The Little Voice
Littani stared out of the window and sighed. The rain was pelting at the glass as if it might break through, and off in the distance she heard a quiet peal of thunder. Littani loved the rain, loved how cool and refreshing it was against her skin, loved the smell of the water soaking into the earth. But she hated that it made it so hard to fly. Oh, she would give it a try every now and then, when feeling particularly bored or adventurous, but the rain always won by soaking the membranes of her wings and weighing her down. It wasn't the rain's fault, really. Her wings were so small; they had never grown as big as all her other faerie Shoyru friends. Her family told her she was special, but sometimes she wished she wasn't. Littani sighed again. Perhaps she'd just try walking today. Striding to the door, she pulled on her boots and cape, and jumped out into the rain.
"Ah," she breathed at once, as the rain trickled down her joyful face, "where to now? The rain is a little too heavy," she mused, "but there should be some cover in the woods. I'll go there." So Littani set out in the direction of the woodland, determined to visit some of her favourite spots to enjoy the peaceful feel that rain always seemed to lend them.
Her little feet took her confidently along the pathways, memorised by days and days of wanderings –she sat for a while at her favourite spot, sketching the mortogs jumping in and out of the stream among the raindrops, but she still felt bored. Perhaps it was time to explore again? The rain wasn't so heavy now she was protected by the leafy canopy. Littani jumped up, and set off in a direction she'd not tried before, off the beaten track, but not so overgrown that it would be difficult. She traipsed along it for a while, listening to the birds and the insects chattering away, but soon her legs began to get tired, and it was still too damp for her to fly.
Just as she was feeling at her lowest, and about to turn back home, she came to a beautiful glade, one she'd never seen before. The hollow was clustered with faerie rings and vibrant toadstools in all shapes and colours! At the far end, a curtain of crystal water fell majestically into a deep blue pool edged with bulrushes and reeds. How could she have ever missed this? Perching herself on a reasonably dry, moss-covered rock, Littani began to sketch. She was so lost in the flowing lines of the water and deep shadows of the pool that she almost didn't hear the crying.
Her ears pricked up and she quietly put down her pencil so as not to frighten the voice. The rushing from the waterfall was so loud, that Littani couldn't work out what direction the voice was coming from. But it didn't sound scary, more scared.
"Hello?" she called, trying hard to sound friendly. "Who's there? Where are you?" The sobbing stopped. Littani was just about to call out again, worried she had frightened the voice, when she heard it speak.
"Hello?" it whispered in reply. "Can you help me? I can't get down and I've been here for so long!" Littani still couldn't see the voice, so she revolved on the spot slowly, trying to pin it down.
"How long, exactly, is so long?" she asked.
"Well, I – I don't know exactly," the voice replied, sounding a little confused. "I remember Faerieland was crashing to the ground and as it was falling, my cloud got separated from the rest and it got wedged in the waterfall here. Every time I try to get free, I get pushed back by the water, so I thought I'd just wait for someone to come past and help me."
"Faerieland?! But that nearly a year ago! You've been here that long?"
"Oh, well I suppose so!" answered the voice. "I guess it must be that long if you say so. Can you help me please? I'd really very much like to go home, if you don't mind."
Littani stared at the waterfall in front of her, as she realised what rescuing the voice would involve.
"Well," she began, "I don't know if my wings will be strong enough either? I'm not very good in the wet."
Aghast, the voice cried out to her, "Oh please! You have to try! You're the first person I've seen, and who knows how long I'd have to wait for another!"
Littani sighed (again). "I suppose I can try. How high up are you?"
"Do you see the little rock ledge sticking out, about half way up the waterfall?" Littani said she did. "I'm just below that. I've been trying to reach it from here, but it's just too high and there is so much water!"
Shaking out her wings and shedding her backpack, Littani made up her mind and squared up to the waterfall in front of her. She couldn't leave the voice now. She would have to try! She moved around to the edge of the pool and made her way to the rockface. Looking up at it, it suddenly seemed a lot higher than she had thought. There were a few other small outcroppings in the rock and she started to move up and along these, towards the larger ledge. The rocks were covered in moss, and it was slick and slippery with the rain and the water spray, but Littani refused to give up now. She was almost at the ledge, and it was just a little bit further...
Suddenly, the rock she was standing on shifted, and she felt her legs go out from under her. The voice cried out "Oh!" as she dangled by her hands. A thrill of fear ran down her spine as she looked down to see the churning water below, her tail twitching in the breeze.
Littani took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Think, think! There was nothing for her tail to latch on to, and her arms weren't strong enough to pull her up, what else could she do? There was only one thing left: her wings.
Nervously, she tested her wings out, beating them once, twice, listening for the tell-tale swiping sound as they cut the air... It was there, softer and fainter than normal, but there. She might just have enough strength in them to get her to the ledge. But what about afterwards? Shaking her head, she decided to worry about that when the time came. Right now, NOT falling off the rocks in to the pool below was the most important thing! Steeling herself for the inevitable, she beat her wings a few more times, faster, faster, and then, eyes squeezed tightly shut, she let go.
"You did it!" cried the voice. It was only then that Littani opened her eyes, just a peek, to see herself hovering (barely) just an inch away from the rock wall. Exhaling in relief, she screwed up her face in concentration and poured all the energy she had into her wings, willing them to beat just a little faster, a little harder to get her to the ledge. Centimetre by centimetre, inch by inch, she crept slowly higher, until she could reach the ledge and pull herself up with her hands. Laughing with joy, she dragged herself along the ledge, too tired to even try to stand up. Reaching the edge of the ledge, where it met the wall of water, she dove through it, and rolled down on to the secret niche.
Sitting up, she blinked, allowing her eyes to adjust to the blue-sheened light filtering through. She gasped in surprise, as she finally saw the owner of the voice.
"But, you're so small!" she exclaimed. The voice looked upset and sniffed.
"I haven't finished growing yet, thank you very much," the voice muttered. "Now how are we going to get out of here?"
Littani was brought sharply down to reality. "Oh yes. Out," she murmured, suddenly understanding that she wouldn't be able to get back up to the ledge, and now her wings were drenched again. Dismayed, she realised that she was also trapped. She didn't have long to ponder, for the voice was already poking her out of her reverie.
"Come ON! Your wings are bigger than mine; just fly us out of here!"
"But I told you!" said Littani. "I can't fly so well when my wings are wet, and I used all my energy just getting up here!"
"Well, that was silly," the voice retorted, sticking out her tongue, "but you don't need to really fly; we could just glide across the pool. Once we get past the water, all you'd need to do is spread your wings flat and catch the wind. I thought you would know that!"
Littani looked at the voice in surprise. She was right, surely that was all she needed to do! She lifted the voice on to her back and instructed her in a firm tone to hold tight. She sucked in her breath, closed her eyes once again, and jumped.
She could feel the water sheeting all around her, the pounding in her ears as it crashed down into the pool so far beneath them. If she didn't... but there was no time for that sort of thinking. Clearing her mind, she stretched out her wings, flicked up her tail behind her, and trusted. The touch of the water lessened to light spray, and she could feel the air rushing past her, chilling her skin. She opened her eyes, and saw the mossy ground floating gently towards them.
With a thud, Littani and the voice fell into a heap in the quiet glade that surrounded the pool, and finally got a proper look at the voice she had been talking to. She stood no higher than Littani's knee (which in itself wasn't very high!), with delicate cobweb wings, and a short dress that looked almost to be made out of moss itself. She was barefoot, and her raven hair fell in waves down to her waist. On her face was a smile of pure elation as she basked in the sun filtering through the trees.
"Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for rescuing me, oh, you are so kind!" And with that, she jumped up and hugged Littani, her tiny arms around Littani's neck. So relieved to finally be out of her water-based prison, she talked nineteen-to-the-dozen, pulling Littani along in her wake, in her bid to get out of the woods and in to the sunshine. As she burst into the bright light, she pirouetted and cartwheeled in the air, leaving tiny trails of faerie dust dancing along behind her.
Littani took the voice back to her home, to allow her to rest and refresh herself, before heading off to Faerieland and back to her friends and family. As they sat down to a can of Neocola and some cookies, Littani suddenly realised, "Oh, I don't even know your name!"
The voice giggled and looked up at her with smiling eyes.
"My name is Lina, and before I go, I'd like to give you a little thank you."
She leaned in, and kissed Littani softly on the cheek. Littani felt a tingling sensation behind her ears that spread all the way down to her toes, but aside from that she felt no different. She saw Lina out, wished her well on her way back to Faerieland, and promised her she would come visit soon and they would keep in touch.
As she closed the door, she caught sight of herself in the mirror in the hallway, and gasped in surprise. Her wings had grown larger, but not only that, they now sparkled with brilliance of the crystalline water that she had braved only a few hours earlier! The struts had deepened to a beautiful lavender hue, and the membranes floated between them like the ripples in the plunge pool, shining like emeralds and sapphires as they reflected the light pouring in through the doorway.
Dashing out of the door, she saw Lina soaring off in the distance. Then, as if something now linked them inextricably together, Lina turned, and waved at her. And, despite the distance, Littani could have sworn that Lina winked, and gave a little twitch of her toes that sent trails of faerie dust streaming out behind her. Tears of joy falling from her eyes, Littani gave Lina a little wave back, then went back indoors to work out how to tell her friends and family about the voice, her beautiful new wings, and a little bit of faerie dust...