Hello Mr Lion

October 2nd, 2013  |  Published in Writing

“Hello Mr Lion – how are you tonight?” Jemima says in her very best voice, hoping that Mr Lion will move ever so slightly so she can cross over the bridge to the fairy house.

But Mr Lion doesn’t move, so Jemima takes a big breath in and squeezes past him, feeling the touch of his fur brushing lightly against her night-dress and tickling her bare arm.

She glimpses the cold water swirling under the bridge, but keeps her eyes on the moss-covered path as she edges her way across. The old tree creaks like a witch in the wind, and an owl hoots from somewhere in the pink sky, but Jemima is not afraid. She has been here before – lots of times.

Her first visit is so long ago she can barely remember exactly when it was. But she still vividly remembers the deep-seated scariness and excitement she felt as she trampled slowly up the overgrown path to the old front door sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow, and the little windows with their spider like curtains blowing in the wind.

And, how could she ever forget her first fairy encounter? Whereas nowadays it’s different, because all the fairies know her name and she knows theirs, yet she never knows who will greet her or what’ll happen when the door opens and she enters their fairy world.

Once Jemima’s finally crossed the bridge, the crunch of fallen leaves under het feet alerts the fringe dwellers she’s passing close by their havens. Mrs Squirrel squeaks out a little cry of recognition at the sight of the floating night-dress, while Mr and Mrs Frog and family look up from the lily pads and check out what the commotion’s about.

“Hello Mr and Mrs Frog” Jemima says in her most frog-like voice.

“Croak, croak” Mr Frog replies, unaware his mouthful of insects are fleeing for their lives. Jemima’s sure she hears the little creatures thanking her as she watches them merge into the multi-coloured sky while she continues to make her way up the well-worn track through the undergrowth.

It looks like those clouds are about to burst forth from within, Jemima muses to herself, and then indeed, heavy rain drops begin to fall. Suddenly the whole place comes alive with fauna of all shapes and sizes seeking refuge, and Jemima nearly trips over the throngs in her rush for shelter. Then, just as she’s about to reach the crumbly old front porch of the fairy house, a flash of lightening spears the sky like a friendly warning about the crash of thunder ready to crackle high up in the heavens.

Jemima stretches up to the shiny brass knocker on the old wooden door, confident that one of the fairies will appear within seconds.

Knock, knock. No response, so she tries again. But there’s still no fairy in sight, so she starts to call out their names in-between the shortening gaps of lightening, thunder, and rain.

“Sassy …Missy …Susie …”

“Jemima – is that you?” It’s a familiar voice, but it’s hard to pick to whom it belongs above the deafening downpour.

Jemima makes another attempt to bash the brass knocker, but it’s as though it’s not there, and within moments, the whole scene begins to fade into a colourless nothingness.

“Brrrr, brrrr – wake up.” There’s no mistaking her mother impersonating an alarm clock, and no mistaking the thud of reality – her mother peering into the bed and placing school clothes on a nearby chair.

“It’s washing day, so please don’t forget to put your dirty linen in the laundry basket dear” her mother says before leaving to wake up Jemima’s brother down the hallway.

Jemima slips into her clean clothes, brushes her hair and tosses her night-dress and sheets into the laundry basket, making sure she’s removed all traces of fur, fairy dust and squishy insects …

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