Gnome Grown

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Sprig Gnome tends his woodland garden. Thistle shears help him prune raspberry canes. He mulches fungus shingles atop his den, waters moss, and collects dinner. Before his basket is full, a shadow darkens the glade. He ducks and dodges but all goes awry. Ida Owl grasps him in her talons, and she lowers her yellow eye.

“I’m done for!” Sprig howls. “Save me!” Will anyone hear him?

“Sprig, save it! I need your help.” Ida Owl grouches. “A splinter in my claw is driving me mad!”

“I see it.” Sprig extracts it with a yank of his thistle shears.

Ida hops side to side, flexing and gyrating. “Oh, what a relief. I must thank you properly. Hop on.”

Is she serious? Can he trust her? Sprig stows his basket. He climbs up her feathers like a ladder.

“That tickles!” Ida giggles. Then she flaps powerful wings. Sprig’s stomach bottoms out as they rise. Winds swirl and flow until Sprig worries that he’s seen his last night. He holds tight. They bank and loop. They hoot and holler. The air smells of crushed apples. He reaches toward stars as if they were snowflakes.

An owl and a gnome make the least-likely of friendships. News travels the meadow like a brush fire. A gnome is riding an owl! Unheard of! Unthinkable! Sequester Squirrel follows, swinging tree limb to ivy vine. Dentbottom Rabbit has to see it with his own rheumy eyes, and his great-granddaughter holds his arm. Dinwald Stag-King brings his large tribe to gape.

When Sprig lands, he feels as if the earth has stopped orbiting the sun. The air is too still. He waves good-bye to Ida, and follows fireflies into his den. His feet find each lump in the maple leaf carpet. His thistledown bed is squashed and untidy. He snips, clips and mixes until his forage stew bubbles and sings. The air fills with the scent of braising brined beetles. But he misses the scent of crushed apples and owl feathers.

Copyright 2016 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: We’ve been enjoying a lovely thaw like spring is visiting February. It makes me wish I could fly. I hope your dreams take you on fun flights of fancy tonight. Warmly, Brenda

Wild Elvish Missouri Dreams

Photograph used with Permission of Heather's Photography

Grey Hairstreak Butterfly by Heather’s Photography

Delft ended the morning with a thunderous sneeze. The force of his sneeze made him flicker into his Grey Hairstreak Butterfly form. He heard a gasp.

“That wasn’t there a minute ago! Where did that butterfly come from?” A little girl with blonde curls held out a finger. Delft fled.

Just his luck to flicker into his visible form when some big human was looking. Delft flittered and fluttered, his butterfly form much slower than his invisible fairy form. His tiny feet landed on a yellow butterfly bloom. The girl sidled closer, moving slowly, as if he would not notice her. She was as big as a house to him, and he chuckled at her attempt at sneaking.

“Annaleise!” A boy called. The second she looked away, Delft flickered back into fairy form, now invisible to any but a magical or fairy eye. He held a finger to his nose, he felt another sneeze coming.

The boy appeared from behind a huge boulder, panting from running up the hillside. His brown hair was sticking up in all directions, and his shirt was half-tucked.

“I’m here! Oh, where did it go?” Little Annaleise could not see the butterfly anymore, and she was downcast.

“Annaleise, don’t disappear like that! Mom told me to look after you, and how can I do that if I can’t find you?”

“A butterfly came out of thin air, and I followed it.”

“You mean that fairy right there?” The boy pointed right at Delft. Delft’s sneeze escaped with an explosion, and he flickered into a butterfly again.

“There it is again! It disappeared and reappeared! It’s magic!” Annaliese clapped her hands. “Why did you call it a fairy?”

“When it doesn’t look like a butterfly, it looks like a little man with wings, black hair and a red coat. Come on, Annaleise, let’s go home for lunch.” The boy laughed. “The fairy will still be here later. Mom will be worried.” The two children disappeared around the boulder, heading down the long slope.

Delft dove into the grasses, and zigzagged to a huge beech tree. His friend Barnor was atop a Rudbeckia. He blended into the patch of yellow in his Pearl Crescent form, partially covered in golden pollen.

Photograph by Heather's Photography

Pearl Crescent Butterfly by Heather’s Photography

“Even with invisibility and shapeshifting, you still almost got caught!” Barnor snickered. He had seen the girl following Delft, but he hadn’t been close enough to overhear.

“That boy is a mage!” Delft exclaimed.

“No!” Barnor disagreed, flicking into his wood elf shape, his red hair gleaming. He brushed pollen from his mossy coat. “Magic has died out of the human race!”

“He saw me in my fairy form! He told his sister I looked like a little man in a red coat!”

“Oh, no!” Barnor was horrified, gazing at Delft’s red coat. “We will have to tell the Horned King.” The Horned King lived deep in the wild Ozark Mountains.

The last golden rays of the setting sun bathed the Horned King where he towered over the elves, stately in his stag form.

“Something will have to be done about that boy,” the Horned King’s deep voice proclaimed. All the fairies nodded agreement.

“But what?” thought Delft, with another sneeze. The fairies all agreed to move farther from the humans. In his dreams that night, Delft fled from the boy endlessly over green Missouri mountainsides. Something had been started that day, that could not be undone.

Ozark Sunrise by Heather's Photography

Ozark Sunrise by Heather’s Photography

 

Copyright 2015 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: This flash fiction is dedicated to the child in all of us, and to my grandfather, who was a math teacher, a school principal and a collector of butterflies. All three photographs were used with gratitude toward and kind permission of Heather’s Photography.

Flash Fiction: Hedgehog High-Jinks

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High-Jinks the Hedgehog nosed a chestnut out of the mulch and bit into it, despite its age and moldy taste, munching it quickly, but careful to leave a piece for his buddy, Skimp the Shrew. The pickings in early spring are sparse. Skimp nodded gratefully at him: a moldy chestnut was better than none.

“The winter was a hard one. Not much forage is left.” Skimp chattered in his high voice, after finished the chestnut. He nosed through the mulch, looking for seeds.

High-Jinks nodded his head and climbed up on a rock to see if he could find any other chestnuts.

When Queen Drythorn of the Sidhe flashed past him, he was grumpy and refused to bow. Unfortunately for him, Queen Drythorn was even grumpier and turned him to stone on the spot. Skimp hid behind the rock and escaped notice. All of the flowers bowed their heads until the Queen swept past, headed for Mermaid Caves. Skimp ran off as soon as the Queen was out of sight.

The flowers whispered to each other. Was Skimp going for help? Would he summon the Mushroom Trolls of Safire Rock? Could the trolls reverse a spell of Queen Drythorn?

“Skimp is headed for his burrow and won’t be out for days,” one flower guessed, sadly.

“No!” asserted another, “He’ll be back!”

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

 

Fae Flash Fiction: Catkin

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Early one spring, a wood elf named Jake darted here and there with warming sparkles. He nearly got caught by two humans and a beagle. The beagle spotted him, gave chase and barked. Jake flew up into a tall shrub.

Before the humans even turned their heads, quick as a wink, he swirled his dandelion coat in tight and held to the pussy willow branch. Just another catkin, hiding in plain sight. Which one is the bud and which the wood elf?

Only the beagle knows. Jake wiggled the branch when the humans passed by, and dropped some raindrops onto the waiting beagle’s nose. He hid again, and then peeked at the wagging tail of the beagle, happily walking away, christened by the wood elf. Jake grinned, then merrily went back to warming forsythia buds and catkins.

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

Fae Flash Fiction: Equinox

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Silka dreamed in yellow. Daffodil dreams of spring, warm breezes blowing citron pollen. Leaves unfurl in lemon sunshine. She restlessly rolled over, drawing her rose petal duvet higher over one curved hip. Her dream changed to tulips, in a rainbow of color.

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Silka dreamed of the Equinox, and her thoughts startled her awake. She opened her violet eyes.

“Fib!” she called into the quiet of her hydrangea bower.  She heard a scuffling, yawning, and a small bee fairy uncurled from a purple bloom, changing from bee shape to fairy shape as he stretched.  He sat up blinking, wings glittering.

“What’s today, Fib?” Silka called to him, smoothing her butterfly wings and petal skirt.

“Today?” Fib rubbed the grit from his bluebell eyes, then he opened them wide in surprise. “The Equinox!!” Fib shouted with joy. Together, he and Silka flew out into the Outer World.

Still snow as far as the eye could see. A faded hydrangea bloom, like a fragile four leaf clover spun of earth, was the only visible bloom, their hydrangea bower safely behind the veil separating the Fairy World from the Outer World.

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Silka and Fib decided, equinox or no equinox, some more dreaming was in order, and they retreated behind the veil.

If you like, you can read more Fae Flash Fiction here:  Silka (Episode 1).

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham