Monday, March 23, 2015

Into the Land of the Elves: A Rainy Day Visitor

The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall, elf friend
August 6
11:21 AM

A Rainy Day Visitor

It’s raining cats and dogs and there’s no sign that it will let up anytime soon. Usually I can get most of my work done on days like this, when it’s too wet to visit the Greenwood and there’s nothing to do but work, but it’s difficult to get anything done when you have no motivation.  I sit down to write, and end up doing more erasing, crossing out, and backspacing than actual writing. Lately it has been taking me entire hours just to finish up a few paragraphs at a time. Sometimes I sit down to write, pick up the pen, and forty-five minutes later the paper will still be blank. The stories just have no meaning to me anymore—they come out of my head, and when they do I am obligated to at least attempt to write them down, but the meaning behind them has disappeared. The only story that I have a genuine enthusiasm for writing is the one that will never be published. But perhaps a little journaling on yesterday’s elven adventures will give me at least a bit of the motivation that I need.
When I met Apple Blossom at the magnolia archway, she was all smiles about inviting me out on a picnic with her and her friends. “Can you bring some more grapes, Aidyn?” she asked, bouncing around on her feet. “Can you bring the same tasty ones that you brought yesterday? Oh, can you, please?”
“Of course I can, dear,” I said, patting her on the head. “In fact, I’ll bring another whole container of them. If you’ll let me go down to the store for a moment, I’ll go get some more right now.”
            “I’ll wait right here,” she said, and took a seat under the Grand Elder Guardian’s massive web. I headed home to grab my purse and car keys, thinking, How amazing is this? How many other people in that supermarket are going to be there to buy grapes for a picnic full of elf girls?
            There’s somebody at the front door, and apparently they haven’t heard of knocking or ringing the bell. It’s probably a friend of mine wondering where I’ve been, or else my mother coming over to check up on me. I have to go and answer that.

11:52 AM

            Oh my god.
            It was Apple Blossom! Apple Blossom was at my door!!!
            There she was, standing there with her hands clasped behind her back, drenched from head to toe. My heart beat so wildly that I had to clap my hand over my chest to calm it down. What was she doing here? How did she know where to find me? Did anybody else know that she was here? My god, had anybody seen her? I managed to choke out, “A…Apple Blossom?” I was sure that my worry was as plain as the nose on my face, but she was wearing her signature smile and did not seem even remotely swayed.
            “Hello, Aidyn!”
            Without really thinking, I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the house. She yelped, pulled back a little, and cried “Aidyn, what are you doing?” I slammed the door abruptly and peered out the window to see if any neighbors were around. There was no one out there. Good. As far as I knew, she had not been spotted. I waited for my heart to slow down, and then I turned my attention to Apple Blossom; “What in the whole wide world are you doing here?!”
            She gasped, taken aback by how I had raised my voice at her. “I…I only came to visit you, Aidyn. I just…I wanted to see where you go when it rains.”
            I exploded. “Are you completely out of your mind, Apple Blossom? Do you know how dangerous it was for you to come here?  This is the friggin’ human world! Did you see those other houses lined up alongside mine? Did you? Well, there are humans in each and every one of those houses, and who knows what they would have done if they saw you?!” Those haunting images from the picture books came back to me: grown men who beat little Jadeite children, humans attacking Jadeites with no discernible provocation, a boy throwing stones at a poor Jadeite woman just trying to go about her day. How was I to know that one of my neighbors, as nice and out of the way as they normally were, wouldn’t have turned out to be one of those monsters if they managed to get hold of Apple Blossom? My blood boiled, fear held on tightly to my heart, and to keep myself from bursting into tears and hysteria I converted the fear to anger. “Apple Blossom, this is no doubt the stupidest, most asinine thing that I have ever seen you do!” I hollered. “I mean, you’ve done some pretty dumb things before, but…”
            Now she was sobbing. Her face began to fall the moment I started going off on her, and by now she had completely erupted. She wrapped her arms around herself and trembled all over like an earthquake was taking place inside of her. Her tears fell like the rain outside as her sobs turned into blaring wails, and I realized that I was the only monster here.
            “Apple Blossom…?” I took a step toward her. She stepped back and turned away from me. “Apple Blossom, I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have…”
            She darted away like a frightened fox, scrambled into the darkness of a closet that I had left open, and crawled into a corner to hide away. I left her alone.

1:36 PM

            When I checked on Apple Blossom, she was still in the closet, sitting against the wall with her legs drawn up to her chest. She had finished crying, and her face was red and blotchy like a withered rose. I stepped over the old things lying on the floor and sat down beside her. “Hey.”
            She turned to look at me and said, “I’m sorry I made you mad, Aidyn.”
            My heart sank. “Oh, sweetie…” I put my arm around her. “You didn’t make me mad. You made me scared, and I shouldn’t have handled it the way I did.” I patted her shoulder and she rested her head against me.
            “I’m sorry, Aidyn.”
            “I’m sorry too.”
            I made lunch for both of us: a ham and cheese sandwich and a glass of milk for myself, a plateful of black grapes and a glass of milk for Apple Blossom. Though she gobbled up her grapes greedily, she kept glancing curiously at my sandwich, until she finally asked, “What kind of meat is that?”
            “It’s pig,” I told her. “Haven’t you had pig before?”
            “Not thin like that,” she said. “Can I try some of it?”
            I broke off a small fragment of my sandwich and placed it on her plate. She studied it for a moment, took a bite, and made a face as she swallowed. “I don’t like it!”
            But she liked her milk. After chugging it down, she held the glass out to me and asked, “Can I have some more milk, please? And can you tell me what animal it’s from?”
            “It’s cow milk,” I said, “and I’ll give you some more if you answer a few questions for me.”
            “Okay.” She folded her hands and sat back in her chair.
            “First of all,” I began, “how did you know where to find my house? How did you know I was here?”
            “It’s because of your tag,” she stated. Oh yeah! I’d stopped bringing my tag with me on visits to the Greenwood a long time ago. It rested at the bottom of a drawer on my nightstand, and I had forgotten that it even served a purpose at all. “Oh, that’s right,” I said. “So, you went straight to my house? You didn’t run into any other humans?”
            She nodded. “I didn’t see any humans,” she clarified, and I sighed with relief. “Well,” I went on, “does anybody know that you’re here? Do your mother and father know?”
            She looked at me for a good, long while like she had just been caught stealing from the cookie jar. I knew the answer then. Still, I said firmly, “Be honest with me, Apple Blossom.”
            “Well…” Her eyes shifted from my face to the ceiling. “If they knew that I was coming here, I wouldn’t have been able to get here.”
            I sighed and got up to pour her another glass of milk. When I set it down in front of her, she greedily snatched it up and began to wolf it down, spilling a little down the front of her tunic. “Slow down, please,” I told her. “Remember your table manners.” She nodded and obeyed. I folded my hands on the table and looked over at her like a stern but fair school principal making ready to lecture a student at her desk. “Apple Blossom,” I said, “you should not have come here. The fact that you had to hide it at all is a sure sign that you should not have come here. Not only was it very dangerous, but it was very dishonest. If your parents or anybody at the palace finds out that you’re here, I could end up in serious trouble! You know that they still don’t trust me enough for you to be able cover for me.”
            “But they never have to find out,” said Apple Blossom. “I’ll tell them that I was with the meadow fairies all day—they have good, strong stick houses that keep out the rain, and I very often visit with them when it rains anyway.”
            I raised a brow. “So you’re going to lie?
            “Well…” She shifted uneasily in her seat.
            “Do you see what I mean, Apple Blossom? You shouldn’t have come here! First you had to cover it up, and now you have to lie—and technically, covering it up is already a kind of lie! Your coming here spawned a web of dishonesty!” I pressed my fingers to my brow and sighed in exasperation. “And now I’m caught right in the middle!”
            Apple Blossom was about to cry again. “I’m…I’m sorry, Aidyn.”
            “I know, dear. I know.” I sighed again. “But I think it’s best if we get you home as soon as possible. You won’t have to cover for me, because I’ll be coming with you.”
            “Mother will be angry,” Apple Blossom said nervously.
            “She’ll be even angrier if you lie,” I told her.
            “Can’t we wait until the rain lets up just a little?” she asked. “Mother never expects me back until mid-afternoon.”
            “I don’t think we should wait that long,” I said, “but I don’t want you to get soaked again. You can stay here for just a little while longer, and then we’re getting you back home.”
            I led her to the back screen door to see my garden. Even in the grey day, my flowers managed to stand out as bright and colorful as ever, and Apple Blossom was absolutely delighted by them. “Oh, Aidyn,” she cried, “how lovely your garden is! I never could have guessed that humans could grow such beautiful flowers! They’re so big and so bright! Oh, I wish it wasn’t raining, so I could go out there with them and get to know them. Do butterflies and flower fairies ever visit your garden? If I was a butterfly or a flower fairy, I’d love to visit a garden as wonderful as this!”
            We played indoor hide and seek for a while, and her short stature and small build gave her a very distinct advantage. I tried to show her a cartoon on TV, but after only a few minutes she decided that she was not interested. “What’s so fun about sitting and watching pictures move on a box?” she asked.
            “You’d be surprised at just how many humans spend entire days doing that,” I told her.
            After she got bored with the TV, I gave her some blank sketchpad pages and colored pencils to draw with. “These are very strange drawing tools, Aidyn,” she told me. “Are they meant to be painting pencils? Does paint come out of them when you…oh! This bright blue one is so vivid! It looks just like a line of sky on the paper! I’m going to see what the red one looks like…oh, it’s as bright as a flame! I really like these, Aidyn!”
            While she was drawing, I sat at my desk mulling over my writing. Suddenly, she yelped and dropped the pencil she had been holding. Immediately, I was at her side. “What happened?” I asked, thinking that perhaps a bug had gotten into the house and bitten her. But her frightened eyes were fixed upon the window, and I turned to look. One of my neighbors was outside. He was only wiping the rain and mud off of his car and he wasn’t even looking in our direction, but the sight of another human had Apple Blossom transfixed with fear. “It’s all right, dear,” I said, laying my hand on her shoulder. “He won’t bother with us. He’s got his own business to attend to." 
             But my reassurance fell on deaf ears. Forgetting about the drawing materials, Apple Blossom scampered away and crawled under my desk to hide. She’s still curled up under there right now, though she’s shaking just a little less than she had been before. I think now might be a good time to take her home.