Writing this was like bathing in a wetsuit. Usually, an “if-then” scenario occurs to me. That’s the fabled moment of inspiration. So I write the story it creates. But I was thinking that all my stories are maudlin, and I would like to write a happy story. So, without any inspiration, I took a few happy elements and manufactured them into a silly story. I’ve even less idea than usual of whether it’s good or not. It was very hard. Enjoy.
She was blue as a smurf and didn’t know why. She’d woken up that way. The first thing she did was take a picture and post it on instagram. The second thing she did was google “turning blue disease.” There were some surprisingly blue people, but apparently it took awhile to turn blue, whereas she’d been white as ever just last night.
She sang “Blue, blue electric blue is my room,” to herself in front of the mirror. She put on clothing and extra makeup, figuring to double down on flamboyance, and went with her yoga mat to the park. Several people said hello, and she posed for photos with two tourists from Germany, then a group of 30 16 year olds from China. They didn’t seem to understand that she wasn’t a character.
When she got to the park, several minutes late, the yoga instructor:
and told her she was late and should take her place.
MC rolled out her mat beneath the drooping willow. Margaret asked why she was blue, and she said she’d wanted to be.
She’d originally started yoga so she could complain about it, and also to maybe a lose a little weight, but lately she was enjoying it, which disturbed her.
She was on her belly, pulling on her legs so her feet would go over her back to face the sun, then over her shoulder to face the earth, when she noticed a mushroom cap moving though the grass.
She wondered if a beetle had got hold of it. It popped clear up out of the grass, several inches in the air, balanced as a hat on the head of a little man not more than six inches high, still waist deep in the grass. He would’ve been handsome if he’d been taller and better dressed.
He reached into the grass and pulled up a tiny old woman (not more than four inches high) with a cane, a mustache, and bottlecap hat.
The tiny old woman said, “Bluer than a Harlem saxophonist. Bluer than tennis courts. Bluer than the flames at the bottom of a burner. Sure enough, that’s the chosen of blue.”
MC disguised her scream as an “ow, ow, my thighs,” and let those thighs unbend a little. When she looked again, the tiny people hadn’t gone away.
“Hallo!” said the man. “I’m Fulvevis, pleasure to greet you.”
She nodded politely.
“Mightn’t we gab in private?” said little Fulvevis.
She glanced around. No one else was noticing. She whispered, “If it’s important enough to interrupt yoga, it can wait till yoga’s over,” and supposed that whatever chemical had turned her blue was also giving her hallucinations. She did not remember anything odd happening last night. It had been a very normal night. She hadn’t drunk anything stranger than a can of V8 juice with hazelnut syrup in it.
The little man sat, everything but his mushroom vanishing in the grass.
The little old woman walked to MC’s mat, saying “nuck nuck nuck.” She hit the foam mat several times with her cane, tore off a sliver, and stuck it in her mouth. She chewed slowly, swallowed, said, “Pree good,” and took a bigger sliver of mat.
MC transitioned into the pose that culminated in her groveling like a wet noodle faced with a fork.
Yoga ended. The old woman, having eaten a hole in the mat big as her own chest, hid beneath the mat as the other hardcore stretchers came over to ask MC why she was blue. She said it had been for a joke, and she hadn’t realized the dye wouldn’t wash right off.
She rolled up her mat, forcing the tiny old woman to scuttle behind a fallen piece of bark. MC waved goodbye to her fellow yogaites, and hissed to the bark. “Are you fairies?
“No, faeries. I’m Baba Yaba.”
MC stepped off the grass onto a rock, then onto a protruding root, and settled on the other side of the tree, facing the duck pond. Out of sight. The little man reappeared.
“Yo,” she said, feeling faint.
“Yo,” said Fulvevis.
The ground, or a lot of it, leapt up, shouting “Yo.”
There must have been at least 50 of them, an indiscriminate mixture of males, females, and twigs. They all had hats, except the twigs, who had bad hair days.
One of the twigs came forward sporting a perfectly sized conductor’s baton, and the rest bunched into a choir. The twig waved the baton and they sang:
We represent the Lolly pop Guild,
The Lolly pop Guild,
The Lolly pop Guild
And in the name of the Lolly pop Guild,
We wish to welcome you to Munchkinland.
We welcome you to Munchkinland, Tra la la la la la la
like in the Wizard of Oz, except they were all off key in different ways, and half of them stumbled over the lyrics.
The mushroom hatted man shouted, “bravo,” so MC felt obligated to clap slightly. The choir members blushed, and seemed very pleased with themselves, apparently not caring that they were faeries, not munchkins. As MC remembered, Munchkins were much bigger, like hobbits with slicked back hair.
The mushroom hatted man, who seemed to be the leader, cleared his throat and said, “Chosen of blue, we seek your holp. The wind cup has got hold of my barnum, so now drinks the wind. If we don’t blow it outside out, there won’t be any wind left to tilly the water, stir the grass, or badger the birds. Not even a breeze.”
The tiny old woman Baba Yaba booked it around the corner of the tree, and huffed and puffed till she had her breath back. “The wind cup is a magic hat, aye, and, with it turned like tis, there tisn’t any wind, and without wind, everything will fade. In our time of need, the Spirit of Blue has come upon you, that you might save us. Faerie magic, old and deep. I know not why Blue has selected you, but she never is wrong.”
There wasn’t any wind. MC hadn’t noticed that, but it was true, not the slightest breeze. She decided she was dreaming. That should’ve occurred to her earlier, but dreams were like that.
She was near the edge of the park, and looked across the street. Branches swaying, and a banner for a farmer’s market, flapping in the wind. “There’s still plenty of wind on 2nd Street,” MC said.
“Well surely, that’s 2nd street. A horrible long walk from the park. We don’t ever go there.”
“So the curse hasn’t affected it yet?”
“It shan’t ever. It’s 2nd street.”
MC stopped. “So it’s not the whole world that will lose wind.”
He gaped. “That would be an awful big wind cup. And no Barnum has lungs like that.”
“It’s just the park?”
“Not the complete park. That would be a frightful sized windcup. And no barnum has lungs so hugic. Probably not to the gleedz at the feet of the duck pond. Reed folk scratch there, we never go there, very foreign and uncomfortable, though likely nice enough to them. And probably not entirely to the tennis courts at the west end. Perhaps a ten-steppe up the path that goes onto the hill. But it’ll hit the treevir and the lawn and the botanical walk, and the jogging blevd, and our half of the duck pond, sure enough. There won’t be any wind, and things will start to die. They won’t die complete—the sprinklers and the gardeners will foil that—but the life enough for faerie folk will be gone, and we’ll nomadiate, trudging up the path up the hill, making a new home in the gleedz, or scratching out a sad living in the empty Elms on Sycamore Street. Not here, in the bonny park, where our ancestors have been generations past figuring.”
“And how long will there not be any wind?” said MC.
“A horrible long time,” said Fulvevis. “Weeks even.”
She was relieved. It was nothing serious, just the silly little fairies with their mushroom caps and bad choirs, forced to flee like third world refugees.
Just the silly little fairies with their mushroom caps and bad choirs, forced to flee like third world refugees.
“But surpassing as pivvy even that,” said Fulvevis, “we have to get the barnum back.”
She wondered what a barnum was, but didn’t ask, because she saw a three-ring binder spinning through the air.
She stood up. The wind whistled through Aunt Bee’s stationary shop and lounge, casting hundreds of sheets of scented paper into the air, most light blue or yellow, with flowery borders.
Yagh,” said Baba Yaba. “Gusts and turbulences at the walls. It’ll be angry.”
There was a sound. She thought it was a crying cat at first. They sound so like babies.
“The barnum,” said Baba Yaba, “follow the shrieks.”
She wondered if barnum’s were banshees. “I’m not sure I want to find it.” No need to make her dream a nightmare.
Baba Yaba said, “If you don’t help us, you’ll stay blue.”
“What do you want me to do?”
The faeries ran, but their legs were so short MC had to mosey to not get ahead of them. They followed their ears to the rose garden, dodging behind bushes or diving to the ground a few times as people walked past and looked strangely at her.
She went into the rose garden. No one was there, and nothing stirred. Bees clung lazily to flowers that did not sway. It was a little hard to breathe, like the air didn’t want to be indrawn.
“We have to stop,” said Baba Yaba faintly, and MC saw most of the faeries had already quit, lying on the ground and breathing heavily.
“You go on,” said Baba Yaba.
Fulvevis took several deep breaths, like a swimmer preparing to go twice along the bottom of a pool. He ran forward, making it several feet before turning around. He collapsed halfway back, so MC picked him up and placed him with the others. He twitched like a drowning man placed on dry land, and Baba Yaba fussed over him.
The air grew hotter as she went in, she supposed because it couldn’t move aside to let the warmth of the sun escape. The flowers were wilting. A rose petal fell and took a long time to reach the ground, but it didn’t glide. It came from a blue rose.
The shrieking quieted. It reminded her of when she was seven and the trip to Legoland was canceled, so she cried and wailed till she was all cried out, and tears and snot and stress had crept into her stomach, upsetting it. This sounded like the final snivels as she’d sniveled herself to sleep.
She followed the snivels to a rose bush half without leaves. They’d fallen into a clump at the base. She knelt and brushed the leaves aside, revealing the unhappy barnum beneath.
A barnum wasn’t a villain, some sort of tiny goblin or wight, but a faerie child, maybe two inches tall. Just starting to run, just starting to speak, just old enough to put on a hat that wasn’t hers.
The wind cup was a hat, too big for the child. It looked like an inside out whistle, or one of the giant stones oddly carved by the desert wind. She reached for it, but her hand went around, like a cursor on a computer screen when the mouse isn’t quite working. She tried again, to no success, and supposed she’d better call upon the power of blue, but had no idea how.
What was it Sailor Moon did? “Blue Prism Power Make-Up!” But nothing happened. Was it supposed be wake-up?
She sat cross-legged, stymied. The faeries child pulled a rose petal over itself, sniffling, trying to sleep.
She sang much better than the faeries had.
Little girl blue
Come blow your horn
The sheep’s in the meadow
The cow’s in the corn
Where is that girl
who looks after the sheep?
Under the haystack,
will you wake her?
Oh no, not I
For if I do,
she will surely cry.
Little girl blue
I love you.
The little faerie poked her head out from under the petal, sniveling ceased, but clearly ready to resume. MC sang it again, and the child tottered toward her.
MC didn’t notice, but every rose in the garden had turned blue.
She came right to MC’s knee halfway through the third time, and MC picked her up and cuddled her to her cheek. MC tried to take the hat off, but it didn’t come. She was afraid to pull hard, because the child was so tiny her head might pop off without much force.
She blew into the hat, and tugged a little. She put her mouth to the reed of the inside out whistle hat, and sang the rhyme again. With a sound like suction breaking, it popped off into her hand.
So easy, but dreams were like that.
She set the child on her lap and tried to crush the hat, but it was like trying to crush a marble. She squeezed it in her fist, cutting it off from air entirely, and Baba Yaba said, “Well done!”
Fulvevis ran up and took the child from her lap, and tossed her in the air. “My darling, but butte, my nim-nim odelay barnumerous munchkin, you’re alright.”
Baba Yaba said, “Present me that wind cup.”
Baba Yaba hit it twice with her cane, and it popped outside-out. It looked like a black referee’s whistle, but with a hollow on the bottom, so it could fit on a head. Baba Yaba knocked the mushroom cap off Fulvevis, and stuck the whistle on.
“There,” said Baba Yaba, “the barnum took hold of daddy’s cap, but now it’s all set right.”
Fulvevis took a moment from pinching his daughter’s cheeks to say, “We’ll bobben you again, should ever we’ve need.”
“How long ago was the last time you had need?”
“Oh, a horrible long time past. Weeks, perhaps.”
MC thought, as recurring dreams went, this wasn’t the worst. “I’m still blue,” she said. “how long will I be blue?”
“Such a while,” said Baba Yaba. “Even as long from now as this O’clock tomorrow, you’ll still look at least seasick.”
None of the faeries seemed to care anymore. It was almost as if they’d forgotten her, and forgotten that anything bad had happened. So she walked home, checking the schedule on her phone. She was still bright blue, had several errands to run, and though it was half past noon and she was hungry for lunch, she still hadn’t woken from her dream.