Patient didn’t see anyone in the pansies. She didn’t see anyone in the lilies either. But when she looked behind the lavender bush, a little face popped out and smiled at her. It fluttered into the air for a moment and then the tiny, beautiful creature it belonged to settled in front of Patient and said, “Hello.”
It was the same sweet voice that had woken her. Patient stared at the little creature’s tiny feet, covered in shoes made from sunflower seeds. It wore a dress of flower petals, and an acorn cap on its head. Two shimmering blue wings fluttered at its sides. Patient had never seen anything like it before. It was too soft to be a dragonfly. Not quite soft enough for a butterfly.
“What are you?” Patient asked.
“A fairy,” the creature giggled. “My name is Annika.”
“Oh,” Patient said. It was hard to keep her eyes on Annika. The fairy fluttered all around while she talked, never holding still.
“I’m glad you woke up,” Annika said. “I’ve been waiting for the longest time to talk to you.”
“Yes. I wanted to ask you. Are you magical?”
Nobody had ever asked Patient if she was magical before. She had to think about it. Was she magical? She had a lovely brown shell that kept her dry when it rained and gave her the perfect place to sleep when the moon came out. Her skin was slippery soft, and when she glided slowly from leaf to leaf it left a shimmering trail of silver behind her. With all of these wonderful things she could do, she must be magical.
“Yes,” she told Annika. “I think so.”
“I knew it,” said Annika, clapping her hands together and laughing. Then she buzzed right up to Patient’s ear and whispered, “I need some magic.”
“Why?” asked Patient, turning her head to look at Annika, who had already fluttered to a new spot.
“Because I lost mine. And I can’t get back home without it."
“Oh,” said Patient. Now she was worried. She didn’t know where her magic was, either. “What does it look like?” she asked Annika.
Annika giggled. “Magic doesn’t look like anything, silly. It comes from inside you.”
Patient didn’t understand. How could it come from inside? “You mean like happiness?” she asked.
“Yes!” Annika said. “And love.”
“How did you lose yours?” Patient asked.
For once, Annika’s blue wings stopped fluttering. They drooped to her sides. Annika fell softly onto the dirt and sat down on a pebble near Patient.
“I think it’s because I got scared.”
Patient could understand that. She knew what it was like to be scared. Whenever the shadow of a bird passed overhead she tucked herself tightly into her shell and shivered. And once, a garden snake had slithered close to her home, frightening her so badly that she had cried.
“What did you get scared of?” Patient asked. “A snake?”
“No. Not a snake. I got scared of falling.”
“When I get scared,” Patient said. “I tuck inside my shell. Or I hide under a rock until I’m not afraid anymore.”
Patient was surprised to see a tiny tear, the size of a dew drop, trickle down Annika’s cheek. “If I hide under a rock I’ll never get home,” she said. “I have to fly to get back to Fairyland. But every time I try, I get scared of falling and my magic goes away.”
This was a problem. Patient wondered how she could help her new friend get home. She thought and thought. Finally, just like a dandelion seed floats through the air on a summer day, an idea floated into Patient’s mind. “I will share my magic with you!” she said.
“You will?” asked Annika, jumping up from the pebble.
“Yes!” Patient said. “I will go with you to fairy land. When you start to get scared, I will be brave and my magic will keep us from falling.”
A worried frown crossed Annika’s face. “But you can’t fly.”
“No,” said Patient. “You’ll carry me. My shell looks heavy, but it is as light as a pea pod.”
Annika wasn’t much bigger than Patient, but she bent down and pulled on Patient’s shell. “You’re right! You aren’t heavy at all!”
Holding Patient in her arms, Annika spread her blue wings wide and sailed up into the sky. They raced past a bumblebee, drinking nectar from a patch of clover. “Hello!” Patient called to the bee. She couldn’t help but giggle. She was used to sliding so slowly across the ground. It was fun to go fast.
When they passed under the dark shadow of a tree, Annika began to totter, her wings sputtering, spinning them both lopsided. “I’m going to fall!” she cried.
“No you’re not,” Patient called. “You’re doing great!”
Annika listened to Patient and straightened her wings. The magic was working. “We’re almost there!” she said.
Ahead a rainbow stretched across the sky. Annika flew straight through it. On the other side, Patient discovered a world full of beauty and magic. A trickling waterfall tumbled down from a tall green tree, and all around there were colorful flowers, dotted mushrooms, and smooth pebbles. Fairies were everywhere, flying, dancing and singing.
“Annika! You made it home!” the fairies called.
“Yes! Because of Patient.”
The fairies fluttered around Patient, saying hello, touching her smooth shell, smiling and laughing. Patient had never had so many friends before.
Annika set Patient on the ground next to a pink dahlia. “Thank you for sharing your magic with me, Patient. What can I do to repay you?”
Patient looked around at all the pretty fairies, the magical waterfall, and the flowers. “You don’t have to repay me. But this is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Would it be alright if I stayed here with you for awhile?”
“Oh, Patient,” Annika said with a giggle. “You can stay here forever.”
And that’s just what Patient did.
story by Janessa Ransom