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  • Writer's pictureLoveday Funck

The Iris Blooms

Over the weekend, I participated in my first Maypole Dance. I think only half of it may have been woven properly. It was frantic and confused and delightful. As someone commented, "the Celtic mosh pit".

I love that we've taken an ancient custom and continued to celebrate it in the here and now. Spring is sprunging all over. Plants are pushing up out of the soil. Flowers are blooming. (I was enthralled when my first Amaryllis blossomed a few weeks ago.)

The days are growing longer and the temperature is on the rise. I'm embracing my life in the here and now. I am trying to live moment by moment, remembering that this is my time and my place.

My Kickstarter, the Bloom Where You're Planted Oracle Deck, is launching on May 3rd and I am giddy with nervousness. Will it float or will it sink? Putting yourself out there can be terrifying. "What if I fall? But, maybe, just maybe, I won't."

Part III of The Sleeping Iris

* * * * * * * * *

Iris floated gently back toward wakefulness. Nothing hurt. No pain throbbed at her temples. Her limbs felt neither cramped nor cold. She felt wrapped in warmth and comfort. Reluctantly, she pushed through to alertness.

She found herself in a strange little alcove. Her blankets were thick and warm, so soft and plush to the touch. She freed an arm and reached out to touch the textured, dark ceiling. Was that tree bark?

Iris sensed movement nearby and warily turned her gaze to the room around her. The bright-haired beauty that had floated down to her earlier seemed to have grown remarkably in size, her butterfly wings tucked neatly behind her as she moved gracefully around the small space.

Cognizant of the low ceiling of the sleeping alcove she'd awoken in, Iris swung her legs over the edge of the space and regarded what seemed to be a life-sized fairy. She noted almost instinctively that there were two doors, oddly rounded in what seemed to be a circular-shaped room with a low ceiling. Would the wizard and a group of dwarves come bursting through the door next?

The walls and the ceiling seemed to be made of the same tree bark as she'd found inside the sleeping alcove.

The fairy seemed to be humming gently to herself, laying out plates and cups on a small table nearby.

"You're awake," the fairy chirped cheerfully. "Would you like some tea and biscuits?"

Iris became painfully aware of the empty rumbling in her stomach. How long had it been since she'd eaten that part of a beignet? She felt as if she'd slept through several days of events.

Iris rose from the alcove bed, noting that she and the fairy seemed to be roughly the same size, except that she, Iris, possessed no wings.

"Where are we?" Iris demanded.

The fairy regarded her steadily even as she took a seat at the table. "We're in the Portal Oak," she replied as if that would make sense to Iris. "I found you wandering in the Shadow Forest and figured that Jonas Templeton and his daughter left you there. You could have been lost for hours. I thought I would save you some suffering."

Iris crossed to the table and sat across from the fairy. Iris looked longingly at the cookies on the table and the steaming cup of tea. She didn't know when she'd trust an offering from a stranger again.

"Jonas Templeton? Is that the name of the man that kidnapped me?" Iris asked. "He claimed that fairies stole his daughter."

"We didn't steal Arabella any more than we stole Charlene or Dolores," the fairy answered. "We offered them the option of crossing over to the Land of the Fae. Sometimes humans show a certain Glimmer, not often, but sometimes. Mostly, we avoid humanity, but sometimes kindred spirits wander into the Shadow Forest and we offer them the chance to cross over."

Iris nodded as if any of that made any kind of sense to her. "Why am I here?" Iris asked. "Why not just take me to the edge of the woods?"

The fairy smiled widely. Her eyes met Iris's. "Jonas Templeton is many things that I do not like, but he does have a sense of what humans possess the Glimmer. I think he thought he could exploit his daughter's gift in some way, but Arabella's Glimmer is hers alone and she chose to come with us. I'm hoping that you might like to cross over with me."

"To go with you to the Land of the Fae?" Iris asked slowly, feeling a little overwhelmed. She dropped her gaze from the fairy and stared blankly at the plate of cookies. She had to be imaging all of this. Had there been hallucinogens in that coffee?

"I am Eneret of the Shadow Forest," the fairy said, a little more formally. "I am inviting you, Glimmer Human, to take a walk with me into the Land of Fae." She added with a smile of reassurance. "You can leave any time you want to."

"What if I wanted to leave right now?"

Eneret reassured her. "One of those doors opens back into the Shadow Forest. You're only about a half-mile from the highway." Eneret rose and picked up a box from a nearby shelf. She opened it and offered Iris a roll of twenty-dollar bills. "You can take all the money Jonas has been giving the other women. We have no use for it."

Iris fingered the money, absently reckoning that it was three or four hundred dollars. She'd be able to replace everything she'd lost from her backpack. She'd be able to splurge on some real food, maybe a night in a cheap motel with a real bed.

But is that what she wanted to do? She thought over her days of walking and the nights of sleeping rough. The freedom of her life appealed to her. She'd been on the move since she'd been fourteen and never wanted to be trapped in four walls again even though she hated the hunger and the dirt and the cold.

Maybe it was time for a change. Iris looked up and met the deep blue-green gaze of Eneret. Iris smiled and reached out for a couple of the more appealing of the cookies.

"Tell me about the Land of the Fae, Eneret of the Shadow Forest. What is it like? What will we find there? Tell me about the weather and the seasons. Tell me about the food."

Eneret smiled back, her cheeks pinking prettily. "I have much to show you, Glimmer Human."

"Call me 'Iris'." She picked up her tea and drank deeply, savoring the subtle tastes of mint and honey.

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