Submitted Date 02/21/2019

There once was a wee little fairy named Mirabella who lived in the forest. She was very beautiful, and knew how to weave intricate and colorful dresses for all the fairies in her village and in the neighboring villages in the forest. She sat on her toadstool in the middle of her tree, which had been hollowed out near the bottom to make a round, spacious room, and steadily wove the many tiny threads in and out of her sturdy loom, back and side and forth. She scarcely noticed a sinister face peeping in at the window behind her.

The Wasp of the West Wood looked in at little Mirabella in hate. It was a hate that the unknowing fairy, nor her neighbors, could easily understand. Yet no one in the land was unaware of the Wasp's schemes. Everyone knew that she wished to be queen of the forest, and to do so by destroying all the fairies and all their handiwork too. Then, she and her hideous, poisonous spawn would inhabit their darkened homes and cover the walls with hives. Nothing but terror would be left in the wood.

No one suspected, however, that the Wasp herself would come to visit them, least of all did Mirabella. The villages had a protective magic woven through the paths and gates and streets so that no harm could fully penetrate their land, and no threat had really been seen in months. The Wasp herself seemed to have been absent so long, she might seem to have forgotten the fairies with her own affairs. Mirabella always thought of her as but an echo of a nightmare, someone who posed danger, but never could really win over them. Besides, Mirabella always thought, she was only a small fairy and didn't do work as important as the builders and farmers and such that the Wasp would aim to harm her.

Instead, she sat on the toadstool in her house, weaving and crossing brilliant thread over brilliant thread by the second.

"Tap tap tap!"

Mirabella's stopped and smiled the door. "Surely it must be a good friend come to see me! Everyone has been so busy it has been some time since anyone's come round!" she said, jumping to the door with a light fluttering of her wings. She looked outside, and stared in wonder. Before her stood a wizened old lady clothed in a feathery, violet-colored cloak dashed with irridescent streaks on each layer, flowing to the ground. She had a wise, noble face with deep, piercing eyes, and she smiled and bowed to Mirabella most graciously.

"Good morning, dear!" the noble lady quavered. "My name is Carolina. I have come a far way, and have desired to see you for so long. Your skills in weaving are famous, and I have longed to meet the maker of such beautiful work."

Mirabella gaped at her in a mixture of pleasure and surprise. "Your majesty, I am honored! My work is my pleasure; I am very happy you like my designs so much! Do come in!" She ushered the lady inside, shut the door, and bade her sit down on the toadstool and started to boil some water for tea. Lady Carolina glanced about the simple room. As she sat, she observed a cut on the fairy's third finger. Without a sound, she sent a pestilence to make its home within the tiny wound.

"Is this your home? It's very modest, isn't it? Just what a weaver fairy needs to do her best work."

"Yes," Mirabella nodded, looking about with a sigh. "It is quite plain, but it serves me well." She scratched her finger, around where it itched.

"Of course it does! I would thank it for sheltering you, if I could. And your loom! I'm impressed. For the work you do, I'm amazed you produce such beautiful designs from an antique," Lady Carolina gazed at the instrument.

"Well," Mirabella smiled faintly. "I admit my work does have its flaws. A newer loom would perhaps make things better."

Lady Carolina looked at her in astonishment. "Your work? Flaws? I'd heard you could create the most beautiful evening dress on the first try! Surely that's what you have said yourself; I saw it in the news!"

Mirabella stuttered and blushed. "Yes . . . but, I'm afraid, your ladyship, that that isn't entirely true. At that time I claimed my skill overmuch. Such art takes time and practice, and not every project turns out as one wishes. My words then were my pride, I confess."

The Lady replied, "My my! I truly believed you when I heard your claims. How could anyone not believe you?"

"Believe me?" Mirabella thought a second. "I remember saying I needed no help before a fellow weaver a year ago. She looked at me in indignation. She at least saw my pride." Mirabella's heart felt a pang of guilt and shame. She glanced at the third finger of her left hand, and saw it was swollen slightly. Yet it did not look terrible.

"Yet your reputation for perfection goes abroad," Lady Carolina said in admiration. "What are you working on now, if I may ask?"

Mirabella fluttered to a window with a curved work table underneath it, fit snugly against the wall. "It's something new. I am trying to work with connifers. I have the instuctions for the method of treating the leaves here. It involves some splicing, which I've never done before."

Just then the water for tea was ready. Mirabella took the kettle from the stove (yes, our fairy is very advanced) and poured the water into a teapot. Then she poured the tea into the Lady's tea cup, which the Lady held out for her so politely.

"Oh, look at your finger! It doesn't look good."

"What? Does it look bad?"

"Not terrible, but it could get worse," Lady Carolina frowned. The wound grew redder as she stared.

Mirabella shrugged. "It doesn't hurt." She went back to the counter and poured herself a cup of tea. The pang in her heart still stung her. Perhaps this is my punishment for being so proud. I don't deserve a reputation like what I've led the great Lady Carolina to believe, she thought. She added aloud jokingly, as an afterthought, "I hope I don't have to get it amputated!"

The Lady tilted her head and "hummed." "Sometimes that is the best course of action. Not that that is necessary." The pestilence spread as she spoke.

Mirabella sipped her tea with a somber face. The usual glow about her seemed to have diminished. Perhaps the loss of my finger is the best course of action after all. She felt very ugly, and felt even her beautiful fabrics about her drab little house were dull beyond words. Still, a worried look came over her as she watched her wound worsen.

"When, would you say, is it best to cut off a finger? How bad would it have to get?"

"Let me see it," Lady Carolina jumped up and floated toward her. "Let us go to the light so I can see it better." They went to the window with the work table. The Lady said she had worked as a nurse in the past war, and busily proceeded to try multiple ways of treating the finger. She blew on it, she sprinkled it with herbs, and she wrapped it in a cloth, all while praising the fairy despite her false claims. After half and hour of the Lady's care, the fairy's third finger had not improved.

"It's fine," Mirabella said dolefully. "You don't have to do any more."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, yes. Thank you for trying your best, though."

"But it will only get worse. It will be in the way if you don't have something done to it. Look, it is swollen all over! It is in very poor condition now."

Indeed, her finger swelled and itched more than ever. Perhaps for the better. "What do I do?" Mirabella cried.

It was then Lady Carolina looked at her very sternly, straight in her face. "I must have your finger. Lay it down, and I shall swiftly cut it off. It shan't hurt much at all."

Mirabella hesitated.

"Come come! I can use your splicing knife right here. It is the perfect tool for this. It will be better this way."

Mirabella didn't move. A glimmer of her threads caught the corner of her eye from the loom.


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