When the new space took shape, I first saw a yellow chalk outline on the green moss carpet that lay over a flat-rock-lined glen. A few local pixies had gathered in a clump at the edge of the woods nearby.
“Do you always chalk the outline?” I asked.
“Well, this does seem a little dramatic. They did that just for your benefit.”
I shook my head and smiled. “OK, what’s the story here?”
“She didn’t come back last night. This was where she was last seen.”
“Any signs of violence?”
Lori motioned to the group of pixies, and they came closer with cautious steps.
We met them half way.
Even though I was in their world, I still towered over Lori and the rest. They were cute in their Robin Hood kind of outfits, small wings, and their pointed ears.
Lori conferred with the group, then turned back. “They say no. She had just brought her new smartphone back to the glen and was laying here in the misty sunshine learning how to make it work.”
“Do you get coverage here?”
“Sure, all your machines work here. If we want them to. We aren’t ‘Luddite’ about it. So if someone wants to try a human thingy, they are more than welcome to.”
“Do any of these pixies have a smartphone on them?”
They all shook their cute little heads no.
“So how do you talk to each other over long distance — or do you have to travel to talk?”
“There is some ‘sending’ that we can do, although it’s always more pleasant to visit with people in person.”
“And this missing pixie was by herself in this glen?”
The group nodded.
Lori interpreted again. “They say they left her to her privacy, the last sight of her was with her two thumbs tapping something on the screen.”
“That would be texting.” I scratched my chin where my day-old stubble was feeling like it.
Then an idea came. “How do you pay for these things? I mean, I don’t see where you have businesses and deal in money and all that.”
Lori frowned. “Of course not. True faery folk can live because Nature provides everything. The only ones who have problems like that are some dwarves who mine gold and barter it to the humans for other precious metals.”
“But a pixie or any other faery folk could work for a human and get money in exchange.”
“Banking accounts, credit cards, bit-coin?”
Lori nodded again, frowning more.
“You don’t approve.”
“It’s not traditional to our folk. And these give you more problems as you get more into these.”
“Not unlike the Amish have in living near our ‘English’ worlds as they call them. But their religion, their beliefs and faith, holds them to a different way of life.”
Lori looked down. “Much as our magic holds us to this special world. But some find too tempting to seek that human want for their ‘instant gratification’. How to get things now instead of developing our own faith — to recognize and practice the actual methods of enabling things into showing up.”
That tweaked my interest. “Shade’s of Bristol’s ‘Magic of Believing’ and Hill’s ‘Burning Desire’.”
Lori looked into my eyes and nodded. “It’s your religion of ‘Science’ that says belief and magic have no force. Yet your human inventions are too tempting.”
The small crowd of pixies nodded with her.
I took Lori’s hand in mine. “You know me because I live on the edge between those two worlds. That is one reason I chose a simple life to do my writing in. There was a writer named Thoreau who is more famous for his living for a single year in a simple cabin he built himself — just to determine the basis of life itself. I never saw the parallel until now. So — thanks.”
She smiled, some color coming back into her pale cheeks.
The sky was clearing of its overcast clouds. Soon the glen appeared even brighter around us.
At that, the yellow chalk outline itself disappeared. Flowers opened their petals to the sun.
And I noticed the warmth coming through the ground at my feet. My bare feet.
I wriggled my toes in enjoying this feeling.
Then it hit me. No one around me was wearing shoes of any type.
I looked back to Lori and squeezed her hand. “Is this common — bare feet?”
“Sure, it’s only when we travel into human cities do we need to wear shoes. There they litter their streets with many sharp materials. The troll’s mines aren’t even that dangerous. It like how you wear gloves to handle your barbed-wire fencing.”
I fell to thinking about things. And went back over what Lori had told me about spells the first time she visited. And how she made me write out my stories to make a portal into other lands within the Faery Kingdom.
“Lori, how many writers do you have among your faery folk?”
She frowned at me. “Well, none. We have no need for books. Because we all have good memories and love to hear stories told at meetings. Storytellers are in high regard among us and sit in places of honor at any gathering.”
Then her face brightened. “The festival I love the best is the storytelling gathering. There was have our best storytellers try to out-do each other. Those go on for days. It’s often a draw about who is best at what — because they all have many talents. Some will draw the story out with twists and changes. Others can ‘squeeze emotion out of a stone’, as the saying goes. Many younger females are known to faint several times, just on the emotional context of those tellings.”
“And you feast during these storytelling gatherings?”
Her eyes opened wide and her smile became a grin. “Oh, that’s another ‘endless competition’ that goes on. All the best cooks and chefs bring their dishes. And receive high praise for the dishes that bring the most delight to the most people.”
I put my arm around her shoulder and began walking her out of the glen. “But what you said about reading the Midsummer’s Night Dream aloud being a portal to your world — that still holds?”
Lori nodded. “That’s one of the oldest practices — it even out-dates the play itself. Where did you think Shakespeare got the idea, anyway? That’s an old story from our own folk.”
I hugged her close, a smile on my face. “This is the trail back to my cabin, isn’t it? I think I have an idea for you…”
The population-dwindling of the Faery Kingdom started to reverse after that.
With a little research, they found a small human village that bordered a well-trafficked highway. An empty roadside store turned out to be an ideal place. They erected a simple marquee that allowed people driving by to see the current attraction. And they placed signs down the road to tell people how many miles ahead to that place.
They had plenty of volunteers from the faery folk, and could attract many former folk of their type to visit again. All good news for any startup.
The solution was a dinner-theater — two shows every night and a matinee on Saturday. Local schools could attend the practice in the afternoon for free.
And it was a success because of the stories and the food. Sure, they put on Shakespeare, but also put on other plays — just left the tragedies alone.
Some patrons recorded them and put them on social media with permission. Soon they had so much traffic that their little parking lot often filled to overflowing with the crowds.
Also they had lots of students and performers wanting to try-out to become part of the cast.
All the visitors there, faery and human alike, loved being transported and spelled as they sat for a performance.
Not too surprising, since for that short while, they were all in the Faery Kingdom. With their permission.
Because the name of the building and its motto, in bold letters across the front, and as printed on every menu and handout in scrolling letters:
“Welcome to the Faery Kingdom — ‘Regain hope all ye who enter here’.”
Originally published at Living Sensical.