She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally walked through door of the tiny cottage for the last time. She looked back upon her earthly place, a skerrick of puzzlement formed her expression, her soft pale lips firmly pressed together, her eyes gazing into the tiny and sparse space of the cottage, then commenced the journey of dimensions to the arms of her ancestors.
She failed to understand herself, her very substance in this place. The lines she read confirmed as much. The woman gave her the bible especially wanting her to read these lines that were from St Paul in his letter so the Corinthians. There was the duty of daughter. There was the duty of mother. All of these expectations were illustrated on crumbled and dilapidated parchment she had stolen from the church in a last desperate attempt to keep her here. She loved her so much after all this woman who desperately wanted to be her mother and remain that way forever more.
‘ I want to keep you in crate’ she used to joke when she was a child ‘ And take you out to kiss you when the needs takes me’ she would add with a deepening tone that lead the sentiment away from mirth into the realm of the possessive. The creature smiled wryly. ‘One day all this will end mother and there will be no more you and me.’ , she responded in a tone that reverberated her inner ancient wisdom, the stories of the dimensions that had drifted to her over a thousand years or more now. Almost in retaliation, the mother urgently released her from her embrace and held her shoulders at harms length’ What do you mean by that child?’ The mother’s expression was fearful and pained. She did not answer. She had already said too much.
For the woman , a simple farmer, born into peasantry and seeking no higher echelon, stout but muscular with skin of leather all of which come from hard work amongst the elements that this earth offers, what she said provoked a profound sense of hopelessness, what she avoided but always found, what no other earthly body could communicate, a place of grey mysticism, borne on the ugly and twisted. Her daughter touched upon this with her words that were not earthly, but nonetheless, of the earth that they stood upon. The woman was tired after repressing that her daughter was not a creature of this earth, as much as her was not a creature of her body.
Her Matriarch warned her about such ties. ‘Your linage is beneath the surface that the earthlings thoughtlessly tread day by day. Know this Owanna! Their development throughout the millenniums is of no interest as our concern is beyond their time, outside of all their notions invented.’ She missed her matriarch and indeed was looking forward to reuniting with her herd, but today she was strangley saddened. This species that had been living amongst for the past 15 year had no inkling of who she was. She wanted that somehow.
She questioned the necessity of this secret. Wouldn’t they be better for knowing? Why must they remain so ignorant? Why must they be destroyed or removed from the places if this knowing was shared amongst them? That was a certainty that the likes of her carried, those who she honoured carry and would most likely continue doing so until the ultimate destruction of this earthling species.
It was only yesterday that these thoughts clouded over her as she slowly drew water up from the town well. She surprised herself, her own sense of who she is. The regret of how she devoured this woman’s baby before morphing into its shape skin and eyes similar to the infants form but not quite she wanted to transpose into the water that she carried in the wooded bucket warned from years of use. A fairy always maintains something of their original form but something of the animal form would remain. This transition, a rite of passage and all the repercussions of this rite, were to mature her powers. She understood this and her matriarch warned her that she would form attachments. ‘It is necessary as part of your understanding of this species. You will become part of their organised ways. However it is never a hardship to remember who you are. ‘You are light , water and clay , the morning canter of the herd when we rise up from the boughs of the earth to meet the sun, and honour the universal orbs. This is all you are. Nothing more, nothing less, all is the totality.’
The morning of the commencement of the rise of the first moon after the birth of her daughter, was when the woman knew that there was something amiss, the same knowing that he had been living with for the past fifteen years, to which she never gave. But that morning, upon waking she felt this knowing in the same way she would feel her blood and water surged within upon the foot of trouble. She heard this knowing as a slithering hiss in her ears. It was quicker, thinner, the redness came into face and hands, her heart beating hard and long as if she were a member of herd she tended, a member of her herd knowing an end was close .
Immediately she turned and looked at her baby daughter who was sleeping beside her. She had a different parlour, her lips finer, her eyes once hazel and olive shaped where now strangely green and cat like. And she was quiet and still, not nuzzling for her breast, now bursting with milk as strangely she did not feed during the night as she normally did.
She at first wondered, reaching for an explanation for this strange happening that could not be explained, whether it was an illness or fever but upon feeling her she quickly ascertained that there was no heat in her tiny body. She held her little hand in her own and looked upon her fresh but somewhat unearthly countenance. She wondered whether she had a visitation from a demon. There was talk in the town of a suspected witch living on top of the first grass knoll to the north of her farm. But this was merely idle gossip. The woman was a widow suffering gravely after her husband had died in a mining accident. That was all.
The days passed and despite the woman being at unease she continued with her tasks regardless as this was all she knew and all she wanted to know. Maple was honoured for her cloth making ,and she had an order to fill for her colony’s governess. There was no payment of course. This labour was unrecognised as was much of the arduous labour that made her body hard, strong, her hands rough, and her skin sheath like. For her it was an honour for the lady to wear a garment that came from her hands and it was this honour that she allowed to occupy her thoughts and not the strange happenings of the preceding days. As she laboured, she never question the performance of this duty as she did not ponder over the cause of her unease. She simpley continued with her chores with her newly formed baby wrapped and tied to her back, only holding her when she required feeding or cleaning. However it was rarely that her daughter required nourishment.
As the years past her love deepened unnaturally for this child, perhaps because her husband was away at war for the first three years of her life. He was young and keen to get away from their farming life and her she suspected. There was no love between them. Their marriage was merely one of duty. He volunteered to fight despite that fact that there was no call for this as he was a farmer and his services were considered important to remain at home. During those lonely and strange years she only harvested a little more than what she needed to sustain herself and her daughter. It was lucky that her farm was theirs, passed down to her by her father whose wife and sons had died of an illness that had once spread throughout her land.
She was lonely, that was true. Nonetheless there was something about this child that beleaguered her and thereby thickened her attachment until this had such strength. She had an uncanny relationship with animals, especially the few cattle they tended together and the horse. This animal flourished under her care, became more majestic somehow as if it was given new flesh and blood. The milk and butter produced by their cows had a quality that was unsurpassed by any other in the village and its surrounds. Visitors would comment when they dropped by to have a cloth mended and she would offer them a cup of milk or some wheat and apple loaf with butter. It was because this that she ceased to believe that her daughter was possessed but she did possess her. There was no doubt.
When her husband returned from the war she barely noticed. Her work was now lighter and she no longer had to rely on her cloth making, but her daughter took up the free time that this allowed. She would like to wonder and she could not help but follow her to the river bank where they would take of their shoes and stocking and sit with their feet in the cool water warmed by the fierceness of the afternoon sun. As they walked, her daughter would place her unearthly hands, wiry and long, onto the boughs of the tree trunks and she swore that she could see the white bark slither underneath her hands as if welcoming her caress. Or she would bend down and put her face into a wild flower and the face of this would spread its petals as if to greet her tear shaped face. Her eyes would close and her body stiffen as if taking in the essence of this plant, its spirit. All the world around her appeared different and she ceased her own attempts to teach her to read and write. She didn’t see the need when she seemingly possessed this knowledge already.
It was not as if Ownenna did not love this woman. She loved Maple. Her love for her was true. She loved her merely because she was a child, divorced from her own world, her own flesh, blood and organs. She didn’t understand her own movement, he didn’t understand her breathing, didn’t understand the pumping of her blood and the heart, nor the heart that pumped. After living with Maple she understood why this species could never establish the capacity for flight. Such flight was not about the organic matter needed to propel a body through the air such as in the manner of the thousands of species of birds, but in breaking down the matter from this mind, releasing this so the body crumbles and the metamorphosed aerodynamic form emerges as if a butterfly from a cocoon. This knowledge was as distant from human beings as was the sense of the end of their world. It is always the case.
Maple’s baby cried within Owenna. She was lonesome without home body or the prospect of development into an adult form. The crying was ceaseless across many days periodically throughout the years. It is a necessary part of the transition just as the Matriarch forewarned. ‘You have the responsibility towards the essence you devoured my creature. You are too harvest its tears for the purposes of your own learning.’ The Matriarch reached out and cupped Owenna’s tiny head into her two thin green legs and stroked her finely shaped pale green and leaf green head, her eclipsed shaped compound eyes at either side . ‘ The dead earthling is always with you. This is the legacy you carry no only as part of this transition but as part of all your transitions, even when you travel away from this planet.’
As fairies never speak to the Matriarch she did not respond, but this did not mean that a myriad of questions did not stir with in. The Matriarch hovered over her as she sat beneath the statues of her the ancestors. She was attending to their honour when the Matriarch interrupted this ritual. Normally this would be sacrosanct as attending to the ancestor’s honour was part of the tuning into the earth’s bough. Fairies never forget the matter of their beings. ‘Always we are light, water and clay. If this awareness ceased then they would not be able to morph into the myriad forms needed to take in the narrative of a planet. After all, this is our chief function: to carry the narrative of the habitable planets.’
When she first saw Maple and her baby she felt pity. Earthlings are such delicate creatures yet function as if essential. This pity dissipated somewhat as she continued to live with Maple with her child’s essence inside of her. This was how her child became stronger than Maple, reforming as part of a creature that was part of all antiquity and beyond. On the night before she left Maple was preparing a supper of left over vegetables that she refried and then scoped onto a thick slice of bread with dripping. It was a poor person meal but very satisfying. As Fairies needed no nourishment, the act of eating remained novel to her throughout her stay with Maple and her Family.
Maple sang a hymn as she cooked even though she was not a religious woman. It was not the song itself but the act of singing that Maple enjoyed. This act of singing Owenna knew brought Maple closer to Owenna, to who she really is. Owenna had an inkling. She wanted to pass this on to Maple before she left for the dimensions and returned to her what she had taken. She crept up behind her and placed her human hands on her shoulder. Momentarily she took on her fairy form, a crisp insect like body, thin antennas on either side of her head, grass hopper with thin legs that dug into the shoulder. Despite their litheness, If she wanted to she could easily rip her apart, rip the bones from her flesh. For a minute spate of time she relished the knowing of that power but did not act .
Maple did not dare to turn. She knew that her daughter, not her daughter was finally revealing herself to her but she know better not to twist her body and take in what she had always knowing. Rather she continued to cook, understanding that this creature, who is not her daughter but of her daughter will be leaving her. The air felt hot as if a fire was close by moving down the mountain, into her valley that had sustained her all her life. Her bones were going to melt, her flesh drop form her body in finally all will be revealed.
Owenna drew into herself the elements, light, water, clay and allowed herself to enter Maples body and inside Maple she summoned into herself the innocence, the benign, the violence ,the loss, the love that had been what totalled Maples life and drew this into herself and back out into Maple. Now this woman who she loved in the ways that a creature such as herself could love had an element of her and this element would help foster her life in times of crises and abandonment . Routines will return and the daughter she devoured will be brought back into the case of her body
Owenna resumed her human form. Maple felt as if she had lost but gained, strangely renewed but at the same time the tugging of grief relentless as the sea. As the father would not be returning home from the village that night, having travelled there to exchange their produce for much needed tools, the mother and the fairy ate alone. Maple despondent believing that she was about to lose everything and never be able to put this lose into the realm of the spoken and Owenna with her resolve, knowing that she will take her place amongst the senior of her herd.