Fairy Ship

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2005

By Emma Kilgore Hine, Illustrated by Bryan Merte
Fairy Ship river in the forest

Gently, I lower the little boat into the water, then watch as it drifts slowly out of sight

I let my hand trail in the cool, clear water of the New Mexican mountain stream. It trickles like liquid crystal through my fingers, sending shivers up my back. Despite the pulsing warmth of the glowing July sun, the water has a sharp nip. I shift my position on the bank of the stream, letting my toes dip in the water. Lightly, I press one toe against a rock, rubbing the thick, moist moss. The soft, dark green is penetrated in places by tiny yellow stars, blooming from the damp velvet. Beside the mossy stone lies a piece of bark, soggy and worn by its time in the water. I bend over, careful to keep my balance, and touch it, surprised at its soft, porous feel. Struck with an idea, I glance around, noticing the long, waving grasses, the smooth, shiny river stones, rid by time of any past flaws. A lone magpie shatters the peace with her harsh “Queg queg! Queg queg!” as she streaks through the cool mountain air, flashing white and black. Across the creek a slick brown frog paddles upstream, searching for an unwary bug. Little minnows, curious at the strange pink presence in their water, nibble and nudge at my foot. With a whir of tiny wings, a shimmering hummingbird flits across my vision like a whispered hint of a dream. A bee drones sleepily as it inspects a sprig of pale pink wildflowers nestled in a halo of luscious green leaves. Quietly, I reach over, careful not to disturb the bee, and pluck several pink blossoms. Using a length of grass, I fasten them to the bark, along with a handful of the bright leaves. Gently, I lower the little boat into the water, then watch as it drifts slowly out of sight. The fairy craft spins and twirls, gathering speed, then with one final surge dances away and around a curve in the stream, forever out of view, racing into the mist like a ship into the dawn, flower sails at full tilt. I smile sadly and struggle to my feet, then, invigorated by the crisp mountain air and sweet scent of flowers, I run, letting my long, loose hair whip behind me. My bare feet pound over the grassy field, sinking into the earth still moist after yesterday’s storm. The skies are clear now, though. As I slow and come to a halt I can see Hermit’s Peak towering behind the pines, craggy features distorted by only a thin wisp of cloud, blank eyes forever gazing into the heavens.

Fairy Ship Emma Kilgore Hine

Emma Kilgore Hine, 13
Austin, Texas

Fairy Ship Bryan Merte

Bryan Merte, 11
Wappingers Falls, New York

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