little forest

the fairy queen

Some called her Lan, the fairy queen. When the afternoon sun was high in the sky, and the breeze's song hit just the right lilting notes, you could see her opalescent form dancing around the trees, followed by hundreds of lesser spirits.

Spirits of whom? The children, of course.

The war had left so many dead, and Lan couldn't bear the thought of their lonely souls, lost in the darkness forever. So she made them into beautiful beings of light who would never cease to shine. Together, they ran through the hollowed forests, playing amidst the charred tree trunks and toppled stones.

It was almost like a real life.

Yet sometimes, the children would ask questions:

"Where am I, Mother?" they would say, and their pupils would grow so large as they stared the fairy queen in her face, and they would well up with tears when the fairy queen turned away. But she didn't want them to cry either.

"In a nice place," she would reply. "In the place where things don't have to hurt anymore."

But there was always the odd one. The child with brighter eyes than the rest, the child with a face that was painted with the hues of curiosity and truth - and when Lan saw these children, something inside of her ached. It felt as if that something would break.

"Why did things hurt before?" they would ask, crossing their legs as they sat atop a large stone.

"Because things were bad," Lan would whisper hoarsely. "War does these things to people."

"Why do people fight wars, Mother?"

To that question, Lan never had an answer. In all of her infinite wisdom, she knew only how to find it:

The day she became tired of the children, the day that their radiant faces no longer made her happy, Lan would know it was time. Standing at the base of a leafless tree, she would pluck the dainty foxglove crown from her head and place it at its roots. And with a prayer to the children of the earth, of past, future, and present, she would reach deep within her crown to extract the lovely powder within. To help her sleep.

When she too, became one of the lesser child spirits that once followed the fairy queen - it was then, Lan guessed, that she would truly understand why they started the war. Why things were bad. And why things, until then, had hurt so much, as if they would break everything she loved most.