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A yellow bus rumbled down the gravel road jolting it's passengers unmercifully.
"Wha' are we th-uppo-th to write abou,', Je-th-ee?" asked Diggory slowly tapping his seat partner's arm. Her name was actually Jessie but Diggory having a lisp could not pronounce it -or for that matter half the words in the dictionary- correctly. Jessie shrugged keeping her face to the bus window. Diggory did not give up. "Je-th-ee, I a-th-ed you a que-th-ion." The girl finally faced him , a scowl wrinkling her small face framed by stringy brown hair. Diggory was her best friend but she seldom acknowledged it. She was a girl who got by by doing the least amount of work possible with the smallest amount of effort. Diggory however, tried his hardest to do his best usaully failing what was asked of him but succeeded by getting by with pity. They were a sad pair but a close one. And very lonely. During school months Diggory and Jessie sat alone on the school playground, alone in the cafeteria and alone on the bus to and from school, which was where they had left only a half an hour earlier.
"Fairies", said Jessie to her young conpanion.
"Oh." said Diggory. "Ugh."
Their English teacher Mr. Dull (that was truely his name) had given them the assignment of writing a short story on that subject, being at least three pages long and due the next day. Mr. Dull was know in that part for being the most harsh teacher in their district or perhaps the whole state of Wyoming. Jessie hated him for it. She also hated English class, and school, and break (because it was boring) and she hated cold eggs and her Aunt Susan whom she lived with. She probably hated the whole world if she had taken the time to think about it.
The bus stopped then and Jessie got off leaving Diggory waving at her through the window. Jessie smiled. Though she had everything to hate she loved him, for he was all she had.
At the end of a long lane sat a small gray house with a sagging porch roof and a screen door that squeaked when it opened. Jessie went in and was met by her old aunt who cooked supper and then went to bed telling Jessie to finish her homework and be sure to do the dishes. With the latter being finished quickly she went up the stairs to her room and sat at the desk. The yellow light from her lamp cast shadows on the wall that caused Jessie to shiver for though she would never would have admitted it, she was afraid of the dark. Slowly she retrieved her math book and opened the pages then slammed it down and picked up her notbook and pencil. She hated English but not nearly as much as arithmatic.
Fairies...fairies... What did she know about fairies? Nothing. Jessie scratched her head and began to chew her fingernails. The blank page stared up at her and finally, she started to cry. All that could be seen through the one window in her room was that the sun had set and now it was very, very dark. She felt utterly alone.
Suddenly the window let out a loud squeak and a figure stood in the opening.
"Hello." Said the girl for that was what she was and as she spoke her silvery-blue dress sparkled like stars.
"Who are you?" Jessie asked in alarm to the girl standing on her window sill.
"Ellie," she said, "and if you want to know what I am I'm a fairy."
"But faries don't exist," blurted out Jessie irritated at herself for being afraid.
"Yes we do," said Ellie "how do you explain me?" Jessie thought a moment.
"I'm asleep, that 's how!"
"No you're not," laughed Ellie and she picked up Jessie's math book and dropped it on Jessie's foot.
"You're a stupid little- " yelled Jessie then reached up to pull the girl's hair but Ellie was hovering over her head.
"If you hit me I'll leave, you know." said Ellie and her blue-green eyes twinkled, "and if I leave you'll never see me again." Jessie sat down on her bed with a loud sigh and stuck her tongue out at Ellie, "See if I care!"
"Oh, but you will! If you never see me again you can never write your story."
Jessie snorted but Ellie just grinned. "You see, I always win," and she fluttered towards the open window. Jessie frowned as hard as she could but her curiousity was too much. "Wait!" called Jessie " you can't just leave me like that! Come back."
"Alright,"said Ellie, "If you insist. I'm going to take you to my home. But just for awhile. Come on!" and she flew into the air. But Jessie was still inside the room.
"I don't know how to fly!" cried Jessie.
"Right. Sorry, I forgot." Ellie said as she flew back to Jessie, "grab my hand and you'll fly just like me but don't let go!"
And with that the two girls jumped out the window and slipped into the sky.
Jessie clung to Ellie's hand and squeased her eyes together tightly.
"Oh, don't do that!" said the fairy, "it's no fun if you don't look down." Jessie opened her eyes and almost let go of Ellie's hand. They were very high up and far away to their right was the tiny speck of light that belonged to Jessie's open window. Everything else was a chilling black but for a few stars and the silvery slice of moon.
"It's alright," said Ellie when she realized Jessie was truly frightened of their unearthly height, "you get used to it after awhile but I promise there is nothing dangerous about flying." Jessie would have replied, but her heart was lodged firmly in her throat.
Then they were on the ground. "Ellie," said Jessie hesitatingly, "why did you come to me?
"Oh that? My grandfather sent me. You'll meet him soon." Ellie led Jessie over a small hill ad then stopped. She pointed to an opening scarcely the size of herself and told Jessie, "Here we are; you go first," and she pushed Jessie through.
Suddenly Jessie was sitting in a very bright room filled with fairies and Ellie was helping her up off the ground. Jessie rubbed her eyes and blinked at the sight of so many curious faces crowding around her. They all looked vaguely like Ellie with light colored hair and bright eyes and -when she looked very closely she saw- they all had a pair of almost translucent wings. Their clothing looked very soft and a bit like it was made of hundreds of tiny jewels. And they were all smiling.
"Hi! What took you so long, Ellie? Is this her? Why is she so scared? " asked a little brown headed fairy boy. "Yes," said Ellie and turning to Jessie added, "don't mind Dickie's questions."
"Hello, Little One," boomed a deep voice. Jessie turned to find the words belonged to a very large fairy with long gray hair and red cheeks. "Thank you, Ellie. Did you properly introduce yourself to the girl?" Ellie nodded. "Yes, but I don't know her name- who are you anyway?"
"Jessie," said Jessie. "And...sir, why am I here?"
"Because little Jessie, you needed help and we are givers of Help. And you may call me Grandfather; all the Little Ones do." Jessie noticed then that there were many others like Dickie sprinkled about the room. Grandfather nodded to Ellie, "She is a bit weary; perhaps some food would be in order. Meliah is ready."
Meliah was not a fairy. When Jessie entered the room that was what looked to be the kitchen the difference between Meliah and Ellie was indeed striking. Her features were bolder and her face round and light and she was dressed completely in shades of gray and green. When Ellie realized what Jessie was thinking she whispered,"Half Elf, half fairy," and Jessie understood.
"Hello, dear one, it's so good to have you," said Meliah. Her voice was that of feathers and lilac. Meliah set a bowl of delicious smelling food on a large wooden table and set Jessie in a chair, "Eat, child," she said and Jessie promptly fell asleep.
When she awoke the first thought that entered her mudled mind was, "I am not in my bed" and the second was "I've never felt anything do soft." It is indeed something to sleep in a fairy bed.
Just then a door opened and Ellie floated to Jessie's side. "Wake up, Jess! You've already wasted half the night sleeping!"
Jessie stood up and abruptly frowned. "I'm sorry but I was so awfully tired."
Ellie softened, "Well, you didn't mean to, I know. But come! We've no more time to waste." With that she grabbed Jessie's hand and pulled her into a hallway. "Grandfather said I was to answer any of your questions and take you to see a surprise."
"Why questions?" asked Jessie confused, "what's the surprise?"
"No surprise before the questions and the questions are for your story, silly! What did you think you were going to do- make up some pretty little lies about fairies?" Ellie laughed cheerfully and gave Jessie a comfortable bench to sit on. "Begin," she instructed and so Jessie did. She asked question after question and for the first time in her life Jessie realized she was actually having fun. Stories began forming in her mind.
"Oh dear!" said Ellie suddenly and she opened a door in the wall and pointed outside. Over in the east the sky had begun to grow faintly yellow and light blue edged the darkness of the fading night.
"We're running out of time and I haven't even shown you the- " she startled Jessie by tugging her arm, "Come on, Jess, come on."
The 'surprise' was a rock. An ordinary stone sitting on an ordinary table and Jessie was very disappointed. "That's all?" she asked in sad discust. Ellie shook her head firmly no.
"Look at it Jess, look hard." Jessie did and the harder she stared, the more she realized it was not just a plain old stone. The gray surface began to swim before her eyes and twist into strange shapes. Then she began to pick out images and then full color and it was almost like watching a moving picture show. "Oh, oh," she said and could not finish because there before her eyes was a bed with a frail woman in it and beside it the very young frame of her own Aunt Susan.
The sick woman in the bed seemed to sit up and called out very weakly to the other.
"Susan...my dear Suasan...I, I think it's very close to the end..." and she lay back with a sigh.
"No, Grace! No. You mustn't talk like that, not in your condition....Dear God, bless her dear heart."
"No," argued Grace, "I can feel it...Susan....Please, you must tell me something."
"Who is that?" whispered Jessie in alarm to the almost forgotten Ellie,"please tell me!"
Ellie squeezed Jessie's hand gently, "It's your mother, Jess."
Jessie let out a startled cry and pressed her lips together keeping her eyes on the distant room.
"Please, Susan," continued the Jessie's mother,"just listen." Susan reached over and patted the frail shoulder softly. "I'm listening, Grace, go on."
"Promise me...promise me when I'm gone you will..."
"Take care of my dear little girl...will you? Say yes!"
Susan began to weep bitterly and the fight left Grace's eyes, "Good-bye, Susan..." She layed her head back and was at rest.
The picture faded and left Jessie and Ellie alone crouched over the stone. Jessie's tears came then. She had never known the story of her birth or of her mother. She only possessed early memories of being in her Aunt's arms.
"Hush,"said Ellie as Jessie cried, "She loves you, you know, your aunt really does." Jessie wiped her eyes,"I- I suppose she does...but I've always hated her so, Ellie...I wish I'd known."
"It's alright," said Ellie, "you've changed now. Come, Jess, it's time to go."
The journey home was silent, and when Ellie left, she recieved a great, big, hug from Jessie.
"Jessie! Breakfast time!" called Aunt Susan from the bottom of the stairs. Jessie instantly appeared.
"Yes? I'm ready."
"Hmph," said the woman unpleasantly, "and I bet you are! Forgot to do your homework last night I'll wager, spending time to do the dishes up so nice."
"Actually, no," answered the girl, and she smiled very mysteriously.
"Well, get on with you then. The bus will be a'waiting any minute."
Down a long dirt road ran the figure of a young girl to a waiting yellow school bus and as she did so she looked up to see Diggory smiling through the window.