Thursday, January 11, 2018
Flash Fiction #285: Fairy Tale # 2
(Characters from Fairy Tale, #162)
Years ago Ellie fell through a hole from the First World to the Second World. There she found magic and magical creatures. Indira, the tiger, was the first of the inhabitants she'd met, and talking tiger did give her a bit of a shock. Paddy the raccoon, who also spoke, had taken her to the village and she found a lovely little place to live. Ellie grew apples and baked. She learned to weave ... and when the chance came to return to the First World, she had passed the hole by. Ellie had found her home.
Humans kept falling through into this pretty little place, and of late, some of them didn't seem quite as nice and friendly as the others had been.
"It's an unnatural land," Mr. Grieg all but shouted. "This ain't right, animals pretending to be human and usurping our place."
"This isn't our place," Ellie said. She'd grown tired of the tedious, dark-haired man with glaring eyes and a quick temper. "This is your place. Go find your hole to get home, Mr. Grieg. You don't belong here."
"Don't you dare talk to me like that, Missy. You ain't no better than -- ow!"
The man darted back in haste and bent to rub his knee. Ellie hadn't see Paddy until then. The raccoon had what appeared to be a walking stick in hand, and he must have tapped it none too lightly on the man's knee.
"I suggest, Grieg, that you go back to your own home," Paddy said, his voice deceptively soft. "We don't allow such behavior here, you know. We're civilized."
As much as Mr. Grieg railed about the talking animals, Ellie had noted one thing: he did not talk back to them.
"I do so hate being rude, but that one is a problem," Paddy admitted after the man had scurried out of hearing.
"What are we going to do about him?" Ellie asked.
The raccoon looked up at her and smiled, which was still rather startling, to see all those raccoon teeth. Some animals had taken to mimicking the human smile as a quick way to reassure others of their friendly intentions.
It was not working so well with the tigers.
"Are you willing to help us deal with this human?" Paddy asked. "It's not easy for us, you know. Indira and some of the other larger inhabitants of the village might be able to deal with him, but they do hate to frighten others. Those of us like raccoons and squirrels -- well, humans can be dangerous."
"Yes, I can see how that would be," she said. "Do come in and have some cookies and tea," she offered.
"Very kind of you, Ellie," he replied and followed her inside.
Ellie loved her little cottage with its cheerful colors, scattered books, and almost always the scent of something baking. Her baked goods had become quite popular, and she happily created confections for all sorts of gatherings.
It was a huge step up from the homeless girl who had fallen through the First World into the Second. She had found the place where she belonged, but others -- like Mr. Grieg -- had not made the transition. Most of those went hunting for holes that would lead back to the First World and went back.
"I think I know why Mr. Grieg won't go," Ellie said over her second cookie.
"Yes?" Paddy asked sounding hopeful.
"Think about how it must be for him back in the First World. He's unpleasant, bad-tempered, and no one would stand still for his tirades. Here, though, people let him have his say and don't turn that same attitude back on him."
"But that would be rude!" Paddy protested. Then he stopped, nibbled at a cookie, and gave her a nod of understanding. "I see. Yes. He actually gets to be whom he wants to be if he's here. This is troubling."
Ellie had the feeling she had to find a way to, well, bother Mr. Grieg enough that he simply didn't want to stay here any longer. Either that or....
"I know that anyone who falls through here should go hunt for a hole to get back home if they really want to go," she said. She sipped her tea and Paddy watched with a tilt of his head. "Grieg does not belong here. I think we need to find a hole for him and convince him that he needs to leave."
"But how can we do that?" Paddy asked.
"By being ever so nice," she replied with a smile.
Paddy tracked down a hole back to the First World the next day which just showed how desperate he was to be rid of Mr. Grieg. By that afternoon Ellie had everything in place. Grieg had gone for his usual afternoon walk and rant. Raccoons, bunnies, and squirrels soon joined him, quietly -- and ever so politely -- herding Grieg to the spot. When he saw the hole and Ellie, though, he protested.
Ellie held out the box full of money. "I collected this from all the people who have fallen through and don't intend to go back. There's actually quite a bit -- several thousand dollars. If you don't take it and go through, I'm just going to toss it into the hole and let someone else find it."
Mr. Grieg came close enough to look into the box. His fingers even brushed through the money, probably to make certain it was real. Then he took the box and calmly walked through the hole. He seemed quite happy, the box tight in his hands. So she didn't have to shove him or toss the box.
"Well done, well done," Paddy said as the hole disappeared. He looked happy, though she wished he wouldn't grin so much.
"Time to celebrate," Ellie said.
So they all went to her cottage and had cookies and tea, everyone being extra polite, just as they liked to be.