Don’t Look Back: WQ Winning Story
One prompt. Five entries. Only one winner.
Once again we had several submissions for our prompt! It was really tough deciding the winner, but, alas, only one can win!
Congratulations to Frances Bell!
The Faerie Child
By Frances Bell, 11th grade
The boy was always the quiet, queer, sort.
He played in the trickling brook, his brothers played near home. He climbed in wild trees apart, while children stayed near house and yard; he braved the fields before his house and strayed a long ways out.
Inside was his mother, large and comforting, a floury apron around her waist, a cross about her neck. And she was unaware at first, her hands being busy at food – but when she saw him walk away, like someone in a dream, her face contorted as in fright she screamed against the dreadful sight – the faeries, those creatures of unearthly delight, had stolen her child away.
His sisters did not see him, his brothers could not fight, when the silver faerie swept him out into the night.
He toddled forward towards the faeries without a backwards glance. He looked at their shining faces and to their willowy hands.
“Don’t look back, don’t think twice,” they said softly, “Come fly away with us! There’s much joy to be had, leave your fate and human lands, leave the sorrowing world behind.”And silver hand grasped startled fingers; sweeping him out to the blue.
Don’t look back, don’t look back… He struggled with his will to stay. He took a step. Then, another.
“Do not think of your mother–”
But he whirled around, going against everything – taking one last look – his mother’s face was grey, aghast, and his brothers’ eyes were big as a cat’s; his sister’s eyes were opened wide.
And that was his biggest mistake, the faeries thought. For the look planted a seed in his heart, one that would not go away.
And so the human child made a home among the fay, and stranger things would happen before his feet would wend again towards Home.
“Come dance with us,” the faeries whispered, “Keep pace and give praise to Him.” And so he did. He danced with the faeries, kept pace and praised without pause, but somehow something was missing. “You looked back,” said the faeries, “And that has made you yearn for more.” But he sang with them, and tried not to think of home.
The boy waxed strong and tall, his hair grew long and wilder than the heath. But still something was missing, no matter how hard he tried, and he grew tired of the midnight music and dancing, though it was beautiful. So one day he shouldered his satchel and panpipes, and pointed bare feet away, and did not look back lest the nighttime mushrooms and silver faeries also grow unwanted on his heart.
He came across the fish as in the streams they played, and asked if he might join them.
“Yes,” said the fishes, “Come swim in the water, frisk in the streams, and play among the reeds.” So he swam with them, frisked in the streams, and played among the reeds with the fish to his heart’s content. But his heart was not content.
“You looked back!” remarked the fish, “So you cannot be happy here. It does not please Him.”
And the boy left fins and scales, shook the water from his hair, and left the streams and rivers without looking back.
The birds found him, the lonely boy, as he walked the forest paths, and took him in. “Fly with us,” they cried, “Forget the ground, live in our woven nests and sing praise to Him!” But the boy could never manage to fly very well, and the nests were small and poky. He built his own and lived in a tree, but his heart still did not rest with the birds.
“Ah, foolish one, you do not belong there,” said a rabbit from the forest floor.
“He looked back at home, and cannot be content with us,” observed the birds. So the boy shook the feathers and twigs from his hair and moss from his panpipes and jumped to the ground. He did not look back.
“Burrow with me,” said the rabbit, “Find joy in the tunnels below the ground and the little clovers.” And so he ate clovers with the rabbit and burrowed as best he could. But the boy soon found that he was missing home, and his heart was uneasy even with his new friend.
The rabbit was a wise old creature, and saw why the boy could not be satisfied in the wilderness.
“Go home,” he advised, “You shall find what you must do.”
The lost boy traveled a long way; he passed under the trees and beyond the streams and stepped among the mushrooms of the faerie circles.
But he could not find home.
He wandered long ways and long days, and many a traveler heard the eerie music of his pipes on hot summer nights. His muscles became harder still as he lived for years in the craggy wild. And he was lost.
But when the boy finally reached his old house he found that it was not home. The door hung awry from its hinges and the roof had caved in. The garden was overgrown with weeds and there was no one in sight.
He tamed the fields, he plowed the earth and planted crops. He repaired the roof, thatching it as the birds thatched their nests. He made his dwelling in his old home and lived there for a long time.
And on many nights he would lie on the heath, stare up at the silver moon, and wonder why his heart was empty and his life joyless. And he cried bitterly, though he did not fully know why.
The trees groaned, stirred in their sleep, and indigo clouds sailed in, borne by the breath of western wind.
And suddenly He was there. The young man turned and fell to the ground before Him, and he knew that he had found what he was searching for. The One Whom the fairies praised – the One for Whom the fish swam – and the One of Whom the birds sang.
“Why does it hurt, Master? I praised You, I danced and swam and burrowed for You. I have even left the delight of the wild and returned to till the ground as the men do, and yet I cannot find
“It is not for men to praise Me merely in the way of nature and her creatures. Your fate is above theirs. Though the world is full of sadness, it is your part to spread My joy.”
And he followed Him to the edge of cliff, high in a mountain. Far below them was a village, marked here and there with the torches of some late-night wanderers.
“These are My people, but they do not know Me. You have learnt My joy of which nature sings – learn My ways and teach My people.”
He placed a hand on the man’s shoulder and met his eyes. “Courage.”
And He was gone.