“I cannot think!” exclaimed the student in anguish. “I haven’t the faintest what to think or feel! My mind has no—no—matter!”
“No matter then, if that’s the matter,” observed the fairy. “What can’t you think?”
The student frowned. He spent less time in the Green than he used, the demands on his time often forcing him to spend his days at university. He was conflicted with a strong sense of individuality as well as the collective consciousness of his peers. He did not know if he should confide in the fairy who was clearly medieval. Uncertain, he veered from free expression to exasperation, and settled on mistrust.
“Why,” he asked, “do you want to know?”
“Because I care,” said the fairy.
The student did not want to believe her. Yet childlike, he did. The fairy was a staple of the Green, itself nothing to boast of: it had been in the family since before he could remember. It followed, as time led, from one apartment to the next: a collection of plastic pots of myriad depth, warming roots in the soil of earliest childhood. There it was, seven odd pots with their treasures of maple, birch, and weeds.
And there was the fairy.
“Howlie,” said the student in a whisper, “do you think there’s something wrong with me?”
The fairy’s wrinkled face was set.
“Howlie,” tried the student again. He sounded very small.
The fairy frowned.
“There’s a good deal wrong with you,” she said. “You can’t think.”
The student choked a laugh. It was what he had said—the answer to what he asked—and yet it wasn’t.
The fairy climbed on his knee. She took the student’s face in her long, little hands. The student tried to meet the fairy’s gaze, to show not by failing words but by eye the emotion, the fears that choked him. But the fairy did not meet his eyes. Rather, she tapped the young man’s forehead with her knuckles.
“Solid,” she said. “I’ve knocked enough hollow heads to know. What are these? Chin—nose—lips. All good. All breathing.”
She pulled the boy’s ear sharply.
“Nothing wrong here,” said the fairy.
The student tried to smile.
“It’s just—when I’m out … with the world” he said. “Howlie, I—I don’t feel quite right.”
The fairy looked at him square.
“Do you see me?” she asked. “Do you hear me?”
For an instant the boy was silent. His gaze was clear, reflective, brimming with inward life and soul.
“I see you,” he said softly. “I hear you.”
The fairy tapped him on the nose.
“Now then,” she said. “Nothing wrong with you yet.”
A.A. Azariah-Kribbs lives in Virginia with her Griffon, Fuffle. She has been published in several venues, including Carus Publishing’s Cicada, Fēlan, The Donut Factory, Chantwood, Boston Accent Lit, The Vignette Review, and Lunaris Review. Two of her short stories won awards in the Bethlehem Writers’ Roundtable’s 2016 annual short story competition. Her blog, “Wallie’s Wentletrap,” features original art and fiction following the adventures of Wallie the Imp.