“You should put that dog of yours on a leash!” the man complained. Jess retrieved Lucky who had been investigating the park and rejoined the picnic. She looked over at Cindy who was munching on some grapes.
“Did we bring enough food? You seem especially ravenous today.”
“Well I am eating for two. It’s legit you know.” Cindy replied.
“So you’re not using your pregnancy as an excuse to pig out then?”
“Of course not.” Cindy replied innocently as she tucked into another sandwich.
In the morning Cindy quickly got out of bed and went outside to check her new herb garden. Yesterday she had planted some basil, mint, sage, and parsley by the homestead, and that was only the beginning of her plans for it.
“Whatcha doing my love?” Jess asked as she came outside onto the porch drinking some coffee. Cindy looked up at her.
“I’m just checking to see how the herbs I planted yesterday are doing.” Cindy told her.
“It’s not that I don’t admire the view, but don’t you think you should have put some clothes on first?”
Cindy went outside in the morning. She walked onto the newly sown fields to feel her bare feet in the warming earth. Last winter had been harsh and she was glad spring had come, the deep snow had given way to green fields. Living on a farm meant you seemed more close to the seasons.
Yesterday Cindy had found the IVF treatment had been successful. She was pregnant, but had yet to tell her wife Jess. Tonight she was going to surprise her with the good news. Cindy looked over their new rows of corn. New life was growing.
Cindy walked towards the Faerie Market. There were all manner of different creatures wandering around the market place or minding the stalls. She could see elves, dwarves, gnomes, a tree-ish woman Cindy presumed to be a dryad, and many others that she had no name for, while above fairies and pixies flittered around them all.
The market stalls had many wondrous-looking items on display. There were gems, jewels in the shape of flowers that blossomed before your eyes as though they were alive, potions, weapons, small chests full of ointments or perfumes, and many more such things. Cindy stopped at a stall that had various trinkets. An old woman with long silver hair wearing a long black cloak regarded her. Cindy picked up a small silver bell that had intricate patterns etched into the metal. When she rang the bell it made a clear note that drove away her feeling of tiredness.
“You like the bell? Would you like to exchange something for it?” The old woman asked.
“I don’t have anything to buy it with.” Cindy told her.
“You have nothing at all?” The woman clarified looking at her keenly. Cindy dug into the pockets of her jeans. She produced the letter from Melissa, which was the only thing she had left.
“I’ve got a letter from a friend and that’s all.” Cindy said.
“Hand the letter over to me child and let me have a look at it.” The old woman requested holding out her shaking hand. Cindy reluctantly gave it to her. The old woman looked it over and opened it up to read. “Ah a letter of apology from a sorceress. This has much value. Feel free to take any item.” A sorceress? Cindy thought, it’s just plain old Melissa. Cindy picked up the silver bell.
“Okay I’ll take this silver bell. It’ll make a nice gift for Jess, my partner. It will help prove to her I was actually here.” Cindy informed her. The old woman nodded.
“It’s a fair exchange.” She declared. She spat on her hand and held it out to Cindy, who then reluctantly shook hands with her. “It is sealed.”
As Cindy walked away she looked behind her to see the woman hide the letter away amongst her belongings. Cindy began to consider it was time to move on. She should really get home as she was unaware how long she had been lost in Faerie, and time seemed to move differently here. Jess would be worrying about her. And it wasn’t like she anything else to exchange with aside from the clothes she was wearing, and she would rather not part with those.
Once finding the path she assumed would lead her back to the portal, she followed it to see where she would end up this time. The path led her through the forest and then upwards through bush until she came across Babradon who was sitting there smoking his pipe.
“I saw you approaching. You were away for some time. Did you get lost?” He asked.
“Yes. I left the path and couldn’t find it again.” Cindy told him.
“I did warn you not to leave the path. Then count yourself lucky you found your way back to here. You could have been lost in Faerie for the rest of your life.” Babradon informed her.
“I know. Luckily a pixie helped by leading me to the Faerie market. I’m really glad I saw it.”
“All’s well that ends well then.” Babradon replied.
“I better be going home. Jess will probably be wondering where I am.” She looked towards the portal.
“I suspect I’ll be seeing you again. So until next time!” Babradon said. Cindy nodded.
“Yes until next time.” Cindy replied as she walked up to the portal. She was looking forward to getting home.
Today Cindy was going to the clinic. After having daily injections of hormones, it was now time for her eggs to be harvested by the doctor so they could be fertilised. She hated medical procedures and felt nervous about going there. Jess was meant to be with her today, but there was an emergency at her parent’s farm she had to help them with, which meant Cindy was now going into the city by herself. Which made it worse…
“The next step is to fertilise the eggs. When you come back next week we’ll transfer a healthy embryo to your uterus.” the Doctor told her after she had collected Cindy’s eggs with a fine needle.
Once Cindy got home, she saw there were flowers on the doorstep. The card read: “Hey babe, sorry I couldn’t be with you today. I hope it went well. I’ll be home soon. Love Jess.”
It was the third day of Jess and Cindy’s holiday and they wandered through the town to see the “sights”. As it was a small coastal town, there wasn’t much to see. A local pointed to the lighthouse that stood out from the rest of the town, like the proverbial sore thumb. The local told them it was the town’s most notable structure and any tourists that came to the town always visited it.
“Well that’s not surprising, since there’s nothing else to see here.” Jess answered. The local looked offended and wandered off.
“Play nice with the locals Jess.” Cindy reminded her. Jess grunted.
“Sorry, the hike yesterday left me feeling tired.” Jess explained. Both the women looked up at the lighthouse. Cindy giggled. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing really. It just reminds of what we’ve got in our bedroom drawer at home.” Cindy replied. Jess started giggling with her.
“Wake up! Wake up! It’s Christmas!” Jess was awoken by Cindy excitedly bouncing on their bed. She slowly opened her eyes and beheld Cindy’s beaming face right in front of hers.
“Merry Christmas love!” Jess got out just before Cindy kissed her.
“Merry Christmas!” Cindy replied before bouncing excitedly on the bed again.
“You’re still a kid at heart, aren’t ya?” Jess said as she sat up in the bed. “I guess we should put some coffee on.”
“Or, we could open our presents!” Cindy exclaimed. Jess shook her head.
“I guess we can do both.” she replied. Jess slowly got out of bed while Cindy bounced down the hall into the living room. She went to the kitchen and put the coffee pot on the stove and then sedately walked into the living room. Cindy was already by tree looking through the presents.
“So I guess we’re doing presents now.” Jess remarked. Cindy beamed a smile at her and handed her a small parcel. After unwrapping it, Jess found a box which had an embroidered silver bracelet inside.
“It’s beautiful!” Jess remarked. “Did you find this at a fairyland market too?” Cindy rolled her eyes.
“I found it in the town market.” she replied. “Anyway it’s Faerie not Fairyland.”
“Well it was a great find, wherever you found it.” Jess replied as she put the bracelet around her wrist. She then kneeled in front of the tree and dug out two presents for Cindy. In the smaller present was a necklace, while in the other was a red covered diary with thick creme coloured pages, along with a set of fine tipped pens.
“Nice.” Cindy said.
“Before you went off to the city you wanted to be a writer. Since you got back you haven’t said a word about that. I thought if you had any thoughts or ideas you could write them down in the diary. You have one of the most active imaginations I know of. Just because you help run the farm, it doesn’t mean you should give up on your other dreams. Maybe you could write about your life here on the farm and your experiences.” Jess told her. Cindy smiled and gave Jess a long hug.
Among the other presents from friends and Jess’s parents, there were chocolates and socks and sweaters and candy and cups and other gifts. There was also a squeeze-toy for Lucky and a catnip mouse for Rainbow. After they went through them, there were just two presents remaining. Two small gift wrapped boxes. They both stared at them quizzically.
“Have you seen those presents before?” Jess asked. Cindy shook her head. Jess picked one of them up. “This says: To Jessica, Merry Christmas, from Father Christmas.” Cindy picked up the other one.
“This one says: To Cynthia, Merry Christmas, from Father Christmas.” They both looked at each other oddly.
“They definitely weren’t there last night when I went to bed. Did someone deliver them this morning?” Jess asked. Cindy shook her head.
“No.” she replied. Jess looked puzzled.
“Then how did they get here then?” Jess asked. Cindy turned to look at the fireplace. She was sure she could see faint sooty boot-prints on the floor.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope 2021 is much better year for everyone.
Cindy walked along the path. Ahead of her Lucky had found something to investigate. The leaves were starting to fall and it was getting cooler. Soon winter would be here.
In only a few days the harvesting of their corn was about to begin. It was her and Jess’s main source of income and the money from it would be used to run the farm for the rest of the year until next harvest time, despite Jess’s various attempts at side projects. To have so much hinge on one harvest always made her anxious. What if something went wrong?
After the harvest, winter would come and she always looked forward to snuggling up with her wife for warmth. Jess was her girl, and she was hers… Then after winter they would sow the next crop. This was her life now. She breathed in the cooling air and breathed out contentedly.
Their rabbit had escaped to Faerie, and Cindy followed him. When she finally managed to grab him and take him back to the farm, Cindy found the sky was darkening though it had only been an hour. She put Mr Bunny back in his hutch and went home. Jess was waiting for her.
“Where have you been?” Jess asked. “I couldn’t find you!”
“Mr Bunny escaped and I was looking for him.” Cindy replied.
“The whole day?”
The trouble with Faerie was that going there meant you always lost time in this world, but Cindy didn’t tell her that.
Cindy landed on the ground with a thud. She sat up rubbing the back of her head. Babradon hadn’t warned her about the rough landing. She wondered where she was this time and spotted a middle-aged woman walking a fox terrier. Cindy walked up to her.
“Excuse me, where am I?” Cindy asked. The woman looked at her as though she was crazy.
“You’re just outside the town of Lawrence.” the woman told her before hurrying off and occasionally looking behind her. She was home! Finally! Now all she had to do was walk back to the farm…
Within half an hour she was at the front gate. She walked down the driveway to the homestead. As she approached Jess ran out the door and grabbed Cindy in her arms.
“Where have you been? You’ve been missing for days! People are out searching for you. I’ve been so worried.” Jess blurted out quickly as she hugged Cindy tightly.
“I can’t breathe!” Cindy got out. Jess relaxed her hold, and looked into Cindy’s eyes.
“Oh sorry! I’m just so relieved to see you. I really feared the worst. Let’s get you inside.” The two of them walked into their home with Jess leading the way. Cindy sat down on the couch in the living room while Jess kneeled in front of her. “Where have you been?”
“I got stuck.” Cindy replied.
“You got stuck?” Jess frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I got stuck in Faerie.” Cindy clarified. Jess sighed deeply and shook her head.
“Not this again.”
“I knew you wouldn’t believe me so I brought you back something from the Faerie market.” Cindy dug into the pocket of her jeans and produced a delicate silver bell and handed it to Jess. She looked at it moving it around in her fingers.
“And what did you use to trade for this? Magic beans?” Jess asked.
“I had a letter from Melissa. They were quite happy to exchange it for that.”
“You exchanged a personal letter from a friend for this in some market stall? Why did Melissa write to you?”
“She wanted to apologise for sleeping with you.” Cindy replied.
“Melissa had no need to apologise to you. When we had sex, you and I weren’t back together. You were still in the city.”
“So why all this jealousy with Melissa? Surely when you were in the city you dated other woman?”
“Yes.” Cindy answered.
“And I did likewise when I was here on my own. Who I slept with then is not really your concern. I don’t ask who you slept with in the city do I?” Jess asked while searching Cindy’s face.
“So why all this jealousy regarding Melissa? Are you afraid we’re going to hook up again?”
“I do worry about that.” Cindy admitted.
“She has her own girlfriend now, that tall pale blonde, and I’m sure they’re quite happy together. You have nothing to worry about.” Jess reassured her. “I think you should be more worried about your delusions.”
“Speaking to fairies and visiting fairyland.”
“My grandmother could see the fairies and speak to them. I’ve inherited her gift.” Cindy told her.
“Yes your grandmother told everyone that she spoke to the fairies, and she was nuts. Everyone knew that. I don’t want to see you go the same way.”
“I wish you’d believe me.” Cindy implored her, but Jess looked at her concerned.
“Your delusions are getting worse. Now you’re disappearing for days. What’s next? One day you don’t come back at all? You’re covered in dirt, your clothes are all ragged, and you really smell. It looks like you’ve been sleeping in a ditch for several days. For all I know that’s what you’ve been doing.” Jess informed her. “I want you to get help.” Cindy rolled her eyes.
“Okay.” Cindy replied, hoping this would appease her.
“We’ll talk more about it tomorrow. Right now you need to get out of those clothes and have a wash.” Jess told her softly. “I have some phone calls to make.” Jess gave her another long hug and left, Cindy slowly got up from the couch and walked to the bathroom. Maybe it would be better if she just kept quiet about Faerie from now on. If only Jess would believe her.