The Fluffy Fairy:
Fairies and sparrow men, gather round!
I’m here to tell you the legendary tale of….the fluffy fairy.
But, to do this, I have to start at the beginning.
The very beginning…
I lean forward, squinting my eyes to try and make out the bright dot floating towards the Home Tree.
This afternoon, a scout-talent named Rusty spotted a stray laugh coming our way.
It’s now nighttime, but the new fairy has yet to land.
All the main talents have come to the front of the new arrival’s platform, waiting to welcome them to their talent.
In Pixie Hollow, during a talent selection ceremony, the most popular talent fairies stand in the front, all in a circle. The less popular talents stand farther towards the back.
Because I’m a caterpillar-shearing talent, I’m standing in the 7th circle. Caterpillar-shearing talents are pretty hard to come by nowadays.
“Look, it’s coming down for a landing!” A fairy in front of me shouts.
Snapping my neck up, I watch as the dandelion fluff floats towards us.
Once it finally touches the platform, cheers break out through the crowd. I grin, in spite of myself.
A blonde dust-talent pours a cup over the top of the dandelion fluff. It bends over underneath the weight.
From underneath the bright white arrival day dress, a head covered with bright red hair emerges.
Shakily, she pulls herself to her feet, and begins fluttering a few centimeters above the ground.
After her first flight, she lands, facing the talent groups that have edged closer.
I watch her as she walks by each talent symbol.
The egg, which stops glowing right away. The light beam, which disperses almost immediately. The bubble of water, which wavers for a few moments for bursting in her hands. As she moves to the hammer, she passes the garden-talents’ flower, which glows brighter for a moment, before wilting. The hammer simply falls away from her.
Gasps ripple out through the crowd as the second circle talents move forward with their symbols. It’s been a while since a fairy hasn’t been right for any of the main five talents!
Even though I’m supposed to be in the 7th circle, and I’m probably breaking hundreds of Never Council rules, I find myself elbowing my way through the different talents, towards the front.
I hold out my pair of shearing scissors, trying to look like I fit in.
As the new fairy turns away from the baking-talent, I stick out my chest with pride.
As soon as she locks her eyes on mine, I can tell. She’s going to be a caterpillar-shearing talent, and a darn good one at that. I don’t even have to look at the radiant scissors to know.
She sticks out her hand and smiles at me.
“Hi, my name is…”
I lead the new fairy to her home.
All caterpillar-shearing talents live in Caterpillar Corral, which is a peculiar sort of place.
Caterpillar Corral is in a circular shape, something the Clumsies call a “round-a-bout”. All of our houses line the circle. In the center of the circle are the woolly caterpillars we herd and shear.
Her house is right next to mine. It’s been empty for many years, so she’s going to have to have it cleaned up before she moves in.
For now, while the cleaning-talents are getting it ready, she’ll have to stay with me.
Fortunately, I’ve got multiple empty bedrooms.
I guess we caterpillar-shearers don’t entertain much.
I’m just finishing unpacking her new clothes when she walks into her temporary room.
Her eyes take in the dusty room, the measly wardrobe, and the small bed.
Turning to me, she smiles widely.
“Thank you for having me. I hope it’s not too much trouble!” She says brightly.
I shake my head.
“No, of course not. Besides, it’s only until your new home is cleaned.”
I awkwardly brush my dusty hands against my dull grey trousers.
“I put your new outfits in the wardrobe. We didn’t know what you liked, so we grabbed a bit of everything.”
She walks over to the wardrobe and opens the door, which creaks loudly.
She surveys the different colours and styles that are crammed into it.
Turning back to me, her eyes widening comically, she asks, “Did you buy all these things for me?”
I shift, and stare at my feet.
“The other shearers and I pooled together our ingredients. Like I said, we weren’t sure what clothes you’d like, so it’s a little….crazy.”
She walks closer, and hugs me tightly. Surprised, I pat her back awkwardly.
“Thank you, thank you very much!”
As soon as I’m free from her tight grip, I walk to the door.
Blowing out the candle, I hear a soft “Goodnight, Cottonfluff” from the now dark room.
Sighing, I reply.
As I lead our her down the steps that lead to the corral in the early morning light, I explain to her what exactly we do.
“Some fairies think we only shear the caterpillars, but that is only a part of our job. We also herd, breed, and find them, too.”
Stopping at the shed where we keep our tools, I open the door and usher her inside.
“We’re going to start you out on protecting one herd while the rest of us shearers are going to take the other herds out to graze. It should be easy. You won’t even have to leave the corral.” I reassure the new fairy, who has turned quite pale.
I pick up an old, dusty crook from the darkest corner of the shed.
Tossing it to her, I say, “That’s your crook. You’ll need it to scare away anything that could hurt the caterpillars, like birds or frogs.”
After wiping my dusty hands on my tan pants, I pat her on the back.
“Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Besides, we’ll only be in the next meadow. You can holler if you need anything.”
She nods her head, then wipes her free hand on her white dress.
As I leave with the other herders, I look over my shoulder.
I get the same feeling I did at the Talent Selection Ceremony, like something, something big, is going to happen, and it’s going to be because of her.
One year after her first day at the corral…
I’m sitting at my kitchen table, sipping on a cup of tea, when I hear my door being slammed open.
She runs in, her hair wild, face smudged with dirt, but glowing with excitement.
“Follow me, and hurry!” She yells, before she leaves again, running back out my door.
I drop my cup in the sink and flit after her, wanting to see what she’s found.
A long flight later…
Panting, I stop and rest against a tree.
She smiles at me excitedly, her eyes a bit crazy.
I look at her, wondering what she wanted to show me.
“Well?” She asks impatiently.
“Don’t you realise what you’re standing underneath?”
“….A tree?” I ask, confused.
“No! Look up!” She says, pushing my chin up with her finger.
Astonished, I ask, “A-are these…..silkworm cocoons?”
She nods, her eyes wide.
“I-I thought they were all extinct! How did you find these?” I ask, bewildered. “Everyone knows silkworms went extinct early in Pixie Hollow history!”
“They never went extinct, at least not here!”
“Wait, where is here?” I ask, narrowing my eyes.
She points her head towards the ground, purposefully avoiding my stare.
“Where is here?” I repeat, more forcefully.
“Outside Pixie Hollow.” She replies quietly.
“WHAT?! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH TROUBLE YOU CAN GET IN FOR LEAVING PIXIE HOLLOW?” I shout, shaking her shoulders a bit.
“But this is so much more important than a silly rule! Think about it! Silk!”
I glare at her, not speaking.
“Besides, what do you think this means about the rumors of….the silk-talents?” She whispers, barely audible.
“Stop! Stop talking! Silk-talents aren’t real, and you need to forget about all this! About the silkworms, and about leaving Pixie Hollow!”
“Is that what you think? That I need to just forget about all this? About silk? About the lies we’ve been told?”
“Yes! No!” I shout, torn.
“Fine! I’ll go then!”
With that, she flies off in a blur, her red glow trailing behind her, barely visible.
A long, worried flight back…
Panting, I throw open the door to my assistant’s house.
“Where…is…she?” I rasp, my lungs burning.
“Cottonfluff! I’m sorry! We didn’t know what to do!” My assistant, Chloe, yells, her eyes wet.
“She left! She took them with her!! We couldn’t stop her!!” Chloe continues, not stopping for air.
“What did she take?” I bellow, even though I already know the answer.
“Th-three herds! She just took them and left!” Chloe cries, slipping out of my loosening grip on her shoulders.
As Chloe dissolves into a puddle on her floor, I stare ahead.
She’s certainly a good herder, but she’s not going to be able to take care of three whole herds in the rest of Neverland, which is where I know she’s going.
Some explaining to the Queen later…
As I walk wearily towards my home, I think over the events of the day.
I argued with my best friend, then lost her, and then I had to explain her loss to the Council and the Queen!
I walk through my moonlit hall, headed towards my bedroom.
As I throw myself down on the bed, I feel something hard hit my back.
Sitting up, I pull out what I felt.
It’s a shepherd’s crook, made out of a beautiful, dark wood. It has a small sprig of lavender tied to the curve, along with a note.
“I’ll be waiting for you…”
Many years later….
The Never Council told us they found her body, that she’d been attacked by a fox, but I learned not to trust them a long time ago.
Some pixies say, on a cold night, you can still hear her ghost, calling out to her flock.
In my heart, I know she’s out there, just waiting for me to join her.
And I know that she’ll be out there, waiting forever….
The Fluffy Fairy.