The Faeries’ Tale
By Jessica Scott
Anna crept quietly to the door which had been left open just enough so she could see into the room. It was after nine in the evening on a Friday night. A gentle light shown down on the mother rocking her babe to sleep creating a halo effect on the scene. It reminded Anna of the Madonna and Child painting she had seen on a trip to the art museum her parents had taken her to a few years ago. The soft yellow light surrounded mother and infant, enveloping them in an aura of peace. The mother was humming a song that the 18 year old girl remembered hearing whenever she was little and afraid to fall asleep. Anna leaned against the side of the doorway and watched as quietly as she could. The nursery room was a soft pale blue with touches of white and red highlighting the room. Stuffed animals were scattered around the room as were miscellaneous baby things. It was a pleasant room for a baby to live in and Anna liked it, though she was sure the baby didn’t care.
A movement caught Anna’s eye and then a shadow covered the mother and baby. A man came into view. He caressed the mother’s cheek lightly when she looked up at him, with eyes so full of love and happiness as any fairy tale princess living her happily ever after could have. He leaned down and placed a kiss on the woman’s bright golden head. Anna knew her parents had not come straight out of a fairy tale story but you’d never believe it to look at them. They were like some Hollywood version of the perfect couple. Her mother’s natural blonde hair was the color of a sunbeam, and so thick it would put any Disney princess’s hair to shame. She had eyes as blue as the winter sky on a clear day, and her fair skin would make Snow White jealous. She had kept her slim figure through the years, though not without effort, which was how Anna knew her mother wasn’’t a real fairy tale princess.
Her father was tall and handsome, with short, dark hair and bright blue eyes to match her mother’s. He had a smile that could light up a room whenever he entered it, and it never failed to light her mother up as well. He was well-built with straight wide shoulders and, like her mother, he made sure he kept fit. Both of her parents went to the gym together, and a few years ago, her father had talked her mother into taking fencing classes with him. He was an expert swordsman and he had told them it would be fun. It had been fun, too. Anna had been surprised, and her dad had been pleased to see she had a natural gift with a sword. But it was her mother who had surprised Anna the most. She didn’t know why her dad had wanted to teach her mother how to sword fight when it was clear to Anna that her mother had obviously handled a sword before. Every time her mom and dad sparred, it always ended with her mom besting her dad. Every single time. There were even times when her mom would take over teaching Anna an especially difficult move. Her dad never seemed to mind. He would sit quietly and watch the two go through the mechanics of each move, only speaking to tell Anna when to move back or forward whenever her mother would lunge towards her. Most of the time she loved to just watch her mom and dad spar. They had a natural grace together, and it was more like they were dancing rather than fencing, almost as if they were the other’s shadow or reflection. Either that or they were reading each other’s minds. Anna thought there was nothing more beautiful than watching her parents together this way. Except for when they really were dancing.
Looking at the two of them now Anna felt as if they were in this separate world where nothing could touch them. You could feel the strength of their love for each other like a powerful force, and she felt like an intruder in something too raw, too naked for her to be seeing. There was something very magical about it, though, which was why she couldn’t look away. She knew she wanted this kind of love for herself one day but so far none of the boys in school had even earned more than a casual thought from Anna. They were nice, but there had never been even one who made her feel the same way that her parents felt about each other. Anna watched as her father bent down and took her little brother from her mother’s arms and put him in his crib. He covered the baby gently with a blanket while her mom joined him at the crib’s side. It had been weird, her mom having another baby so late in life, not that you could tell how old either of her parents were. Age had been very gentle with them both, not a grey hair on either of them, and no lines other than the laugh lines around their eyes. But, still, Anna had only just turned 18 and had a few more months left of high school before going off to college. They should have had a baby back when she was little and had wanted a playmate. Now, she’d be going off to college and they’d be changing diapers and pushing strollers again. She really wouldn’t get to know this little brother. He’d just be a stranger to her whenever she came home on holidays. Yet, her parents were happy and Anna had to admit he was as beautiful a baby as one could wish. She found she even enjoyed it when they had put him in her arms at the hospital and she had held him. He had even smiled at her and wrapped his tiny little fingers around one of hers and didn’t let go, even when he fell asleep. They had even let her pick his name, William Aiden. Okay, so he was adorable for now. Maybe it really wouldn’t be that bad. Plus, it was kind of nice knowing she had another family member.
She sighed contentedly watching her parents while they watched William sleeping. They turned around and smiled at her. It was almost blinding, those smiles together. Good thing she was used to it.
“Hi sweetheart,” her mother whispered. She motioned for Anna to come inside the room. She pushed the door open a little more and walked over to the bed, her dad putting an arm around her and pulling her next to him in a sideways hug. He kissed the top of her head.
“Did you just get in?” he asked looking down at her. She nodded.
“Yeah. The movie ended earlier than Jen and I thought,” Anna said.
“Was it any good?” her mom asked, softly. She moved away from the crib and began picking things up around the room leaving Anna and her dad to watch the sleeping baby.
“It was okay. The acting was pretty good but the storyline had lots of holes,” Anna told her.”They took a lot of liberty with the story.””
“That’s Hollywood for you,” her dad said. “Either they get it right, or they kill the story. That’s why I always say…”
“Read the book first,” Anna said finished for him. He smiled.
“Exactly,” he said. He let her go and walked over to her mother. “I’ve got some work to do in the study. I’ll be up late so don’t wait up for me.”
“Alright, darling. But don’t work too hard,” she replied. Anna didn’t know if it was a trick of the light or not but she thought the look her mother gave her dad was her worried one. Why would her mother be worried about dad working in the study? He’d just be doing paperwork.
“I won’t. It’s just the quarterly reports that are due next week,” he said. He took her mom in his arms and kissed her deeply, the way he did whenever he went on a long trip. Then he rested his forehead against hers for a moment before walking to the nursery door. He stopped and looked back at Anna.
“Don’t stay up too late, honey,” he told her. “Your mom and I have some errands to run in the morning and we may need you to watch William.”
“Yeah, okay,” she replied. A chill ran up her spine at the look her dad gave her. Why was he looking at her as if memorizing her? He walked back over to Anna and hugged her hard, holding her for just a moment. “I love you, Annaberry ,” he said.
“I love you, too, dad,” she responded. He let her go and walked quickly out of the room without looking back. Well, That was odd. He hadn’t called her Annaberry since she was fourteen years old. She looked at her mom who was staring at the door her dad had just walked out of. Anna thought she could see tears in her mother’s eyes. What the hell was going on?
“Hey, mom, is everything okay?” she asked. Her mother went back to putting things to rights in the room. It was amazing how messy a baby’s room could get.
“Yeah, of course it is,” her mother said a bit too brightly. She smiled at Anna but the smile seemed false. “Why?” her mother asked her.
“I don’t know. Dad just seems a little…off,” Anna tried to explain. She couldn’t quite figure out what was with her dad but she had definitely felt that something wasn’t as it seemed.
“Oh. It’s just work. You know how he gets when he has to do the reports,” her mother explained.
“Right,” Anna answered, but she knew her mother was making an excuse. It was almost as if she was trying to distract her from something. But what? “So what errands do you and dad have to do in the morning? I thought all the shopping and stuff was done last weekend.”
“We’re going to visit Maria at the nursing home and she wanted us to come early. Then, we have to go to the post office because I’m out of stamps, and we have your graduation invitations we HAVE to get out next week,” mom said and looked pointedly at Anna. If that was a distraction, it was a good one. Anna had completely forgotten about the invitations, sort of purposely. She did not want to have to hand address every one of them but mom said it was more personal and showed good manners. But she really hated having to write her full name on every envelope. Annalise was bad enough but Annalise Brianna Kevay? She just knew mom would make her write out her full name, too. Mom always said names had power, though, and she and dad had taken pains to choose the name they thought would be just right for her. Although, her name sounded more like a list of traits rather than something powerful. She had looked up the meanings of her name years ago. She had been curious about it. Annalise meant elegant, Brianna meant strong, and she had even found out her last name meant charming. So she was supposed to be elegant, strong and charming? Boy had they gotten that wrong. Anna was anything but elegant or strong, and as for charming…well, a rock had more charm than Anna. She had asked her dad why they had named her those things and he’d said that it depended on your perspective. He said that some things take time to develop and that one day Anna would see herself as she truly was: an elegant, strong, and charming young woman. She was still waiting.
“I know, I know,” Anna said, rolling her eyes. “I guess I can do it Sunday. Jen wants to go bowling with the group tomorrow night.””
“It will have to be Sunday afternoon then, because dad wants to take you to the archery range Sunday morning,” mom said. “He says it’’s been a while since you two were there and he thought you might want to go while you still have time to go with him.”Anna’s heart sped up. She and dad hadn’t been to the range in months and she was happy he’d thought of it.
“Yeah, that sounds great,” Anna said a little too excitedly. Her mom smiled.
“Yeah, whatever it takes to get out of addressing those invitations, right?” she asked. Anna smiled sheepishly and shrugged. “I swear, your dad is as bad as you are sometimes.””
“Hey, it’s his idea, not mine,” Anna said, completely forgetting the worry that had been in her mom’s eyes.
“Right. I’m sure it’s going to be a real hardship going and shooting your bow instead of addressing invitations,” her mom said with no little amount of playful teasing in her tone. “Just remember, you can have your fun but at some point you have to pay the piper.” Something in her tone changed. Was that a warning? Suddenly, Anna felt goosebumps break out on her skin, but she tried to shrug it off.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know,” she said. “Well, I’m going to go to bed now.” She went over to her mom who was folding the last baby blanket and putting it away.
“Okay, sweetheart,”mom said. She gave Anna a hug that was just a little too tight, then kissed her forehead, something she hadn’t done in years, ever since Anna had said she was too old for kisses at thirteen years old. Something about it made her wonder why she had thought she was too old. She found she had missed her mom’s goodnight kisses, and she wanted her mom to know. So, when her mom pulled away Anna grabbed her again and hugged her back, hard. She caught her mom off-guard. Maybe it was that weird feeling she kept getting, but something made her think she might not see her mom again.
“I love you, mom,” she said and looked at her mom. They were almost the same height now, so Anna was able to look her mother in the eyes as she said those simple words. “I really do love you so much.”
Her mother smiled tenderly. “I love you, too, Annalise,” she said. “I always have and always will.”” They stood with their arms wrapped around each other for a few minutes more, Anna drinking in the closeness they way she used to when she was little. Then, she let her mom go and left for her room.
© 2014 Jessica Scott.
All Rights Reserved.