Here's a story me and El wrote. El is one of my favorite students, a quiet pixie in the front row, eager to please and with an imagination that kills me. I wrote the first half of the story and she finished it for me (because I can never solve the messes I create in fiction). I then gave the story to Grace and asked her to draw the illustrations. The result:
Once upon a time there was a fairy named Lucy. Lucy was quiet, the way fairies were supposed to be and Lucy was sweet, the way fairies were supposed to be, but Lucy was BIG. And fairies aren’t supposed to be big. She towered over her classmates and even her parents didn’t know what to do about it. She was too big even to hug.
The other students at school were afraid of her. At recess she couldn’t play with the other fairies because the swings couldn’t hold her and her feet touched the ground on the monkey bars. Every recess she would sit on the ground under a big tree and watch the others have fun. Even Daffiya, the fairy girl with one broken wing wouldn’t talk to her. Even Teran the fairy boy who never smiled—and fairies are always supposed to smile—wouldn’t sit near her.
In class she had to sit at a special desk in the back of the room because she was too big for the normal fairy desks. She sat by herself in the back—forgotten by the teacher—and wondered if there was a fairy magic that could make her the way all fairies were supposed to be.
That day when Lucy got home from school she looked over the garden wall—Lucy was too big for fairy fences—and saw her mother crying.
“Mother, why are you crying?” Lucy asked.
“I am all right,” her mother lied, because fairies are supposed to be happy. “Let’s pick some flowers together.”
The next day at school Lucy was sitting under the tree and she decided to look up. There in the leaves was one-winged Daffidiya.
“Why are you in the tree?” Lucy asked.
“I’m playing,” Daffiya lied, because fairies are always supposed to have fun even when they’re lonely.
When she got back to her classroom, she looked out the window. Because she was so big, Lucy could look all the way down to the ground where she saw Teran’s father slap him. When Teran sat in his seat in front of Lucy, he wore a red mark and a frown.
“Are you okay?” Lucy asked.
“I’m fine,” Teran lied. And then, because fairies are supposed to smile, he smiled. It looked like it hurt.
Lucy sat by herself and wondered. In the back of the class, bigger than everyone, she wondered if there was a fairy magic that could make everyone be the way fairies were supposed to be. She stopped listening to the teacher and instead she thought and she thought. She thought about her mother crying and Daffiya hiding in the tree and Teran’s lying-smile. She thought about being too big and about the way fairies were supposed to be.
There had to be a magic to fix this.
So Lucy packed a bag and went to see the queen of the fairies, who lived on top of the mountain over the city. She was very small and she smiled and laughed all the time. People said she was the perfect fairy and so she had been queen of all the fairies for as long as anyone could remember. Her throne room was perfect, trees and flowers all around and a beautiful pond of sparkling water at the feet of her fairy throne.
“Who are you?” the queen asked when Lucy arrived.
“I’m Lucy. I need some fairy magic for my friends and my mother.”
“Fairy magic?” The queen laughed and dipped her feet into the pond. “There is no such thing!”
But Lucy was bigger than other fairies so she could see the bottom of the pond where the famous four metal fairy pendants rested.
“Then what are those?” Lucy asked, pointing.
“They mean nothing!” the fairy queen lied. But Lucy had seen her mother lie and Daffiya lie and Teran lie. She knew what a lie looked like.
Lucy took a big, brave step forward and reached all the way to the bottom of the pond and pulled out the four metal fairy pendants. Each one shone brighter than ever. The fairy queen started to cry.
“You’re the fairy queen!” Lucy said. “You aren’t supposed to cry. Fairies are happy.”
“It was only a spell,” the fairy queen admitted. “Before I was queen, there weren’t any rules like that. Fairies were free people and they cried whenever they wanted to. But they always came crying to me and I just couldn’t handle it! So I made the spell and put all the fairy magic into the pendants. Anyone who wanted to be a real fairy and have fairy magic wasn’t allowed to cry. They had to smile and have fun, so that I could have fun too.”
“But that’s a terrible, selfish spell! Those are just rules and they don’t make any sense!” Lucy objected.
And she held the pendants high above her head—and that was very high because Lucy was very big—and she threw them to the ground, dashing them into thousands and thousands of pieces. Thousands of tears scattered over the floor. The fairy queen began to cry.
“Now what will I do?” she sobbed. “All the people will come to me with their problems. I don’t want to listen to all those peoples’ tears—I just want to be happy! I can’t be the fairy queen anymore.”
“No,” Lucy agreed. “You can’t.”
And that is how Lucy, who was quiet the way fairies were supposed to be and sweet the way fairies were supposed to be, became the biggest fairy queen ever to rule over the fairies. She listened to her subjects and she let them cry. She hugged them and taught them how to use their tears. Lucy was queen of the fairies for many, many years and was well-loved by all of her people.