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 Short Story


By Bernard Shaw

The day started of fine, sunny periods with here and there a small cloud hurrying across the sky. It was just the weather to go out into the countryside. I passed orchards with rows of trees in fruit. It promised to be a good harvest year. Sheep and cattle were lazily grazing the tender grass. Here and there a cow was lying under a tree as if to get out of the hot sun. I wandered slowly across the approach to the Kentish Downs. Flowers were everywhere to be seen in the hedgerows. Bees could be seen busily flying from flower to flower, gathering pollen, all in all, a day to be out in the fresh air of Kent.

In the distance there was a large copse of trees, which promised shade and coolness. The sun was now high in the midday sky and I began to perspire. I reached the copse at last and settled myself down on the ground beneath an old Oak tree. Soon my eyelids became heavy and I dropped off into a light slumber. I was not alone; soon Fairies were playing all around me. Their soft melodious voices lulled me deeper and deeper into a dream world. I too became a Fairy and flew backwards and forwards with the other Fairies in an age-old Fairy game, it was similar to the tag that I had played as a young boy. I felt the pangs of thirst coming over me and said that I would like something to drink. One of the Fairies offered me a flower full of juice the like of which I had never tasted before. My thirst being quenched I now realised that I was hungry. The same fairy offered me a Fairy cake it was delicious, small but my hunger was stilled.

We played for quite a while I had lost all feeling for time; I was so happy that I belonged to this group of Fairies. For the hundredth time I flew backwards and forwards just for the joy of being able to fly. In the distance I heard a peel of thunder and the heavens were becoming quite dark. I thought to myself we are going to have a heavy thunderstorm we had better find shelter somewhere before we all got soaking wet.

One of the Fairies waved her magic wand and we all disappeared into a large cave. The walls of the cave were of chalk with here and there flint stones showing through. It was warm and quite dry here in the cave that was lit by some strange candles. When one approached the candles they got brighter. When one went away they mysteriously dimmed. I thought at first that we were alone in the cave but in one corner I saw an old woman with a tall black hat on her head. On a perch stuck into the wall of the cave was an Owl it blinked slowly as it moved its head here and there trying to find what had obviously disturbed it.

The old woman was busy with a small fire that she kept blowing into to make it burn more brightly. Sitting on an old mat was a large black cat, its eyes were deep yellow and it was angry I could see this by the way its tail waved quickly back and forth. The Owl and the Cat knew that we were in the cave but the old woman had not seen or heard us. One of the Fairies in her excitement fell against a small shelf that was also fixed into the wall of the cave. Crash! A few pots and pans and some strange looking glass jars fell to the floor. Now the old woman saw the Fairies and me for the first time. She was very angry that strangers had entered her cave. She muttered a few words and threw some herbs and powder on to the fire. A puff of smoke and a bright flash and all of the Fairies stopped perfectly still. Not a wing moved it was as if they had all been mesmerized. I found that I could still move perhaps because I was not a real fairy.

Now it was up to me to rescue the fairies but how? I quickly flew to each fairy and gave them a gentle push towards the opening of the cave. The old woman still did not see me and as soon as all the Fairies were in the opening of the cave I pushed them all outside. Once in the fresh air they soon recovered and I was the hero of the day. It had stopped raining and we played some more Fairy games and it was then that I saw myself asleep under the old oak tree.

I became frightened and the next thing I can remember is waking up. Sitting in the Oak tree high up on a branch was a large brown Owl. I got slowly to my feet and started my long walk back home. One of the Fairies accompanied me until we reached the main road, then she too much to my disappointment disappeared. I have often been back since but I have never seen another Fairy. Did the old woman have anything to do with there not coming back?
Bernard Shaw
Copyright 2005
Listed 06/30/2005

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