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Monday, June 8, 2009

It's a "Faerie" (with an "E")

It was a hot and humid weekend here in College Town, giving us a perfect taste of summer during Amelia’s softball double-header Sunday.

By the end of the first inning, the late afternoon sun had induced a heat-coma of sorts. I found myself less interested in the game before me and more interested in the world around me from the top row of the relentlessly uncomfortable metal bleachers.

In particular, a merry band of 8-year-olds, led by a darling brown-eyed, brown-haired, little boy I will call Henry, just as his mother did.

As my thoughts drifted from a mental inventory of the cereal in our pantry to Zack’s last name in “Saved by the Bell” (anyone?), Henry’s enchanting little chatter caught my ear.

“Look what I caught!” he exclaimed to his buddies. “It’s a Sprite!”

I glanced down at the gang on the ground behind me to see Henry, his eyes wide and bright, carefully cradling a 2-inch-long dragonfly in his little hands before a half-circle of boys and girls, all in awe of the find.

“How do you know?” asked one little skeptic, a girl.

Henry gingerly placed the dragonfly/Sprite in a plastic container marked “Sprites I Found” and closed the lid, pre-cut with air holes, on the container. He then pulled out a book, Spiderwick Chronicles: The Care and Feeding of Sprites, and opened to an illustration in Chapter One.

“See?” he said, pointing to the dragonfly-like creature on the page, “it shows it right here. It’s a faerie [I looked up the correct spelling], a magical creature called a ‘Sprite.’” He began to quote, “’Bright, clear eyes; unbroken wings; an even number of appendages.’ I’ve been hunting for one for WEEKS!”

“Do you think it can breathe okay in there?” asked the skeptic. I looked at Henry’s plastic container and the knife-blade-sized slash in the top. I concurred with the skeptic; it looked very humid inside to me. But I was not about to argue with Henry, a clear expert in the field of Sprites, who had dedicated weeks to hunting one down, apparently even carrying a “Sprites I Found” container with him at all times. Just in case.

Having captured and correctly indentified a real-live Sprite, Henry flipped to the page that referred to the feeding of Sprites and soon had his co-keepers searching the concrete grounds for drops of water and tiny green leaves.

Desperate not to let the faerie down, the children called out hopefully to Henry, “Would it like the rest of my Ring Pop?” and “Can it have Gatorade?”

After gathering an assortment of possibilities for the Sprite to choose from, the children once again circled around Henry on the ground behind me.

“Open it so it can come out!” they whispered, “Let’s see if it will eat!”

A series of “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” filled my ears as I turned back around to watch the game. Memories of hanging out in the cul-de-sac as a kid flooded back to me, letting our imaginations run wild with the games and stories that used to fill our summer days.

Just then another breeze rolled in, bringing a few mosquitoes with it. I looked down at my leg and smashed one, then reached around to brush one off my back.

It felt pretty big.

It seemed to have long, wispy wings that crumpled up under my touch.

The happy chatter of the happy children behind me came to a sudden halt.

“AAAAACK!”

I slowly turned around, still reaching for my back, to see Henry catch the mangled dragonfly falling from my shoulder blade, staring up at me with the eyes of a child face-to-face with a monster.

Apparently, it was not a mosquito I had brushed away, but a faerie. With magic powers. None of which involved self-preservation.

So much for the “unbroken wings” and “even number of appendages.”

I looked at Henry and apologized profusely for squishing his Sprite. He was too horrified to speak.

The skeptic spoke for him.

“THAT LADY KILLED YOUR SPRITE!” she declared for all to hear, pointing at me with conviction and distain.

I smiled and tried again to apologize.

The children ran away, screaming.

(Thankfully, Henry’s mother burst out laughing.)

And for the next two hours I endured the nasty glares of children who had seen the face of evil and lived to talk about it.

6 comments:

Chris @ Maugeritaville said...

Morris. Zack Morris. And I am really, really ashamed to know that.

Well-told story as always, Jules. Love it!

Meandering Me said...

You Sprite killing monster!

Hahaha. Saturday I had a "bum war" on my mom's trampoline with my 8-year-old niece. Complete with sprinklers running beneath the tramp.
It was a blast. :) (I'm in my early twenties, and had completely forgotten how much fun playing with kids can be!!)

Cathy C. Hall said...

I'm pretty ashamed just that I WATCHED Saved By the Bell...I feel for your (ex)friend, Henry. I mean, you're like that mom who refuses to clap for Tink. Oh, wait. That was MY mom.

Joan said...

SO funny. I love your stories.

Sassy Britches said...

I'll now be in la-la land for the rest of the morning, thinking about long summer days of make-believe. I don't know whether to thank you or...yep, I'll thank you!

can8ivjayhawk said...

From Henry's mother that burst out laughing...nuff said, and yes, I am not saving for my children's college fund, I am saving for their therapy...'cause they are gonna need it!!!