Episode One: A Shot in the Dark
Growing up, we were taught that each fairy was unique, with their own set of magical qualities that would form themselves over time. It wasn’t for us to worry or wonder about their existence, that fact was sure as the sun would rise. We weren’t to force it, or go out searching. We would go out every day into nature and we would sit. For hours, sometimes doing nothing but dancing around with the trees, learning to play and to listen to the million voices whispering through them in a breeze.
At first, it sounded like nothing. I remember my mentors, laughing at things we couldn’t hear or see, and growing excited that someday we were bound by nature to follow suit and be where they were… Too laugh and dance along with them came naturally for fairy folk.
I will never forget the final moments I’d spent in that world. The moment my Guardian Maximus realized I was to take his place, he gave me no time at all to adjust or gather me under his wing for instruction. I was simply thrown from the nest, in a flash of light.
It all began on a day where I was experiencing an abnormal amount of discomfort. On this day, my mind was playing tricks on me, telling me things that made me feel uneasy, reminding me that I hadn’t been chosen by Mother.
Every day, another of my peers would claim they had heard her voice speaking to them, felt her touch in beautiful, imaginative some way by Mother… and I hadn’t felt or heard a single thing!
I would soon be the only one who hadn’t heard the true voice of the trees before long.
The thought terrified me, which scared me even more since I’d never experienced its expression. I didn’t know what terror was at first because, well… Color me soft, but they hadn’t taught us about that emotion in fairy school. Imagine never feeling fear, only experiencing hope and excitement, expectation that someday it would all make sense. And then one day, unexpectedly there he is, an unwelcome house guest posting up in the pit of your stomach. It caused me to fidget, it held my attention hostage as the others looked attentively, listening to our mentors every word as he described some wonderful expectation he had for each of us… Then suddenly, I couldn’t have heard Mother through Fears loud, ugly projections even if she had tried to talk to me.
Maximus watched me, baffled by my shifting feet and downcast eyes. When he finished his introduction to the new day the others burst into excited stories among themselves. He waited for the other fairies to move away from us and toward the enchanting forest before making his way toward me, though I didn’t notice through my inner calculations.
I was sitting on a frown, holding it captive over my face. I would hold it hostage until the fear tearing through my belly agreed to dismantle and leave me.
But he didn’t. Instead, he reminded me of the amazing stories the wind was telling my peers, the playful jokes shared between them.
I felt Mother was deliberately ignoring me, and the thought made me look at myself differently. I didn’t appreciate the weakened viewpoint. I felt sad and left out. Like I had been specifically singled out and chosen to be in the last place when I thought I’d done everything I possibly could to hear what might be being said to me…
On this particular day, after the other fairies had pranced their merry ways into the forest, I remained behind, listening to their joyful shouting over what they were expecting to find in the day to follow.
Time has passed since then, but I still remember the forest surrounding the large rotunda fairy circle seeming, for the first time, daunting and unfamiliar.
I can’t go back in there again… If I do, and nothing happens, they will think I am not a true fairy.
I remember taking a step forward under the tyranny of that thought and feeling braver and more terrified than I ever had. Fear might cripple me, but it certainly won’t stop me.
I closed my eyes.
“Little one, you seem troubled.” I looked up quickly, to find my guardian looming above me. A glimmer of understanding reached out from his eyes. I’d felt inclined to tell him everything, so when Maximus asked me what the matter was, why I hadn’t run off with the other imps to find myself.
For the first time in my life, I experience a terrifying burn at the corners of my eyes. It hurt, they felt as though they were burning in my sockets. I had looked into the surprised expression of my mentor and the burn had deepened. I felt I was holding onto a horrible secret that I couldn’t keep from him.
That was when a new form of the same feeling had taken over. A deeper burn penetrated as the fear took hold of my heart. It rose to my cheeks and made my face feel hot.
I felt like a thousand small judgments had rushed in to sting me. Little daggers of silent accusations over the irrational reactions I was experiencing. I felt them being hurled between my heart and my mind, each one driving the misery deeper. I couldn’t stop it all, and so I was left to think through the burning.
‘This is why mother won’t speak to me over the breeze. This is why I can’t hear her.’
“Maybe I’m not a true fairy after all… might as well fess up now, before he realizes for himself that you are a fraud.”
So I had… I told Maximus everything, right there in the middle of our natural classroom, our common gathering hall in the middle of an outdoor playground extending endlessly in all directions. The enchanted gardens and forest of the fairy realm were more beautiful than the whispers we fed to various beings along the way.
Something to inspire them to try to fly, to try to explore, to find the Edens we talked about.
Waiting for each generation to show promise that they were ready to see the beauty that we grew up with. For generations… That’s a different story completely.
In all of that beauty, I found nothing wonderful, fear had made me blind to the enchantment of it all.
I focused hard on the drifting memory of my younger years, it was a favorite meditation of mine and I tried to find it at least once a week in my ‘happy place’ as a reminder of what it must feel like for a teenage girl to get their first period. Or a boy his first accidental erection in public. Or fired from a job you did your best for… Or a rejection letter from someplace you thought would be good enough for you, only to find you didn’t meet their requirements.
The memory solidified through my thoughts once more. I had spilled my heart to my mentor. I feel like a volcano erupting, as these foreign droplets are escalating from beneath my eyes. I can’t keep the words and sounds from leaving my lips in vomitous repetition, spewing their heat and volume into the space between the two of us.
Then, Maximus did a funny thing…
His eyes began to shine and glimmer… Then glow. He took a small vile from the leather pouch at his waist and gathered the warm droplets spilling over my cheeks.
I had finished and fallen into an exhausted pile at his feet. After a few large breaths, I reflected on my state and found I didn’t care suddenly. I didn’t care that I had nearly exploded into pieces around us both. I didn’t care that I had no idea what had just happened. I could only care about sleep.
When I woke I found it was dark, I was covered in a soft blanket of glowing light bugs, I didn’t move. I didn’t want to stir them from their places, and the warm wave of blinking lights made me feel deliciously surrounded in comfort.
‘My precious little Beckett, I think we have found your special magic.”
His words had puzzled me.
“Did you listen to a single thing I said?” I remember how unsure I had felt, what if my words had betrayed me in the same fashion as my body?
“I heard every word of it.” He walked into the light cast by the glow bugs, the pattern disintegrated into a chaotic flurry as I lifted myself from the ground. A smile shone, and his eyes twinkled in the soft blinking.
“Beckett, I am going to tell you a secret. Now, this secret belongs to you.” He warned.
“You can do with it whatever you want, but I will tell you now, as your Guardian.” Maximus reached out for my hands and held tight to relay the importance. With it came a thousand pictures. beautiful memories, beautiful experiences, things I would see, things I would do, people I would meet.
Some of them I didn’t understand. Others I’d never seen before, there were some that seemed frozen in a distant time, as if undecided. It was in that moment that I felt truly alive.
A rush of beautifully illuminated wind rushed in from the trees as they scooped up the moonlight from above and swept it down to swirl around us both and congratulate me for passing some test I hadn’t even realized I was taking.
When the wonderful madness calmed, and the forest went still once more, I looked around us and found the Light Bugs were scattered at all ends of the open arena. The dark grass sat serenely still while the trees seemed to bow their respects upon delivering their flurry of excitement while dancing with the moonbeams.
“Beckett, what you have is special. But it is different. There are not many of your kind.” He continued thoughtfully, I could hear the weight of what he held for me carrying over his voice.
“You now have a choice. Do you want to go on living in Faery Veil with the rest of us, or do you accept the secret I’ve been told to pass you while you slept?”
“I have a choice?” He nodded wisely.
That was the first moment I truly understood the weight of secrets. They often leave one lonely… I hadn’t met loneliness until everyone else was talking and sharing and laughing over their meetings with the mother in person. Was that the reason I so desperately wanted to know the secret? Because it would mean the mother had spoken to me after all?
But she hadn’t, she’d spoken to Maximus, directing him to tell it to me… I had still felt a moment of betrayal that to this day reminds me of the importance of my mission.
I thought of the comfort of knowing nothing different from the others, just going about life as a fairy of our class would. I pictured not accepting the secret and saw nothing but the growing look of exhaustion gathering at my Guardians eyes… the secret he is holding doesn’t belong to him… it will extinguish his light.
“I want to know the secret..”
The old Fairy Guardian had smiled warmly at me. I pictured us now, in my mind and it looked a lot like magic. I saw us looking into each others eyes and sharing the burden of knowing. The moment that would define the rest of my eternal life was spoken in a single sentence.
“None of them really heard Mother in the wind.” A slow smile appeared over the mature face. It had taken me a moment to process what he was insinuating.
“You mean… They… made it up??” My rage would have lead me tearing back to the treetop forts to find and punish each for the pain they had caused me.
“That is the secret Beckett.” He looked up at the treetops.
“Sometimes we wish for something so much and desire it so much that we trick ourselves into believing something that isn’t in order to not face the potential of it not actually being.” He had watched me for a long pause. Waiting for me to react, but I had nothing to say right away. I was busy wrapping myself in this new piece of information.
“And then there are those of Us.” Maximus had emphasized us, making me very aware that my secret, had also been his secret to bare. I could see the care lifting from his face. He seemed much younger, much more as you would imagine a fairy to be.
“We who see through the veil, Beck, you know you cannot stay here now, your magic is needed elsewhere.”
The moon seemed to find his face for the first time and he rose softly from the ground, twirling in his weightlessness for a moment as the glow filled his face and began slowly filtering through the rest of his body.
“You must go to the humans,” His voice took on an echoing authoritative tone. “The guardians have left them, it is fairies, creatures of all kind, like us, who will decide their fate.”
I blinked in the brilliance, suddenly my eyes didn’t seem to adjust to the light as it did to the darkness.
“How?! I’ve never seen a human, I don’t even know what that is!” I could hear the desperation building in my trembling question.
“It will find you Beck. Your fate will find you, be open, look for their goodness and you will be surprised with greatness. Look for their bad, and it will consume you along with the secrets you bare for your Kin.”
“What happens if I lose it?”
“They too will be lost.” There was foreboding in his deepening voice.
“They will die?” The weight of the secret drew my shoulders closer to the cool blades, I could feel them shifting in the night air, tickling my face.
Sitting on the illuminated grass, for the first time, closing my eyes against the light…
That was when I’d first, truly become acquainted with Darkness.
He surrounded and comforted me, promising to protect me, to never leave me. I held something inside of me that required sanctuary. I had been reduced to a container and everything that had given me substance before that day had so quickly flittered away with the veil of illusion being lifted from my eyes.
“There are worse things than death Beckett.”
The brightness suddenly felt unbearable. I wasn’t strong enough to be with my peers, I knew that… It was only natural that I leave. Some part of me knew that if I release this new knowledge to those affected unwittingly by it… would lead to something I wasn’t willing to be the cause of. I’d fallen to my knees and balled my fists over my sockets.
“Don’t let it break you Beck, you are strong enough to stand without the comfort of absolutes, you are brave enough to face fear and scrutiny, now you must begin at the bottom, as I did… The humans need you, they will help you if you guide them, you will never meet more loyal companions if you show them compassion and remind them to play, they will never leave your side. Remind them of their best give them hope, give ’em hell! you will report back to Rickets in one hundred years, and every hundred after that.”
I couldn’t look up at the blinding light. I could now feel it all around me.
“But how will I know what to do? HOW WILL I KNOW WHERE TO GO?” I yelled into the wind.
I had released Maximus of his bonds to this realm… of course, he would be moving along while I readied for a plunge into some unknown fate. So I listened… And I listened hard. This was the last piece of information I would ever gather from my mentor before we both disappeared.