Eternal Summer by Ella Hassall
This story is one of the July Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
A normal story would begin with once upon a time and end with they all lived happily ever after.
But the tale I desire to share is not normal. It has neither a beginning nor an end, very much like a circle, a ring.
A foolish young man searched high and low for a bride. However, he did not want a bride to provide him with children (that would lead to several more mouths to feed), nor did he want a bride with a wealthy father and a generous plot of land (he felt that was too shallow). He wanted a bride who could inspire a flame in his heart that would not burn out like a lamp; who would burn every inch of his skin with feather-light caresses; who would love him whole and entire.
Of course, in our kingdom, that sort of passion is rarely sought out. Instead we devote ourselves to our clans, as each new faerie sprouts from moss and bark and dried out flower petals, we swear on our powers to never let them straggle, never let them become emaciated.
That was, of course, until Bramble stumbled across our young gentleman. A passionate faerie, with auburn hair that glinted as if it were smouldering ashes left in a hearth. Her eyes were the colour of ripe plums, held wide with curiosity, lashes thick. She had a pouting mouth, redder than summer berries. She brimmed with life and passion, every inch of her willowy form promising all the things our gentleman craved — and more.
Within days she had seduced him, brought him through the Veil and into our kingdom, hanging from his arm. She used her own powers to craft a weak mortal into a legendary faerie in front of our eyes. She fashioned his peasants clothes into regal silk, declaring him the King of Fey. She carved his lanky figure into an elegant being with long legs and broad shoulders. She had his hair almost glowing, as if a miniature sunshine was always around him, haloing him in embracing light.
Indeed Bramble was everything the gentleman dreamed of. She gave him power and finery and passion. In return, he gifted her music and adoration and love. They came to life when their naked limbs tangled under crinkled sheets, the flush over her neck and breasts the colour of cherry blossoms. His eyes sparkled like hydrangeas in the morning sun.
The lovers brought light and life to the earthen burrows of the kingdom, their warmth and pastel colours reaching every corner, crease, and crevice. Dresses of leaves and moss were cast aside as petals took their place; music was lighthearted and romantic; the fruit became sweet and hearty, and each mouthful burst with flavour.
For many moons, Bramble and her King lived in harmony with the kingdom, providing summer flowers and fruit to the normally drab citizens. But soon her King began to wither, much like her bouquets of pastel flowers. His skin turned ashen and sallow, no longer supple and glowing. His hair lost its shimmer, the halo of sun replaced with a thorny crown of clouds. He grew pale and weak, weighing barely more than dandelion fluff as her salty tears rained over his cheeks.
The young gentleman died in our Queen’s arms, weaker and more vulnerable than a babe with scarlet fever, as her passion and love held him for the last time.
Now that may seem like the end of my tale. But my Queen never stops. For when she loves, the sun beats onto concrete, the grass is lush and plentiful, the fruits are sweet and ripe. When she loses, the grass is cloaked with frost, and the scent of damp decay is strong.
It goes on like this, a vicious cycle, my Queen never truly with one she loves, whole, entire. She brings us summer with each new beaux, and their passing brings us winter. But my Queen loves still, which is why she carries on searching for more ladies and gentlemen to suit her romantic desires.
Her remaining shreds of grace and love and dignity hold the faeries forever in eternal summer, even when mortals freeze right through.