The Prince & Poppy
Poppy believed in the other side. She just didn't say it out loud. Every time she went out through the path in her back yard that led to the park she always felt eyes on her. Her skin would itch every time. She knew they saw her but she never tried to give their attention. That was always rule number one.
But it wasn't one of their rules. They took delight in trying to get her to look their way. Sometimes she would mumble something nasty at them. Usually a high pitched shrill close in her ear was her response. She tried to keep her mouth shut.
Lately though, weird things were happening. She would find "gifts". From a small collection of stones that resembled a speckled bird's egg to tiny wreaths made from moss and red dogwood twigs. Sometimes a few dried rose hips were tucked into the moss. Poppy always carefully removed them and set them in the garden. Although she liked the stones and kept one of the wreaths. She knew she shouldn't but they tugged at her.
Now she kept her eyes peeled out for any signs of someone trying to reach out to her when she walked the path. Today though, the air was damp and warm. Warmer than it had been. Something in her bones told her to be on the lookout for anything.
A sweet perfume surrounded her. It reminded her of the smell after a rain. She breathed it in and this feeling came over her. It made her smile and forget. She had stopped and that was a mistake.
"I'm glad that makes you happy."
Poppies eyes flew open. She very slowly turned around and there standing before her was a tall willowy boy. She couldn't help but stare. His blond hair was straight and pulled back into a long pony tale that roped down his front. Steaks of green and blue ran though his hair. His eyes were silver blue, almost as clear as the water in the creek that ran through the woods. He wore jeans and a plain shirt. His overcoat was long but it didn't look the way it should. Somehow she knew it was magic.
His smile was pure sunshine. He came up to her calmly and held out his hand. Poppy glanced down at his hand. There were tiny blue flowers tattooed around his wrist. She hesitantly held out her own hand almost holding her breath as their hands touched. He was warmish but not cold. His silver blue eyes shimmered like dappled sunlight.
"Can I walk wit you?"
She nodded. He offered her his arm. The long coat moved like mist and she wonder if she should. What if the thing transported her to faerie?
She walked on. He kept in step with her. "I know your name is Poppy. That's a pretty name. I hope we can keep each other company."
That was so formal she thought. He sounded like...royalty?
"What is your name?"
She seen him smile out the corner of her eye. It appeared to make him happy that she had asked his name but then she suddenly remembered that faeries didn't give out their true names.
"You can call me Seth, Poppy. Would you like to have a picnic in the park? I have food for both of us."
Rule number two flashed in front of her. "Don't eat their food."
"Thanks but I already ate."
His hand brushed up against hers. It made her shiver. She kind of thought it was intentional. He liked her and what was she going to do about it?
When they got to the entrance to the park he stopped and so did she. He turned to her. His long braided pony tail was an interesting braid. There were some ivy weaved in. She knew it meant something.
"I would like for you to join me at a special gathering in the forest. Will you come?" His voice sounded so hopeful.
"I...I...don't know. I think I might be busy."
He frowned slightly and the breeze cooled. "I promise you will be safe."
"Oh," Poppy said. "What will happen at this gathering?"
The air warmed again. "It will be a celebration."
"What are you celebrating?"
"Me? I don't understand. It's not my birthday." She let out a nervous laugh.
He came quite close to her and he cupped her face with his hands. His silver blue eyes were the only thing she could see.
"We are celebrating finding my princess."
"Yes, that's right. I've chosen you."
"Oh I don't think I can do that. I'm not princess material. I live here."
It didn't sway him at all. In fact his mind was already made up. "I'll come for you this evening." When he turned around she saw a glimmer of his wings. They were whitish with browns speckles in them. They reminded her of the speckled stones.
Poppy had to think fast. She could not follow any faerie into his world. She would be lost forever. She walked back down the path towards her house. Poppy thought he would have been gone but he was right in the middle with a group of others. She stopped short. One of them caught sight of her. It's blue hair and wings shone in the shade of the trees. The dark cat like eyes stared.
Seth turned then and smiled. He held out his hand. "My princess, come meet my court."
Poppy had no choice but to go up to the creatures. She heard twigs crack above and the crunch of leaves on the path. Now she was trapped.
All she could do was stay calm and hopefully they would let her pass after he presented her to his court.
They were curious creatures. Some sniffed and others touched but very softly. They kept their distance for a while but got braver as they saw their prince slip his arm around her shoulders. "This is Poppy, she will make a wonderful princess."
Behind the others a little one pushed its way through. It was a pretty little thing. It reminded Poppy of the butterflies in her mother's garden. The little faerie handed her a small bouquet of wild flowers. Some of the flowers, Poppy didn't know. Poppy accepted them saying thank you. The little thing smiled and was pleased.
Seth whispered in her ear about later but she barely heard the words. She went back to her house and when she tried to remember back to that day, she had gone into the kitchen and grabbed a jar off the counter and filled it with water. The smell of the flowers were nice and she did remember bringing the jar of flowers up to her nose inhaling their sweet scent. It reminded her of the meadow. That was the last thing she remembered. Poppy was guessing it was the unknown flowers that did it.
The next thing she knew there was this strange music and it was enticing and she wanted to go to it. Nothing else mattered.
Now she was here, lost in faerie. Seth was very tentative. Poppy was wearing a pretty dress with flowers in her hair. Butterfly like faeries danced in the meadow. They were so happy and they called her Princess Poppy. Her prince now was in his true form. His wings were beautiful when they were fully open. Beautiful shades of brown and rust almost glowed. He was a beautiful butterfly faerie.
He wouldn't let her go. He said that she belonged here with him.
In time she did grow to love him but still remembered that day she got lost. Details were fading all the time. She was sure that was his doing so in time she wouldn't remember her world at all.
In fact, she knew she would lose who she was completely. The one thing that Seth didn't know however was that if she found out his true name he would have to grant her one wish. One of the faeries let that slip.
This was something she would try do so not all was lost to Poppy yet. She would bide her time.
This story will continue on with other short stories to come. Keep an eye out for them.