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atcroft t1_j5ccq2t wrote

Two figures trudged across the windswept heath, approaching the solitary remnant of an archaic forest.

“Hello, old friend,” Ginger’s mom said kneeling at the base of the battered trunk, stroking it lightly.

“Why’d you leave?” Ginger asked as she dropped her backpack beneath its looming shadow.

Closing her eyes in reflection, she spoke softly, her words almost kidnapped by the wind. “Why does any child run away from home, barring a bad situation? Anger, naivety, curiosity, a feeling of mental superiority of youth over age. Maybe a little of all of it.”

She traced a sign on the bark with her fingertip, whispering softly. “It is me, Holly Seiliewight of the Fae, born in the year Edwin fell in battle against Cadwallion and Penda. I see the centuries haven’t been kind to you or your descendants.” A tear rolled down her cheek, until she wiped it from her cheek onto the gnarled bark. “I hope my leaving didn’t misqueme; you were my best friend.”

Ginger watched her mom. “What happened?”

“You have to understand, we are a very long-lived people; births are rare among us.” She looked up at her daughter. “At one time the Fates had been kind to us; their smile shown brightly. But as with all things the time of our people--it had come to an end. There had been no growth in us; in fourteen centuries, you and I were the last to be born among us.”

Holly turned, leaning against the ancient sentinel. “As man spread we retreated into the wild, untamed places they were not. They became as much legends among us as we to them; so much so I doubted their existence when I heard the stories.

“I was a mere child, barely a century a score and one when I encountered my first--a scraggly, emaciated thing, exhausted and on the run. He scampered from behind a tree, collapsing at my feet. When I carried him home my parents were furious. ‘You should’ve left it.’ ‘You don’t know where that’s been.’ ‘It can’t let others know about us.’ I was in shock--I’d never heard anyone talk that way about a living thing, much less a semi-intelligent one.

“I hid him in a delve beside the river and tried to nurse him to health. Alas, he was too sick and never regained his senses; I buried him at the base of the tree where I found him. But it made me curious about these humans who were spreading like locusts across our wildlands.

“For the next two centuries I secretly collected every scrap from humanity that I could--my collection grew to fill the delve where I had hid him. That was, until the afternoon my father found me returning with my latest find.

“He was wroth with me, said my collecting was dangerous and would be the downfall of the fae.

“I remember yelling back that ignorance and mistrust would be the downfall, that we needed to know more about them.

“He roared on that humans were evil, that they couldn’t be trusted, that they would break... everything they touched. Including my heart, if I let one that close.

“The longer we went at it, the hotter it got. That afternoon words were said on both sides, words that cut deeply and made wounds that took decades for me to get past,” Holly said sadly. “When I ran past him and out the delve, I didn’t expect that to be the last time I would see him.”

“You didn’t go back?” Ginger asked.

“Eyes bleary I ran until my lungs and legs burned; I don’t know how far I ran--I curled in a hollow as the wind howled and storm clouds crashed together through the night. In the morning I struck out in the direction I thought was home, but instead encountered a human hamlet.

“Their languages were easy enough to pick up, and my knowledge of the wood allowed me to find work as a healer. I moved from town to town, learned to be quiet but useful. If I admit it he was right, so I kept enough distance. Across the isles, the continent, and eventually to the Americas, I observed, I learned, I grew. It wasn’t until I turned a corner--smacking into your dad--that I lost my heart. But... if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have you,” she said, smiling at Ginger.

Ginger smiled, focused on the stump. She traced again the sign as she had seen her mother make, exhaled, and stated firmly, “I am Ginger Seiliewight, daughter of Holly, born in the year of the swine flu.”

The sign began to glow, the ashen gray around the stump turning earthen and the sky brightening. A deep, sleepy voice boomed around them, “Holly?”

“Father?” Holly replied, startled.

(Word count: 797. Please let me know what you like/dislike about the post. Thank you in advance for your time and attention. Other works can also be found linked in r/atcroft_wordcraft.)

Part 1: Smash ‘Em Up Sunday: Urban Fantasy

Part 2: Smash ‘Em Up Sunday: Temporal Fiction


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5f6t48 wrote

Thank you for your submission; you have scored 14 points!