I wanted to tie today’s prompt in with a prompt I found on another site, mainly working with the idea of twilight, of decline in both the day and human life. It turned into a small tale from Green Lake.
Tessa sat on the riverbank watching tiny silver fish dart through the ripples. She wondered if they knew where they were going, how long they had to get there. Did they worry about making it to the spawning grounds? Probably not, their brains weren’t wired that way; just that overwhelming impulse to run without knowing where to. She knew that feeling.
She shucked off her sandals and let her toes dabble in the water, her mind drifting. The sun was lowering slowly toward twilight, shadows creeping out to fill the hollows and quiet places. She loved twilight. It was the time when the fae emerged, gossiping, trading, playing, working, visiting, and the village thrummed with their vast energy. Her world came alive when the sun died, although that seemed to make Amanda sad. Tessa didn’t understand why and Amanda couldn’t really explain;
‘It’s just sad. Twilight makes me think of death, dying day, dying light, dying life.’
Tessa thought Amanda could be a little too sad sometimes. Lately she was sad almost all the time no matter what Tessa did to cheer her up. The showers of fairy dust, the glamours and magics, which once had delighted fae and mortal girl alike, brought no more than a faded smile. It was something else Tessa didn’t understand.
The girls had been paired when Amanda was born, almost eighteen of those fleeting mortal years now. Tessa was sent to liaise, an emissary between fae and human, keeping the connections alive, but she had to admit to a degree of defeat. She simply couldn’t grasp a lot of human concepts, like the idea of living for the now because there might not be a tomorrow. There was always a tomorrow, always. Always something new to do, to learn, to talk about and share. Why did mortals worry so much about dying? It wasn’t like it meant the end of everything!
Frustrated, Tessa jumped up and vanished herself, arriving about two inches before Amanda’s nose as she lay on her bed, the room gloomy with drawn curtains and no fire. Tessa flicked a finger at the hearth which burst into roaring flame, twitched the curtains wide open with a nod of her head and then levitated Amanda upright.
“Tell me a story!”
“Not tonight, Tess, I’m too tired.”
Tessa hovered, regarded the girl and suddenly noticed how her form had changed.
“Why are you so fat?”
Despite her cares, Amanda gave an indulgent shake of her head and a smile; Tessa had no concept of tact for all her years of mortal contact.
“I’m going to have a child, Tess.”
“Because, when you were busy chasing dragonflies and flirting with the blacksmith’s son, enough to make him blush I might add, I was getting married and starting a family.”
“I’m not a child any more, Tessa. You never change, but I have to grow up.”
“I thought you humans liked children. Why are you so miserable?”
Amanda settled on the bed, sighed deeply and sought words to explain to a creature who would never carry a child.
“The women in my family aren’t very good at giving birth, Tess. There is a long history of complications, and lots of women didn’t make it. I’m scared that it might happen to me and that makes me sad.”
“It’s ok” Tess smiled hugely, “I’ll just wait for you to be reborn and we can go back to normal.”
“Oh Tess… it doesn’t work that way for us, and even if it did, you’d have to wait for me to grow up all over again, another eighteen years.”
“That’s no problem. I have all the time in the world.”
“… but I don’t.”
Amanda lay down, curled about her stomach and Tessa removed herself, finally aware that this was something serious. Her friend wasn’t immortal, but Tessa had never had to think about it before. If Amanda died there would be no more Amanda, not ever. It was the hardest idea the young fairy, only 300 years old, had ever had to grasp.
She vanished once more and reappeared at Grandmother Ida’s house. She hovered around the window, knowing better than to burst in unannounced; the last time she’d done that, Ida had been at her ablutions and her curse had caused Tessa to lose flight ability for a week!
“Come in, pest of a fae. What do you want this time?”
The call was good-natured for all its harsh words, but Ida sensed something was wrong when Tessa simply slipped inside and settled on the edge of the potion table. A wise woman in all ways, Ida waited, and the outburst wasn’t long in coming.
“Amanda’s going to die! Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
“Why didn’t you ask?”
Tessa looked dumbfounded, the thought clearly never having crossed her mind, and Ida continued.
“You are supposed to be an emissary, learning the ways of humans as Amanda had learned your ways. Instead you have played, never looking beneath the surface, always assuming there would be a tomorrow. Now you know there may not and you look for someone to blame because you fear you have wasted years of your life, perhaps all of Amanda’s.”
Fairies never cry, but if they could, Tessa would have been sobbing, her face robbed of all its sparkle and sunshine.
“I didn’t know the questions to ask.”
“A voyage of discovery has no map, Tessa. Your job was to draw one and you lost the compass.” Feeling she had driven the point home with enough force, and not a hard woman at heart, Ida smiled, “but I have good news for you; Amanda isn’t going to die. If I had known she was so despondent I would have visited with her sooner.”
“She won’t die?”
“Not for a while yet, at least not from the complication she fears. I have ways to deal with it now, ways I did not have for her mother and grandmother. I will speak with her tomorrow.”
“Not for a while yet?”
“Tessa, she’s not immortal, you know that now. One day, any day of her life, she will die.”
“I need to start again!”
Tessa vanished and Ida rolled her eyes, shaking her head fondly. She hoped Amanda was ready for a long and curious night with her fae friend.