“Here, Murzik!” Sagacia sang, making an effort to get the rolled “r” in Vasilisa’s cat’s name. “Suppertime!” She placed the bowl of Friskies on the step, closed the door behind her and hastened into the glowing warmth of the Fairy Tale Lobby.
Jo Radner sat in the little windsor beside the end table, Reilly McCarron had sunk into the easy chair. her ankles crossed on the hassock, Sheila Arnold perched on the edge of the writing desk, and Terrance McArthur, whose teacup Simplia was just now refilling, was in the wingback by the fireplace. Simon Brooks and his friend Sebastian McManus Bartholemew occupied the chesterfield.
It was Sebastian whose voice Sagacia heard as she returned to the room.
“Some more well known protectors of the Other Realms coined the phrase Fairy Tales when they referred not to the wee folk, but to the realms, or peoples, they brought to mind.”
“And by realms or peoples, you mean…?” urged Sagacia.
“Many, many years ago we all lived together,” Sebastian continued. “And by ‘we’ I mean witches, ogres, genies, trolls, giants, elves, mermaids, dragons, wizards, crones, ‘geezers with magical gifts’, and talking animals. But the human species did not understand these beings and so began to destroy them. The wee folk, and I include elves in this, have some interesting powers and were reaching a deliquium when that bastard St. George slew the last living dragon: the wee folk had to do something. Using their magikal powers in an effort to save themselves, they created a new realm for the Other Folk to live in. This protected them from humans and overcame the dilemma. Witches were left in our world and some paid the price in the 1600′s along with a few innocent, if balmy, men and women. It was the job of witches to alert the Others when a time came, if one ever did, that humans had evolved enough to accept them all. Once in a while the wee folk, trolls and giants reentered our realm. When they did it usually caused a bit of a stir as humans were not able to grasp these ‘creatures’. This is still the case when the other beings from outer space visit.”
“Outer Space!” thought Sagacia. Why had she encouraged him? And why didn’t his friend Simon occasionally rein him in! She looked around the room, hoping for a more practical view.
Sheila obliged. “I think that ‘fairies’ are just used as the symbol for any tales that bring the magical and mysterious side to us, with characters that are elusive to meet today and infrequent in our regular world. They could have been called ‘Troll Tales’, but trolls aren’t really beautiful – and who would read them? Maybe ‘Mermaid Tales’, but they really are quite mean. Have you seen Jack Sparrow’s most recent movie?”
“Orange zest scones?” asked Simplia, re-entering the friendly circle with a serving tray.
“No, Dear!” said Sagacia. “On Stranger Tides! You know: Pirates of the Caribbean?”
Reilly scooted forward to reach the tray. “According to my faerie bard friend from the Otherworld,” she said, “We probably adopted faeries as the symbolic emblem for ‘tales from the magical realm’ because they are the most accessible creatures for human understanding and communication. At various times, in various places, we have known them to be large and small, kind and mischievous, cute and angry… perhaps you can see how it is so easy for us to relate to them. While other ‘faerie folk’ can tend to be definitively characterised – elves are clever and shy, goblins are impish and humorous, gnomes are gentle bon vivants (generally speaking of course) – faeries are as changeable as we are, making them excellent ambassadors for the Otherworld inhabitants in general.”
“So says my friend…,” she added. “Of course she’s a faerie herself and may well be biased!”
Terrance stood up to reach the jam. “Don’t you know that fairies are the gossips of the Otherfolk?” he intoned. “They can’t keep a secret. They have to tell everyone they meet about everything that happens in the mystic realm. They see it all, and they tell it all. It isn’t that there are fairies in the fairy tales; these are the tales the fairies tell!”
Jo cocked her head and shrugged. “I see the persistence of the label “fairy tale” as an act of linguistic flag-waving! You know how words in our language sometimes get snatched by powerful movements? Take “gay,” for instance, a word my grandmother loved and used frequently. Ask any English teacher nowadays what happens in a class when she introduces Yeats’s heart-stopping, beautiful poem “Lapis Lazuli,” and comes to those challenging lines, ‘They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay,/ Gaiety transfiguring all that dread”’ Somehow the point about looking at death with courage gets lost, these days. So — about ’fairy tales’ — I see that moniker as a courageous, take-back-the-words assertion. An insistence on maintaining complexity in a Twitter world. A …
At that moment, a cheery meow reached Sagacia’s ears, and she lept from her chair. “Murzik!” she called, running into the kitchen. Then with a sudden about-face, she called back, “Someone write all that down for us to send to Curious in Caracas, okay?”