A Fairy Story
By Mr Valentine.
The story is fairly uberish so I suppose the characters are all mine. At any rate, everything else is mine so they might as well be too. It's not like I expect to get paid for this y'know.
If you happen to feel like it you could send any comments you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd quite like to hear them.
I had a dream that was not like my other dreams which I could never remember and which I no longer have. I dreamt that I opened a door and was met on the other side by a little man whose face was beautiful but too thin, so it looked as if it had been stretched. His eyes were soft and warm but they flickered sometimes and when they flickered their surfaces appeared to ripple like the wind blowing over grey velvet and his mouth was a painted smile. He greeted me and took me by the hand and led me through golden rooms that were filled with light and joyful laughter and through deep blue rooms where the laughter was husky and had a sensual edge and through dark rooms that were warm but which made you feel cold because the laughter was cruel and yet still joyous. But the dark rooms were few and far between and the bright rooms soon smothered their memory.
And my guide led me in to a grand ballroom where a celebration was in progress and the dancers were bright and witty and dazzling and all had weary eyes because the celebration had always been in progress and none of them knew anything else existed or could exist. And I was led among the dancers and I laughed with them and admired them as they giggled with a sound like tiny silver bells. They gave me a dress that smelt like the earth in the darkest part of the forest and was the colour of growing things and it wrapped itself around me and covered my nakedness (for I had not dreamed any clothes for myself and had to wait for them to be given). Then I was whirled around the room by partners who were all beautiful with weary eyes that, when I looked into them, only showed their own reflection as we moved to music that I could not hear over the sound of silver bells. And when I grew tired my guide led me to a table that was covered with fine foods the colour of the sky. I bit into a pastry that was the grey of a cloud that has just ceased to rain and the crumbs in my mouth turned to tiny birds that twittered and fluttered until I swallowed and the twittering stopped. My guide did not move his lips when he told me that I had eaten fairy food and so would speak with a fairy voice and when I answered him my lips did not move either because my mouth was a painted smile like his though my voice was clear and bright, but I did not mind because I was smiling and so I knew I must be happy. And he took me by the hand and led me toward a door that was no longer the way we had come in and as we went a whisper rippled through the ballroom saying "She is coming, she is coming," and when it reached the door two footmen with mean, rodent eyes dashed out to carry the news ahead.
And my guide led me into a wide open field of tents and booths and bustling crowds and the laughter here was the sound of wild jungle birds. And every booth and every tent was woven of fine silver thread and my guide gave me a single thread which felt strange in my hands and I knew that if I could look closely enough I would see that the thread was made from long strings of letters and that those letters spelt out every wish that had ever been made and never granted. And in each booth and in every tent was a beautiful child with eyes like spinning marbles that you would stare into forever to see the colours in the glass which were colours that you could not name because you had never seen them before and never would again. And in shyly whispered voices they would offer to sell you charms and wonders that would delight you for a day and stay with you long after the delight had faded and even the memory of that joy was soured by your inability to ever recover it once spent, but you would never forget. And all of the buyers knew this and they bustled about the stalls with unbounded glee because the promise of that delight was the strongest thing in the world. And I was led from booth to tent to stall as my guide and I made our way through the fair. In one I was offered tiny wings that would fix to my ankles and carry me wherever I wished three times before they withered to dry husks. A seller of relics offered me a necklace made from the tiny bones of a child who would have been the messiah had his mother not been kicked in the belly by a panicked ewe and miscarried, and he only asked in return that I tell him the name of my favourite grandparent. But when I touched the bones I knew that they wanted me to love them and this frightened me and when my guide saw this he pulled me away and when I no longer touched the bones I forgot that I had ever been scared and when I looked at his happy painted smile and warm velvet eyes I recovered all of my joy and followed him to the next booth where the stall holder was selling glamours. And when I looked at the beautiful people who were his customers, and who hurt your eyes because in this dream of beauty they were the fairest of all, I longed to be one of them and I asked the stall holder his price and he whispered to me in his shy, child's voice that the price of a glamour was all of my old dreams, which I could never remember when I woke up except for the barest hint of passions that scared me because they were so strong and that scared me because I could never feel anything to match them when I was awake, and I knew that my old dreams were important but the new dream was so beautiful and my painted smile was so wide and happy that I let the child take my old dreams and cast his glamour and I felt no different, though my guide and the stall holder assured me that I was quite changed, and when my guide led me from the market the crowds stood still and marvelled at my beauty and two porters with dull, reptile eyes raced ahead to herald my coming.
And my guide led me into a long gallery which was full of people and each person was a curator to care for the many toys that the fairies had collected and my guide gestured for some of them to show me their charges. And I was shown thousands of black wasps that swarmed into many shapes before they took the shape of my father and in a buzzing voice spoke words of parental wisdom as he never had and never would, before the swarm broke apart and reformed in a new pattern in an endless display. And I was shown a box of puzzles that were so simple a child would not be challenged by them, but each one, when completed, would disappear and take a small piece of your mind with it until those same problems were an unfathomable mystery to you and you could not eat or dress or wipe yourself without help that never came because everyone around you was engrossed by the thousands of wonderful toys that filled the room. And I was shown a creature in a cage that might have been a bird and that sang melodies that stung your ears with their strangeness but left you feeling that the universe was larger than you ever imagined and that, if you stretched out your hand in just the right way, you could grasp it all, and the curator told me that they had had another once but it had ceased to sing and had been destroyed when the last note faded and the listeners grew bored. And I asked how these things had been gathered and my guide told me that they had been bought with fairy gold and with fairy promises which were worth less than fairy gold but which were so beautiful they would break your heart and blind your eyes and he took my hand and led me onward and as we left the gallery two guards with stone eyes that could not value anything that was not hard and cold struck the floor with the butts of their spears and bellowed 'She is coming!'
And my guide took me through a corridor lined with doors through which, he said, the larger toys were kept. And at the far end of the corridor a crowd had gathered and there was no similarity between any of the members of the crowd except that they were beautiful, and the door they stood next to was open and as I was led closer they murmured excitedly 'She is here!' And my guide led me up to the door and bade me step inside and I did and through the door I found a small room where the walls ran red and in the middle of the room a naked woman with long dark hair was sitting, and as I approached she looked up at me and her face was young but was worn with grief and loneliness and pain and I felt cheated by the fact that, in this land of beautiful people, she was not beautiful, though I knew she had been once. And in her face when she looked at me only her eyes were alive and they were only alive because they were full of hope. And she looked at me for a long time as if she was searching for something and I stared back at her, mesmerised by the intensity of her gaze, and I wanted her to see what she was looking for and I wanted to see something in her but I didn't know what because I had never seen her before and did not recognise her. And as she looked I saw the hope that was her only life fading from her eyes and I wanted to comfort her but my dress of growing things held me still, and I wanted to speak to her but my painted mouth would not move and she could not hear my fairy voice. And as I stood there I saw the last of her hope disappear and she looked at the floor and said 'It's not her', and my guide took me by the arm and led me from the room and as I left the corridor the gathered crowd tittered merrily with a sound like fragile glass breaking. And I was led into a room that was empty except for a bed and when I looked at my guide he was gone and the room had no door, so I lay on the bed and when my head touched the pillow I woke up.
I sold my old dreams for a glamour that was gone in the morning and I never dreamed the new, beautiful dream again. All I have left to dream of is a broken woman in a red-walled room, and I wonder who she is waiting for.