Stuck on a Dream

A cool breeze rustled the leaves and Willowtrix was thankful for it. He rested his ax on his shoulder as he flew up to another apple. It wasn’t hard chopping the apples down for Vinifree to catch below, but since he’d been doing it all morning, he was quite ready to be done. Tree Garden had the largest apple orchard in the kingdom after all.

“That’s another basket full!” Vinifree called from below. She stood up straighter to wipe the sweat from her brow as she smiled at their collection of apples. “We should be able to fill one more basket by the end of the day.”

Another basket?” Willowtrix flew down to one of the lower branches so the faun could see his disapproval. “Haven’t we filled enough already?”

“I don’t know,” Vinifree flushed and awkwardly scratched up by her horn. “I lost count three baskets ago.”

Willowtrix groaned and plopped down to sit on the branch. Heaven bless Vinifree. She was his best friend, but she enjoyed her job a little too much. “I say we call it for the day. My wings are tired and I’m sick of dodging the leaves and branches. Not to mention all the bugs and birds! I almost got attacked by a sparrow in that last tree!”

“I remember, you screamed like a child.” Vinifree sighed. “Come on, Willowtrix, this is one of the best jobs a fairy like you could have. At least you’re not working compost.”

“I’d rather not be working the orchard at all.” Willowtrix rested his head in his hand. “It’s easy for you fauns, all you have to do is carry the basket, catch the apples, and bring the full baskets back.”

“It’s not that simple, I have to sort the apples when I get back too.” Vinifree furrowed her brow. “This is the best part of the job, Willowtrix! We’ve cared for these trees all year and look at this beautiful harvest!” She picked up the reddest apple in the basket. “I bet some of these even make it to the king’s table all the way in the Capital because of how delicious they are!”

“Hooray,” Willowtrix said dully. “If we sell apples to the King then they’ll plant more trees, hire more workers–which means we’ll be stuck training them. More workers and bigger orchard means more work to be done!”

“It also means higher pay.” Vinifree planted her hands on her chocolate furred hips. “Which means you’ll be able to support you and your mother. Good, old Egriton is thinking about leaving the orchard which means there could be a promotion up for grabs!” She danced her hooves upon the ground in giddy glee. “I’m certainly going for it!”

“Good for you,” Willowtrix sighed and shook his head. He looked down at his callous hands. He was a brown fairy which meant he blended well with the forest. It was all well and good for childhood pranks, but people often missed him in the daylight hours. “You may be content working the orchard your whole life, but I’m not.” He looked down at Vinifree. “I want to see more of the kingdom than just Tree Garden!”

“Oh, don’t start that again, Willowtrix.” Vinifree shook her head. “You know how unrealistic it is for a fairy to be a storyteller? You’re too small and your voice will never be loud enough to speak over a crowd. Besides, if people don’t like your stories, they’re not going to pay you.”

“That’s why I’ll have many different stories!” Willowtrix clenched his fists. “And I’ll have ways to make my voice louder. Alderwood said I only need a horn to help with that.” When Vinifree shook her head, Willowtrix flew down in front of her. “I have a story I think you’ll like.”

“You said that about the last one you told me.”

“This one’s better, I promise! Come on! Let’s take a break from apple picking for at least a few minutes!”

Vinifree rolled her eyes. “Fine. What do you got?”

“Alright.” Willowtrix grinned from ear to ear. “Once upon a time, there was this mother and son–”

“Do you always have to start with ‘once upon a time?'”

Willowtrix nodded. “That’s how Alderwood starts all his stories.”

“I think you should change it up.”

Willowtrix lightly tossed his eyes. “Thank you for the feedback. May I continue?”

“Fine.”

“On a small farm on the far outskirts of a village, lived a mother and son. They were very poor. The last harvest was not enough for them to have enough food through the winter, so the mother told her son to go into the village and sell their only cow.”

“Why sell the cow? They could use it to till their fields and produce milk.”

“Uh…” Willowtrix furrowed his brow. “Well, the cow wasn’t strong enough to plow the fields and its milk had run dry.”

“Well, that doesn’t make any sense.” Vinifree crossed her arms. “Who would buy a cow like that?”

Willowtrix huffed. “Someone who doesn’t know what kind of rotten deal they’re getting! Can I continue?”

“Fine.”

“The boy starts heading into town with the cow, but he gets there, he meets a cloaked woman on the side of the road. She offers him a trade: his cow for her magic beans.”

Magic beans?!” Vinifree blatantly looked like she thought he was nuts. “There’s not such thing!”

“So? It’s said that fairies and fauns are magic so why not beans?”

“The only magic, Willowtrix, is what the mage at the Capital can do.” Vinifree huffed. “I doubt he would approve of your story.”

“I don’t care?” Willowtrix squinted at her. Why was she being so finicky with his details? She never treated his stories like this before. “It doesn’t matter if magic beans are real are not. They are in the story.”

“So you’re going to go around convincing children there are magic beans out there that all they have to do to get it is trade their worst cow for?” Vinifree shook her head. “This is why you fairies shouldn’t tell stories. Fairy’s tales are make believe!”

“That’s the point!” Willowtrix stared at her in utter shock. “So they’re not real! But the lessons in them are real! The escape they provide is real! Just think about how nice it is to go home from a long day at work and escaping into another world?”

“I’d rather escape into my bed.”

Willowtrix threw his hands up. “Well, maybe you do! But some of us out there like a good story now and then! What is going on with you? You’ve never scrutinized my stories before!”

“I just think you should have more realistic stories.” Vinifree shrugged and wouldn’t look at him. “Maybe you could tell the history of Tree Garden? Or our orchard? You could get Tree Garden on the map!”

Willowtrix furrowed his brow. “Tree Garden is already on the map. Besides, our history is pretty bland. Fauns and fairies settled here. We planted a garden. It grew. End of story.”

“Willowtrix! Vinifree!” The two jumped when Egriton’s sharp shout sounded from further down the orchard. “What are you doing standing around for?! Get back to work!”

“I’ll take this basket to the front.” Vinifree winced as she hauled the full basket over her shoulder.

Willowtrix felt a bit guilty. She wouldn’t be in line for that promotion if Egriton saw her as lazy. “I’ll start on the next tree,” he muttered quietly. He flew up to the branch to retrieve his axe. He wasn’t going to bother trying to tell the ending of his story to Vinifree. Maybe he could catch up with Alderwood later? Get feedback from a real storyteller instead of a faun who didn’t want to hear it. That confused him, though. Vinifree always listened to his stories. What changed? He looked back in her direction when he landed on a branch in the next apple tree. She was talking with Egriton as she made her way back to the front of orchard. I’m not going to stay stuck here, he promised himself. I can make it as a story teller. I know it!

Published by Nikki

I am an aspiring author with one novel written and ready for representation and many in the works.

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