Two Wishes

Two Wishes

Trisha and Nayana were at the annual Summer Camp. Their camp coordinator Seema was telling all the children a fairy tale. 

“…The fairy solved the cobbler’s problem and all was well again,” Seema concluded with a smile.

“Seema, do fairies actually exist?” asked Nayana, awed.

“I haven’t seen one myself, but I suppose they exist. There are so many tales about them.”

“Where would we find them?”

“They probably live far away in fairy land.”

“Do you think we could ever meet one?”

Seema smiled at Nayana. “Who knows, if you believe strongly enough, maybe you’ll find one.”

The children helped put out the campfire, and soon all of them were in their respective tents. 

“Trisha, only a fairy can help us. Let’s run away tonight and find one. We really need to help Papa.”

“Run away? That’s silly Naya, we’ll get into trouble for nothing. Where do you think we’ll find one anyway?”

“If our belief is strong enough, I’m sure we will, and then our wish will be granted!”

Her older sister was quiet, so Nayana continued, “I believe in fairies and I am sure we’ll find one. Please Trish, if we leave right away, we won’t be missed. Tomorrow is a free day and no one will know we aren’t around. If you don’t want to come, I’ll go by myself.” 

Nayana’s tone was final, chin thrust out, as if to challenge her sister.

“It’s a crazy idea but…I’ll come along. We have no idea where to start, so how are we going to find a fairy? Even if we meet one, there’s no guarantee that she’ll help us.”

“Fairies live in the woods and I’m sure if we call out, at least one of them will appear. Once she hears our story, she’ll surely grant our wish. If we don’t find one, we’ll just have to come back. At least we would’ve tried, and no harm will be done!” Nayana sounded very confident, even if on the inside she was unsure.

“Okay. Let’s go.” Trisha took charge as the older sibling. 

“Thank you, Trisha! Let’s go!” Nayana echoed, relieved that her sister hadn’t needed more persuasion.

They ensured that their backpacks had a torch, some biscuits, and a water bottle. They quietly crept out of their tent and headed into the woods. Thankfully they didn’t have to worry about meeting any wild animals, as it was a popular trekking and camping area.

It was a full moon night, and soon they were inside the forest. 

When they were deep inside the woods, the tall trees blocked out some of the light. All that could be heard was the sound of crickets. They used their torches to weave their way through the large trees. 

While the sisters were walking through the woods, far away in Fairy Land it was celebration time.

It was Queen Alfre’s birthday. The entire fairy land was lit up with fairy lights, and some of the fairies were carrying tiny lights in their hands. It was a magical sight, as the lights glittered and shone, and the fairies flew around. 

Suddenly, there was pandemonium. Some of the lights went off, and there a skirmish as two naughty fairies started grabbing things and flinging them away.

One of the fairies rushed to the Queen. “Your majesty, Ilayda and Ondine are up to mischief again! They’re flying around and troubling all of us!”

“What do I do with those two? Ever since their mother disappeared without a trace, they have been creating trouble. I have warned them several times, but it seems I have to do something this time.” The queen sighed. She was sorry for the twins but they had really been misbehaving for a very long time. Every time she reprimanded them for their unruly behavior, they would put their heads down and apologize and promise very solemnly that they would be good. This would last exactly for two days and then they would start again.

They harassed the other fairies, stole their wands and returned them only after extracting something that they wanted.

This time around, I have to be strict, I need to teach them a lesson they won’t forget in a hurry!

Queen Alfre saw Calypso flying by with her light still intact and called out to her. 

“Calypso, bring Ilayda and Ondine to me, please.”

Calypso curtsied, then flew off in search of the troublemakers. She saw them flying around looking for someone to tease. 

“Ilayda, Ondine, our queen wants to see you both immediately,” commanded Calypso, and flew back to Queen Alfre with the confidence born of experience that the twins would follow her. No one, including the twins, dared to ignore the Queen’s summons.

Calypso left them with the Queen and flew away. Queen Alfre looked at the two erring twins with her brows raised. 

“So, I see that the two of you have been up to your usual tricks?” she said, sounding stricter than she actually was.  

The two immediately put their heads down. Before they could utter their false apologies, the queen held up a hand. 

“This time there’s no pardon for you. Hand over your wands. You’ll get them back when you do a good deed voluntarily.  I know both of you have it in you to be helpful fairies, so till you learn to behave in the matter that befits you, you’ll forfeit your fairy powers.”

The twins stared at the Queen, stunned by her words. She had never spoken so harshly to them before. They looked at each other, completely defeated. They were reduced to nothing without their magic wands. Looking at her resolute face, they knew it was pointless arguing with her. Ilayda and Ondine flew away dejected beyond words. 

Queen Alfre watched them go with a great sadness in her eyes. She was a very compassionate fairy and she felt wretched that she had to punish them – but what else could she do?

That night neither of the twins could sleep. Finally, Ilayda the bolder of the two said, “Ondine, there’s no point in staying here anymore. Let’s run away.”

“What? Run away? And without our magic wands? You must be joking, Ilayda!” 

“I am so not joking Ondine, what’s the point in living here? We’re fairies in name only. We don’t have magic, so let’s go before all the other fairies start teasing us!”

“Oh. I hadn’t thought of the other fairies. You’re right, let’s go. Do you have any idea where to?”

“I’ve always wanted to explore the woods. That’s where our mother was last seen. I’ve heard that humans visit there often, and I think one of them may have taken our mother away. I know Queen Alfre has forbidden us fairies from going there, but we don’t have to abide by that rule any more, because we’re no longer fairies!” 

They flew off in the direction of the woods. They knew it was a distance away, but if they flew nonstop, they would be able to reach within a few hours. To their disappointment, they found that they had overestimated their own strength. Their wings got tired frequently and they had to rest often.

After a great many stops enroute, the fairy twins finally entered the woods. Moonlight lit the way for them. They were flying past a tree, when all of a sudden both of them were caught in a filmy net. They struggled to get free, but they got even more entangled in the net.

“It’s our bad luck that we’ve been caught in a spider’s net!” wailed Ilayda. 

“No wands to help us either!” cried Ondine, in terror.

“Aha, what have I caught tonight?” 

Out of the darkness came a voice. When the twins looked down, they saw an old man rubbing his hands together. He didn’t look like a nice person one bit.

“Not one, but two fairies? Aren’t I lucky!”

“Please have mercy on us and let us go,” begged Ilayda.

“What? Let you go? I’ve been waiting to catch a fairy, and now my luck has turned. I have two fairies! A lucky night indeed!”

He grabbed both of them in one hand, and cut away the silken thread with the other. He took them inside his small cottage and pushed them into a glass jar. It had holes all around for sufficient air. 

“You shall stay there till I need you!” The man laughed loudly at their expressions and shuffled away. 

The twins looked all around them. When they looked at the window, they saw two faces pressed against the glass. “Look, more humans!” whispered Ilayda to Ondine. 

Nayana had seen the light from the cottage and had been about to knock on the door, when they had heard the man talking to the fairies. Without knocking, they crept to the window instead, and were fascinated by what they saw.

“Trisha, look, he’s caught those poor fairies and God knows what he plans to do with them!”

“Let’s run away and get help,” replied Trisha, urgent.

A hand landed on each shoulder: someone had grabbed them by their T-shirts!

“Nobody is going to run away from here. Whoever comes here, stays here,” 

It was the old man. He dragged them into the cottage. 

“Who are you? And why are you snooping on me?” he shouted at them, furious.

“We are camping close by, and just came for a walk. We have to go back, otherwise our camp leader will come searching for us,” Trisha spoke boldly, although her heart was beating really fast.

“Nonsense, no one will come looking for you tonight. I shall lock you up in my attic. Once I am done with these fairies, I’ll disappear from here – and if you are lucky, your people will find you.”

He pushed them up some stairs, thrust open a door; and shoving them inside, shut and locked it.

“We’re in big trouble now. I don’t know what we’re going to do! I’m sorry I got you into this, Trisha,” Nayana started to cry. Trisha hugged her sister close.  

“You haven’t got me into anything. We’ll find a way out, we just need to think.”

Nayana started rubbing her eyes, she was tired and sleepy. They had walked for a long time, and it was past their bedtime. She lay on the dusty floor and was soon fast asleep. 

Trisha looked around the room. Except for a small window high up on the wall, there was no means of escape other than the door. That’s when she noticed a small cage in one corner of the attic. Trisha took a closer look. Inside was a fairy, seemingly asleep. She had sparkly wings and was dressed in a blue dress which was now covered with dust.

“Wake up fairy, wake up!” Trisha whispered, voice urgent.

Maybe she’s been drugged? I wish I could do something to wake her up.

She shook the cage slightly, but the fairy slept on. She gave up hope and was sitting with her head in her hands when she heard a small voice.

“Are you human children or am I dreaming?”

Trisha looked up and found the fairy watching her blearily.

“We’re real, you’re not dreaming.”

“Please let me out! That evil man is planning something, I’ve been here for such a long time. He keeps saying he needs one more fairy and then he’ll come for me.”

“How do I let you out, it’s locked and it’s too strong for me to break open. He’s caught two more fairies tonight!” 

 “What? Quick, hand me my wand. He’s hidden it under that sack. As long as I stay locked, he knows I can’t get it myself.”

Just as Trisha handed over the wand, they heard footsteps coming up the stairs.

The door was thrust open, and the old man walked in. He saw that the children were sleeping, and so was the fairy. He unlocked the cage, but before he could react, the fairy flew out, waved her magic wand and he found himself tied up with a thick rope.

Trisha woke up Nayana who was surprised to see the old man tied up on the floor and a fairy flying around with a glittery wand in her hand.

“Come on, let’s go!” 

The fairy flew ahead, and as the girls went down the stairs, Trisha told Nayana what had happened. They could hear the fairies shouting with joy. The girls were amazed to see that the fairies knew each other. 

The fairy who had been in the attic with them said, “I am Siofra, and these are my twin daughters, Ilayda and Ondine.

“I am so happy to see them. I’ve been away from home for ages now. One day, I was picking up flowers in the woods. This horrible old man crept up, snatched my wand that I had placed on the ground, threw me into his net and brought me here. Without my wand I was powerless, and since then he has kept me locked up. If the two of you hadn’t come along, all three of us would have perished. We are truly grateful to you.”

“We came looking for fairies and we are happy to have been of help to you!” said Nayana.

“Why were you looking for us?” asked Ondine, brows furrowed in curiosity.

“We desperately need a wish, and we thought if we found a fairy, our wish would be granted…”

“What is it? Do tell us,” Siofra asked.

“Our Papa lost his job a few months ago, and he’s been unable to find another one.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. It’s almost morning now, return to your camp. And when you go back home, your Papa will have a job,” Siofra promised.

Nayana had one more question. She looked at the twins and asked,

“Why didn’t the two of you use your wands and save yourselves?” 

“Ever since our mother disappeared, we have been very naughty, so Queen Alfre took away our wands. We decided to run away and find our mother. Our queen is very kind, when we return, she’ll give our wands back!”

Trisha looked at the fairies and said, “Strange, isn’t it? Nayana and I ran away to find a wish to save our father, and the two of you ran away because you wished to find your mother, and all of us got what we wanted!”

They smiled at one another. 

“We have to leave now, take care,” said Siofra and the reunited family flew away.

“We’ll always remember you,” Trisha whispered, as the sisters headed back to their camp.

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