This story was inspired by this painting Clever and I found during our DIY Writing Retreat and grew into a story that holds a meaning close to my heart. I hope you enjoy it!
I remember my mother’s face as they tore her wings off. Iridescent wings, fluttered in resistance as they were torn from her flesh. Her face was twisted in agony, lips peeled back from grinding teeth, eyes squinted as fresh tears rippled down her cheeks. The tool they used glowed sapphire and hummed with energy as it cauterized her wounds, and healed almost instantly what would have been horrific scars down her back. Once the gruesome act was finished, my mother’s tear-streaked face turned from agony to joy as she looked at the man she had just married. Her eyes still leaked opal-like tears and glimmered with love. That’s why she allowed this to happen. I knew that day I would never let my wings be taken, my ability to fly to be taken, not even for love.
It was a tradition in my realm, older than anyone can recall the start of, which is a long time considering a fairy typically lives for hundreds of years. If you chose a union with another, your wings were removed as a female. I always thought it was vile, a slight against female fairies. Why should we give up the power to be free? Why would we relinquish control to a male? I asked these questions so many times and had many talks with my mother. She always gushed over her husband and would play it off as she would do anything for him, and he would respond with a gentle kiss on her forehead and say how lucky he was.
I was a child then, only seven years old when they took her wings. My father had died long before I could have any memories of him, and whom I now call my father was a good man and I admired their love. He would take my mother flying whenever she asked, but not all were so lucky. If the marriage failed as a female you lost everything, you couldn’t travel on your own, provide for yourself, or even worse the male you married turned out to be a monster and there was no way out. It was blatantly a control tactic, I couldn’t understand how others couldn’t see it. My mother was a somewhat rare and positive example, but that would never be enough for me, to never be able to fly on my own, to give up my choice of freedom, a part of me. I wouldn’t let some old tradition based on old beliefs dictate my body. I used to ponder what if I found love, what if I wanted to commit myself to someone? But, I decided if that love were true they wouldn’t want me to lose my wings either.
I pushed my feet off of the ground and fluttered my shimmering pink wings, lifting myself quickly. Within seconds the wind was whipping my pastel hair, and filling my wings with a euphoric strength. The world below shrank until nothing but blue sky and clouds surrounded me, this was freedom. Another marriage had taken place, another female lost her wings. I felt the need to flee, the world feeling especially small and suffocating, and my only escape was flight. I let silent tears stream down my face, the droplets quickly dispersing into the sky becoming a part of the clouds around me. I felt a swelling pain of grief in my chest. I flew farther and longer than ever before, letting the sky take me far away.
My wings were beginning to strain from what felt like hours of flying, so I decided to descend and see if there was a place I could rest. Suddenly I saw a tree piercing through the clouds, I blinked for a moment, I was still so high up I couldn’t fathom a tree being that tall. But it was there. I hesitantly approached the tree, and as I got closer the tree grew larger. It had to be at least the size of a small town, and it was floating in the sky. Lush green leaves flourished, and I could see a large waterfall in the center of the twisted trunk. I decided to investigate further.
The tree was the most beautiful sight I had ever laid my eyes upon. I could hear the rush of the waterfall, feel the mist on my skin, and there were many nooks nestled into the tree where small living quarters were made. I saw fellow fairies buzzing around the tree, some gathering water at the base of the waterfall where it settled into a clear lake, mossy rocks and vines circling it. I gently landed far enough to not startle anyone, but close enough to take in the world I just entered.
“Well hello!” A melodic voice spoke.
I turned to my left where the sound came from and a gorgeous fairy with mint-colored hair was facing me. Her lush lavender lips were pursed into a thoughtful smile.
“Well met, I am sorry if I’m intruding, I was flying and stumbled across your-“
She held up her hand and beamed at me. “No need to apologize, all are welcome here!”
I returned her smile and asked, “How long has this place existed?” My eyes beaming with excitement.
“A long time.” She giggled and flipped her long hair over her angled shoulders. “I can show you around if you would like!”
I nodded vigorously and she giggled again.
“We call this place Yggdrasil, a homage to the tree of life. Most of us have lived here for years, but all of us have come from Eryndylia.” Her voice hung on that last word.
“That is where I reside…” I trailed off, not sure exactly what else to say.
“It’s okay.” She reassured me. “There is nothing wrong with that, plus you probably didn’t know anywhere else existed.” She giggled again, I was beginning to love the sound of it.
“Why did the fairies here leave Eryndylia?” I asked, although I already knew the answer.
“We wanted our freedom, the freedom of love and our bodies.” Her deep violet eyes met mine as if she was searching for my thoughts.
“Honestly, that’s what I have been struggling with. I can’t bear to witness another fairy losing her wings under the guise of love.” Her eyes lit up in understanding my words.
“Yggdrasil heard your struggles and your grief, she brought you here.” Her voice was soft, like a gentle breeze of comfort.
I took a deep breath as we continued down a branch tunneled pathway, inhaling the sweet fresh air, and I felt at peace.
“Are you hungry?” She asked with a tilted head and wide smile.
“Now that you mention it, I am starving.” I let out a laugh.
“Follow me!” She flapped her lavender and mint wings and was high above me in seconds.
I followed her through the air, winding through branches and waving at other fairies perched on them. They were all so joyful, and carefree. We gently touched down on a thick branch, and just within reach were plump fuzzy fruits, she jerked one free and tossed it to me. I hungrily took a bite, the sweet taste was like nothing I’d ever experienced.
“This is incredible!” I said with a still-filled mouth, and the juices dribbled down my chin.
She giggled again and hopped gracefully towards me, her soft fingers wiped the juices away and I felt a flutter in my stomach.
“I’ll get you some fresh water.” She sang and dove off of the branch, leaving me with newfound food and emotions.
Upon her return, she had a leaf-stitched pouch brimming with water. I took a swig of the crisp liquid as she spoke.
“The waterfall supplies us with endless fresh water, and the branches supply us with all the food we need.”
“This place is a sanctuary, I’ve never felt so at peace.”
“You’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like, you know.” Her lips curled up into a shy smile, and her eyes wouldn’t meet my own.
“I think I would like that,” I spoke confidently.
Her cheeks darkened at my words, and the fluttering in my stomach returned.
“There is a meeting tonight, surrounding the topic of why you fled, you could introduce yourself to everyone if you feel up to it.”
I nodded at her as I continued to eat.
“What is your name?” I asked, suddenly realizing I hadn’t yet.
“Elenya, what’s yours?”
“Elenya.” I repeated “That’s beautiful. I am Ithil.” I couldn’t help but smile, I wanted to stay here forever.
What will happen at the meeting? Will Ithil overcome the conflict of leaving her family to follow her beliefs? Click here to find out!
Thank you so much for reading!