Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Suggestion Box, Vol. 3: "One Thousand Words" List #6

"... [T]he day she learned of the Rift contained in the forest behind her house..."
Suggested by: R. R. Virdi

The List:
title: the faeries keeper
a name: Gorman (dont ask me why...)
a place: enchanted forest behind a little old ladies house
a time: 11:11 at night under a blanket of stars, in modern day today
An object: The half moon and full sun ear rings the old lady which the house belongs to, is wearing

The Result:
The Faeries' Keeper

Agnes Gorman sighed as she settled into her weathered old rocker on the back porch after supper that night. The summer season was at her zenith, and the air hung warm under the blanket of stars. Sixty years she had taken up her post, faithfully whiling away the night hours till the bells chimed and she could return to bed. Sixty long years of waiting—for what? Agnes could hardly remember anymore; at eighty-one her mind was not as spry as it had been at twenty-one. The important fact of the matter was that she watched the Rift carefully, and if anything were to happen, she had a message to deliver. Agnes fingered her birthday earrings nervously. The wide discs depicting a half moon cradling the full sun hung heavy on her lobes, but wearing them was part of her responsibility.

They were a gift on her twenty-first birthday, the day she learned of the Rift contained in the forest behind her house. She had gone drinking with a group of friends, and come back heady with the success of finally achieving adulthood (and buzzing with alcohol). In the midst of a rather tipsy attempt at “sneaking” into the back door, Agnes had caught the sound of light chimes coming from the trees. Stumbling over to the bridge at the back of the yard, she stared as the sound seemed to emanate from silvery bell-shaped flowers dangling from tall green stems. Among those flowers lay a box, tied in ribbon and bearing her name. Agnes opened the box and found the earrings, accompanied by a letter detailing the duties she was now expected to fulfill.
Her parents didn’t seem to know anything about any fairy realm, but every time Agnes attempted to ignore the duty, little things happened: objects moved or went missing, wilted flowers sprang back to life overnight—and most of all, every attempt at getting rid of the earrings only resulted in their immediate return. When her parents eventually passed away, Agnes had attempted to sell the little house, but could never manage it. It would seem circumstances conspired against her—or could it be the fairies?

Agnes stirred as a stiff wind swelled around her, tossing the treetops to and fro. Something was happening—she looked toward the Rift.
For the first time since she’d begun watching it, the shadows seemed to ripple before her eyes. A bright beam of light streaked down, as bright as a lightning bolt, and Agnes cringed and put up a hand to shield her eyes. When the light disappeared, two figures emerged from the thicket. One was a man, tall and lean, following a small brownish figure less than two feet high.
Agnes stumbled to her feet. It finally happened! This was the moment she had been waiting for! A human and a Wood Sprite traveling together—they could have only come through the Rift! Agnes noted the time on her watch: eleven minutes after eleven o’clock. Right on cue, the silver bells rang, and the wind died as the Rift closed again. The two strangers still hesitated; very likely they had only just noticed the little old lady standing on the porch staring at them.

“Hello,” Agnes called. She waved them forward. “Come in; I have been waiting for you.”

She did not hesitate, but turned immediately to totter her way into the house. She made straight for the antique roll-top desk where she had kept the box and the strange letter safe. By the time she had retrieved the precious paper, her two guests had entered the house.
The man stepped forward, extending his hand.
“Hello, I’m Ken—“
“Shush!” Agnes waved his hand away. She pointed to the sofa in the living room. “Sit!” she commanded. Her hands trembled as she unfolded the paper and fumbled for her glasses to read the slanting, faded handwriting.
The man obeyed silently, and the Wood Sprite scrambled up to sit next to him. They watched Agnes carefully.

The elderly woman skimmed through the beginning part talking about the grand legacy she had been granted, arriving at last upon the words she needed to say.
“Greetings,” she quoted. “I am Agnes Gorman, the Keeper of the Fairy Rift. You have come seeking Y Rhoddion?” She lifted her eyes to peer at him over her spectacles.
The man recognized this as a signal that he may now speak. He coughed awkwardly. “Um, er—yes… I think. My name is Kenneth, and the Wood Sprite and I are looking for something called the Collar of Cuimhne.”
Agnes glanced at the small creature sitting next to Kenneth. “Nakoma has guided you well,” she read from the letter. “I am to give you aid in whatever way I can, even to offering you shelter in my own house—“
“Oh, that’s really not necessary,” Ken interrupted, glancing around. “I see that you’re very busy, we can just go back—“
“Until such a time as the Rift opens again.” Agnes set the letter aside. There was a bit more, but that wouldn‘t come till later.
“Please,” Nakoma the Wood Sprite spoke up. Her accent sounded thick, as one whose native language was something other than English. She hopped down to the floor and looked up at Agnes. “What you know of the Collar of Cuimhne?”
Ah, here it was. Agnes picked up the letter and read the riddle recorded at the bottom:

“The one who needs it doesn’t want it,
the one who wants it doesn’t need it;
The one who has it cannot use it,
the one who will use it cannot have it.”

“What the heck is that supposed to mean?” Ken demanded.
Agnes finally laid the letter aside. “Your guess is as good as mine, sonny,” she muttered. “I didn’t write the words, I only had to say them.”
“But how does that even help us?” he complained.
Agnes shrugged. “To be honest, I’ve spent the last sixty years wondering what ‘it’ was. Don’t shoot the messenger.”

Ken stood up. “Well, thanks anyway; we’ll just be going—“
“Wait,” Agnes put out a hand to stop him. “You can’t leave; you must stay here, the letter says so.” She pointed to the paper she’d dropped onto the desk.
Ken squinted at it. “I don’t believe this; you’re saying that somebody sixty years ago knew that something like this would happen?”

“I’m saying that there is a plan to all that is going on, and we cannot know all the pieces. Now, it’s late, and I don’t know about you, but I am dog-tired. I’m going to bed, and then tomorrow morning we can figure out the mystery together. Or,” she placed a hand on her hip and stared at him sternly. “You can leave now and take your chances.”

Kenneth studied her for a long moment before he finally broke down and sighed. “Very well. Where is the guest room?”
Agnes relaxed into a smile. “The whole downstairs is a small apartment: Kitchenette, bedroom, open space. You are free to set up down there.”
Kenneth nodded and walked toward the stairs, Nakoma in tow.

“Kenneth,” Agnes said abruptly.
He stopped. “Yes?”
She tilted her head and studied him. “Where did you two come from, by the way?”

Kenneth wagged his head, “I was part of a group searching for a mythological Druid Circle on an uninhabited forest island off the coast of Ireland.” His eyes dipped to the little sprite at his side. “I guess I found it.”

“Oh,” Agnes replied. “Good night.”
The three slept soundly, little knowing what the morning would bring.

Previously in This Series:
#5 "Soul Mates" (Part 2)
#4 "Inside The Impact Zone"
#3 "Soul Mates" (Part 1)
#2 "The Artist's Wife"
#1 "Red of Morning"