The Faeryman

by Otilia Tena

When I was a little girl, I used to go with my friends deep in the woods every day. Our favourite place was the glade, where we would play hide-and-seek and blindman's buff.

"Daisy! Daisy, where are you? You can't hide too long, we'll find you anyway."

"Here! Here! I lost my way! Here! Where are you?"

Their voices faded away slowly, one by one. It was getting dark and the leaves rustle under my foot steps was all I could hear. I put my arms around me and sat on a pile of branches. I don't know if I was awake or asleep, I thought I heard the faint sound of a flute.

"What's your name?"

"Daisy. I've lost my way. Can you help me, please?"

"Daisy" you mean" daisy like the white flower? The frail daisy?" Nobody had ever said my name like he did.

"Young man, please, show me the way home!"

He was very fashionable, dressed from head to toes in green and with gorgeous kaki boots.He took me by the hand and led me out of the woods.

"Thank you. Who are you? You're so beautiful! Do you live in the woods?"

He put his finger on my lips and said: "Sshh!" And I stood there, watching him go back, listening to the music of his flute.

I looked for him whenever we went to play in the woods. I would fall back and put one hand to my ear like a funnel, hoping to hear the distant flute again.

"It's me, Daisy, take me away! Take me! It's me, Daisy, come, take me away!"

I used to weep and curse him and I missed him so much. Then I grew up and learned to put up with my grief. I looked forward to my wedding day as the beginning of a more responsible life. The old women were sewing my bride dress and I sat among them, watching them work and listening to their stories. One of them moved her finger to me to come closer and then whispered in my ear:

"This will be your every day dress, Daisy."

The day before the wedding I went into the woods again.

"Come with me, I've been longing for you for so long!"

"I can't. I will marry him."

"Then take this belt as a wedding gift. Put it round your waist and remember me and be happy."

It was a long wedding party, from noon till dawn and we ate and danced, then we dozed off and ate and danced again. I was so tired" suddenly I remembered him and put the belt round my waist. I stood right beside him again.

"Welcome back! You're not Daisy any longer."

"I am Daisy, your frail Daisy."

"You are sweet and frail, but you're one of our kin now and we haven't got names, nor home, nor anything. We hide most of the time; and we love dancing."

"Let me say good-bye to them!"

"Too late!"

My life was a shadow. He killed our children and he treated me badly. I stole buttermilk and they ate it all up. Our favourite shelter was a shattered cottage in the woods, where we used to dance the days away. One day an old man saw us and we all dashed off. I forgot my belt and came back for it.

"Give me the belt!"

"Only if you tell me your name!"

"We haven't got names. Give me the belt!"

"You once knew me. Come back home! Your parents died and I'm an old man."

"I don't know who you are. I'm not coming back!"

He gave me the belt and left. I watched him going down a path I used to walk on when I was a child. I didn't know where it led to any longer.

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