Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Serial: #1 Fairy Flight North




Episode #1: Fairy Flight North
By Bella Vida and J.R. Turner


The thick stench of decaying paper, fabric and paint made my nose run. The hot attic was stuffed with the supplies Grandma used to paint, sew and take pictures. I wanted it all, including every word of her poetry. She taught me so much, how could I get rid of her things just because Mom and Dad were selling her house?

They are so uncool.

I would take what was important to Grandma, no matter what they said. The dirt didn’t bother me, just as long as I didn’t run into any gross bugs or mice. I held my breath and shoved a big box of old curtains aside.

Slanted rays of sunlight, filled with floating motes, lit tarnished brass like gold in an Egyptian tomb and my heart flipped. I set aside a plant stand, a tattered quilt and a basket to reach an old trunk.

A special place for special things.

My long, curly hair, just like Grandma’s, fell forward as I bent. Mom wanted me to cut it, but I refused, though I had second thoughts when it caught on the corner of the chest. A good tug freed my hair, but also spooked something that scurried away. I screeched, hopping onto a busted up wicker chair. The things I’d piled swayed, but remained freakishly balanced like acrobats on a high wire.

I listened, but whatever made that noise was gone now. Heart beat returning to normal, I carefully returned to the trunk. The lid opened with a creak. Grandma’s best embroidery lay in neat rows across the top. Everything has its place. I could practically hear her. In a white box I found colorful jewelry. Definitely a keeper. I clumsily tried to close the lid and an earring fell out, thunking on something hard.

I hunted it down and found a reddish, carved wood box. The familiar pattern made me frown. Where had I seen it before? Just my luck, the box was locked. Something important had to be inside. I needed something small to work it open, like when I lost the key to my diary. In the white box, a glitzy dragonfly pin caught my eye.

Carefully I slid the pointed end of the pin into the keyhole and worked it up and down until it opened.

Yes! I rule!

“Julie, lunch is ready! Come eat!” Mom hollered from the stairs.

Ugh. Do all parents have bad timing, or just mine? “No thanks,” I yelled. “I’m not hungry.”

I took both boxes to the room I had stayed in every summer for as long as I remembered. We should live here. It’s a better house, even if it is smaller. I chose the floor between my bed and the window in case my nosy mom barged in. If she didn’t knock, I’d have a chance to hide my finds.

The fancy wooden box held pages covered in Grandma’s handwriting, each neatly bundled with a different colored ribbon. I started with green, my favorite, and untied the neat bow. The letter wasn’t a letter—but a poem. I read it out loud, the way Grandma and I did on long summer evenings when the sun took for ever to set.

“Once departed words are found
They will hear and come from afar,
Heading to the land northbound,
Guided by my love’s ringing star.”

An insect tickled the back of my arm and I squeaked. Gross! Get it off!

I brushed my arm and flung something with wings behind the box. I lifted a torn sneaker to kill it for good.

Dumb, gross ugly bugs!

Before the shoe pulverized the creepy thing, it flew up and landed on my nose. Cross-eyed, I stared at the doubled image of what was most definitely not a bug.

Bright green eyes in a pale slender face glared at me. Her tiny hands fisted on her hips, she blew short brown hair off her forehead. A dress made of pink petals stopped at her knees. More astonishing, she had double dragonfly wings.



“Are you for real?” I croaked and closed one eye to bring her into focus.

“Of course I’m real. That’s a silly question. You didn’t have to hit me. Not my fault you can’t take a joke.”

“Sorry, you scared me.” I might have imagined it, but I thought she grew bigger as I peered through one eye at her. “Could you get off my nose now?”

She flew to the dresser and sat on the back of my hairbrush, admiring herself in the mirror. “I’m Krista—spelled K-I…I mean, K-R-I-S-T-A, Krista.”

“That’s pretty. I’m Julie,” I said lamely. Now her backside barely fit on my hairbrush. “Are you getting bigger?”

Mom opened the door and my heart leapt into my throat. “Who are you talking to?”

“N-n-no one,” I stammered like an idiot, Krista and I both frozen. “Just—just,” my gaze fell on the green ribbon, “reading Grandma’s poems.”

“Well, if you get hungry, there’s a sandwich in the fridge.” She glanced at the fairy on my dresser and said, “If you bring Grandma’s figurines down, make sure you don’t break them, okay?”

I gulped. “Okay.”

She left and I flopped on my bed, exhaling in relief. “That was super close.”

A buzzing sound grew beneath me and I sat up in alarm. I rolled flat on my belly to look under the bed.

Oh no!

Dozens and dozens of fairies fluttered in a thick cloud. I jerked aside as they whooshed out and all around the room.

Krista, nearly three times their size, barely noticed. She giggled, turning this way and that to show her best angles. If mom came in now, she’d run for the bug spray and try to kill the swarm in my room.

“Uh, hello?” I tried, not sure what to say. Immediately every little fairy expanded in size. They were dressed in some kind of plant stuff that grew with them. The buzz got louder, too.

“Hello.”

“Hi.”

“How are ya?”

They got into everything—including the trashcan full of tissues from after the funeral. I didn’t want to think about that. “What are you doing here?”

They grew again, even Krista. Every time I spoke they got bigger. What would happen if I sang the Never-Ending song? Giant fairies that tickled girls to death?

“Hey, silly.” Krista barely spared her a glance. “Nona said you’d take us to the door.”

“You talked to my grandma?” I hopped off the bed as she reached a foot high, the rest of the fairies about half that. My room was too small for us now, but I had to know. “When did you talk to her?”

She grew another inch and finally faced me. “Nona said tell Julie,

Lay your head to sleep,
the answers aren’t that deep.
Seek in threads,
the means to your ends.


So now take us there, for Mercy's sake.”

“Huh?” She grew a mere fraction, but I covered my mouth anyway. Fairies pulled stuffing from pillows and threw it in the air, laughing. My black funeral shoes came alive, a fairy in each holding the laces like reins as they galloped across the floor.

Think, Julie, think!

I replayed the message in my head. What did it mean? Then it clicked. A pillow—with threads. Grandma’s embroidery!

Careful not to let them out, I slipped from my room and ran back up the stairs to the attic. At the trunk, I dug deep inside.

“Yes!”

I pulled the pillow free. The stitched scene showed a girl with long curly hair in an old-fashioned nightgown. She held a golden bell in front of a large tree I knew well. Looking closer, the lights in the woods were really little fairies flying ahead of the bell-ringer.

Oh, please let there be a bell in here!

Beneath the pillow, nestled in a swatch of purple velvet, lay a candlestick bell. I rolled the bell in the velvet to hide any noise from my parents and ran back to my room.

Total chaos. For little creatures, they sure did a lot of damage in a short time! But now came the hard part. How to get them to follow without speaking? And how to get them out of the house without Mom or Dad seeing them?

The back stairs.

I was forbidden to use them. Narrow risers, a steep grade—Mom called it a neck-breaker. I had no choice. Maybe seeing the fairies would make them forget I had broken the rules.

The bell must be used like that piper guy who led all the rats out of town. The velvet polished the bell as I removed the cloth. The fairies rushed to me, sitting on my head, shoulders, flying around my face and near my ears.

“Ooo, pretty!” Krista said, gaze on the gold gleam.

“Pretty,” echoed all around me.

I opened the door and slipped into the hall. They followed and for once, Mom didn’t come jumping out of the shadows to catch me doing something I wasn’t supposed to. I managed to make it halfway down the back stairs before I slipped. The bell jingled once as I caught myself. The fairies dipped and covered their ears as they cried in pain.

“Oh, sorry,” I whispered, surprised at their reaction—and at my voice they grew again. This fairy herding thing was tricky!

“Hurts, hurts,” Krista told me. “Fairy ears are for secrets, not the rings of those things.”

I nodded, not daring a word.

Outside the distracted fairies zipped in every direction to investigate the lilacs and rose bushes.

“Pretty,” they said. “Pretty. Pretty.”

Desperate to get to the tree, the best one for climbing in the whole world, I rang the bell. Despite their pain, they followed once Krista led the way.

Gnarled branches spread from a massive, twisted trunk. I stared dumbly at the huge leaves.

“You gotta say the words.” Krista urged. At my confused look, she said, “The ones Nona taught you.”

Grandma had taught me a lot of words.

Looking really annoyed, she asked, “The ones about the North?”

I did know, I realized. But wouldn’t saying them out loud make all the fairies grow? I decided I didn’t have much of a choice and took a deep breath. “In days of old, when winds blew cold, North of North opened wide, where children did hide, from the cunning and the bold.”

A great tearing, roaring sound came from the base of the tree and I took a step back. The trunk untwisted, the branches turning overhead and raining leaves on us. Cold, brittle wind escaped from a narrow hole spreading wide at its center.

I squinted against the bright light and smelled snow as giggling and laughing fairies dove inside. Some flipped, others cannon-balled through, but all went. Krista waved, the last to enter.

My sigh barely ended when the wind changed. Instead of in my face, it pushed me from behind. Gooseflesh rose over my arms. The bark crackled as the tree started to re-twist back toward normal.

The wind strengthened and in a panic, I dug in my heels. Sucked toward the opening, my scream was lost in the gale. My hair whipped into the hole first and the curly ends stiffened with frost. I dropped the bell and braced my hands on either side of the portal.

Sharp, frozen air hurt my lungs. My head forced inside, wind whistled into my ears, making them ache. I caught a glimpse of the world beyond. The snowy landscape sparkled like diamond dust. Fairies made snow angels everywhere.

My face grew numb and I tasted ice in my mouth. Arms shaking, weakening, I wanted to cry but the tears froze before they fell. My feet lifted off the ground.


Tune in next week for the exciting continuation of Letters to the 5th Direction!

5 comments:

Milli Thornton said...

I LOVE THIS!

But I'm worried about Julie. Will have to read the next episode to make sure she's OK. (Sounds like the fairies can take care of themselves ;~)

The illustrations are perfect. Julie's hair in the second one looks like masses of little fairies clumped together.

Go, Jenny-Bug! Go, Bella! Collaboration heaven :~)

J.R. Turner said...

LOL! Thanks so much Milli ;)

Yes, collaborating has been a blast :) It's so much fun to get a glimpse inside another author's imagination, and then mingle it in with my own.

I haven't really done any artwork in years, but I'm glad I overcame my fears and gave it a whirl. This is a lot of fun and I'm hoping that they enhance the experience for the reader.

Thank you tons, for your support and taking a moment to read! Bella is a natural storyteller and I'm loving where she's taking us :)

Warmly,
Jenny:)

Anonymous said...

Very good collabo!! I can't wait to read the next episode next week!! I am hooked! Do I have to wait a whole week!?? what torture! ;)

**Mari**

Hydra M. Star said...

Very good opening, ladies.

I can't wait to find out why grandma seemingly had these fairies prisoner and what trouble Julie will find herself in now that she'd let them free and has done their bidding.

Mary Welk said...

Fantastic, Jenny! Can't wait to read more next week!