The woods were dark and dense in the inky blackness after nightfall, and the
only illumination was from the moon which shown almost full in tandem with
the splash of stars hanging suspended in a cloudless sky.
endless canopy of muted light, rested a fairy kingdom called Camarie,
a magical place indeed, where mystical happenings not commonly seen
real world occurred with great frequency.
Deep within the trunk of an old oak tree at the outskirts of this magical
place, a roomy hollow sat beneath the branching of several limbs.
fireflies very adequately served as the only light within the room where
several small winged creatures stood huddled around an exquisite nymph who
was daintily perched before a piece of broken glass which served as a
"Merriam, don't brush so hard," the comely girl said with a trace of
as she pulled gingerly away from the handmaiden behind her who
to her long golden hair. Shiny and soft it was as it reflected
from the fireflies' glow with soft curls naturally falling from a
slight widow's peak.
Many of the fairies looked with envy upon her moon-kissed hair wishing their curls
fell as beautifully. They admired the way it cascaded around her creamy shoulders
that served as soft pedestals for the highlighted tresses.
Why, it was almost as if she saw the light of day, which of course she could not,
since those of the fairy world did their
best not to be seen in the harsh glare of the sun.
"I'm sorry, madam," the handmaiden said. "I'm almost finished. 'Tis
beautiful as always," she said with affection, for despite her mistress'
minor irritation with her from time to time, she knew her to be most kind
and generous, especially when she felt no pressure from her nerves which
seemed to have her in their grip tonight. Her mistress, Princess Shaleigh was going to the most anticipated event of the summer
season, the Celebration of the Summer Solstice, and it was her first time to
go. A milestone in the life of any young fairy, but most particularly, this
princess who would meet her subjects, not to mention the King, before this
night was over.
Merriam was very proud of her mistress. Didn't she have every right? She
had raised her since she was but an infant. Princess Shaleigh's parents,
the King and Queen of Camarie, had been killed in a tragic accident when
she was very small, and Merriam had been charged with the task of making
sure the child became the sort of adult befitting her station.
In the fairy world, a young maiden of noble birth was required to stay
virtually hidden, tended to by family and handmaidens, until she reached
young adulthood. She could play with other child fairies, and of course she
could be with her family, but the general population would not see her until
she reached the age of majority. At that time, at Summer Solstice, the
newly proclaimed royalty of the clan would be presented to the Fairy King -
in a much-anticipated celebration that included fairy dancing and games
within a circle constructed of young mushrooms that had sprouted just for
the occasion. These young nymphs, who had been carefully taught all of
the traditions and customs of the fairy culture, to better carry the ways of
the past into the future, would now stand before their King, proud to be
welcomed into the fold of the fairy clan in their positions of honor.
"I'm sorry to snap at you, Merriam," the princess said as she turned away
from the mirror. She looked at the faces around her with eyes wide with
trepidation. "I just hope I don't do something foolish! I would just die
if I did something stupid in front of the King!"
Merriam shushed her. "Ach, you will be fine! You are so comely, my child,
and you have learned your lessons well. Don't worry so."
The girls assembled in the room around her nodded their heads in agreement
with Merriam's words. These were the entourage, her ladies in waiting, who
had been assigned to her for the rest of her life to see that her needs were
properly met. They would be with her from now on in times of trial and
triumph. The training they had received since they were very small had been
just as arduous as Shaleigh's had been. In the hierarchy of fairies, it was
considered an honor to serve within the entourage of one so fair.
And she was beautiful. Framed within the halo of hair was a face with a
flawlessly creamy complexion. Her eyes were her most striking facial
feature .wide and aware, seemingly soaking in the events occurring around
But her wings were what one noticed first. It should be explained that a
fairy's wings are a very important part of the visual statement made to
others, as the colors are as varied as the fairies themselves. The more
pleasing the color combinations, and the more splashy their appearance, the
more choices a fairy would have, male or female, in the courtship ritual.
Princess Shaleigh's wings were quite vibrant. The colors were bright and
vivid, an artistic statement against the backdrop of the greens and browns
of the forest. They could easily rival a butterfly's wings in elegance, and
it was a feature that would prove time and again to set her apart from the
others of her community.
As they readied to go, with Princess Shaleigh nervously smoothing her gown
and her attendants making sure her beautiful wings were spotless and ready
to fly, a shrill sound rent the air around them. Looking for the source of
the unpleasant sound, the princess suddenly, reluctantly found herself being
pulled out of the room by what seemed like unseen hands. As she helplessly
watched the scene below her fall quickly away, her handmaidens followed her
withdrawal with bewilderment and regret clouding their disbelieving eyes.
Shara reached over to turn off the alarm. What on earth had she been
dreaming about? The fairies again, she thought. A continuation of the same
scene had been playing out in her mind for several nights now, and she
always awoke feeling as if something begged to be finished.
As she took her shower, she thought about the dream. It seemed so real. It
couldn't be, of course. She was dreaming about fairies, for goodness sakes,
but she couldn't help wondering what would happen next. And the longer the
dreams continued, the more she wanted to stay and finish the scenario.
And next you'll be saying you believe in fairy godmothers, she wryly
thought. That'll be the day. If only it were that easy. But still, the
dream had been magical, and the effects from it stayed longer and longer
each day until she found herself thinking about these dreams all day long.
Her job was not an exciting one. She worked as a receptionist for a large
company that designed ready-to-wear apparel for the busy women of the world,
who since the war, increasingly worked outside of the home. Because she didn't consider it exciting was not to say that she wasn't good at it. Her face
and voice were the first contact with potential customers, and her
supervisors heard only good things about their friendly receptionist. She
was so good at it that she was passed up for promotions because they knew it
would be difficult to find someone as good at her job as she was.
The fact that she was bored with what she was doing did not stop her from
doing the best job she possibly could. On the contrary, she was sure that
one day, someone she greeted every day on the phone or as they walked in the
door, would ask her supervisor why she hadn't been given a promotion. Or
maybe they would hire her themselves. And then, perhaps, she could put the
lessons she had studiously learned at night school to good use. Her dream
was to become a high-end fashion designer, and for the past two years, she
had taken art courses a few nights a week to enhance her natural ability
with pen and ink.
It was about 2:00 that afternoon when Dolores asked her if she was okay.
She thought Shara had been acting quite distracted today. Was everything
Shara replied that she was fine, that she just hadn't gotten a lot of sleep
the night before, and Dolores went away and left her alone. She couldn't
tell her that she was lost in a world created in her own mind. Dolores
would think she was crazy! And the fact that she was beginning to seriously
wonder about it herself didn't comfort her in any way.
Try as she might, she could not keep her mind on work. And when the doors
closed at 5:00 and she was free to board the bus that would drop her by her
modest home, she felt nothing but weariness and a sense of great relief. It
was becoming increasingly difficult to concentrate on anything but the
Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, when the fairies would
celebrate the rite of passage between adolescence and adulthood. And it
just so happened that this natural phenomenon was about to occur in the real
world - when the path of the sun's rays on the earth passed from the
Southern hemisphere into the northern one, and when summer officially began.
For this was June 20th, and today was the longest day of the year.
When darkness descended, Shara couldn't wait to go to bed and hopefully
continue with the story of the fairies. That she felt this way surprised
her. She who had always been practical was living in a dream world of mists
and mushrooms, and she fleetingly thought that maybe she was on the road to
a breakdown. The fact that this was the most exciting thing to happen to her
in a long while was perhaps a sad commentary on what her lonely life had
Princess Shaleigh flew soundlessly through the night, excitement emanating
from around her as her colorful wings beat efficiently, almost transparently
behind her. Following closely behind was her entourage of beauties who
studiously watched their surroundings to ensure that no harm would come to
their charge. Merriam had remained at home to anxiously await the princess'
return and a full disclosure of the details of the evening's events.
Princess Shaleigh missed her sorely right now, because she felt she could
greatly benefit from Merriam's calming influence. She didn't know which was
beating faster her heart or her diaphanous, gossamer wings.
As she rounded the last curve on her short journey, she gasped at the sight
that confronted her. Within a clearing in the forest, the traditional fairy
ring had been constructed with the help of willing mushrooms who had
consented to erupt from the ground completely in unison forming a perfect
semi-circle in the glade. Many fairies had already arrived and frolicked
around the premises with wild abandon, having found wide leaves to jump
upon. And then after having bounced for awhile, the lucky sprites would
slide down the length of it and depend upon the bend of the stem to
transport them safely to the ground, one-by-one. Laughter and music filled
the air, and Princess Shaleigh halted, speechless, at the scene before her.
As she watched, she noticed that occasionally, young women who appeared to
be near her own age would arrive with regal bearing, their respective
entourages following closely behind. Then, they would be escorted to
specific places within the fairy ring itself to await the ceremonies.
It occurred to Princess Shaleigh that she was expected to do much the same,
and that the lessons that Merriam had so steadfastly taught her had had good
reason. Appreciating her handmaiden more than ever, she nervously
straightened her back and concentrated fully on flying as smoothly and
effortlessly as she could possibly muster, and soon, she found herself at
the entrance to the ring.
She realized with a start that the music had stopped, and all was still. As
she quickly looked around, she noticed that everyone was staring at her, and
she wondered what it was that she was doing wrong. She glanced at the faces
of her entourage then to try to get a clue as to why it had become so quiet.
They were of no help to her, however, because each of them had a smug,
satisfied smile resting easily upon their mouths, and it was obvious they
weren't worried in the least.
As she was ushered to her place within the ring, eyes sparkling with the
reflection of the fireflies' light, and the color of her cheeks high with
emotion, she became acutely aware of the silence until finally, the music
started again, and the buzzing of conversation returned.
It wasn't but a few minutes later that the hush returned in full, but this
time, a lone, portly fairy with short, stubby wings, who was dressed in a
dapper suit of gray linen, made his way to the opening of the ring. The
sparse amount of hair he sported on top of his head stuck out in all
directions creating a comical, straggled appearance. But as he addressed
the crowd with a broad smile, it was obvious he was quite comfortable in his
role as emcee.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he boomed. "The Celebration of the Summer Solstice
is officially upon us." As he waited until the polite beating of wings died
down, a grin remained firmly in place on his face, and his eyes scanned the
crowd all the while. "Our official festivities will begin shortly, but first
there are a few announcements to make."
To Princess Shaleigh, it felt as if he went on forever, but finally, he
finished with the bulletins regarding the business of the kingdom and began
his introduction for the King. Extolling the virtues and good deeds this
King had performed during his short reign to this point - because after all,
he was still quite young - he finally concluded with, "and I present to
you, King Truitt, our esteemed leader." He went into a full bow as he
awaited the King's entrance into the ring.
With her first eager glance at the King, Princess Shaleigh expected to be
excited and impressed, as this was someone she had only heard about in
stories throughout her short lifetime. But she didn't expect her breath to
leave her entirely. She could only stare as his presence filled the space
within the circle and beyond his handsome, commanding appearance demanding
attention from all sides. His eyes flashed with vibrancy as he scanned the
crowd, and when they stopped on Princess Shaleigh, she felt herself blush
from her head to her toes as his face suddenly, unexpectedly broke into a
gentle smile that immediately put her at ease. As he turned to take his
seat, she couldn't help but notice his wide shoulders that tapered with
muscular distraction to a vee at his slim waist, and between his shoulder
blades sprouted the most magnificent wings she had ever seen. Thin and
wispy as a cirrus cloud in a clearing sky, they nonetheless exhibited their
bridled strength as he flexed them slowly in preparation for sitting. The
colors on his wings were bold and striking, as if they were a commentary
about the King himself. At long last, Princess Shaleigh forced herself to
look away so that she could better concentrate on the proceedings.
At that exact moment, in her slumber, Shara restlessly turned over to her
other side, as if to turn away from that which she could not have, but
still, she did not awaken.
After interminable speeches by various dignitaries of the kingdom, it was
time for the ceremony in which the young women would be officially declared
as having reached majority, and therefore be decreed as eligible to take
part in all the social festivities of the land. This also meant that they
were available to be courted and eventually chosen as life-partners by the
unspoken-for males of the clan of Camarie.
When it was finally announced that they were to line up for the
presentation, the princess took in a nervous breath as she looked back at
her ladies in waiting for encouragement. They all smiled at her and nodded
in reassurance, and as she looked around her at the others being so honored
tonight, she saw that most of them appeared to be as nervous as she was
All were mindful of the space allotted for their wings so that they wouldn't
be bumped or mussed before their meeting with the King. It would not do for
them to be in disarray during this most prestigious meeting when they would
be making the all-important first impression.
As the first participant was introduced to King Truitt, he asked her a
question. "What," he said, "is the most important goal you wish to achieve
in your lifetime?"
None of the participants had anticipated being asked a question of any kind,
let alone one so lofty as this. It seemed that he placed a goodly amount of
weight on the answer as well, because while he listened acutely in
anticipation of the words issued in reply, it seemed as if he were
disappointed at each response. As each of them neared the podium on which
he sat, they hoped that they would be given the gift of the correct answer
before the question was asked of them.
One-by-one, the girls went to their meeting with the King. One-by-one, they
answered his question. Some said that they hoped to always make their mates
happy. Some said that they wished to bear children and work hard for the
kingdom. Some even said that they hoped they could make him happy as his
humble servant throughout their lifetimes, but still, none of these seemed
to be the correct answer. Even though when these girls left his immediate
sight he declared that they had passed into majority, most left knowing they
had disappointed him nonetheless.
Princess Shaleigh was more nervous than ever when her turn came. She drew
herself up to her full height as she rose from the mandatory curtsy and
hoped that she was displaying an outwardly calm appearance even though she
was far from calm inside.
King Truitt looked at her in kindness. "What is your name, m'lady?"
"Shaleigh, Your Highness." As was the custom, her eyes were downcast, but
she held her chin high and spoke clearly as she responded to his query.
"Shaleigh, a pretty name that is." He smiled slightly. "And what is your
answer to my question? What is the most important goal you wish to achieve
in your lifetime?"
She looked up at him then, directly into his eyes, and did not hesitate in
her reply. "My goal is to live my life and perform my duties to my utmost
satisfaction, Your Highness. Knowing that I have done the best that I can
do in whatever I undertake. I will accept no less."
King Truitt smiled broadly at this answer. "That," he said, "was the answer
I was waiting to hear." He rose from his throne and spread his wings to
their full span. "Princess Shaleigh, will you honor me with the first dance
of the evening?"
Eyes shining, she bowed her head in acceptance, and after he tipped her chin
up so that she would look at him, they moved closer until she was in his
arms. When the music from the lyre began, they found its rhythm and moved
as one until the strains of the first verse ended. As the second verse
began, the crowd, who had been mesmerized by the scene playing itself out
before them, began moving into pairs and dancing alongside them.
The dew falling in heavy splashes from the canopy of leaves overhead
signaled the coming of early morning, and it was as if the weaving of a
spell were reaching its mystical conclusion. A fairy's place at sunrise is
within the comfort of his or her home, and it was to her home that King
Truitt brought her just before daybreak. His eyes never left hers as he
gently placed a kiss upon the back of her trembling hand, and as he turned
to go, he made plans to see her that night when the moon was full and the
mist was settled among the trees.
Shara woke up before the alarm went off, a smile on her face and the
fragments of the wonderful dream in her head. She lay there for awhile
thinking about how handsome the King was and how gently he had treated the
fair princess. She realized as she thought about it, that it was she who
was playing the part of Shaleigh, and she wished that things were as
wonderful in real life as it was in her dreams. Of course she could never
be a fairy, that world was closed to her. But she could always dream, couldn
At any rate, her real life awaited her. Enough of fairies .she knew the
ending would be a happy one now. Princess Shaleigh would eventually marry
the handsome king, and they would live as all in fairy tales do .happily
ever after. No worries, no strife, no working as a receptionist in a
With a sigh she got up and readied for work. She went into her office fully
determined to put this fairy business behind her and get on with her real
life. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized that fair
Shaleigh had a point. "My goal is to live my life and perform my duties to
the best of my satisfaction," Princess Shaleigh had said. "I will accept
What have I been doing during these last several months, Shara asked herself
now. I have been accepting something less, settling for what I have even
though I am not contented with it. And it's my own fault for just standing
by and simply accepting. With determination, she rose from her seat behind
the switchboard, and asking Dolores to cover for her, she knocked on her
"Shara, come in," Mr. Hammond said, somewhat startled, as he waved her to a
seat. "I hope there's nothing wrong."
"No, sir. Well, yes...yes," she amended. "I guess there is something wrong."
As he took his seat behind the desk loaded with bolts of new fabric to
examine, Shara gathered her courage. "I have been your receptionist for
some time now, and I think I do a good job for you." At his nod, she
continued. "Well, I also think that I can do just as well in a better
Noticing he was about to speak, she hurriedly went on. "Wait,
before you say anything, I want you to know that I've been taking classes to
better learn this business. I've become a very good artist, if I say so
myself, and I feel I can design with the best of them. Mr. Hammond," she
plunged on, "I would like you to give me a chance to prove it to you."
He had been watching her patiently as she made her speech. He prided
himself on being a kind man, and it was obvious she was passionate about
what she was saying. She had been a loyal employee, he mused, and perhaps
she at least deserved a chance. Reluctantly, he had to admit she was right.
He had been taking advantage of her in her current position because she was
darn good at it. If she put that kind of energy into designing, assuming
she had the talent, she might have something he could use.
"Shara, I assume you have sketches?" At her enthusiastic nod, he said,
"Well, get them in here and I'll look them over."
"Oh thank you, Mr. Hammond. You won't be sorry! I'll bring them right in!"
She was walking on cloud nine when she went back toward her desk. The phone
was jangling noisily, but Dolores was handling that, so Shara turned her
attention to the visitor who was waiting in the foyer. "May I help you,
When he turned around, her breath audibly hitched. It was all she could do
not to say the name that came instantly to her lips. For standing there in
front of her, looking as handsome as he had in her dreams, was none other
than King Truitt himself. Dressed a bit more conservatively, of course, and
there was no sign of the memorable wings, but she would swear that it was
She snapped back into reality as he spoke. "Are you all right, Shara?" he
asked in concern.
Composing herself, she finally found the voice to ask, "You know my name?
Have we met before?"
He smiled. "Oh, no, not in person anyway." Shara was starting to think this
was somewhat surreal. He surely wasn't saying that they had met in her
dreams, was he? "I've called several times to talk with Mr. Hammond, and
you usually answered the phone. But this is the first time I've actually
come in. Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine, really. You just remind me of someone I used to know," she
replied with a shaky smile. She hoped he didn't ask any more questions,
because she was fresh out of answers. Maybe if she asked a question of her
own. "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I didn't get your name.?"
"Oh, sorry, its Jared. Jared T. Fitzpatrick. Here's my card."
As she took his card, she tried to hide her momentary disappointment. Okay,
so he didn't go by Truitt. How silly could she have been. But wait. There
was that middle initial..
"And may I ask what the "T" stands for, Mr. Fitzpatrick?" She held her
breath as she awaited his reply.
"First of all, please call me Jared. Second of all, I think I'll just keep
you wondering for a little while." At her quizzical expression, he added,
"Well, I'm not familiar with this town, and I will be needing lunch a little
bit later. I may eventually be persuaded to tell you my middle name -
because I can pretty much guarantee you will never guess it - if you will
consent to showing me where I can get a good hamburger around here." He held
out his hand to her in the offer of a handshake. "Deal?"
Shara took his hand. "You most definitely have a deal." She could barely
contain her amusement when she added, "And I'll make you a side bet, Mr.
Jared T. Fitzpatrick." Her eyes danced with confidence. "I will bet you
that I can guess your middle name on the very first try."
And you know, of course, she did. She knew it with every fiber of her
being. Because all of us who believe that fairy tales could come true are
certainly aware that they have a consistent tendency to end in only one
way happily, blissfully ever after.