The lily patch has never been the same since her father died; yet Lillie still went there to think. She would often lie back on a mushroom and stare up at the sky asking questions, hoping her father would send down an answer. This was the case today. Over and over she asked the sky “why?” and in return she heard nothing, except a song of a robin high in one of the grand trees across the river.
“Oh Papa,” Lillie moaned. “Things would have been so different had you been here. The garden wouldn’t be so poorly kept. Mama would be happy cause all the children would be home. And I Papa, I wouldn’t have to marry a man I didn’t love.”
“You’re getting married?” asked a voice from behind her. Lillie startled, and turned to see her best friend, Violet. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“Interrupt?” asked Lillie, “I wasn’t talking to anyone. At least no one who is there.”
“He’s there Lil. I know he is.” Violet said sitting next to her on the mushroom. “I think its kinda sweet that you still talk to him.”
“Yeah,” moaned Lillie.
“Who are you to marry?”
“A Royal?” Violet asked excitedly sitting up with her bright, blue eyes wide as raindrops. “Oh is he handsome Lillie? Have you two met? Are you in love?”
“No, yes and no.” replied Lillie sitting up too. Violet expression changed and she looked at Lillie confused.
“I thought all princes were handsome.”
“Well I guess he would be handsome if you were a pumpkin.” Lillie stood up and giggled a little. “They want me to marry him at the next harvest moon.”
“Why that’s just months away! That’s not right to…”
“Tell me about it.” Interrupted Lillie. “I am too young to marry. I haven’t done the things I have wanted to do. And yet they want me to sit up in a palace and stare out the window all day. No thanks! I want to fly… I want to be an explorer… a hunter of the unknown world… I want to find a… a…”
“What is it Lil?”
Lillie didn’t say anything just jumped off the mushroom and ran to the nearest stock she could find and began to climb. Violet thought it was a game and began to climb the stock too. Soon they were at the top and Lillie was staring up over the tops of the trees. Violet spun her head around to see what she was looking at but couldn’t see.
“What is it Lil?” Violet asked impatiently.
“There, across the river,” Lillie replied pointing her hand just above a spacious oak tree. Above the top branches there was a strange light that Violet had never seen before. It was red and yellow and green and blue and… “Violet it’s a rainbow.”
The two companions stared transfixed upon the wonder before them. Lillie had waited her whole life to see a real rainbow and there it was, just as her father had said. Beyond the river and the darkened forest, further than you have ever been before. Her father was right, it was true. And she had to get to it before it left forever.
Lillie slid down the stock and began running for the river. “I’m coming Papa! I’m coming!” she called out. Violet followed after her trying to catch up. Lillie stared into the water.
“LIL NO!” Violet cried out. “You can’t swim, you’re not a fish!”
Lillie broke her daydream and turned back to Violet. Then she looked down. She was freezing and standing knee high in the river. How was she to cross? She had to get to the rainbow. She wanted to make a wish.
“Lil come out of there, you’ll get sick.” Lillie listened to Violet and began walking back to shore. Violet put her arms around her and they both sat down on a large rock.
“What were you thinking, that you could just float across the river?”
“That’s it!” Lillie roared jumping to her feet. “We’ll float across!”
“You don’t mean that seriously do you Lil? I was just joking.”
“Violet we have to go. The rainbow it’s just over there. We have to make a wish. My father would have wanted it.”
“But Lil,” Violet said in a worried tone. “You don’t know your way through the forest. And there are dangerous things out there, things that might never allow us to come back.”
“That’s a risk I must take Violet.” Lillie paused, “I have to.”
Violet let out a long sigh and sat back down on the rock.
“Well,” she started, “We will have to do this the smart way and not try killing ourselves.”
“Thank you Violet! Oh thank you!” Lillie said as she threw her arms around her.
“Come on before it gets too dark to leave today. We need to go get some things first.”
“Food and blankets and stuff.” Violet said knowingly.
“That’s right it might take longer than a day to find the rainbow. We could take Hornet too. He could fly us over to the other side.”
“No, I think all the weight might bring him down. Plus, that’s a long flight to the other side. I think we should float like you said.”
“You mean like you said.” Laughed Lillie.
The two fairies had all their supplies laid along the shore and Hornet was digging pollen lazily out of a flower. They had finished all their preparations, but had no idea how they were going to float all this across the river. Lillie started to get depressed. Looking at the river made her think of that day when she found it in ruins. How the leaves were torn asunder and how the stocks were crumbled and lying in the river floating away.
“I got it!” Lillie said hoping around Violet. “I know how to float across the river.”
“How?” Violet asked intrigued.
“We’ll use one of the stocks to float across. Remember how well they floated?” Violet stood still for a moment thinking, then she too remembered the stems and stocks in the water.
“We’ll need one with a few leaves to keep balance. We can strap the supplies to Hornet and he can carry them for us.”
“Won’t he want to fly?” Lillie asked.
“He walks more than flies any more. My Mum says I feed him too much.”
Soon the work was done and the girls had placed the stock into the water and were all ready to cross. They pushed Hornet onto one of the leaves and he sat down quietly and nibbled on a honeysuckle as Violet and Lillie pushed the small craft onto the water. It worked and soon they were lying on the stock as it idly drifted across the river.
Suddenly a sharp jerk in the water turned the stock and they were moving faster and faster down stream. Hornet buzzed with excitement as his leaf began to fill with water. Lillie tried to stand, but the wind was to powerful and knocked her over. Violet grabbed her arm before she splashed down into the water.
“Help!” cried Lillie. “Help!”
Lillie’s body bobbed in and out of the water as Violet clung to her arm trying desperately to pull her up. Suddenly the water shifted again and the whole stock flipped over sending Violet and Lillie into the river. Hornet, however, leapt to his wings and flapped fervently to keep himself above the water.
Both Violet and Lillie scram and shouted as they toppled over, wave after wave. They both kicked their little legs harder and harder trying to stay up and managed to grab hold of a small leaf. But just when they thought things couldn’t get worse. They saw a fin move through the water. Suddenly a large green and silver fish flew through the air and took a snap at Hornet.
“Fly to the shore!” Violet said screaming to the bee. He willingly obeyed his master and flew toward the trees. “What do we do now Lil?”
“I don’t know! But that fish will eat us if we stay here any longer!”
Again they saw the fin move past them. Lillie closed her eyes and wished she hadn’t left the garden. The rainbow was impossible to get to. Her father’s stories made it sound so easy. Yet it wasn’t, in a moment they were going to die, swallowed by a fairy eating fish. Just then Lillie felt hands around her shoulders and soon she felt herself being lifted out of the water. She opened her eyes to see she was now on Hornet with Violet. The fish jumped maliciously trying to capture its meal, but with no success. Lillie and Violet were safe and Hornet flew them to where he had left their gear.
“Well,” Lillie said with a smile. “We made it across the river.”
“Yeah, but we need to think up a better way to make it back.”