I had been forgotten for a long time, nothing but a little toy in this strange, small room that was my home. I can recall a little brown Usul playing with me and I can also recall those were the golden days of my youth. She took me everywhere, always so cautious and delicate with me for someone so small. Which was odd because even I never thought of myself as anything but invincible.
I don't really know what happened that day, I just know that one moment I was blissfully awaiting her return from Neoschool right on the coffee table where she always left me, and then the next I was being put high up in the attic away from people. And more importantly, away from my little girl.
I can only assume time passed as it is wont to do and I slowly devolved from cherished toy to distant memory. Because I would never see my brown Usul friend again.
There was a broken faerie in her grandmother's attic.
Bryn Fletching was a child of naught but six when she first discovered the small figurine. She remembered climbing the dusty ladder that led way up into the tiny, dirty, little room that had been around since her mother was a child. The floor was old cedar wood that had long since lost its sharp, spicy tang with the many years weighing on it, and it was covered from wall to wall with countless knick-knacks and ancient pieces of furniture. The ceiling angled downwards, creating tiny, unusable spaces in the back of the attic. Spaces hardly touched by the bright light that brought only certain spots into sharp contrast; or even the gray light that, contrarily, sprawled across everything without care or concern.
There was one window to the left if one was to come up the ladder, it was small, but let in enough sun to make it possible to navigate the slightly disarrayed aisles of boxes (neatly labeled, though) that made searching for an object a little easier. The dust on the plank floor was at least an inch thick, and every sound of the outside was so faint that it might not have been there at all. It was like another world.
It was quaint and haunting, and she'd almost immediately fled back down the ladder on reaching the top. But before she could do so she noticed something hiding away in a small basket of several odds and ends, perched on top of a particularly worn desk. Cautious, as only a six year old could be, she tiptoed across the floor raising clouds of dust that were too lazy to climb any higher than her knees. Bryn flinched as the floor creaked at her like the joints of an old man that had seen too many years a long time ago. She did eventually make it to the desk, however, and shyly rummaged through the basket. It was filled to the brim with a whole host of seemingly useless items that she found exceedingly dull. However, as she withdrew a golden watch on a chain (which had been what she'd seen in the first place), she noticed a broken faerie statue at the bottom. Gingerly putting the watch down, she fished the pretty thing out and examined it in the early morning light filtering in from the window, as dust motes swirled about in some intricate, time-old dance.
She was by far the saddest, most beautiful thing Bryn Fletching had ever had the pleasure of seeing in her short life. Perched on what looked like a silver crescent moon, she stared upwards as if seeking something beyond the known world. Light, almost ivory, hair tumbled down her back in a fall of helpless curls that reached her waist, while sweet blue eyes searched for something they could never find. An elegant gray dress was settled over her tiny body, pausing at her slim ankles. Slipper-clad feet pointed gracefully downwards, while her snow-white hands grasped the top of the moon as if to hold her steady.
She had only one translucent, delicate wing remaining on her slightly arched back, and Bryn thought it was a terrible thing to be that beautiful, and be denied the privilege of flight when one clearly wanted it so badly. Everything from her expression to her posture spoke of some silent request to be free. But she was earthbound.
Bryn resolved to search for the faerie's missing wing until she found it.
Then she heard her grandmother calling her down to eat breakfast, and the little girl could only touch where the figurine's wing should've been before opening one of the drawers in the old mahogany desk and nestling the little faerie into the folds of some long-forgotten article of clothing. With that she hurried back downstairs.
She didn't tell her grandmother about her discovery, though. It didn't seem right.
Bryn Fletching visited her grandmother every Sunday, along with her mother, father and older brother. Her mom would often fret after Bryn would leave the table that the little Usul girl was spending too much time cooped up in that attic. Then she'd fire questions at her own mother to try and find some reason to forbid Bryn to do so. To her credit, though, Bryn's grandmother waved each of the slightly frantic rainbow Usul's worries away patiently.
"What about those vicious little psimouse creatures? Surely there are psimouse creatures up there, she could get the plague. She's only eight, ma."
"Dear, haven't seen a psimouse since I started usin' that special poison that runs 'em off."
"You know that poison you told me about? I bet it doesn't prevent barbats from getting in there, they have diseases to don't they? Worse than a psimouse, I bet."
"Barbats don't live around here, dear. It's a little cold."
"That dust, goodness me, you know Bryn is allergic to dust."
"She hasn't had an asthma attack since she was four, which is around seven years now, right? Besides, she knows to come down if it gets hard to breathe."
"You know there are some days when she comes home absolutely disgusting, cobwebs and dirt hanging off her hair and clothes. Not to mention the cuts and bruises she gets from crawling all over that filthy place."
"It's part of bein' a kid, Ashleigh, I remember when you'd come home covered from head to toe in mud."
"She saw a spyder, Mom. We simply can not allow her up there anymore. She could come across one of the poisonous types. Mom, she could die."
"Spyders aren't venomous, Ash dear. Do stop worryin' about Bryn, she's perfectly capable of takin' care of herself. She's sixteen."
Bryn Fletching had been searching for that wing since she was six, she'd started from the right-hand side of the room and combed her way to the left in twelve years. And still had found nothing. She couldn't find it in herself to give up though, the faerie seemed to have gotten more forlorn with each passing year and it drove her onward.
The Usul's searches had always seemed sort of hopeless, but there was some kind of peaceful solitude to it as well. Which was part of the reason why she wouldn't give it up just yet. It relaxed her, and gave her something to work for. It was a hobby of sorts in all actuality.
Her friends thought her a little crazy that she liked to delve into her grandmother's attic on Sundays, but didn't question her really. Sometimes they offered to help, but she always turned them down with a slight smile, saying that it was sort of her own little thing. She'd never told them why she did it, despite the fact they'd asked several times.
They left the subject alone for the most part, though.
It was the summer after her last year in Neoschool and she was beyond delighted that the Terror Mountain Rescue Academy was only about a thirty minute hike from her grandmother's house, where she would be staying. This meant she could still do her quest for the wing, even if it meant in slightly shorter time intervals to allow for homework or studying.
She was okay with that.
Her grandmother never asked her why she went through every box and drawer in that attic.
School started and she found herself getting wrapped up in studying (as she'd predicted) as well as parties. Her mother was relieved at this, finally daring to hope that Bryn had given up, and would start embracing her life a little more to its fullest (or what she considered its fullest). She didn't push the change, merely asking casually every now and then what Bryn had found in the attic lately (she had discovered something new every time she looked, and had never failed to tell the whole family). Her replies tended to be a little distant, as if she was guilty, saying that she hadn't really had time to do much of her attic-combing. Her mother made appropriate noises of sympathy and regret.
The first time she was able to do something more in the attic was about halfway through her first semester, and she had fled upstairs on a Saturday after a week of severely testing midterms, not to mention a grueling nine hour faux-rescue mission that had finally ended at 2:00 in the morning. Telling her friends that she would see them on Sunday evening (the Academy was closed for the following week), she threw herself into a day-long frenzy of scouring every box she could, only pausing for mealtimes.
She collapsed in bed that night around 10 and was out like a light.
The next morning she helped her grandmother clean up around the house to prepare for the traditional Sunday breakfast her family had. It was pleasant and Bryn's mom didn't once mention the attic to anybody. It was a nice breakfast, and Bryn left the table feeling quite affectionate towards her slightly quirky family. They left a little past noon.
That evening, before Bryn left, she roamed up the ladder on a whim. She couldn't tell why she went up there, but she did. It was dark, but her grandmother had, quite fortunately in her opinion, long since had a light installed. She clicked this on, before scrutinizing the tidy room. Over the years Bryn had dusted and swept and organized until she'd had the room nearly spotless. Boxes were lined up in sinfully straight rows, all of them organized into separate categories. She'd left the three desks, the dresser, the bookshelf (she'd read every book it had held), and the chest in their places because they were too heavy for her to be moving about. She'd just worked around them.
Her system had made it easy to find anything she might ever want to look for... except that one wing. Bryn found herself walking to the desk that held the faerie, with the basket she'd originally found her in, perched on top. She poked through it idly, before opening the drawer (she had to slide the top middle drawer out in order to open the others). She picked the faerie up, gently stroking the broken stub where her wing should have been while she took in every little detail of the figure. The faerie had always looked fragile, and now even more so, as if each day without being able to fly had aged her. But still beautiful.
"I'm sorry," Bryn whispered quietly. "I've tried for nearly thirteen years now." The faerie made no response, but the girl thought that maybe her expression had softened at the words. Shaking her head at her silliness, she tenderly tucked the figurine back into the drawer and closed it.
As she stared down at the desk, tears threatening to fall, she reached a decision.
When she told her grandmother about the faerie statuette, the old woman stared at her disbelievingly for a second before laughing long and heartily.
"That's what you've been lookin' for all this time, Bryn? Oh my dear, you should have told me. I've been tryin' to find that darn faerie for years now, I have her wing tucked away safe-like in my dresser." And then the old Brown Usul laughed some more, and Bryn couldn't help but chuckle as well. Well more like hysterically howl for ten or so minutes straight.
As soon as she got the wing she went streaking up the ladder, only pausing to flick on the light. She had hot glue and the wing in each hand respectively, and hurriedly set them down in order to get the faerie out.
"I have it, and you wouldn't believe where it was!" she gasped, not really thinking about how strange this might've sounded to any person just walking by the base of the ladder, "You'll be free in no time at all." Just as she was heating up the hot glue gun she heard the doorbell ringing, before her friends' voices started yelling at her to hurry up, they were running late.
She hesitated at first, glancing down at the faerie who seemed to have gotten back some kind of hope on her thin face. Reluctantly she unplugged the hot glue gun, before placing the broken wing beside the faerie.
"Here, as soon as I get back, I promise I'll put it back on. Please don't give me that look." Somewhere in the back of her head Bryn realized she was arguing with an inanimate object, but she still continued, "we've waited nearly thirteen years, I think we can afford to wait a little longer." Her friends' increased their pitch and pace of delivery and she winced. "You'll fly again, don't worry," she whispered rapidly before rushing back down the ladder, not bothering to turn off the light or push the ladder back up. Once she was on the ground floor again she rushed to the front door, telling her grandmother that she would be back late and not to wait up for her.
When the door slammed shut, Claire thought she heard an almost exasperated whisper from the attic, but shrugged it off as the wind and went back to knitting while she watched TV, intent on staying up until Bryn got home anyway.
It would be nine years before someone found the broken faerie in the attic again.
I remember sparkling crystal blue eyes and a happy laugh. I remember watching her scour my home for whatever it was of me that was missing. She was short and slim, had a red ruff and red bows and she always wore an old Day of Giving sweater because I think it was cold up here to her. Except that one night, that night she found the rest of me. I was so happy, because after my little friend was done I would be whole and beautiful again. She got called down, though, and whispered several reassuring words to me before disappearing, I did my best to stay patient. She was right, after so long what was a little more time to me?
So I waited and waited, she would come. She always came.
I never felt time pass, but I figured it must have because gradually my home started filling up with unknown, foreign boxes again and I got shunted further and further to the back of it all. I grew tired and restless. I could see my wing, it was right there within reach. If only I could move.
There were noises one day, irregular noises. I wished I could turn around to see what it was, but I just had to wait until I felt a soft hand around me. Then there was laughing crystal blue eyes and how they flickered with warmth and childish delight!
"Hello, what're you doing up here all by yourself? And- oh no! What happened to your wing? That simply isn't right. Imagine that! A faerie who can't fly. You just wait a second, Miss Lady, I'll be back in a jiffy." The joy that had swelled in me was all-consuming and I thought I would melt in the heat of it all. I began to grow frightened, however, after what I guessed might've been what they called 'a few minutes'. What if my new companion didn't come back? I knew my old friend had disappeared, what would stop this one from doing the same?
Despair washed over me and if I had not been made of stone I would have wept.
I could see the light from the far window dimming and I resided back into my shell; telling myself to not hope, but yet still daring to do so.
Then. A noise. Familiar scuffling and there she was again, radiant and beaming. She could've been my old Bryn, but for the fact she was younger.
"Glad to see you decided to stick around. Just give me a couple minutes to heat up this glue, then I'll put you back to rights. Would you like that, Miss Lady?" She picked me up and examined me again. "You sure are pretty; how long have you been cooped up here anyway?" She brushed me off as I became accustomed to warm, living hands again. "Too long, I bet. You're all dusty, is that glue ready now? Ow!" She put me down and wrung her paw with a wry smile. "Yeah, it's ready. Now are you ready? Here we go, and let me do this..." Extreme heat on my back, but I didn't feel it, my whole world was shining because soon everything would be how it should be. "Now I'll hold it for a little while. Look at that, you're already glowing. I think I'm going to put you on the fireplace mantel, that way you won't ever get lost or broken again. Ma will be pretty pleased with you, I think, she loves faeries. I bet you'll like her too; she's a nice lady. Look at that! Good as new. Now come with me, let's get you out of this dusty old place. Jeez, isn't it kind of depressing up here? Barely any light, nobody to talk to. Here's the steps, let me make sure you won't fall and down we go!"
Tucked against her as I was awoke all those old feelings of security and love that I had kept locked away inside me since before this small creature was born. Then before I knew it there were bright lights everywhere. They were so beautiful and sparkly, and then I was flying! Honest to goodness, flying! If I'd had a voice I would have been shouting with glee. She scurried down the hall and pictures and furniture flashed by my vision, and then suddenly...
An Usul, short and slim, had a red ruff and red bows. Older though, mature. Still the same eyes though and when she saw us she laughed and it was still the same laugh too.
"What do you have there, Brindle? Oh." She cut herself off as Brindle held me up to her before she gently took me in her arms, holding me at eye level, "Why... I never." We stared at each other for a long while as if weighing the changes in each other's face; as if calculating just how many years would have had to have passed to put those new lines there.
"Can we put her on the mantel, huh? Huh? She's so pretty, isn't she, Mama?" Brindle's voice brought us back to the present and there was nothing but happiness in me now. I didn't even remember the loneliness or the humiliating despair of a faerie without flight; this was everything I needed.
"She's beautiful. And of course I'll put her on the mantel. Can you imagine me doing anything else with her?"
"Do you think she'll like it?" chirped the Usul girl, excitedly dancing around her mother's feet.
"Why don't you ask her yourself?" She lowered me down so Brindle could see my face again.
"Would you like that, Miss Lady?" There were no words; even if I'd had a mouth made of more than just stone, I wouldn't have been able to speak. I had been too long in that near silent place with my back to the world; forget flying and dancing with the wind. I didn't want any of that, I just wanted this. To watch over them and be guardian of them for years and generations to come; it was my dream, my little niche in existence. After a moment, Brindle nodded seriously.
"I think she likes that idea."