I guess it's time for another chapter. Probably well past time actually, but anyway, here we go for chapter four. Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to leave comments. Positive ones really help me to keep going. Do please be constructive if you have advice. Really negative stuff might kill my momentum, and I actually have some, so I'd hate for that to happen.
Robbie made sure there was no chance that he’d be waylaid this time. He set his alarm, and was out of bed early, almost before the sun rose. He took a shower, made and ate some breakfast, prepared a lunch for himself as well, and left a note on the counter for Brynlee, who still wasn’t even awake.
The trek through the woods to the glade as pleasant as a journey could be when you’re desperate to arrive at your location. The still rising sun streamed through the leaves and needles of the trees with a soft amber glow. The wildflowers dappled the hills with color as if a careless artist had spilled his paints all over the world’s canvas. Steller’s jays squawked back and forth at each other from nearly every branch, and swooped and soared through the treetops, adding yet more color to the scene.
Robbie barely noticed. He had his head down, watching the rocks and earth he trod upon with intensity. He was probably hiking faster than he ever had before in his life. He wanted to avoid slipping or stumbling on a loose rock, because it might slow him down or force him to turn back. After yesterday, he was determined that nothing would keep him away. There could have been a bear in the path and Robbie would simply have swerved around it and kept going.
At last he arrived. The fairies were everywhere including his fairy. He grinned broadly, and waved to her. Then he held his hand out to her for her to settle onto it.
“Robbie!” she said when she spied him.
She zoomed down from the branches and spun around him several times as he laughed with delight, before pulling up, and coming to rest on his hand.
“Robbie!” she said again, and lifted off his hand, flew to his chest and tapped it in imitation of his gesture from the other day. “Robbie!”
“Yes,” he said, laughing, “Robbie, yes. Man, I wish I knew what your name was. I’m tired of just calling you my fairy. Somehow, we’re going to figure it out before today is over.”
And so it went. He spent the morning strolling through the glade teaching the fairy every word he could find a representation of in the glade. Stick, rock, sky, cloud, weed, bush. He showed her the difference between a rock and a pebble, a tree and a bush, a log and a stick. He taught her concepts of language like bigger and smaller; over, under, and through; up and down, and alive and not alive. After a while he felt like he was putting on an impromptu episode of Sesame Street. He actually made a mental not to watch some episodes of the show before tomorrow so that he would know what to teach her on subsequent visits. As if Brynlee didn’t think he was weird enough, what would she say when she saw him soaking in episode after episode of Big Bird and Elmo?
The time passed much faster than Robbie thought it could. His phone chimed in his pocket to inform him that he had a text. He looked, and found that it was Brynlee checking to make sure he had taken lunch with him, and if he hadn’t, he needed to come back home to eat. He couldn’t believe that it was already lunch time. He texted back, and let her know that he had come prepared, then sat down on a big rock, and opened up his lunch bag. He upended it, and a Gogurt, a string cheese, a Capri Sun, and a sandwich tumbled out into his lap.
He opened the Ziploc bag on his sandwich first, and took a bite. He’d made this sandwich himself, so it wasn’t the bland numbers that Brynlee always prepared for him with Wonder bread and Miracle Whip. He liked to think of himself as a sandwich aficionado. Of course, being only twelve he didn’t really have that much experience. Living in Denver didn’t give him a lot of access to the varying cultures found in other big cities, not a bunch of Jewish delicatessens or Italian panini shops. He’d heard of things like Rubens and Cheesesteaks, but never really had the chance to try them. He’d discovered pesto, though, and he loved slathering that on his sandwiches.
The fairy hovered around his head as he nibbled away at his sandwich. She seemed curious.
“Eat,” Robbie said, and put the sandwich in his mouth for another bite.
“Eee,” she parroted back.
“No, eat,” he said again, putting a heavy emphasis on the T at the end of the word.
“Eee Tuh,” she said, copying his emphasis.
“Good,” Robbie said, and smiled.
She hovered in closer, and inspected his sandwich, reaching out and touching the bread with a tiny, blue-green hand. Robbie tried to hold it completely still while she looked at it. Then she flew away from the sandwich in his hand and up to eye level.
“Eat?” she asked, distinctly raising her voice on the tail end of the word to make it a question. Robert was mildly flabbergasted. He hadn’t taught her how to make questions. Somehow she had picked up the voice inflection trick through her own observations of Robbie’s speech. Wow! Soon enough, they might be able to have an actual conversation after all. Robbie was assuming that it would take much more than the whole summer before they could talk with each other like adults--although he was still years from adult and she was...he had no idea what she was. She was a fairy, whatever that was.
“Yes,” Rob replied, “Eat.”
He put the sandwich into his mouth slowly, bit an exaggerated bite, and chewed with his mouth open (despite how many times his mother, Brynlee, and his various nannies before her had told him never to do that) so she could see what was happening. Then he swallowed, and opened his mouth again to show her that it was gone. The fairy cocked her head, confused.
“You want some?” Robbie asked. He broke a corner of the bread off, as small as he could make it, because even a single bite that Robbie might take would be the size of her entire upper body. He held out the crumb of bread on the tip of a finger, and waited for her to take it. She flew in close and looked at it distrustfully. She looked up at Robbie, and he smiled, then mimed putting it in his mouth with his other hand holding the sandwich. She looked down again, then up again, and then back down again, and finally took it in her hand.
She put it to her face, smelled it, and finally opened her mouth and bit down on the crumb.
“That’s it,” Robbie said. “Just like that. Like this,” and he put his sandwich in his mouth for a bite that he again chewed with his mouth open like a barbarian. The fairy chewed as well in response. Then Robbie swallowed.
“Okay,” he said, “Swallow it.” And he displayed his empty mouth as inspiration. The fairy kept chewing, and chewing, and chewing. “ You don’t have to turn it to paste,” he said, “swallow it already.” He tried to act it out for her, pantomiming a swallow. At last, she followed suit, but clumsily. Her eyes widened for a moment, and Robbie was afraid she was choking on the crumb. How would he give a fairy the size of his finger the Heimlich? He had no idea. But, instead of dropping from the sky while she struggled for breath, she smiled broadly.
“Eat!” she yelled, and zoomed toward his sandwich again. Robbie pulled a second crumb off the sandwich and handed it to her.
“Eat,” he said, “bread.”
“Eat bread?” she repeated, making a question out of it. Robbie guessed that she was asking him to correct her pronunciation if needed, but she sounded great.
“Eat bread,” he said.
She put the crumb in her mouth, and chomped away with her mouth open. Don’t these fairies have anyone to teach them manners? Robbie thought, and chuckled to himself. He took a big bite of the sandwich himself, and chewed on it as the fairy came zipping back to him for another bite.
“Be careful,” he said, “You don’t want to lose your girlish figure.” Robbie peeled a strip of lettuce off the edge, and handed it to her. This made him chuckle more. Her figure was way beyond girlish. She could give a twig a run for its money. A praying mantis, a daddy long legs, a walking stick were all fatter than she was. He needed to give her some meat for her next bite.
She looked at the lettuce suspiciously. It wasn’t bread. Robbie guessed she thought he was trying to trick her somehow.
“Eat bread?” she asked.
“No,” he said, “Eat lettuce.”
“Eat…” she faltered.
“Eat lettuce,” Robbie said again.
“Eat lettuce,” she replied haltingly. Then stuffed it in her mouth and again chewed with her mouth open. She seemed to like the taste of the lettuce.
When she came back for more, Robbie pinched off a chunk of turkey and handed it to her. She inspected it with the same curiosity, and said, “Eat lettuce.” She stuffed it in her mouth, but this time, she didn’t even chew for a moment. She spit it out immediately, and then flew over to Robbie and bopped him one on the nose.
It didn’t hurt, but Robbie was very surprised. “Whoa, What? What’s wrong? No eat turkey?”
“Eat tur...key?” she asked, and then shook a fist at him.
“No eat turkey?”
“No eat turkey!” she replied with a shout.
“I guess maybe you’re a vegetarian, huh? Okay, what about cheese?” He pinched off a dab of cheese and gave it to her. She looked at it for a long time, smelling it, holding it up to the lights, then finally touched it slowly to her lips. That was enough for her, she pulled it away from her face and dropped it to the ground. “No eat turkey!” she said.
“Cheese,” Robbie corrected her.
“No eat chee,” she said.
“Cheese,” he said, putting a lot of emphasis on the Z sound.
“No eat cheese,” she replied.
“Okay,” Robbie said, “You’re not just a vegetarian, you’re a vegan. All right, that will limit what I can give you here. I bet you probably won’t even do mayo or pesto.” He took care to pinch off pieces of the bread from the outside of the sandwich, so he didn’t expose her to any animal fat or oil. She enjoyed pieces of lettuce and tomato, but it was a good thing that she was tiny, because he could barely manage to get any clean bits off his sandwich for her. Robbie worked his way through his lunch, eating the string cheese, and Gogurt without offering her any, and also chomping down the majority of the sandwich that was drenched in sauce.
Then it came time to drink the Capri Sun. He wanted to share it with her, because he figured she’d enjoy it--it was vegan approved after all, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it. He popped the straw into the pouch and sucked down a swallow for himself, then pulled some juice up the straw. He held it in place plugging off the straw with his tongue, and pulled the straw out of the pouch. Then plugged the other end with the tip of his finger, keeping the juice trapped in the straw.
He pantomimed holding out his hand to receive some juice to the fairy, and luckily she got the gist easily and did exactly that. This was the tricky part. For her, a drop of juice would be plenty, but how to let such a small amount out? He’d have to be lightning fast with the tip of his finger, lifting it off and then sealing the hole back up like lightning.
“Okay,” he said, “here it goes. You’re gonna like the juice. I just hope I don’t completely soak you in it.”
He lifted his finger off and then covered the hole again as fast as he could, but the entire straw emptied all over the fairy anyway. She spluttered as the flavored liquid drenched her from head to toe.
“Oh no!” Robbie said, “I’m sorry!”
She quickly gained her composure again, and took one of the drops that still clung to her iridescent skin, and put it in her mouth. Her face lit up like a spotlight.
“Eat!” she said. Robbie thought she would like it, and she certainly did.
“Drink,” he said. “Drink juice”
“Drink?” she repeated, confused. “Drink joo?”
“Juice. Drink juice.” He sucked another strawful out, and held the straw out to her. This time he didn’t lift his finger off. He waited to see what she might do. She just looked in the straw, then looked back up at him, waiting. He decided to empty it out into his cupped hand, and let her drink from the puddle he’d make. That worked much better than opening a waterfall of juice onto her face. She knelt on his palm, and pulled drinks in her own cupped palms up to her face. She really liked it, and drank until she could drink no more. That still left some of the pool of juice in his hand. She was just so tiny. He dumped what was left, and packed everything that was left back into the bag he’d brought.
It was getting very hot, and he decided to strip off his shoes and socks and soak his feet in the pond. The fairy watched him with rapt interest. He narrated what he was doing, trying to teach her words.
“Shoes,” he said as he lined them up next to each other.
She looked confused about what she was seeing. She wore no clothing whatsoever, so she probably didn't understand the concept. Her body was covered by nothing more than her iridescent blue-green skin. He imagined that she might be thinking that he'd just removed his feet and put them on the ground next to him, except of course he still had feet at the end of his legs.
He peeled his socks off too, and laid them on top of his shoes.
“Socks,” he said, and then pointing at them, “feet.”
“Shoo. Sock. Feet,” she repeated.
He dipped them into the water, and smiled, sighed, and laid back on the shoreline. The fairy flew over and hovered above his face.
“Hi,” he said.
“Feet?” she asked.
“Yes,” he sat back up, lifted his feet out of the water and pointed at them again. “Feet.” He started going through his body parts, naming them off to her. Then he pointed at each of her body parts and did the same. Then he went through them again on his body, but only pointing, and waiting for her to supply the word for what he was pointing at. The fairy named each one of them with minimal pausing to remember. The fairy was really catching on…
The fairy. All at once Robbie grew sick and tired of not having a name to call her. She was catching on so well, maybe she could supply him with a name finally. If not, or if it was some impossible to pronounce chirping sound, then he was just going to give her a name himself.
He pointed to his chest, as he had done that first day, and said, “Robbie.”
“Robbie. Robbie,” she reapeated.
“What’s your name?” he asked, pointing to her.
“Robbie,” she said.
“No, no. I’m Robbie,” he said, pointing to himself. “What’s your name?”
Something seemed to click in the fairies head. She glanced left, then right, then smiled big. “Fower!” She shouted.
“Flower?” Robbie asked. Then he pointed to a blue wildflower growing beside the pond. “Flower, like this?”
She shook her head violently. “No!” she shouted, and suddenly zoomed out of sight. Robbie searched the sky for her, but couldn’t see her among the other fairies and insects circling about the glade. He pulled his feet from the pond, and stood, still looking. She came racing back, circled his head, then grabbed his ear and tugged.
“I guess you want me to follow you then. Okay. Lead away.” He started walking the direction she had pulled his ear. She let go, and flew ahead. She didn’t fly slowly, and Robbie realized he was going to have to run to keep up. The water on his feet mixed with the dirt he ran through until his feet were covered in mud. He would have to wash them in the pond before going home, or Brynlee would flip out at him. Maybe it would help though. Could mud make a sort of protective barrier? He wasn’t allowed to run around without shoes on outside much, so his feet were pretty tender. Dashing through the woods like this he was bound to step on a rock and hurt himself.
Even running as fast as he could, the fairy flew out of sight. She circled back, tugged his ear, and flew on again. “Fower,” she said as she zoomed away. This same routine repeated four times before they finally made it to the spot she wanted him to see. It was a huge leafy green bush with perhaps a dozen large yellow petaled flowers on it.
“Fower,” the fairy said, pointing at the giant yellow flowers and then pointing at herself. Robbie didn’t know plants all that well. He could name a bunch of trees and a lot of human cultivated flowers like roses, tulips, daffodils, and irises, but wildflowers were a lot harder, because there was no adult to ask. Adults could tell you, because they were the ones who had planted them, and they could look on the seed packet to be sure. Wildflowers spread a different way.
The bush was enormous, several feet taller than himself. Robbie was just hitting puberty and surely had a lot of growing to do, but he was five feet two inches now, and was dwarfed by this wildflower bush. They almost looked like daisies, but daisies weren’t this big, and anyway, weren’t daisies white with yellow in the middle. These were yellow with brown in the center. He wanted to say that this was a sunflower plant. The flowers were smaller than the monstrous sunflowers that his grandpa liked to grow in their backyard. Those plants had been twice as large as his head, but they were the ones that would make the seeds that you could buy roasted and salted at the store. People farmed those ones. This was a wild plant.
He grabbed one of the flowers by the stem and looked at it closely. He’d seen these plants growing along the side of the road every summer his whole life, but he’d never thought to ask what they were. One thing he did know was that sunflowers were packed with a load of seeds right under the fuzzy stuff on the middle of the flower. He thumbed at the center to see if it would reveal the seeds to him, and there they were, not fully formed yet, but packed down in there was a bundle of black seeds.
“Fower,” said the fairy, hovering in close to his face were he examined the flower’s head. She pointed to the flower and then pointed to her narrow chest.
“Sunflower!” Robbie said, a huge grin spreading across his face. “Your name is Sunflower.” He started repeating the word, pointing to the plant and then pointing at the fairy. “Sunflower. Sunflower. Sunflower.”
She repeated after him. “Sunfower. Sunfower.” Then she even managed to get the L sound into the word. “Sunflower.”
“Repeat after me, Sunflower. My name is Sunflower. My name is Sunflower. You can do it. My name is Sunflower.”
And she did. “My name is Sunflower.”