Goldenrod was perfectly content to forget all about being an elf, until his brothers and sisters began to discuss the topic of relationships. They had their wings for nearly a month now, and their flight was now just as graceful and streamlined as that of their mother. Surely, they felt, it was time to begin courting. They spent the day flying out to other trees where the other finches nested, and flying low down so as to attract the attention of the pretty young finches that lived there. At night, they stayed up chattering excitedly about these potential suitors, fawning over their features and quarreling over which ones were the most attractive, and discussing future marriage and children.
Goldenrod was left out of these conversations, and whenever they were brought up, his siblings would give him quick pitying looks. They knew that he was an elf and could not court a finch, and neither he nor they knew where he was to find other elves. As he spent the nights sitting and listening to his siblings chatter and giggle about courting other finches, he began to realize how different he was from them. He was an elf. He would never be a finch, no matter what his mother said. He was an elf, and his family was full of finches, because they were not his real family. He had a real family at one point, full of elves just like him, with pink skin and downy yellow feathers on top of their heads. Maybe they were still out there, or maybe they were all gone, but they were his real family. These finches were not.
This was a very distressing time for Goldenrod. He felt detached, in the way, and like he didn’t really belong. His siblings, though they only meant to comfort him, would treat him with undisguised pity during these rough times; patting his head and pinching his cheeks and shooting sad glances in his direction whenever they discussed courting. Goldenrod didn’t want comfort or pity. He began avoiding his siblings, who were so busy trying to attract the pretty young finches from the other trees that they no longer found much time to play with him anyway. At night, he would leave the nest and climb up on a branch, where he’d sit and daydream about other elves and what his real family might’ve been like, until his mother called him to bed.
Finally, on an afternoon when it became too much for him and when all of his siblings were out with their suitors, Goldenrod approached his mother and said, “Mama, I’m going to go out and find somebody to court.”
The mother finch was filled with dread; had the day come when he had finally decided he wanted to leave her for other elves? But she knew she couldn’t say no to him. She knew how depressed he became whenever the subject of courting was brought up. “You may go,” she told him, “but you must come back to me by nightfall. If you don’t come back by nightfall, I will have to go out looking for you.”
“I’ll be back by nightfall,” Goldenrod assured his mother. “I promise.” Then he kissed her and went off on his way.