FAIRY MUSIC An Original short story by Jim Red Fox
There once lived a beautiful young Mohawk maiden by the name of Buttercup. Her mother had died when she was born and her father had remarried. A year ago, her father died after a long sickness.
Her stepmother was very mean to the young girl. She made her work all the time. The stepmother never let her play with the other children of her tribe. Buttercup had to cook all the meals, skin the game, make all of the clothing, and more. She never had any time for herself. She was very sad for she missed her mother and father very much. The only time Buttercup really looked forward to was when she had to gather firewood.
Early one morning, her stepmother woke her to get up and gather some firewood. Buttercup got up slowly and started walking the path that would lead her up into the big forest. She was told by the elders of her tribe never to go very far from the path. If she did, she might get lost. A few girls did and never came back.
The sun was just now coming up over the mountains. It felt so nice on her face as she walked along the path. Soon she came to the edge of the bog forest. The trees were mostly pine trees and were very tall. Their branches were thick with pine needles. This kept most of the sunlight out. Here and there, Buttercup could see sunbeams shining through the branches. Continuing along the path, she soon came to a clear little stream. It was beginning to get hot now.
Buttercup thought to herself, “wouldn’t it be nice to sit on the river bank and put my feet in the cool water?” After taking off her moccasins, she sat down on the river bank with her back against a tall pine tree. Looking down into the clear water, she noticed little fish her people called pinheads swimming around her toes. Buttercup smiled as she watched them. It was so peaceful here in the forest. “how lucky these creatures are to live here,” she thought.
Buttercup wished she could also live here. She knew that her stepmother would send braves out into the forest looking for her. She remembered one time when a young girl by the name of Little Rabbit got lost in the forest. They looked for her for two days, but never found her. That was two years ago.
Sitting on the river bank with her head against the tree, Buttercup noticed a very beautiful butterfly. “How beautiful you are,” she sighed. When it came closer to Buttercup, she stood up. “If it would just land on my finger.”
She followed the butterfly as it fluttered around the trees. Buttercup didn’t realize it, but soon she was off the path. Deeper and deeper she chased the butterfly into the forest. Finally, she stopped and looked around. Buttercup knew what she had done. What really scared her was the fact that the sun was now setting behind the mountains. She cried as she covered her face with her hands.
“Wait,” she thought. “Were those people singing and playing music?” She tilted her head. “Yes, there it is again. Walking toward the music, it soon began to get louder. All of a sudden, she stopped. Up ahead she could see a little light coming from a hole in a big old tree stump. Slowly, Buttercup walked toward the light. Music was also coming from the stump.
Getting down on her knees, she looked into the tree stump. What she saw, she couldn’t believe. There inside the stump was a gathering of forest fairies. She had heard stories of them but didn’t believe them. There were male and female, young and old. All of them had wings on their backs and stood about three inches tall. The music came from a fairy band that played in the corner. None of the fairies saw Buttercup looking at them. She soon found a large door at the bottom of the stump. Buttercup pushed the door open and was able to stick just her head into the doorway. When the fairies saw her, they did not move or say anything. Finally, an old male fairy came forward. Buttercup thought he must be their leader.
“My name is Moonbeam, I am king of these forest fairies,” he said. “what is your name?”
“I am called Buttercup,” she said.
“Now that you know that we are here, what do you plan on doing about it?” Moonbeam asked.
“What do you mean?” Buttercup inquired.
“Are you going to tell anyone what you saw here?” he asked.
“How can I? I don’t even know where here is,” she replied. “I’m lost.”
Then she heard a little voice from the crowd say, “Buttercup, Buttercup, it’s me, Little Rabbit! Do you remember me, I’m from your tribe. I got lost in the forest two years ago and I found the fairies. They changed me into one of them. If you want, the king will change you, too. You can live with us in this beautiful forest and have many friends to play with,” Little Rabbit said.
Buttercup thought about her life with her mean stepmother. She knew this was her only chance to find happiness.
“O.K., I’ll do it! I wish to be a fairy like you!”
The fairy king reached into a bag that hung on his belt. He then sprinkled some fairy dust on Buttercup’s head. In an instant, Buttercup was changed into a beautiful fairy maiden. The next day, as she stood on a leaf next to her nw friend, Little Rabbit, they watched the braves from their village look for her. Little Rabbit said, “After a few days they will give up and never come back again.”
“Hey Buttercup, let’s go chase some butterflies. Try out your new wings”
Off they went, two new friends, looking for fun.
Remember, my friends, the next time you are walking along a path in the forest, keep your ears open for some fairy music. Who knows, you might find where the fairies dance!
The story originally appeared in the 2016 book, “Native American Short Stories, Book II” by Jim Red Fox and is reprinted with permission. The book, and others by the author, can be purchased online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among other book dealers.