Listening to the sounds of the birds overhead, lost in the tranquil moment. “Can you pay the toll?.” The sounds jarred us out of our thoughts and brought us back into the reality that we were lost. Not just uncertain which direction we were heading, but not certain of how we got here.
“I said, can you pay the toll!” demanded the voice nearby, as we strained to find the source of this noise, looking all around, hi and low. I feebly responded “Who is there?” Silence. Even the birds who had provided such sweet songs only a moment ago had vanished.
“Even if you cannot see me, I am here, and you must pay the toll!”
By now we had deduced that the sound originated from below the roadway, somewhere inside one of the two culverts. Which one precisely, well neither of us knew that answer, but for a second it was comforting to at least know it was one of the two.
“When I come out, make ready to pay, or there will be trouble your way” the voice under the road called out. Josie made it clear to me that she was ready, if we needed to run.
As we stepped farther away from the edge of the road, the sounds of other voices began to be distinguished from within the nearby woods. A stillness filled the air, and our senses became very much aware that we were now very definitely lost, but not alone!
“Do not mind him”, a voice from the thicket spoke loudly, “there is no toll to pay.” “Thank you”, spoke Josie, “do you have a name, can you come out so we can see you?”.
For what seemed like hours, but in actuality was only seconds, the leaves shook, the thicket moved to and fro. In my mind I had already an image of what was to come out, but nothing could prepare us for the reality.
As the branches cleared, out stepped a winged creature about the size of a mouse, but with human features. Well, as much as we could tell, for he did not come close enough at first for a good inspection. His name was Eolande, and as he told us over the course of a small conversation, was indeed a fairy. We found ourselves continually pinching each other in an attempt to awaken from this dream. Nothing changed. Several glances back and forth as he shared with us his story, gave us each the understanding that this was closer to time after a few drinks, rather than a reality.
Eventually Eolande was joined by the other fairy from inside the culvert pipe, Jaylor. Turns out Jaylor is one of the more forward and jokesters, according the his admission. Through the matter of a late morning the group of winged creatures rose to what appeared to be a dozen or so, and back down to just Eolande. Their curiosity with us seemed at times equal to our curiosity with them. Finding ourselves eventually sitting alongside the nearby creek with Eolande and asking every possible question we could think. How long had they been there, were there others, why did they choose now to show themselves to us? Questions that with each answer brought more questions.
As quickly as this adventure had begun, it was over. Josie turned to ask me a question, and when we looked back, they were gone. Eolande, Jaylor, all of the fairies gone! Left behind was a small flower picked by one of the young boy fairies for Josie.
Josie and I gathered our backpacks, after calling out several more times to no answer. As we walked along the road, to a destination we did not know, our silence spoke louder than words. I found myself questioning everything, and the looks Josie gave me told me she was in the same situation. Herself clinging to the petals of the gifted flower.
Oh how wonderful, if it was all true, it was wasn’t it…
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