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Feather-Blessed: A Kindred Spirit

I found a new group of writers, doing what they call Free Fiction Friday. Go check out the ringleader!  There are links to other FFF writers there too.

And for new friends, the first story about Grace and Stella is here.


A Kindred Spirit
 
The woman, roused from her bed, found a battered girl
The child was neither bold Grace nor beautiful Stella
But she saw Grace’s doodle on the book the girl held tight.
The next day, the old teacher returned to the park
Avoiding the police, and their tape.

Grace and Stella were enjoying the heat of the summer day. Stella by hovering, wings, tail, and crest spread wide, just over the water, luxuriantly soaking in sunlight, Grace by relaxing in the water, only the tip of her head above the surface, to facilitate conversation. Over them both, like a garment fit for the Oscars, Stella held a shimmer of sunlight dancing on water, so no one would see them.

Grace had spent the early morning running along the beach, flapping her wings, and finally leaping, trying to get her bulk into the air. So far, all she had accomplished was about one dragon-length, before the waters gracefully welcomed her, turning what should have been an awkward belly-flop into a sleek dive.

“Well, I have to hand it to you—you sure can swim!” Stella laughed, from her comfortable spot in mid-air.

“Lot of good that’s doing me. I’ve got to learn to fly!”

“You will.” Stella beamed at her, her eye-lights glowing softly.

Grace swam back to her improvised runway, and climbed out of the lake, the water sheeting off of her like a temporary extra pair of wings, and repeated the process. Flap, rinse, repeat.

Finally, exhausted, Grace let the friendly water support her. She looked up at Stella. “Look at you—you’re flying just fine!”

“I’m floating. Not really flying. If I try to use my wings, I flounder around just like I do in the water. I’d crash if I wasn’t floating.”

“But you can float where you want to go!”

“Very slowly. You—there’s a lake by Home. As bright and deep as magic—it says so in the book. I bet you could swim there faster than I could float there.”

Grace hadn’t thought of that. “You really think so?”

“Absolutely. If you knew the way.” Stella’s eye lights turned into arrows pointing every which way, and question marks in all the colors of the rainbow.

The young dragons looked at each other sadly. They’d seen only a hint of a path in the air, when they changed, and it had faded fast.

Then Stella pointed a wing toward the shore, “Hey—that’s Mrs. Brownie!” She spun awkwardly in the air, her eye-lights becoming chaotic squiggles while she tried to right herself.

Having seen Stella’s inadvertent calisthenics before, Grace turned her attention toward the shore. “You’re right. What’s she doing here?”

“Well, du’uh. She’s looking for us.”

“But—”

“Well, what did you think would happen after I called her last night?”

“You didn’t tell her who you were, did you?”

“Of course not. But I’m pretty sure she recognized my voice. And she got here so fast. Remember?”

Grace nodded.

Stella’s eye-lights turned black and blue. “I bet she thinks we ran into the same guy that beat the poor girl last night. Or worse.”

The woman wandered up and down the paths
She moved stiffly, looking at everything
Finally, tired, she sat on a picnic bench
By a beach where the sand was all rucked up
And she bowed her head in prayer.

“Look—she’s praying for us!” Stella whispered. “I can’t stand this.” She started drifting forward.

“Stella!” Grace rose halfway out of the water and grabbed Stella’s tail. “What are you doing?”

“I’ve got to go tell her we’re all right.”

“Are you crazy? We’re dragons.”

“So?”

“What makes you think she’ll believe being dragons is all right? For that matter, what makes you think she’ll even believe you that you’re you?”

“Oh.” Stella slumped, her eye-lights dimming. She settled down on to the top of the water, and Mrs. Brownie looked straight at them.

Grace ducked her head almost all the way into the water. “Keep the shimmer up, Stella!” she whispered.

“It is!”

And indeed, when Grace looked for it, she could see it all around them. But Mrs. Brownie was standing, her eyes still on the patch of lake where they were hiding. She stood up carefully and walked to the edge of the water. “It’s all right girls. Come on out.”

“She knows we’re here.”

Stella’s eyes were framed with question marks. “How could she?”

“I don’t know. But she’s looking right at us. What do we do now?”

“Just—sit still. Er—float still. And be quiet. My magic affects light, not sound!”

Mrs. Brownie walked to the edge of the lake, steadying herself with her cane once she reached the huge divots in the sand left by Grace’s attempts at takeoff. “What a mess. So, which one of you girls put on the necklace? Or was it a brooch?”

The girls looked at each other, Stella’s question marks deepening, or changing into jewelry.

“Oh, bother.” The old woman jabbed her cane into the sand and closed her eyes. Her feet rose off the sand and she shrank, dainty brown wings, like pointed autumn leaves, growing behind her. Moments later, she was winging straight toward them. “Whichever of you it was, you’d better extend the glamour to cover me. That’s not one of my talents.”

“But—Mrs. Brownie?”

The brown-winged fairy flew closer. “That is my name, Grace.”

The shimmer around them shifted, and the fairy’s eyes widened. “Oh! You both—? But how?”

“You mean you’ve been a fairy the whole time we’ve known you?” Grace gaped.

The fairy, who looked much younger than Mrs. Brownie, touched the jewel at her neck and smiled. “I’ve been one since I was your age.”

Stella smiled, her eye lights like tiny fireworks. “Then you can tell us the way Home!”

Mrs. Brownie’s smile vanished. “You don’t know?”

“Well, we had only the one feather. When Grace jabbed it into both of our hands, well,” Stella trailed off.

“We think the magic got used up, changing both of us. There was barely a hint of a path to follow.”

“And neither of us knew how to fly. It faded before Grace even figured out that she knows how to swim.”

Mrs. Brownie looked back and forth between the girls. “Oh.”

Stella, grinning, continued, “But that’s all right now. You can tell us how to get home!” Her eye lights sprang out into bright exclamation points.

Mrs. Brownie shook her head. “Oh, dear. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

“What? Did—did I break some kind of rule, changing both of us? If I did, Stella shouldn’t be punished too. She—she wanted it, and she needed it more, but she said it was my feather and she wouldn’t use it, I had to. It was all my idea, I didn’t even warn her—”

“Grace, child, hush. I didn’t say I wouldn’t. I said I couldn’t. I—when I changed, I found I really wasn’t ready to leave. I decided to just stay, and when I realized that was a bad choice, the path was gone. The best I could do was fly to another city, use my magic to look older, and change my name.”

“Oh.” The girls said it together, then Stella winked, chasing her droopy exclamation points into the distance. “Owe me a Coke!”

“You might as well owe it to me! At least I think I could still drink one.” The girls grinned at each other, and Mrs. Brownie looked from one to the other curiously. Grace rolled over. “So, how’d you spot us? Part of your magic?”

“Years ago, another girl I was teaching found a magic brooch. She chose to become a dragon. I remember her footsteps on the beach, where I found her backpack, and watched her fly off.”

“Why didn’t you follow her?”

“I’d just adopted a little girl, a baby. And school was in full swing. I figured I’d have weeks to follow her—my sky-road lingered for weeks—I could arrange for someone to watch the girl while I took a vacation over Thanksgiving, and be back home to pick up where I’d left off once I knew the way. But the trail was gone the very next morning.”

“Didn’t she tell anyone you were here?”

Mrs. Brownie shook her head. “She didn’t know I was anything but a normal human teacher. No more than you did.”

They floated quietly for a while, Mrs. Brownie and Stella in the air, and Grace in the water.

“When we find the way there, we’ll send someone back to show you the way.” Grace nodded decisively.

“Or take you with us, if we can.”

“That would be a great comfort to an old woman.” Mrs. Brownie answered. “My home is here, for now. But once I hit retirement age, well, it would be nice to have a place to retire to.”

Like old friends, they talk
Three women: two young, one old
Dream-kin, despite money, age, form, family
They know what it’s like to have to leave home
To find—or create—their heart’s Home




I love to hear from you!

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
kelkyag
Jul. 3rd, 2010 06:12 am (UTC)
Awwww.

Did you know Mrs. Brownie was a brownie before you wrote this chapter?
wyld_dandelyon
Jul. 3rd, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)
No. Or, more precisely, I didn't know she was a brown-winged fairy. She isn't at all what a traditional "brownie" is. The name just seemed appropriate when I needed a teacher's name, someone for them to call in the last chapter.

But then, when I named Grace and Stella, I had no idea Grace would be graceful in the water, or Stella would become able to drink starlight

Or at least, if the back of my mind was plotting ahead (and I know that it often does), I didn't consciously know why those names seemed right when I picked them.
jolantru
Jul. 3rd, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
Beautiful, as always!
wyld_dandelyon
Jul. 3rd, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
red_trillium
Jul. 7th, 2010 08:21 am (UTC)
How lonely Mrs Brownie must have been when she realised she couldn't go home. And how nice it is that she's got Grace & Stella to keep her company, for now at least.

I like the blend of poetry and story in this one.
wyld_dandelyon
Aug. 21st, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
siege
Aug. 6th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
I check in for the next installment, and indeed there is one!

I suspect that the Aerie Keeper, puzzled by this anomaly, may have spent some time researching it... and perhaps an observer has been sent?
wyld_dandelyon
Aug. 21st, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting idea.
viva_la_topknot
Aug. 21st, 2011 09:56 pm (UTC)

Do you plan to write more of this story? Its wonderful, and I would really love to read more about the magical Home the girls seek.
wyld_dandelyon
Aug. 21st, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
Yes!
I do plan to write more of this story; I'd started last weekend but then got sick and did nothing more exciting than drag myself back and forth to the day job.

You're welcome to watch this space--I want to get the next story done in the next week or two, if I can.

I love your icon! Green and purple are my favorite colors, and the icon is nicely joyous!
viva_la_topknot
Aug. 21st, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Yes!

Yay! Looking forward to the story additions then!

And thank you! Purple and green are my faves too, and Petite Jester Rose is [almost] always joyous. And look how happy your icon is! :D
wyld_dandelyon
Aug. 21st, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Yes!
Last time djinni did a free icon day, I asked for an icon using a character he invented for me, but with the kind of joy that you see in that dancing Snoopy icon so many people have.

I love each person having their own icons, they're kind of like faces, after all, so I didn't want to use the Snoopy one, but I'm very pleased to have one so joyous.

This one is by a different artist, and shows quite a different emotion--not one I need to express right now--but I thought I'd share it. It's so perfect when it's needed, and has rainbow colors to help cheer me at the same time.
viva_la_topknot
Aug. 21st, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Yes!

I love looking at people's icons, I've found so many great new artists that way!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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