The Untold Tales
By Rose MorningMist
“Why does it have to rain?”
I look down at my brother, Dustin.
“Because otherwise there would be no water. It would all run out. At least, that’s what Mum says.”
“But why does it have to rain now?”
“Maybe the clouds are busy later.” I say.
Dustin sits down on the ground. “But we were going to go out today,” He says, “And the rain ruined it!”
Out. Out. Finally, after weeks of waiting, our mother and father had finally organised a day for us to leave the house. To go out. To breathe in the fresh air, to see the sky without having to press our faces against the window, trying to get a glimpse of the blue.
Mum says it’s dangerous for kids like us to go outside. She says there are bad people out there, who will try to take us away if we’re not careful.
Dustin doesn’t know this though. Mum says he’s too young. He’s only five, after all. Only two, if we’re counting in fairy years. We call it IFY for short. As for me, I’m seven. Nearly four IFY.
“Come on, there’s plenty of other things we can do.” I say, sitting down beside him.
“Can you tell me one of your stories?” He asks, face lighting up.
I smile. “Alright then.”
I tell him about the beach. “I visited when I was little,” I say. “With Mum and Dad, almost every day.” This was before Dustin was born, when kids like us could play outside all the time. Before Mum and Dad started looking so worried and tired all the time.
“You should see it, Dustin! The ocean is like a giant lake, so big you can’t see the end of it. There’s big shady trees and soft sand and -”
“What’s sand?” Interrupts Dustin.
I think for a moment. “It’s a bit like dirt, but cleaner, and it’s a different colour – sort of golden,” I say. “And if you mix water with it sticks together and you can make things with it, like castles and mountains, and you can decorate it with shells.”
“Like the ones you have in our room?”
I nod. “They come in all shapes and sizes too. Flat ones and round ones and ones with spirals – and all different colours, like pink, white, brown, yellow -”
“Blue?” He asks.
I frown. “I don’t know.” I say. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blue one before.”
“When I go to the beach,” Says Dustin, “I’m going to find a blue shell, and bring it home so I can -”
“Shh!” I say. Someone just knocked on our front door. Dustin and I freeze. The door to the living room opens, and Mum rushes in.
“Take Dustin upstairs,” She says. “Stay in your room until I come and get you. Quickly!”
Whoever’s at the door is knocking again. I stumble to my feet, and take Dustin by the hand. As quietly as possible, we climb the stairs to our room. Dad built a wardrobe, which has a secret door at the back, which leads into our room. Sometimes Dustin and I pretend our room is a secret base, and try to spy on our parents. We aren’t very good at it though – they always catch us.
I open the wardrobe, and we clamber through, closing the doors behind us. I put a finger to my lips. Dustin nods, and sits down on his bed. I lie down on the floor with my ear pressed against it. I’ve learnt that it I do this, and its quiet enough, I can sometimes hear what people are saying below.
The voices are deeper, so it must be a sparrowman. I can hear dad talking too, but I can’t tell what they’re saying. It’s harder when they’re two floors down instead of one. They talk for about five minutes, and then I hear the door close, and footsteps up the stairs. My heart races. It could be Mum, coming to get us. Or it could be the man who knocked, searching the house. I hold my breath. The door opens, and –
“Are you two alright?”
It’s Mum. Dustin leaps off his bed and runs at her, wrapping his arms around her waist.
“Who was it?” I ask.
She sighs. “A member of the Never Council.”
“What did he want?” The Never Council has been here before – they’ve investigated the house on a number of occasions.
“The rent,” Says Mum. “I forgot to pay it to the Post Office yesterday. They were just chasing it up.”
I breathe a sigh of relief.
“Now, come downstairs. Your Father brought a few cakes home from work.”
Dustin and I look at each other, eyes wide.
I accept a sandwich from my dad take a bite out of it and frown. It tastes weird.
“What’s on this?” I ask.
“Watercress,” He says. “We got given lots of leftovers from my work yesterday.”
“Is there anything different?” I ask.
“Cheese and tomato, or lettuce and egg,” He says.
“Lettuce and egg please,” I say. “Tomato is yucky!”
He chuckles and passes me one. I take a bite and chew happily.
The beach is even more wonderful than I remember. The sun and the sky and the salty smell of the ocean floating on the breeze…
“Sis! Look what I found!” Dustin runs up to me, holding something in his hand.
“What is it?” I ask. He holds out his hand and uncurls his fist.
Lying on his palm is a small blue shell. It’s striped with green and the tip is fringed with teal. “It’s beautiful,” I breathe.
“It’s for you,” He says. “To add to your collection.”
I grin and wrap him in a hug. “Thank you,” I whisper.
I finish poking the string through the small hole in the shell that Dad drilled in. “There,” I say, holding it up for Dustin to see. “What do you think?”
He looks up from his block tower. “It’s pretty!”
Mum chuckles. “It’s lovely, sweetheart,” She says. “Fit for a princess.”
I hold the necklace up to my neck. “I am a princess of the high seas,” I say, “And I declare that we all go to the beach every day from now on!” Dad laughs, and picks me up in his arms.
“That would be lovely. But I have to work tomorrow,” He says.
Dustin and I groan. “Again?” I ask. Dad sighs. He looks so tired. There are dark lines under his eyes.
“I’m afraid so, kiddo.” He puts me down on the ground again. My wings droop. “Come now, don’t be sad. If you’re lucky, I may try and bring some brownies home tomorrow.”
Dustin perks up immediately. “Really?” He asks. Brownies are his favourite. Dad nods. “Yay!” He jumps up and does a little dance. Mum and Dad laugh, and I join him, spinning and twirling and jumping all around.
I love moments like these. They make waiting for them worthwhile.
1 Year Later
Mum and Dad sit us down one evening to speak to us.
“Your father and I have been wanting to tell you something,” says Mum. Dustin and I look at each other and a million scenarios run through my head – but then Mum smiles.
“I’m with child,” She says.
I stare at them, shocked. Dustin looks puzzled. “You mean -”
“Yes,” Dad says. “Your mother is going to have a baby.”
I squeal with delight and do a somersault in the air.
“Yay yay yay! I’m going to have another brother or a sister and we can play games and tell stories and go to the beach and we can make cakes and fly and -”
Mum laughs. “Calm down, sweetheart.”
Dustin frowns. “Boy or girl?” He asks.
Dad smiles. “We don’t know yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
9 Months Later
I pace the length of our room, waiting for Dad to return. He told us nearly two hours ago to come up here and stay here until he said. Dustin gave up waiting and fell asleep.
The baby’s coming – I know it. I’m anxious to find out what’s happening, so I tiptoe downstairs to find out.
Dad’s nowhere in sight, but I can hear Mum breathing heavily.
“Mum?” I ask, walking out of the shadows. She looks tired and surprised to see me.
“I thought your father told you to stay in your room,” She says.
“He did but – Mum what happened?”
Mum smiles, but it looks painful. “Look.”
She points to the crib that’s been sitting upstairs for ages. I peak inside and gasp.
Wrapped in blankets, the baby’s wings stick out the side.
“She’s sleeping,” Explains Mum. “But she was making quite a racket before. I’m surprised if you didn’t hear it.”
My eyes light up. “It’s a girl?”
Mum chuckles feebly. “Yes, darling, it’s a girl.”
I want to run upstairs to wake Dustin, but then Mum starts coughing violently.
“Mum – what’s wrong? Where’s Dad?”
“He went to get help, but sweetheart…” She says when the coughing ceases, “I need you to do something for me.”
“What?” I ask.
“When your father gets back, I need you to give him a message.” She says.
“Why do I need to… Oh.” I stare at her, but it’s hard when my vision is going all wobbly.
“No! You’re not going to… to…”
“Rose,” She says. “Look at me.”
I look her in the eye, though I can’t see very well – why is everything so blurry?
“I need you to tell Dad these exact words. It’s very important, yes?”
I nod. “Ok.”
“I need you to tell him I love him very much, and I’m sorry it had to come to this. Can you do that?”
I nod again, tears falling from my eyes. “Don’t leave me,” I say. I run to her and hug her tight. She hugs me back.
“Hush now,” She says, and holds my face in her hands. “Rose Morningmist,” She says. “Sweetheart, remember this: Your destiny is held within your heart – so open it up and allow your wings to spread. Let yourself be free to fly. Believe in yourself, in the beautiful magic within. If you imagine it in your mind, feel it in your soul… You will hold it in your hand… Dream big Rose… And never… give… up…”
I hug her tight again. “I won’t let you down,” I whisper. “I promise.”
“One last thing,” She says. “Tell your father… The baby’s name… Is Ruby.”
I don’t know how long I stay with her. I cry until I can cry no more; and then I just lie there, holding her, still hoping that she might wake up at any moment, kiss me on my cheek, and carry me back to bed. But she doesn’t. I hug her tighter, not wanting to leave.
It is like this, curled up next to her, arms around her, that I fall asleep.
I wake to voices outside the house. I don’t know how long I was asleep, but it’s still dark outside, so I know it can’t have been too long.
The door bursts open and Dad runs in, an elderly sparrowman behind him, takes one look at Mum falls to his knees. I let go of Mum and run into his arms, hugging him tightly. I feel the tears coming back.
“She said I had to give you a message,” I say. “She said I had to tell you… That she was sorry it had to come to this and that she loves you very much.”
Dad doesn’t respond, just hugs me tighter.
“This is your own fault.”
I look up. The stranger glares at Dad. I forgot he was there.
“I told you the consequences of your decisions. You have no one to blame but yourself.”
I look at Dad. “What’s he talking about?” I ask.
I whirl around. Dustin is standing in the doorway.
“Go back upstairs Dustin.” Says Dad firmly, trying to guide him back up the stairs. I know what he’s trying to do, the grief he’s trying to spare my brother, even if it’s just for a little longer. However, Dustin has other ideas.
“Who’s that sparrowman? Is the baby here yet? Where’s Mum?” As he pushes past Dad, his eyes land on Mum. “Is Mum sleeping?”
“Dustin – back upstairs – now!” Dad yells angrily, but Dustin doesn’t listen.
“Mum, wake up! Why are you sleeping?” He shakes her, and her head slumps to one side. Dustin stops shaking her. “Mum? Mum, wake up!” He turns to me.
“Rose, why won’t she wake up?” I stare at the floor, silent. “Tell me!” He shouts. “Why won’t she wake up?”
I inhale sharply, and look up. “She’s not going to wake up Dustin,” I say quietly. “She’s gone.”
Dustin stares at me, then at Dad, then at the stranger. “No,” He whispers.
“Dustin -” Dad steps forward.
“No! You’re lying! She’s not -” He chokes on the word.
A sob escapes from him as he runs out the door.
Without hesitation, I follow him.
Thunder rumbles overhead. Dark clouds are gathering in the sky, blocking out the moon and stars. Dustin sits at the edge of Sparkling Lake. As I fly over the choppy waters, I hear him crying.
“Go away,” He says when I land.
“No,” I tell him. “You need to come back inside. There’s a storm coming.”
“I don’t care! Why didn’t Dad come and get me? Why didn’t you come and get me?” He asks. There’s a flash of lightning, and a loud crash of thunder.
“Dustin, please -”
“No! I’m not going back in there! I don’t care anymore! Mum is dead and I don’t care!”
Rain starts to fall down, buckets of it. Thunder rumbles through the meadow and lightning lights up the sky. Dustin sits on the ground, head in his hands.
His clothes and wings stay completely dry, and so do mine. I don’t think about it much. The wind is cold, and I shiver.
I crouch down beside my brother and put my arms around him. I don’t move again until the storm has calmed and Dustin is sleeping.
I carry Dustin back to the house. Mum is gone, and so is the strange man. Dad sits on the couch, looking blankly at the wall. Ruby, my new sister, is shrieking.
I carry Dustin upstairs and tuck him into bed. Then I run back down the stairs again. Ruby is still crying.
Carefully, I scoop her up in my arms. “Shh,” I tell her. “It’s ok. I’m here. My name’s Rose. I’m your sister.” I rock her back and forth. After a few minutes, Ruby stops crying.
“Dad,” I say. Dad doesn’t answer. “Dad!”
He blinks, and looks at me.
“The sparrowman… took her away. She’ll be looked after properly, I promise.”
I nod. The man will probably give Mum a proper ritual. Taking a step forward, I hold Ruby out to him. Dad takes her with shaky hands.
“Mum said something else,” I tell him. “She said that the baby’s name was Ruby.”
Dad smiles. “She never liked tradition, your mother.” He said quietly. He’s right – although we’re Water fairies, Mum insisted on choosing names from different ones – Rose, a Garden fairy name, Dustin, an Animal, Ruby, a Light. Our last name, Morningmist, is the only thing that distinguishes us as Water talents.
Dad stares at the baby in his arms, his breathing shallow. “I can’t do this,” He says quietly.
Dad looks up at me. “Go to bed Rose. Get some sleep.” I nod, and make my way up the stairs.
As I enter our room, my eyes drift to a photo in a picture frame, taken long ago. Mum says it was taken with a ‘camera’, which was a lost thing she found on the beach long ago. She shrunk it down with magic so she could use it.
Dad isn’t in the photo – he’s taking it. Dustin and I smile up at the camera. Mum’s laughing at something Dad said. We took the photo when we went on a picnic one day, to a place called Sunflower Gully. It was filled with yellow flowers and there was a big waterfall that made rainbows with the spray. I hug the photo to my chest, then, carefully, I take it out of its frame and fold it carefully.
I fall asleep with it in my hands.