From a distance, cities like Osaka seem all concrete and steel, not a place for a fairy’s magic. Jade Lion Fairy knew the opposite was true. Urban Fairies are the busiest fairies, sprinkling their magic over long distances and up high heights. They look after patio flowers, green squares, Castle Gardens, parks, tightly confined trees and small children. If nature pushes through the concrete and flourishes, then a fairy enchants.
Jade Lion rode the tide of heat from a vent all the way up to a balcony. A fairy in a glamour could appear as a shimmering heat wave or a large insect. She tucked her sparkling wings neatly on her back and sprinkled fairy dust from her bag on the tall purple orchids, which seemed to glow from within. Meanwhile, she also looked around for her necklace.
“Where did I lose it?” she wondered to herself. She thought back over where she had been. The last time she remembered taking it out of her dahlia-petal dress was when she showed it to that Tokyo sprite.
“Ouch! Hey, I’m Spit Spite Sprite – Just call me Spritester,” the small, blue-skinned sprite and she had collided under a Japanese maple tree by Osaka Bay. He danced on a salty breeze, laughing.
“I’m Jade Lion,” she returned shyly.
“Jade Lion! You sound Chinese! I’m from Tokyo,” Spritester said proudly, thumping his breast, then doing a backward roll in midair. “Why are you in Osaka?”
“This is where I was born,” Jade Lion told him a bit stiffly, not sure if he was making fun of her or not. “My fae-mother named me for this necklace.” Jade Lion showed him her lucky amulet, a lion carved from purple jade her fae-mother, Yi Ling, had given her for protection. Yi Ling was from Singapore, the Lion City.
“Don’t lose this necklace, Jade Lion,” cautioned Yi Ling. “Wear it always around your neck. If you lose it, find it before three hours are up, or disaster will follow you the rest of your days.” Yi Ling had taught her the ways of the Urban Fairy. How to find the star magic high above the perpetual twilight of a large city. How to find the moon, reflected in the still water of the Castle Moat. And many other fairy secrets. The amulet had always kept her safe.
“It’s my luck,” Jade Lion told Spritester, tucking the necklace safely away. She rarely met other fairies except at Osaka Castle now that her fairy-mother had returned to Singapore. “Why are you here? I’ve never seen you before.”
“Do you mind if I call you Jade? Jade Lion is too long.” Spritester winked. Jade Lion felt her wing hairs rise in irritation. She hated to be called Jade. “I’m here to help with the Osaka Castle Cherry Blossom Festival.” Spritester had said. The cold year had made the cherry blossoms late, but all the local fairies were working long hours, trying to bring them into bloom for the festival that night.
“Your help will be very appreciated.” Jade Lion told him, fluttering her wings calmly again. “Moon Mother is worried the blossoms will be late.” Yi Ling and Moon Mother were sisters, having been born the same moment when two twins had laughed their first laughs in their baths on a high Singapore balcony. Both had an affinity for water, and always chosen to live in cities surrounded by water. Aside from Yi Ling, Moon Mother was the most beloved fairy in Jade’s life.
Spritester flew quick circles around Jade Lion until she felt dizzy. Then he turned a few cartwheels on the branches of the maple tree.
“Well, I’m off to the castle.” Spritester winked again. Jade Lion laughed this time. He was kind of cute when he wasn’t making her dizzy or calling her Jade.
“I’ll see you there later,” she called. Then she had visited a window box of African violets. The orchids were next and last. After, she had been zooming toward the castle, and she noticed her amulet was gone. She returned immediately to the orchids. She could see that her amulet was not there among them. Back she flew, again visiting the African violets. The beauty of the blooming violets did not have their usual magic. As hard as she looked, she could not find her necklace. She retraced her flight from the bay, but again, did not find her purple jade lion necklace.
She trailed sadly to the Castle, flying slowly over the Moat, her glamour thinner than usual.
“Mamacita, Mamacita, hada, hada!” Jade Lion looked over her shoulder and realized a small girl was pointing at her and calling “fairy” in Spanish, she immediately shifted to her dragonfly glamour. Whew! Her gift of tongues had saved her. Three hours weren’t even up, and disaster was following her already. She heard the mother scolding her daughter.
“Mercedes, what have I told you about these cuento de hadas – your fairy tales will get you in trouble! Now isn’t Osaka Castle muy linda?”
“It is, lugar encantador.” Mercedes agreed. “An enchanting place.” Looking after the dragonfly, she knew had seen a real fairy, and she would remember it her whole life. She munched her mother’s special energy snack. The M&Ms were her favorite part.
Moon Mother was sprinkling fairy dust on the cherry buds when Jade Lion flew up. They hugged, Jade Lion starting to cry.
“Oh Moon Mother, I’ve lost my amulet!”
“Oh, dear. How long has it been gone?”
“Over an hour.” Jade Lion sniffed.
“We must find it! Where have you been in the last hour?” Moon Mother was very concerned, for she loved her fae-niece and knew that to lose the amulet meant disaster.
“I checked on my balcony flowers, and the necklace was not there.”
“Where else could you have lost it?”
“I guess it must have fallen off after I showed it to Spritester.” Jade Lion remembered, thinking out loud.
“Yes, a blue Tokyo fairy, he said his name was Spit Spite Sprite and to call him Spritester.”
“Oh, he did, did he?”
“Naniwa!” Moon Mother bellowed.
The blue-skinned sprite zoomed toward Moon Mother, turning cartwheels across cherry branches and almost losing his shoes. He slowed when he saw Jade Lion.
“Oh, figured it out, did you? Ratted on me already?” he asked sourly.
“What are you talking about?” Jade Lion was very confused.
“Naniwa, give her the amulet.” Jade Lion gaped at Moon Mother.
“Oh, okay, I would have slipped it back to her before the night was out. I just wanted a little luck for once.”
“You took my necklace?” Jade Lion roared in rage. “You lied to me about your name and you stole from me.” Her face was turning as purple as the amulet. He handed it back quickly.
“Well, my name is so yesterday. And I was planning to give you back the amulet.”
Jade Lion calmed once she put the amulet back on. “Naniwa, we are cousins. We could have been friends.”
“You wouldn’t like me, no one likes me.” Naniwa mumbled.
“You didn’t give me a chance to like you. If you promise to not lie or steal anymore, I will set aside my anger and be your friend.”
“You will?” Naniwa looked near tears.
“I will.” Moon Mother embraced them both.
“Naniwa, I thought it was time for you to come home.” Moon Mother said happily. “It is time for you to hear about your name.”
“I already know it’s a section of Osaka.” Naniwa said, turning upside down, holding himself on a cherry branch with one hand and pointing behind his fae-mother.
“Naniwa means Osaka,” Moon Mother corrected. “Naniwa is the place you were born, where your child’s laugh brought you to life, where your magic is strongest, and where the people who love you want you to stay.” Moon Mother pointed to Mercedes, who had crossed the moat and was looking at cherry trees with her mother. “There she is.”
“Mercedes laughed first here in Osaka?” Moon Mother nodded at Jade Lion’s question.
“Her parents brought her here as a baby because this is where her parents met, years before she was born, when they were both language students at the university. They come back here regularly. Her parents were so joyful to be here, she laughed her first laugh. You are that spirit of joy, Naniwa.”
“Mamacita, flor de cerezo, the cherry trees! They are blooming!” Her mother started clapping her hands from joy, and their joy filled the fairies with magic, swelling their powers. Naniwa flickered into his cricket form. He hopped to a lantern and then to Mercedes’ shoulder.
“Mamacita, grillo, a lucky cricket!!” Naniwah hopped away, but only after he dusted Mercedes with sparkling fairy magic. Good luck always followed her thereafter. She hugged to herself always the memories of seeing her first fairy, her lucky cricket, and Osaka Castle when the cherry trees blossomed. Naniwa stayed at Osaka Castle and never lied or stole again.
Mix together granola, chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, and M&Ms. We stop there because of nut allergies, but it’s also good with any kind of nut, including almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pine nuts. Wasabi peas?
Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham
Note: First photograph published by Folliculostella and was taken by Mohamad Reza.