Fiction: The Mushroom Fairies

This is a little story I’ve been telling my daughter in various forms since she was two or three. Now she’s seven, so when I wrote it down I updated it a bit to give it some more depth. But it remains a simple story. Still at the draft stage, so any feedback would be great – gonna get this and some other tales printed up and bound for her for xmas 🙂

One autumn morning, little Cecilia hopped up before her mum and dad and went out to the backyard. The sky was still dark and there was a thin mist across the yard. It had been raining all week and a thick patch of mushrooms had sprouted in the grass.

The patch was very wide, and in the darkness where the mushroom stalks clustered together Cecilia saw lights flitting. She walked over very quietly and peeked under the mushrooms. There were twelve beautiful fairies hovering there. Each was only the size of Cecilia’s pinky finger – and she had very small hands! Before she could stop herself, Cecilia cried out “Fairies!”

The fairies rushed over and shushed her.

“Hello little girl, we didn’t realise anyone was there,” said the Green Fairy. “What is your name?”

“My name’s Cecilia,” said Cecilia.

The fairies were very pleased to meet Cecilia, but they asked her to please keep them a secret. The fairies would need to use things from the yard sometimes and if Cecilia’s parents knew, they might get annoyed and chase the fairies away. Cecilia promised never to say a word about the fairies.

That night Cecilia woke up after midnight and saw lights flitting all over the walls of her room. It was the glow from the fairies flying busily around in the tree outside her window. Cecilia wrapped herself up in her blankets and opened the window. She could see that the fairies were breaking off all the twigs and leaves from one side of the tree.

“Fairies, what are you doing?” she asked.

“Cecilia! Sorry we woke you,’ said the Purple Fairy. “We are collecting twigs and leaves to build a great hall under the hedge at the back of the yard.”

“We have a special guest coming soon and we want to hold a feast for them there,” added the Gold Fairy.

The next morning, Cecilia hopped up very early and went out to the backyard. She crept up to the hedge at the back of the yard and looked underneath it. Sure enough, in the dark under the hedge there was a beautiful hall made from twigs with a roof of tangled leaves. Cecilia could see the fairies busying themselves inside.

Later that morning, Cecilia was playing out in the yard while her parents tended to the plants in their greenhouse. When her parents noticed the tree with half its twigs and leaves missing, they were very confused.

“Who could’ve done this to our tree?” they wondered aloud.

“I don’t know who could have done it,” said Cecilia. “But it certainly wasn’t fairies!”

Cecilia’s mum and dad laughed.

“Well, of course it wasn’t fairies!” they said.

The fairies woke Cecilia again the next night. She was very happy to see them.

“We’re making a gift for our special guest,” said Green. “We noticed a beautiful shining animal on your roof and we’d like to include it in the gift.”

Cecilia was confused for a moment, then she realised Green meant the small weathervane on the roof of her house. It was shaped like a kookaburra, and the fairies had seen the sun glinting off its wings.

“But how can I help you with that?” asked Cecilia.

“Well, we aren’t allowed to take things from a human’s house,” explained Gold. “We could get in big trouble.”

“Yes,” said Purple, “but if you gave it to us as a gift that would be okay.”

“Do you think we could have it back after the feast?” Cecilia asked.

“I think that would be okay,” said Green, “it’s really just for the occasion.”

“Alright,” she said, “You can have it, it’s my gift to you.”

The fairies thanked Cecilia profusely and then flew up to the roof. Cecilia heard quiet metallic sounds high above her, and watched through her window as the fairies carried the weather vane down to the back of the yard and under the hedge.

The next morning, Cecilia’s parents were having their coffee in the backyard and noticed the weather vane was missing.

“That’s strange,” said Cecilia’s mum. “Do you think the wind could have knocked it off?”

“I don’t see how,” said her dad. “Besides, the wind has been so gentle the last few nights.”

“Maybe some kids climbed up there and stole it?” said Cecilia’s mum.

Cecilia was listening while she played. As her parents speculated about what had happened to the weather vane she grew more and more nervous.

“Maybe it was a big possum,” she suggested. “Anyway, it definitely was not fairies!”

Cecilia’s mum laughed, her dad smirked into his coffee.

“Well, I’m sure it wasn’t,” he said. “I mean, what could fairies possibly want with a weather vane?”

Cecilia barely slept that night, she was too excited about another visit from the fairies. Finally, just after midnight, she heard tiny fingers tapping on her window. She opened it and in flew Green, Purple, and Gold.

“Cecilia,” Green said, “we need to ask you a favour.”

“Our guest arrives in an hour and we have no salad to offer him,” said Gold. “We have a banquet of bugs and insects prepared, but he loves salad!”

“How can I help?” asked Cecile, thinking: What a strange guest!

“There are lots of ingredients for a salad in the greenhouse,” Purple said. “But it’s locked and we could never break in, would you unlock it for us?”

“We won’t take too much,” added Green.

Cecilia thought for a moment, then she hopped out of bed and ran into the kitchen. The key was hanging by the sink and Cecilia quietly climbed up on the bench, grabbed the key, and gave it to the fairies.

Cecilia watched through her window as coloured lights flitted around the greenhouse, lighting it up like a Christmas tree. After a few minutes, she saw the fairies fly out in a neat little row with plates piled high with lettuce leaves, strawberries, bean pods, spinach, broccoli, and all sorts of other treats.

Cecilia went back to sleep, but the Green Fairy woke her again in the very early morning, several hours before sunrise.

“Cecilia, we told our guest about all the help you gave us and he has asked to meet you,” said Green.

Cecilia was very excited to hear this (and a little nervous!). She hopped out of bed and pulled on a jumper, a beanie, and some shoes. She also grabbed three gold coins from her piggy bank, then she climbed out the window. As she walked towards the grass it seemed to grow higher and higher. Soon the blades of grass reached up past her waist. The fairies had shrunk her to their size!

“Hold on,” said Green, as she lifted Cecilia into the air and flew with her to the great hall under the hedge.

Torches made from sparrows’ feathers burned slowly, filling the hall with a warm light. Inside a great table was laid out with all manner of vegetables, leafy greens, and berries. There were also platters of moths, witchetty grubs, small spiders, and other bugs, all cooked and garnished with herbs.

Dozens of fairies of every colour imaginable, and some unimaginable, sat around the table feasting and drinking blackberry wine. At the head of the table sat their special guest. He towered over his hosts, his long tail curled leisurely under the table, his long blue tongue darting out to grab tasty morsels from the table. The grey and black patterns on his body were intricate and beautiful, like lattice-work, and Cecilia noticed that his skin glimmered purple wherever the firelight touched it.

On his head, the lizard wore a crown of silver, topped with the kookaburra weather vane from Cecilia’s roof. Cecilia had never seen any creature quite like him.

“He is King Kurrih,” said Green. “The King of the Blue Tongue Lizards – we hold a feast for him every year, and in exchange he keeps the lizards from eating us.”

“Oh my goodness!” said Cecilia.

Cecilia stayed with the fairies and the Blue Tongue until after the sun had risen. She listened to the old lizard’s magnificent stories, played tiggy with the younger fairies, and even tried a witchetty grub prepared the fairy way – it was delicious!

Then, in the middle of one of King Kurrih’s longer stories, Cecilia drifted into a peaceful sleep. When she awoke she was back to her old size, and laying in her own bed. It was late in the morning and when she rushed outside she found the key hanging back on its hook and the greenhouse neatly locked.

When her parents came outside to water the plants in the greenhouse, they were shocked to see all the leaves and berries and plants that were missing. Cecilia rushed over to look – the fairies had taken quite a lot it seemed.

“Who could have done this?” they wondered aloud. “It looks like the work of a cheeky possum but the door was locked shut!”

“I don’t know who could have done it,” said Cecilia. “But it certainly wasn’t fairies.”

Cecilia’s mum and dad looked at each other, and then back at Cecilia.

“Well, of course it wasn’t fairies,” they said sternly.

“It must have been someone who could get the key,” said Cecilia’s mum.

“Cecilia, if you’re really hungry in the night you can get something from the fridge,” said her dad.

“Your dad and I worked really hard growing those veggies,” her mum said. “It makes me very sad that you would go and do that!”

“But I didn’t –” Cecilia started. Her mum cut her off –

“Enough Cecilia! Now go ride your bike or something; we have to clean up this mess you’ve made.”

Cecilia took her bike to the bike-path near the creek to ride down the big hill. She was angry. Angry that her parents didn’t believe her, angry at the fairies for getting her in trouble, angry at herself.

She rode down the hill faster than ever. It felt good to push at the pedals until her legs ached and it hurt to breathe. Halfway down the hill a sharp rock popped the front wheel of Cecilia’s bike. She was thrown off into the bushes. She sprained her wrists and grazed her knees badly. There was blood on the leaves and the gravel. Her bike ran straight into a tree. The front wheel was all bent, and the handlebars were snapped, and the little bell on the front was squashed flat.

When Cecilia saw her bike she sat by it and wept for a long time. After a while she stopped crying, and painfully limped home pushing her wounded bike as best she could.

She wept again when her parents told her they didn’t have enough money to buy a new bike or repair her old one at the moment.

“I’m sorry about the greenhouse,” said Cecilia, when her sobbing had finally stopped. “I know you worked hard growing your veggies, I promise I won’t do it again.”

Cecilia’s parents forgave her, of course, and gave her a giant cuddle.

That night Cecila slept very deeply. She didn’t even wake up when coloured lights flew all over her wall. So she didn’t see the fairies in her backyard carefully tending to her bike.

They used their strong little fairy arms (fairies are very strong, did you know that?) to bend the wheel back into shape, and they used special fairy dust to fuse the handlebars back together. Finally, they all took turns using their magical fairy breath to blow up the crushed bike bell like a balloon.

In the morning when Cecilia wandered out to the backyard, she was so happy to see her bike all magically fixed that she did a little dance. Then she ran into her room and got the three gold coins from her piggy bank – all her treasure in the world – and carefully placed it in the shadows under the mushroom patch.

When Cecilia’s parents came out into the yard, they couldn’t believe that her bike had been fixed. It looked just as if it had never been broken.

“How did this happen?” her parents asked.

“I don’t know,” said Cecilia with a huge grin. “But it certainly wasn’t fairies.”

That night Cecila hoped to see her fairy friends again, but she slept through the night so deeply and so dreamlessly it felt like she was under a spell. But, when she awoke, she found her piggy bank sitting on her bed. She shook it and heard clinking from inside. The fairies had returned her treasure, along with some tiny gold coins – real gold! – and some beautiful fairy jewellery just as tiny and delicate as lady beetles’ eyelashes. There was a note too, it read:

Thank you Cecilia, so much. We’re sorry for any trouble we caused. We won’t forget you, child, and we will be seeing you again.

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