by Megan Lee Beals
We are not born. We do not grow. We abide in the somber places of this world, where
time has no meaning and magic may thrive. And there are rules of conduct for these places which
all good fairies know.
I was no good fairy. The rules did not live in my blood, though I did my best to
compensate. I hid in my work, content to let the others enchant the creatures who strayed into our
apple grove, until my place at the edges of our grove was remarked upon, and I became a part of
A human child was toddling through the undergrowth. Its shoes were soiled with apple
mush, and it stank of soap and rot. I was stroking the back of a worker bee and sampling her
pollen, to distract myself from the tittering fairies that swarmed around its head.
"Skin as smooth as mushroom caps!"
"Hair as black as nightshade!"
Nonsense. "Nightshade" comes in a prolific variety of colors from potato to eggplant and
none of it looks like hair. I frowned and hid myself among the coneflowers as the others flitted
about like lightning bugs. My people fancy poetry, but it doesn't fancy them.
They were chanting the first part of the rules, "strayed from the path, strayed from the
path," which brought the child into our jurisdiction, and I could feel their eyes and laughter
pointed at me, right when I was hoping to go unnoticed.
"It's your turn," they said.
"We are immortal and time has no meaning in the apple grove. Do your busy bee work
I raised protest, but their lights blinked away and they were gone, vanished into the bark
of a tree or a wisp of fog, leaving me alone with the bipedal thing that tumbled through the grove.
I crooked my finger and directed a poor little honey bee out from under the creature's foot before
she was crushed, then I took a deep breath and counted my worries down from ten.
Fine. I knew one day I would have to be the ice cold fairy queen and lead astray some
little boy. We all do it eventually, but I'd been hoping to avoid it for another thousand years.
Long enough for the time outside the grove to eat up that highway that appeared three hundred
queen bees ago. My companion under the coneflowers filled her sacks with pollen and buzzed
away, going about her job. I had a job to do, too. And because the rules do not come naturally to
me, I had to find the notes I'd left in the knot of a birch tree.
Traditional Aesthetics re: Fairy Queen
Lots of Angles
Smile full of Knives
Eyes made of Ice
Maybe wear a dress
I looked down at my teensy bare feet, brown skin gone gray at the soles with pollen and
dust, knees shiny with beeswax. Under the word "dress" I had sketched a figure that might have
been myself, covered shoulders to soles in a smudgy charcoal shroud and wearing a crown of
antlers. It looked . . . complicated. I didn't care to waste much energy glamouring up an ice queen
for one little boy. Not with autumn encroaching all around us and the bees woefully understaffed.
I was willing to manage tall. At least taller than the boy in the grove.
As per the notes regarding Entrance, I flitted across his field of vision, let my gold light
catch his eye then wink away, so he knew something magical was about to happen. Just as his
back was turned to the mile marker I stepped into the heart of the grove at a towering four feet
And I forgot what I was meant to say.