The sound of a plaintive woodwind diverted me. A faun played on a syrinx, surrounded by large wicker baskets filled with fruits the like of which I have never seen before. A young boy with olive skin seemed to be presiding over them, his lilting voice merged with the pipes. The resulting witchery almost seemed to whisper in one’s ear, encouraging one to taste the fruits of paradise, to grasp delight, embrace rapture and embrace it now.
I stared, entranced at the beautiful boy with his twinkling brown eyes, patrician nose, highly arched eyebrows and short, curling black hair. He looked up at me, and smiled in invitation. I felt as though the ripe juices of the fruits were already within my mouth. I rolled the imaginary flavors around my tongue, and stepped forward, entranced.
I found that I could not move. I turned around to find that my sleeve was being firmly grasped by the irascible faerie guide whom I thought had deserted me.
“You would not want to pay the price, fool.”
I stared at him in bemusement, “Well, I do have some cash with me…”
The faerie laughed, “Cash!”
He shook his head. “It’s no wonder the Guardian asked us to keep an eye on you. Cash indeed! Your human money is not what they’re after. Look you again at the creature,”
Something in his voice made me turn. The boy was looking straight at me, but now I could see clearly what was in his eyes – inhuman beauty, beguilement, insanity, anger – and hatred, deep and intense. I shuddered. I stumbled back, and would have fallen had it not been for the strong arms of my faerie guide holding me upright.
” So you see?” He asked this in a gentle tone, like one talking to a defenseless and innocent child. And that was how I felt. I have not felt this way for years. This beautiful and horrid place had robbed me of all of my much-needed defenses and it hurt.
“They call me Peelk,” he offered, in a grudging, almost clumsy manner. I nodded at this gift of a name, realizing the value and import of such a gift in this world.
Perhaps, I had one friend in this world now. Perhaps.
Mulling over this idea, I followed him as he guided me through the teeming streets of the glade and we stopped before a mushroom in pastel hues of green and violet.
I still did not understand why he had come to me, no more than I understood why the enigmatic woman who called herself Guardian of this isle had harangued me, but it was not something I wished to think about. The faerie promised me a new situation in life in this small colony of ridiculously oversized mushrooms that people lived in.
Worked for me. I couldn’t hold down a job in Terra Cognita, what some people may call “The Real World”, so why not try my luck here?
(c) Nin Harris 1998 — . All Rights Reserved.
To Be Continued.
The feature image is a painting of a Fruit Basket by the Greek painter Polychronis Lembesis who died in 1913. Wikimedia Commons says, “The author died in 1913, so this work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer.”
The page divider is a digital art piece by (c) Nin Harris. All Rights Reserved.