Maybelle had often admired the red mushrooms mansions, where she imagined only the very luckiest of fae could live. She liked to imagine the quiet with only a few neighbors. She had been living in a fungus highrise since she was born, surrounded by constant noise and banter.
Sylphanya, her sprite-mother, was hardly ever home and wanted different things than Maybelle. Her mother cared only for painting autumn leaves whereas Maybelle was drawn to water blossoms. Her mother seemed to like having a hundred neighbors, singing out happy hellos to everyone.
Maybelle knew the other fae-children thought she was a bit odd. Her near-neighbor Jamus called her a loner that morning because she hardly ever joined him and his sister, Dolpha, for nectar in the berry bar.
Maybelle was sad all day, not even the rainbow tints of a new lotus bloom cheered her. Maybelle decided to find her mother.
“What do you think, my dear?” Sylphanya asked Maybelle when she found her. She was putting the finishing touches on an archway of russet maple leaves. She gestured at a golden maple. “Aren’t these colors magnificent together?”
“Yes, Mama, stunning.” Maybelle smiled at her mother’s obvious joy. Maybelle preferred gilding water lilies and polishing lotus petals. She loved the peace and quiet of slow-moving rivers and ponds. Some of her favorite spots were so remote, only the burbling water ever disturbed the silence.
“Do you think they need more red?” Sylphanya was never satisfied despite creating spectacular beauty.
“Perhaps a little,” Maybelle conceded. “Mama,” Maybelle stopped, thinking how best to approach the subject. She didn’t want to ruin her mother’s sunny mood.
“What is it?” Maybelle heard her mother’s question, but with Sylphanya’s wand adding touches of red here and there, she was not sure she was really listening. Maybelle wondered how to tell her mother of her need for a sanctuary, a quiet place for solitude. Would her mother think she was crazy?
“Can we live in a house? Our bracket flat is so noisy!” In the end, Maybelle simply blurted it out. “All the finesse of a badger,” Maybelle thought to herself with some frustration. Her thoughts could form a poetic dance, but her conversations were often awkward.
“You don’t like the bracket flat?” Her mother zipped over to her, a blur of autumn tones from her clothes and auburn hair. Sylphanya settled onto a maple branch, her hand lovingly smoothing Maybelle’s glossy raspberry curls, giving Maybelle her full attention for the first time since the sunflowers had bloomed.
“I feel surrounded there.” Maybelle admitted, remembering the hectoring of Jamus and his recent jeer of “Loner!”
“I want a retreat, a quieter place.” Maybelle added, hoping her usually cheerful mother would not become sad, like Jamus and Dolpha when she wanted to be alone.
“I’ve left you alone a lot this fall,” Sylphanya did sound sad, and Maybelle’s heart sank. “I love autumn, and I’ve been having the time of my life painting leaves. Aren’t you happy with your water blooms? I thought the highrise would keep you from being lonely.”
“I do love gilding lilies,” Maybelle was happy to reassure her mother. “I like to be alone. I can hear my thoughts better in the quiet.”
“I want you to be happy, and I can live anywhere,” Sylphanya smiled, giving her daughter a big hug, wings humming. Maybelle’s heart lifted, and she giggled in relief. “I’ll pass the word among the bee fairies to look for a nice house for us.” Sylphanya found a bee fairy on some late mums almost immediately. The Bee Fairy was glad to help.
Maybelle and Sylphanya then danced from tree branch to tree branch, spirits higher than the clouds, leaving in their wake a path of golden leaves with rainbow tints.
A few days later, one field over, a grouchy gnome had just outgrown a mushroom mansion. His round belly stuck out into the rain. The bee fairy convinced the grouchy gnome to move into a hollow tree, and brought the news to Sylphanya.
Maybelle was the happiest fae-child for miles around. She was moving to a red mushroom mansion! The two sprites happily packed up petal dresses, thorn flatware, acorn cups, a flower teapot and woven pine needle sleeping mats.
Jamus and Dolpha came by to say goodbye to Maybelle.
“I’ll miss you,” Dolpha said sadly.
“Me, too.” Jamus chimed in and then looked at his toes.
“You will?” Maybelle was too surprised to say anything else.
“You were always nice to us. We just wanted to hang out with you more.” Dolpha explained. Jamus looked up quickly, his cheeks turning reddish.
“Well, I’ll come back and visit,” Maybelle promised, grinning. And she did. Once her main diet was solitude, she really enjoyed visiting her friends at the berry bar. She even invited them home for tea sometimes.
Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham
Note: Red Mushroom photographs used with permission of postaldeliveries.