I talk about writing on this blog on awful lot, but it occurs to me that I haven’t really demonstrated my own skill or lack thereof as yet, nor have I given much for readers to enjoy. I have therefore visited the Maxwell Prompt Generator and used it to inspire a story I have no intention of trying to sell. It was written at about midnight and hasn’t been edited by anyone but me, but I’m sharing it with you in the hope that you’ll enjoy it nonetheless. You can find part one below the cut (part two will follow tomorrow).
Listen Closely to the Whispering
by Eleanor Musgrove
We are born underground. It’s said that every time an infant laughs for the first time, a fairy is born. I don’t know if that’s true, but however we’re created, we open our eyes under the earth. Some speak of waking alone, others tell of their mother’s welcoming smile, and still others claim their first sight was of soft fur and the warm side of a rabbit or a mole. Badgers are shy and irritable, so our kind try to avoid disturbing them as much as we can – and a baby fairy in their midst would certainly cause a commotion – and foxes are simply too wriggly to safely share space with a little creature such as a young fairy, but smaller animals are often very hospitable to our kind.
I looked up into my mother’s sleep-closed eyes when I first stirred, and as if by instinct she awoke. Grown fairies cannot stay long underground – they draw their energy from the sun and the moon, and can be sustained for only hours by the root system their children depend on – and so we parted not long after that first meeting. When she left, it was with the promise that she would see me again, when I was grown and joined them upon the earth.
“How will I know where to go,” I asked, peering around myself at the dark network of burrows barely illuminated by the glow of my mother’s wings and the faint, dawning glimmer of my own, “and how will I know when I’m ready?” She smiled softly, the little hollow we’d settled in brightening a fraction as she did.
“Don’t worry, child. Listen closely to the whispering. Shine bright, my love.” Then she kissed my cheek and was gone, leaving me none the wiser.
For some minutes I sat in the near-darkness and pondered my mother’s enigmatic advice.
“Listen closely to the whispering.” It didn’t seem to make any sense. What whispering? Where would the whispering come from? Who would whisper? Perhaps it would become clearer as I grew. While we fairies are born as perfect physical miniatures of our adult selves, able to walk and talk and wonder, some of the finer points of being a fairy only develop later. The glow of our wings, barely visible at birth, strengthens over time into a soft, bright ball of light. We learn to unfold those same wings and take to the air in time, though it’s impossible to tell exactly when that happens – there isn’t much point in flying beneath the earth, and steering blind on new, wobbly wings is hardly child’s play. We become at one with the natural world around us, gradually awakening to all the knowledge we’ll need in order to look after all the plants and creatures in our care. This much my mother had told me as we sat together under the earth, as she taught me how to find nourishment and tried to prepare me for as much of life as she could. Perhaps this whispering would come to me later, too.
I was startled from my thoughts by the rush of a faint light moving past me and the sound of youthful laughter. Another light followed, then another, and I fancied I heard someone call to me to follow the lights. I didn’t question it; I set off in pursuit and was embroiled in a game of fairy tag before I even knew for sure that the lights were fairies. When we tired, we found ourselves some good tree-roots to nurse from and exchanged what little information we had about ourselves and our kind. It wasn’t much, but one of the other youngsters was able to volunteer the fact that we would know our names when we reached the world above the grass, and another explained that fairies are creatures of joy and mischief. A third told us of our responsibilities towards nature and the very beings that nurtured us now – the trees, the earth, the flowers and the creatures. I duly shared my insight about whispering, but not one of us could explain it.
Part two is to follow tomorrow, so please do check back. Feel free to let me know what you think about this part!