Changeling Child

I never understood the appeal of fairies.

Not the old, wild type, you understand, but the flittery-glittery pretty little winged girls that danced over the covers of my friends’ notebooks or spun like sycamore seeds through the sparkling pages of the picture books in the library. I’d watch in blank incomprehension as the children in my class wrapped themselves in yard after yard of netting and rainbowed fabrics, tied paper wings to their backs and made belief that they could fly – I wished them well of their endeavours, but more in a desire to see them happy than any understanding of what it was they thought that they were being.

I am a changeling child, you understand. A changeling son of a changeling daughter of a changeling daughter – all of us enough alike in form and feature to be of one blood, all of us strangers to the world we find ourselves in, all of us learning one way or another to hide what we are from a world that, in the main, will never understand.

It did not take me long to realise I was different. It took me longer to realise why. But I never liked fairy tales, even before I knew. I found my people in the old stories – blood and bone and root and branch, finding my green eyes and fine features in the faces shadowed in the hollows of myth and legend that run crosswise through our land – and the bright sparkling children of the newer tales seemed a pale mockery of everything that sang the true notes of longing in my bones.

But my mother knew, and did not mock me when I never played princess, never longed to be a fluttering fairy dancing in the dawn. My mother found me stories, books and plays and music that told of our people, our time, our ways. Of the time when we were known for what we were, and the time before that. Of the time we rode out among the peoples of the land, or stalked our way through the forests that stood once where your cities now hold sway.

And I grew, and growing, found I knew then what I was.

My mortal sister lives – for I know that you will ask – and she lives well. She reads, she writes, she is content. We talk. And she is happy, where she is.

And I? I am happy here. For all that I do not fit, that I do not belong, I am happy here. I am the changeling son of a changeling daughter, straddling two worlds and none on nimble feet and seeing through mismatched eyes, and I am happy here.

But still, I do not see the appeal of fairies.

Copyright © 2018 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.

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