can we go home now, Daddy, please?” asked the girl in a small voice.
He stood. “Yes, my darling,” he said. “Let’s go home.”
Written in response (tangentially) to the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt, and directly in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt.