The Fairy and the Tree
Kalani Mijares | Terri Kelleher
There was a girl out in the old church yard.
The old Abbot paused on his walk around the grounds to consider the sight before him. There was a girl on the lawn, and judging by her unfamiliar appearance… well, she must not be from anywhere nearby, a visitor perhaps? With endless hair of silken white she was dressed in a short dress like tunic made of some unidentifiable ashen grey material that was barely distinguishable from the rest of her parlour, so no, not a visitor then, he would have surely remembered someone so pale.
Fair skin was common enough but she transcended mere paleness, she was ashen as if someone had doused her in a fine coating of flour. The only colour to her was the luminous green eyes and the faint touch of pink to her lips.
Not that there were any visitors on the grounds; the few visitors there had been during the day had left long ago. Besides winter’s eve was no time to be outside in the cold. Still, that was neither here nor there, now what mattered most was that there was a girl standing outside in the snow.
As he made to step out and approach her he something made the old abbot hesitate. She was approaching the ancient tree that had stood watch over theabbey for so long that nobody knew just how long it had been there. The faintly snow laden air gently blew but a silence seemed to take over the small area. Ancient and gnarled boughs moved silently in the faint breeze as puffs of snow drifted lazily past. He took a step forward but stopped, something holding him back from approaching.
The girl was curtsying to the tree.
Branches snapped in response, the tree moving as if moved by a sizeable wind, yet the falling snow continued downwards in gentle spirals undisturbed. Then she spoke.
She spoke in an old dialect of which he had only a passing knowledge from his years of study, learned during his monastic life. Many of the ancient abbey’s older manuscripts were written in the very same dialect.
“Hello tree.” Her voice, lilting with an authenticity that modernity could not lend tothe ancient language she spoke, carried itself on the wind through the empty grounds. Branches rustled in seeming welcome. He found himself frozen, watching. The girl laughed, her pale hair blending with the snow in the faint light, drifting freely in her wake.
“Come, dance with me tree!” she cried, “Like we did in days of old.”
She stepped closer and the abbot saw that her bare feet left only the faintest impression in the snow upon which she walked.
Whatever words he might have spoken died on his lips, as he stared at her. She did not seem to notice him at all, feet tapping lightly against the ground, as she whirled and swirled, dancing to music only she could hear. The air was only distorted by the faintest of disturbances in her wake as the snow billowed andtrailed about her as if in slow motion.
The old tree’s branches rustled, one particularly long branch uncurling slowly, reaching out to her. Delicate fingers caught the branch and she whirled away, her laughs of delight echoing among the empty grounds. The old abbot watched, spellbound as the child and the tree danced, a dance that only they seemed to know the steps to. Whirls and twirls, branches swaying.
Faintly the abbot could hear music drift from the nearby forest. He wasn’t supposed to be here. Nor could he tear himself away. The girl and the tree danced for a long time before at last their dance came to an end. Her eyes filled with sad longing.
She curtsied again to the tree. The tree’s branches reached out longingly as if to stop her, making her linger for but a moment longer, fingers trailing wistfully against the outstretched branch.
Then she was gone in a gentle of gust of snow laden wind.
It moaned softly, branches returning to stillness, just an old tree once again.
Quietly the old abbot left the tree to its waiting.