Monday, May 18, 2015

Into the Land of the Elves: The Doll in the Fairy Tale Room

The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall, elf friend
August 8
2:45 PM

The Doll in the Fairy Tale Room

            Apple Blossom has been confined to the palace for five days as punishment for sneaking out of the Greenwood, but she has not been forbidden to see me or her other friends. I’ve been utilizing the time indoors and taking some of my work with me during my visits, because I know that it’s the only way I’ll get any work done at all. Of course, I can’t take my laptop with me because there’s nothing for me to plug it into.
            Writing here feels a lot more comfortable than writing at home, and when I’m here I even feel the motivation to write. Part of the reason for this is the beauty of the room that I’ve been allowed to use for writing; it is hands down the most extravagant room I have ever set foot in (and in comparison to the rest of the palace, this room is considered simple!). The walls are ebony black, creating a stage for the brilliant image formed by the single stained glass window: a beautiful fairy-like woman in a sparkling white gown ( and you can see the sparkles in the panes!), sitting on a pearly throne, holding a pearl-hilted sword in one hand and a brilliant blue jewel in the other. She is surrounded by golden stars and silver moons. Apple Blossom told me that the image depicts the Princess of the Moonlight, a mythical character passed along from the lore of the mountain dwarves. She watches over the land on moonlit nights, the light of the moon radiating from that blue jewel. The way that she told the tale—about the emergence of the princess from the pearly white egg left by the Great Sky Nymph on the moon’s surface, about the sword carved from the finest white moon rocks (not pearls!), about the Celestial Elves and Lunar Fairies—made me want to believe it in spite of the science that I knew. What a wonderful world full of moon princesses and jewel-winged butterflies the Jadeites live in.
            Apple Blossom herself is the other reason for my newfound motivation. She sees me writing and her interest keeps me going; “What are you writing, Aidyn?” “Is it a pretty story?” “What’s that one about?” “May I read it, Aidyn?” She wants to read them even though they are only drafts, and I always oblige. When she reads them and falls so in love with the stories and the characters that it shows as plainly as the nose on her face, and she concludes by telling me, “You write the very best stories, Aidyn,” I realize then that I have a brand new reason to continue writing these stories. I want to write for her. I want her to hear the stories. I want her to draw closer to the characters and the worlds that she thinks are “the very best.” I want her to share them with others just as she had shared that beautiful moon princess story with me.
            And if it ensured that I could keep my job, well, that was just a very fortunate perk.
            I wrote until Apple Blossom was called to lunch and I was invited to join her. “We can eat in the garden today,” she told me, as her punishment did not extend to the garden or the many yards and courtyards on the palace grounds. I was glad. I preferred eating in the garden to the awkward feeling of eating in what Apple Blossom called “the nook,” where the judgemental eyes of servants often passed over me and where the king and the queen seemed entirely too tense with me there.  Our table out under the cherry trees—still in full bloom, thanks to the jade stones placed at their roots—was laid out with slabs of roast pork, sweetbreads, fruit preserves, and two buttery yellow peaches each.  
            Now we’ve returned to the moon princess room, and Apple Blossom is reading some more of my story about the fairy queen and the wayward knight who fell in love with her while lost in the forest. Even while keeping to the castle, it’s been a lovely day.

6:20 PM
            I wonder if Apple Blossom will ever let me transcribe that moon princess story. I feel as if I’d be shirking my duty as a writer if I neglected to share such a wonderful tale. I could label it as “a myth from the local forest elves” without going into any detail. No one has to know who or where the “local forest elves” are, or even that they exist.
            We spent the afternoon exploring the rooms in the back hallways of the castle. These rooms were dark, out of the way, and never used. I felt like Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, exploring her uncle’s old mansion on a rainy day. I asked Apple Blossom if the rooms had ever been used before.  
            “I’ve never seen them used by anyone but me,” she said.
            “Are you sure we’re allowed to be back here?” I asked.
            “Oh, yes,” said Apple Blossom. “I come here all the time, and nobody minds as long as I’m careful not to break anything.”
            There was a room with deep blue walls that was filled with old masks and costumes that looked as if they might have been for a masquerade ball. We laughed as we tried on the various masks—a bright pink one with iridescent butterfly wings, a blue one with shimmery mermaid scales, a velvety red one with gold trim—and traded and swapped them out. I wished that I had my camera on me.  
After we finished with the masks, we moved to a room with pink walls that hosted a miniature fairyland, filled to the brim with figurines and toy buildings, trees, backdrops, and scenes. Apple Blossom called it “the fairy tale room.” “I suppose it was my mother’s when she was a little girl,” Apple Blossom explained as she played with the little figures. “Everything here is from a different fairy tale, myth, or legend.” I was delighted to find that there was a miniature Princess of the Moonlight sitting on her throne. As I looked over the different figures of Jadeites and tree elves and animals and creatures from the myths and fables that Apple Blossom had told me at the library a while back, I saw that there were scenes that held tiny humans as well; humans with angry red faces, hateful little slits for eyes, mouths contorted in perpetual shouts and grimaces. But amongst all of these ugly little portrayals, there was a woman with a pretty, doll-like painted face. Her long, black hair trailed out behind her like a bridal train, and she wore a white dress decorated with colorful beads and embroidery. She was smiling, and her arms were outstretched as if reaching out for some invisible thing. I set down the moon princess and picked her up. She was human, all right. I set the figure down in front of Apple Blossom and asked, “Do you know who this is?”
Apple Blossom picked her up, looked her over, and set her back down. “I don’t know her,” she said, “but she’s pretty. She looks like you, Aidyn.”
“No, she doesn’t,” I said.
“I think she does,” said Apple Blossom with a shrug.
“She isn’t like the other humans on this table,” I pointed out. “Did you notice that?”
“I don’t play much with the human dolls,” said Apple Blossom. “I don’t like the way they look. But you’re right, this one is so much prettier and more pleasant than any of the others. I can ask my mother if she knows the story.”  
“Please do that,” I told her. “Then we can find the other dolls and pieces that go with her. She makes me very curious, and I suppose you can imagine why.”
“I can,” said Apple Blossom with a nod.
After we finished with the fairy tale room, Apple Blossom took the little doll and scampered off to find her mother. “Wait for me in my solar,” she instructed me. A “solar” was a Jadeite’s bedroom, called that because of the skylight in the center of the ceiling. I had been to Apple Blossom’s solar before, but I didn’t know how to get to it from these back hallways. “You’re going to have to lead me there,” I told her. “I can’t get to it from here on my own. You know I’ve never been to this part of the castle.”  
She obliged, leading me through several long, winding hallways until we reached her solar, one of the most pleasant looking rooms in the castle. Images of deer, foxes, rabbits, and other forest creatures played in painted forests on the aqua-colored walls. Dolls, toys, jades, and small knickknacks were lined up in orderly arrays, courtesy of Briar, the maidservant I’ve yet to meet. I sat down on the rose-colored bedspread and watched the sky through the skylight. A few minutes later, Apple Blossom came running back with a look of disappointment on her face. “Uh-oh,” I said. “Let me guess, your mother doesn’t know what story she’s from?”
“She doesn’t,” said Apple Blossom. “She was as puzzled as we are. It’s a shame, because if there is a story out there about a good, pretty human, then I want to hear it! I have lessons tomorrow and I will ask Beryl. I asked Mother if I can hold on to this figure, and she said that I could. She really does remind me of you, Aidyn.”
Beryl, as it turns out, is Apple Blossom’s teacher. If anybody would know the story, it would be her. “That sounds like a good plan,” I affirmed.
“You know,” said Apple Blossom, sitting down on the bed beside me, “I haven’t heard any stories about good, pretty humans, but I am living in one.” She looked up at me with a smile. “If I were to write a book about all of our adventures together,” she went on, “it would be a wonderful tale. Other people would read it, and then they would know that there’s at least one good, kind, pretty human out there. And I wouldn’t let anybody forget that story. I’d make sure that everyone knew it well.”
It was finally time to tell her. “Apple Blossom,” I said, “what if I told you that I’m already writing a story about our adventures together?”
She looked up at me with her wide eyes. “Are you really?” 
“I sure am,” I said with a little smile. “Let’s go back to the moon princess room and I’ll read some of it to you.”