The Scottish village of Arisaig was huddled in close between the church and the harbor. Looking out past the ferry dock, islands appeared in and out of the mists that shrouded the Atlantic coastline.
The fairy queen lived lonely on Hidden Island, with only the seals, fish and seagulls for company. Lying on her bed of seaweed, she dreamed of olden days. She remembered when her people danced in the stone circles on the mainland, but long ago she had been exiled by the fairy king. Her heart yearned to see him again. Her husband and king had sent her away because of a terrible misunderstanding. Sometimes, the seals carried small boys to Hidden Island for her, but they always brought them back. This is the story of one of those boys.
Roses bloomed outside their bed and breakfast near the harbor. Innis saw boats far below, their masts rising from the mist. In the early morning, Innis walked down to the beach to look at the boats and watch the seals while his mother worked on her laptop in their room. Seals were playing in the water and sunning themselves on the beach.
An enormous seal bumped Innis’s legs gently. Innis fell onto his warm back, and put his hands tightly around the seal’s neck. The next thing Innis knew, the seal had carried him halfway out the harbor, with many other bobbing seal heads following behind in the waves. The seals sang their mysterious song, and somehow Innis was not afraid.
Innis stepped ashore near an ancient celtic cross. A granite hill rose in front of him, clad in blooming heather. All the seals chorused, sending their happy melody back and forth across the waves. The fairy queen rose from her seaweed bed, woken from her dreaming by the seals’ song. She drifted down the beach and settled onto a rock as if it was a throne. She was small as a wren, and her dress was the luminous purple of the Scottish thistle.
“What is your name, my friend?” the fairy queen asked him, and he answered true. “Innis, that is a good name. I have a favor to ask of you, Innis. If you do a favor for a fairy queen, you may ask a boon.”
“I will help you if I can,” Innis answered at once, and thinking a boon was a Scottish dollar, added: “I don’t need to be paid.”
“You are kind. Will you take a message of my love and fidelity to my husband in the great stone circle that your kind call Stonehenge? The message is in this shell. Place it in the circle, and you will have my favor.”
“My mother promised we would get to see Stonehenge before we go home!” Innis was very excited that the fairy queen had asked him to do something possible. He took the shell and put it safely in a zippered pocket of his cargo trousers.
“You must not speak of this, or the magic message in the shell will disappear,” the fairy queen warned him.
Innis returned to the mainland on the back of the same enormous seal that had brought him. By now, his trousers were thoroughly wet, but the seal’s heat kept him warm.
“Innis Mackey! How did you get so wet?” His mother did not like seeing sand and salt spray on his cargo trousers. Innis just smiled and apologized.
The rest of his visit to Scotland passed in a blur of castles, lochs and blooming hillsides of heather. Soon, he and his mom were taking the train back to London. “Are we really going to see Stonehenge tomorrow?” Innis asked.
“Yes, we are going to take one of those red buses, and you’ll get to ride up top.” Innis’s mother was surprised how many times he had asked about Stonehenge. She was excited about it herself, she had been wanting to see it for years.
The next day Innis had an unexpected setback. When they arrived at Stonehenge, they found it surrounded by a tall, wide fence. The stone circle was much bigger than he had imagined it. The stones were immensely tall. Large groups of tourists were going around the fence, but no one could go inside the fence. Luckily, Innis had a good arm, and he pitched the shell over the fence and into the circle when no one was looking. Next, he trained binoculars on the spot where the shell landed.
Nothing happened for a few minutes. Then a flash of light glinted where the shell landed. At the same moment, a rainbow arced down from the clouds above. Innis’s mother snapped a great photograph of it.
While everyone else was looking at the rainbow, Innis was looking where the shell had landed, and he was able to see a very handsome man the size of a wren appear. The tiny man picked up the shell. He held it in his hand and pressed it to his ear. Somewhere out in the Atlantic, the fairy queen’s sorrow came to an end, and her joy began. The fairy king moved his hands, and the fairy queen appeared to step out of a doorway that glimmered and disappeared. The king and queen embraced, and then they turned to wave to Innis. Good luck always seemed to follow him ever after.
Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham