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The Fairy Queen

by Drama Queen 

Posted: 19 March 2008
Word Count: 1683
Summary: I dreamt this story...so just had to write it!

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Dermot looked up from the sculpture he was finishing and blinked at the girl silhouetted against the dusty sunlight flooding through the door.
‘Sorry…sorry,’ she stammered. ‘I’m disturbing you.’
‘Not at all. If no-one ever came through my door I’d never sell a blessed thing,’ he replied, taking in the filmy dress, back lit and made transparent by the sun. She had a fine pair of legs he noted, and as his eyes got used to the sudden glare he could make out a slim figure, and a long blond pigtail falling over one shoulder. Something lurched in his chest as he stood up and moved towards her.
‘Can I look round?’ she asked.
‘Please do. Are you here on holiday?’
‘Sort of. I’ve a cottage near the beach for the summer.’
‘On your own?’
‘Yes. I’m convalescent so it’s just me and Pooky.’ He raised and eyebrow and she laughed. ‘My cat.’
‘I see. Are you looking for something in particular or just browsing?’
‘I’m afraid I’m a time waster,’ she said ruefully. ‘I couldn’t afford any of your lovely paintings or sculptures.’
‘Never mind. What do you do with all this spare time while you’re convalescing?’
‘I’m an artist too. I paint fairies.’
‘Then you should come to the garden at the back,’ he said. ‘We’ve a dozen or more out there.’
She flushed. ‘You’re laughing at me.’
‘Not in the least,’ he replied, wiping clay off his hands. ‘I see them quite often when I have my lunch out there.’
She studied his face, clearly wondering how seriously she was meant to take him.
‘I’m not joshing you,’ he insisted. ‘There are fairies in the garden and if you don’t believe me you should come back tomorrow with your paints and I’ll make us a sandwich at lunchtime.’
‘I didn’t say I believed in them.’ She laughed; a tinkling, mellifluous sound. ‘I illustrate the Fabulous Fairy books for Gloria Millerton.
‘Oh, I see. Well there you have me. I thought I had a believer on me hands. Now ‘tis only me who can see the little people. Never mind. I suppose you wouldn’t like to come for that sandwich anyway?’
She regarded him and he glanced at her amused violet eyes. ‘All right. We’ll fairy watch together.’
Dermot returned to his sculpture. And why would you be convalescent for the summer, Titania?’
‘Titania? My name is Laurel.’
‘Titania is queen of the fairies. And my name is Dermot. Irish,’ he added unnecessarily. ‘So, Laurel, why are you convalescent?’
‘When I know you better I’ll tell you,’ she smiled. ‘Until tomorrow, then.’
She turned and left, and he felt as if all the breath had been sucked out of him. He sat down, blowing out his cheeks and wondered what had hit him, hoping desperately he had not imagined her. The sculpture, a bust of the local mayor was almost finished and he went back to refining the romanesque nose of Mr Algernon Entwistle. It was to be presented at the dignitary’s retirement in three weeks and he was running behind. But somehow it didn’t really matter, and anyway, the only face he could conjure up was hers. Laurel.
Dermot spent a restless night worrying in case she changed her mind and decided not to come. He wondered how he would find her. A cottage close to the beach, she had said and as she seemed to have walked to his little shop, he assumed she couldn’t live too far away. Perhaps she thought he was some sort of lunatic who believed in fairies, or maybe a wicked seducer who was tempting her back by pandering to her fantasies.
It was one thirty before she walked through his door carrying a basket laden with strawberries, clotted cream and a bottle of cava.
‘My contribution,’ she smiled.
‘Come through,’ he said, trying to catch his breath. ‘I’ve set a table in the shade and made us a salad.’
‘I hope you don’t mind but I took you at your word and brought a sketch pad and my watercolours. Just in case we see any fairies.’ She smiled mischievously.
He watched as she wandered round the garden, and knew she was unaware of the way the light fell on her, the way she stood, perfecting a composition with the tall delphiniums, poppies and hollyhocks in the border. He knew he simply had to paint her like that.
‘It’s beautiful, your garden. I could almost believe there are fairies here among the flowers,’ she said, turning to him.
‘Almost believe?’ He mocked her gently. ‘But of course there are fairies here. How could you doubt it?’
She returned to the table and sat opposite him. ‘You live above your studio?’
‘I do. It cuts the travelling expenses. It’s not what you might call posh,’ he added in a plummy English accent. ‘But it’s cosy and mine own. Now are you going to tell me why you came to Cornwall?’
‘Simply to get away from London. I was ill.’ He raised his eyebrows, waiting for her to expand on that statement and after a moment she took a deep breath and continued. ‘I had a breakdown. Someone stole my identity so I lost everything in the bank; not that I was ever rich. Then he began to stalk me. Phone calls, texts, emails, and every time I went out I’d be looking over my shoulder. Eventually he cornered me in my back garden and if a burly neighbour had not come round by chance he would have assaulted me.’
‘Merciful Heavens.’ Dermot was appalled. ‘Is he now in jail, this monster?’
‘Yes. But he left me a gibbering wreck for a while. So I’m here, weaning myself off the pills for a few months. And you,’ she asked changing the subject. ‘How did an Irishman end up in Cornwall?’
‘Ten years ago I ran away from a situation too. Though not as dire as yours.’ He couldn’t bring himself to talk about finding the body of his father after he had been shot by the IRA.
‘And you sell all your work from the shop here?’
‘Mostly, but strangely enough there’s a woman coming to see me tomorrow with a view to giving me an exhibition. A customer showed her my work and she seems to think I’m going to be the next big thing in the art world.’ He laughed. ‘Now that really would be stranger than believing in fairies.’
‘I love your work, don’t belittle it’. Shall we eat before the salad wilts?’
She made a few sketches and it was twilight when she rose to leave. He walked along the beach with her until they came to the little lane leading to her cottage.
‘Come tomorrow and paint. I’ll put up a parasol and you can have the garden to yourself while I work inside.’
‘Thank you,’ she replied solemnly, holding out her hand.
He took it, resisting the urge to draw it to his lips. ‘Hasta Manana.’

The next morning Jane Mitchell arrived at his shop at ten-thirty as promised. She was, he had to admit, a vital and attractive woman of about thirty, who swept in and seemed to fill the space in spite of her slight build. He found his artist’s eye compelled to imagine a painting of her naked, draped across a chaise long, the dark grey eyes and full glossy lips slightly parted, tempting the viewer to seduce her.
‘Oh yes, Mr Murphy, I like what I see too.’ Unnerved, he glanced at her, aware she was smiling at him, the response to his awareness of her clear in her eyes.
‘Your work is different and compelling and I am sure we can do very well with it at my gallery in Perren and after that we may take it to the London in the autumn.’
‘Our commission is ten percent, but as you have it seriously under priced at the moment you won’t even notice. Well, what do you say?’
‘I’d say I’m astounded and thank you very much.’
‘Good, then shall we seal the deal with dinner this evening? I’ll bring the contract. There is a wonderful seafood restaurant about a mile along the coast.’
‘I’ll look forward to it.’ She went to the door and opened it, just as Laurel was reaching for the handle on the outside. ‘Oh, I’m sorry, do come in, I was just leaving. I’ll pick you up at seven then, Dermot.’ She blew him a kiss but Laurel was aware that her eyes promised so much more.
‘Laurel, good Heavens girl, come in and I’ll make us some coffee.’
‘Are you all right?’ she asked, laying a hand on his arm. ‘Who was that?’
‘The key to my artistic future if she has anything to say about it. She’s offered me an exhibition locally and then one in London.’
‘How exciting.’
‘I hate London. I like the simple life,’ he fretted.
‘Me too.’
‘I feel emotionally safe here and I sell enough in the summer season to make a fair living.’
‘Then don’t do it. That woman was a bad fairy.’
‘You know me darlin’ you’re absolutely right. I shall call her and tell her I’ve changed my mind.’
‘Think about it first,’ she said anxiously. ‘I would hate you to miss an opportunity because of something I said.’
‘She didn’t feel right; it was like being caught in a whirlwind the few minutes she was here. I think you’ve saved me from something appalling. Now go in the garden, set up your painting things, Titania. I shall call her and decline her generous offer, and then bring you some coffee in a moment or two.’
When he finally got off the phone after a lengthy argument with Jane, he went outside to look for Laurel.
She had set up her easel under a cherry tree and was studying the hollyhocks. She looked up and held his gaze, astonishment in her eyes.
Just for a second, he could swear a pair of silvery wings fluttered among the flowers.

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Comments by other Members

V`yonne at 23:40 on 19 March 2008  Report this post
Oh I really enjoyed that. What do you put in your cocoa?

tusker at 15:30 on 20 March 2008  Report this post
Hi Suzanne, This is a great read with a satisfying end. One nit pick [she blew him a kiss but Laurel was aware that her eyes promised so much more] As Dermot is the main character, Laurel's awareness isn't quite right. I'd probably write something about Dermot noticing Laurel's reaction to the kiss as the story is from Dermot's viewpoint, if you get what I mean. This would make a great story for a woman's magazine.


Drama Queen at 16:21 on 20 March 2008  Report this post
Thank you so much Oonah and Jennifer. I feel very encouraged and maybe I'll try to find a home for it.

Nella at 16:34 on 20 March 2008  Report this post
Hi Suzanne,
I like the idea - the fairies in the garden and whether or not one can see them - and the setting very much. It must have been a lovely dream.
But, as far as a story goes, I felt that the two get too chummy a little too quickly, because there is no sense of immediate recognition that they are soul mates, or anything like that. So it didn't seem natural to me to have Laurel confiding her horrible experiences to a virtual stranger so quickly.
And then the encounter with Jane didn't seem so "scary" or off-putting that he is justified in so easily giving up the chance to exhibit his work elsewhere. Thus the following exchange didn't ring true to me:
Laurel, good Heavens girl, come in and I’ll make us some coffee.’
‘Are you all right?’ she asked, laying a hand on his arm. ‘Who was that?’
I didn't have the feeling that he was so very shaken by the Jane-encounter that Laurel would notice his distress and ask about it.

I liked the idea that Jane is a bad fairy as opposed to the good fairies in the garden, but I think that could somehow be developed a little more.

‘You know me darlin’ you’re absolutely right.
I think you need some punctuation here, because the line can be read in a couple of different ways.

I found it a bit confusing at the end that Laurel is holding his gaze in astonishment when HE is the one thinking he sees the silvery wings. If she has seen a fairy, I would think she would keep looking at it, and not at him. But maybe that is just how I would react...

Just some thoughts. Sorry if I've gotten carried away.


Buzzard at 19:25 on 21 March 2008  Report this post
Hi, Suzanne

This was a really zippy read that had 'feel good' about it right from the off. And it does deliver. But I wonder if the threat of the bad fairy doesn't need to come a little sooner and need to weigh a little more heavily. As it is, she nothing really feels in the balance here. That is, Laurel doesn't really appear to rescue Dermot from anything but commercial success. I mean, he's a big enough boy to fend off Jane if he wants to, isn't he?

The other thing I wasn't sure about: 'I'm convalescent . . .' Because the pace is so zippy, she seems almost cheerily up front about this, and I'm not sure I 100% believed it. To suffer a breakdown is a big deal. I just wonder if a holiday or convalescing as a joke (I don't know, an oepration on an ingrowing toenail or something) might not be more appropriate to the tone of the story.

Other nitwpicks: 'he noted'. I don't think he needs to note explicitly because you've already offered his perspective in the previous line.

Details about his commisioned sculpture of Algernon Entwhistle. There's quite a bit of detail here about a character who serves no function other than to illustrate that Laurel has distracted him. Might be me being picky, but I'm of the school of thought that says, Don't introduce a prop if you're not going touse it.

'Tempting the viewer to seduce her' This jarred because she seems to be the seductress. Can't imagine her being passive enough!

'Laurel was aware' It's the only place in the story where we're offered her perspective.

Hope that's helpful, Suzanne.

All the best

Drama Queen at 11:42 on 26 March 2008  Report this post
Thank you to everybody who commented on my story. I have taken loads of your comments on board, re-written the dodgy bits and sent it off to The People's friend. I'll keep you posted!

Nella at 19:21 on 26 March 2008  Report this post
Good luck with People's Friend. Do let us know what happens.

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