by James David Collins
"Mom, I'm going down to the woods and explore." Katie stood at the kitchen door, putting the last twists in her braid of long, red hair.
Katie's mother looked up from her cooking. "You be careful. Watch out for snakes."
"OK," Katie nodded to her mother. She turned and pushed through the screen door. The door slammed shut behind her as she raced to the trees at the edge of her backyard. Be careful, she thought. I'm ten years old. I can take care of myself. I'm not a baby.
The trees stood tall and dark in front of her. She liked to explore the mysteries of the woods, but its darkness always made her a little nervous. She closed her eyes. She squeezed them shut, forcing her nervousness away. She opened her eyes and bolted into the forest.
The reason she kept coming to the forest was fairies. She'd read a book at school that told all about fairies. It said some fairies lived around trees. Her mother said that fairies weren't real. Her father said they were silly. Katie didn't care. She was going to find a fairy. She searched among the dark trees every chance she got. She'd found several odd shaped rocks that could have been made by fairies. She'd even found some fairy hair. Her mother said it was a dog's fur, but Katie knew better.
Thinking of fairies excited Katie. She ran between the old trees.
A root grabbed her foot and pulled her down.
"Ow!" Outstretched arms broke her fall. Tears raced down her cheeks as she sat holding her hands in her armpits. She rocked back and forth. "Ow, ow, ow." She stuck out her jaw and kicked the root that had tripped her.
"That wasn't very nice," said a high pitched voice.
Katie stared at the root she had just kicked. "It talked." She crawled to the root and studied it.
"I didn't know roots could talk."
The high pitched voice came from a little green man standing beside her, looking very seriously at the root.
Katie scuttled away from the strange figure. He was green. He wasn't just wearing green clothes. As a matter of fact, he wasn't wearing clothes. He was just green. He turned to Katie, smiled, and waved.
"Hello." The green man's voice sounded like he'd sucked too much helium.
She pointed a shaky finger at the green man. "Who, who, who?" Katie shook her head and growled. She took a deep breath. "Who are you?"
"I'm fine," he said. "Who are you?" He continued to smile, showing green teeth.
"What?" She was confused. She tried again. "What are you?"
The little green man giggled. "I'm a protector of the forest."
"You're a fairy." She couldn't believe it. A real fairy.
"You're a fairy?" He held out his hand. "It's nice to meet you." His smile grew wider and his teeth began to change color from green to yellow.
"I'm not a fairy." Katie frowned. "You are."
"Of course I am." He lowered his hand. "What did you think I was?" He crossed his arms over his chest. "You shouldn't have kicked the root. It wasn't very nice."
"Not very nice at all." Another helium voice came from behind Katie.
She shuffled around and saw a little blue man standing next to the tree behind her with his fists on his hips. She turned to the green man and back to the blue man. They were bookends to the tree.
"Let me introduce myself." The green man bowed. "I'm Dipple, and this," he gestured to his side, "is Dop."
A flash of light caused Katie to cover her eyes. When she looked again, the blue man, Dop, was standing next to the green man, Dipple. She turned around, but no one was behind her. She looked back at the two strange figures.
"You really shouldn't have kicked the root," the two helium voices chorused. They stared at Katie, brows knit.
"I'm so sorry," she said.
"You should be," Dipple, the green fairy, said.
Dop, the blue fairy, jumped up and down like a drunken spring. "Can you make one in my size?"
"Make what in your size?" Katie stood, brushing dirt from her hands and clothes.
"You said you would sew a sorry," Dop said. "I want one in my size." He was still jumping.
"That's not what I meant." Katie noticed that the darkness of the forest had thickened.
"No mints." Dipple glared up into her eyes. "They make my mouth burn."
"No pockets anyway." Dop stopped hopping and pulled out empty pockets from his short, blue legs. "See."
"You don't understand." Katie tried to back away from the two fairies. The tree moved to block her.
Dipple stepped closer. "We never stand under things."
"No, no," Dop said. "It's bad luck." He did a cartwheel in Katie's direction, landing with his back to her. "She's gone," he cried. Dipple turned him around. His face lit up at the sight of Katie. "There you are." He wagged a long, thin finger at her. "Be still."
Katie stood with her back against the tree. She was trembling. This wasn't funny anymore. "Who are you?"
"Who are you?" Dipple repeated, hopping up and down, waving his arms above his head.
"You're eighty?" Dop's jaw dropped open. A butterfly fluttered out of it.
"You're old." Dipple backed away, holding his hands in front of his face. "You're too old."
"I'm not too old," Katie snapped.
"If you're not two," Dop said, "then how old are you?"
"I'm not two years old." Katie stamped her foot and slapped her hands on her legs.
"We said that." Dipple looked at Dop.
"Yes, we said that." Dop nodded at Dipple.
"So how old are you?" Dipple tapped his foot on the ground.
"I'm ten." Katie looked for a way out. Thick blackness surrounded her. She could only see a few trees and two crazy, little men.
Dipple poked her with a bony, green finger. "You're not hard enough to be tin."
"No, no, no," Katie said through clenched teeth.
"What do you want to know?" Dop cocked his head to one side. His smiling teeth flashed blue to yellow and back again.
"Look," she said. "I just want to go."
"You have to go?" Dipple put his hands over his eyes.
"Behind the tree." Dop covered his eyes, too. Both turned their backs on Katie. "We'll wait," Dop said.
"Stop that." Katie tried to move away from the tree. The lower branches grabbed and held her.
"What about that?" Dipple asked, turning back to Katie.
"Should I show her that?" Dop looked solemnly at Dipple.
"You can't show her that," Dipple said. "It's rude."
"You're right." Dop shrugged his shoulders and blushed a deep blue.
Katie tugged free of the tree's grasp and stepped toward the two fairies. They stepped back, staring wide-eyed at her escape. "I'm running out of patience," she yelled.
"Are you a doctor?" Dipple asked.
"I've scratched my arm." Dop held up a tiny, blue arm. "Can you make it better?"
Katie shook her head and moaned. She looked down at the little men. "I'm sorry that I kicked the root. It won't happen again."
"She's going to kick us with her boot." Dipple began to shake. He turned dark green. His eyes turned red.
"She wants to kill us." Dop bounced on stiff legs.
"You're not listening to me." Katie took two steps toward the fairies.
Two helium infected voices screamed. They jumped into each other's arms and disappeared with a pop.
Katie stood silent. The thick darkness was gone. The sun filtered through the trees. Everything was back to normal. She huffed once and stalked between the trees. "Fairies." She shook her head. "I hope I never see one again."
"You don't really mean that, do you?"
Katie turned around. Dipple and Dop stood, grinning up at her.
"We had such a good time." Their helium voices made her ears ring.
Katie ran. She left the trees and headed for her house. She didn't stop until the screen door shut behind her with a crash.
"Katie." Her mother turned from the kitchen counter. "You're not supposed to slam the door."
"I'm sorry, mom." Katie's chest heaved as she sucked in air. Her heart was beating in her ears.
Mother wiped Katie's head with a cloth. "Did you find any fairies today?"
"I'm never going to look for them again." Katie looked out the kitchen
window. She saw the forest beyond the backyard. Two small figures were
jumping, rolling, and running among the trees. "Daddy's right. Fairies
James David Collins hopes to add many more writing credits to a list which includes short stories accepted by Glyph magazine and Dream Forge e-zine. His previous story for Raven Electrick, The Darkheart, received a rave review at SFReader.com. David has completed two YA fantasy novels, as yet unpublished, but is working hard to remedy the unpublished part. He was a public school teacher in Texas for 10 years, but is now a stay-at-home dad with his new son, James. His wife, Cathy, also a school teacher, is a bit jealous about David's staying home, but she'll get over it (she says).
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"Katie's Fairies" © James David Collins. Used by
permission of the author.
Raven Electrick © Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.