I snuggled in my cozy bed enjoying the warm sunshine. Pots and pans rattled in the kitchen and filtered up through the wooden grate in the floor. The smell of sausages, toast, and eggs made my stomach growl.
I turned my attention to a small tinkling near my head. I looked up to see Pip, as we called her. We had found Pip in the garden a few weeks ago after a violent storm. She had been huddled in the Hollyhocks close to the kitchen door. Pip was such a tiny little creature, no bigger than my thumb. Her clothes and wings had been torn. Mama had nursed her back to health and her wings were getting stronger. Pip still had no memory of how she got here or where she was from.
I smiled and tossed back my burgundy duvet eager to start another day full of adventures. I stood on my tiptoes while I brushed my waist-length reddish-blond hair. I took an elastic off my wrist and swooped it back into an unruly ponytail. I was only three feet tall and only came up to Mama’s shoulder. Would I ever grow? I tossed my hairbrush onto the dresser after I pulled on shorts and a T-shirt. I climbed down the ladder into the cozy old-fashioned kitchen.
“Good morning sleepyhead,” Mama said.
I had just sat on the smooth wooden bench behind the oak table when Papa came inside. “Gloria, what are your plans for today?”
“Possibly go down to the creek to practice my flute. I am learning a new song,” I answered as I helped myself to eggs, toast, and sausages.
“Well mind you don’t go further than the creek. The woods can be dangerous,” Papa said as he poured a cup of coffee.
“Yes, Papa,” I answered. “I like to hang out in my special spot in the old oak tree.”
We broke our fast in companionable silence. Mama had prepared a thimble of food for Pip after she gave her a new suit of clothing.
“Thank you,” Pip tinkled as she held up tiny jeans, sandals, and shirt all in lavender. “Love them.” She flew into the sewing room to change and then hovered in front of the hall mirror. Her eyes glittered with mischief when she flew across the room to land on my shoulder.
I helped myself to another piece of toast and slathered it with peanut butter. I stabbed a sausage with my fork while I watched Pip flutter her wings. “What’s up?”
“Take me along,” Pip said in her tinkly voice. ” I remember coming across the creek with my sisters. We were separated when the wind picked up. Our home was deep in the forest.”
“You heard Papa. He said it was too dangerous to enter the woods.” I whispered when Pipa landed on my shoulder. “Even for you.”
Pip pouted while she looked around the room. A tear landed on the table. “When I am sad, I lose a few of my powers.”
“Happy thoughts, then,” I said. “I will play a happy song on my flute.”
I reached behind me and took my flute case off the sideboard. I took my flute out and put it to my lips. I started to play a song that I knew from early childhood. Before long Pip was dancing on the table to the beat of the song. My toes tapped on the wooden floor. “There do you feel better?”
“Much,” Pip continued to dance and hum the happy song,” I will remember that song when I feel sad.”
When the dishes were washed and put away, I picked up my flute case. Pip landed on my shoulder before slipping into my shirt pocket.
We set off across the lush green lawn towards the creek that snaked its way through the rolling hills. Pip had her head stuck out and made me stop at each fairy garden and rearrange the rocks and little dwellings. When each one was done to her satisfaction, we continued. She tapped me on the cheek and made me stop and listen to the little birds that sang in the nearby bushes. She hid her head when we neared the creek bank where willow trees flourished.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Don’t know. I sense danger nearby,” Pip whispered.
“We will have to ask Mama and Papa to investigate,” I answered as I followed the bank towards my special spot. “My spot is safe. The storm didn’t hurt the oak tree. Mama said the oak was magical and would protect me.”
Pip quivered in my pocket. Gradually she calmed down and peeked over the brim of my pocket. “something looks familiar.”
We approached the old oak tree with a large hole in the bottom. I had planted ivy and different vines inside and covered the floor with moss. It was a cozy safe place where I could play my flute undisturbed. I put my flute to my lips and started to play a gay tune. I had only been playing for a short while when rabbits in every shape, size, and color gathered around the opening. They sat in a semi-circle listening. When Pip popped out of my pocket to look around one of the little bunnies started to jump up and down.
Pip climbed onto my shoulder and hide in my thick curly hair. Then the little bunny spoke “Fifi, where have you been? Everyone is worried. Why are you dressed so strangely?”
That was the first time the bunnies had spoken so that I could understand them. This spot was indeed magical. Maybe it wasn’t just my flute, after all.
I put my flute down when Pip or Fifi as the bunny had called her whispered in my ear. “The bunnies are my friends and help me with all the fairy gardens.”
The bunnies crowded around. The tiny bunny squeaked, “Play some more songs.”
“Why do you call Pip Fifi?” I asked.
“Fifi and her sisters disappeared from the fairy village a few days ago,” the bunny whispered.
“We found her huddled among our hollyhocks earlier this week. there had been a bad storm the night before. She was wet, cold, and frightened. Her clothes were ton into shreds. Mama made her new ones.”
“My sisters are Pipa and Holly-Cakes. We were picking daisies to make chains when a strong wind came up. The next thing I knew I was near a little cottage surrounded by hollyhocks and other flowers. I couldn’t remember how I got there or who I was. When you started to call me Pip it sounded natural.” Fifi answered as she peeked out shyly.
“We think an evil witch put a spell on you and your sisters. Pipa and Holly-Cakes made it back to the village safely, but they didn’t know what happened to you,” the little bunny squeaked.
“Is it safe to return?” Fifi asked.
“Stay with your new friends. A messenger will be sent to the Queen. See the robin has been listening and has started her journey deep into the forest. Now, will you play more tunes? Your flute must be magical. It brought us to you and Fifi,” the bunny said.
“I don’t usually hear what you say,” I answered as I picked up my flute to begin playing.
“You have been given the gift to understand animals,” the bunny answered.
I played until my fingers tingled and my lips became numb. Then I heard Papa ring the dinner bell. I put my flute away and straightened my stiff legs. “We have to go. Papa is letting me know dinner is ready. We live in a little cottage on top of the hill. Let us know if it’s safe for Fifi to go home. She is welcome to stay with us. We love her.”
When Fifi and I returned to the cottage for a meal of salad, soup, and sandwiches I told Mama and Papa what we had learned. “That explains why Fifi always wants to tidy the fairy gardens. We must wait to hear from the Fairy Queen. There could be evil lurking. Fifi could be in grave danger.” Mama said.
“Why would anyone want to hurt her?” I asked as I helped myself to a grilled cheese sandwich.
“The hunters are getting closer to our village. There are also woodchoppers cutting down the animal’s homes. Some birds and animals have lost their homes,” Fifi said. “Our Queen has been putting spells on the surrounding forest. Humans are starting to be afraid to enter. Only special ones are allowed a safe journey through our domain. Someone is trying to counteract the spell and make it safe once again for humans to travel through the forest.” Fifi answered as she took a dainty sandwich off her tiny saucer.
“Hopefully you will be safe here,” Mama said when she placed cookies on the table.
“My sisters and I were sent out to put a magical spell on your home. You have been good friends,” Fifi said while she sipped her thimble of tomato soup.
“Do you think you were successful?” Papa asked as he rubbed his round belly.
“Yes. A spell was put on Gloria’s flute. Every time she plays the spell of love, peace and joy surround her.” Fifi answered. “Gloria was also given the ability to hear what the little animals are saying. I am supposed to stay here until further notice. The robins and bunnies will let me know when it is safe to return home. I can feel my magic returning and can start putting a magic circle around your home.”