Bonus story! This one’s for the Facebook fans…
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who very much wished she could grow up to be a fairy. Each night while she slept, she grew great shimmering wings. Wings so big and strong, they would carry her above the trees, to lands far far away. But each morning she’d wake, to find the wings gone. And she’d cry to realize they had just been a dream, after all.
One day while walking through a forest, she came across a little cottage in the midst of a clearing. Its sudden appearance was very strange, given that the area had previously been little more than bare earth and scraggly plants. But of course, she shrugged, this was Auckland. Trees and paddocks and such were getting bulldozed for housing all the time! Why should she be surprised? And so she stepped forward to wander on.
And promptly stopped in mid-step.
You see, the overnight appearance of a cottage could be easily rationalized (Auckland. Pfft!) but the great scaly dragon that sat sobbing into its claws beside a smoldering pile of wood, however, could not be.
Fearless, the little girl approached the dragon. “Why are you so upset?”
The beast blinked slowly. “Can’t you see?” it hiccuped, “I’ve turned this lovely pile of mulch into a burning bunch of woodchips! Now I’m never going to get my garden finished!”
The little girl looked around at the bare earth and droopy plants that surrounded the cottage. She contemplated the charred tree trimmings before her. “Mulch?” She queried, thinking it sounded a bit like the noise a cat might make after eating one too many crickets.
“Uh huh.” The dragon nodded vigorously. “Mulch is great! I bought twelve metres to help my plants retain…”
The girl zoned out as the dragon prattled enthusiastically about soil moisture and whatnot. Though her attention was soon recaptured when the invitation to ‘grant your greatest wish’ suddenly leaped from the beast’s mouth.
“I’m sorry,” she asked slowly, “did you just say you’d grant my greatest wish, if I help to mulch your garden?”
“Indeed I did!” The dragon beamed (at least, the girl interpreted its wide show of teeth as a beam. Either that, or it was sizing her up for a snack.) “I can’t do it myself, as I have a cold. And every time I sneeze, I set the mulch on fire!”
“Righto.” The girl thought of her greatest wish. “Okay, how’s this. I want to be a fairy. Do you reckon you’ll be able to grant that for me?”
“Pfft.” The dragon snorted, causing great tendrils of smoke to coil from its nostrils. “Easy peasy.”
“It’s a deal then.” Rolling up her sleeves, the girl took to work.
For hours she carted mulch across the clearing and spread it upon the dragon’s garden beds. Before she was even halfway through the job, her shoulders ached and her back felt as if it too had been set on fire. Finally, as the sun began to sink into the horizon, she scooped the last load of mulch into a tub, and tipped it upon the garden.
“Done!” She cried in triumph. “Now it’s time for you to work your magic!”
The dragon chewed its lip. “Magic?” It repeated. “Who said anything about magic?”
“You said you’d turn me into a fairy!” The girl demanded. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s gonna require some magic!”
“Ah yes, indeed.” The dragon nodded sagely. “And you yourself worked that magic.”
Like a stunned mullet, the girl opened her mouth and closed it again. “Huh?”
“Yes! Look at this beautiful garden!” The dragon clapped its claws together, then paused for a moment as it tried to disentangle them. “What wonderful work you’ve achieved here today! I have no doubt that with my recommendation, you’ll make a marvelous Garden Fairy in the future!”
“Garden Fairy?” The girl repeated. “What’s a Garden Fairy?”
“Oh, they’re a fabulous bunch of gardeners! And they’re looking for someone just like you to someday join their team!”
“So, you’re saying I’m going to be a Garden Fairy?” The girl pondered this. “That’s… That’s the kind of fairy I’m going to become?”
“I’m absolutely sure of it!” The dragon pressed a business card into the girl’s hands. “Just call this number, and ask to speak to Kelly Gr–“
“But when do I get my wings?” The girl interrupted. Her shoulders were really sore, she noted hopefully. Maybe they were growing already?
“Eh, no. No wings sorry.” The dragon stammered. Then, seeing the argument poised on the girl’s lips, it began ushering her back down the path, “look, you asked to become a fairy. There was no mention of wings.”
“What!” The girl fumed. Though she had to admit, the beast was technically right. “But don’t I get two more wishes then?”
“I’m a dragon, not a genie!” The creature grimaced. “Now go, call the number. Tell Kelly that old Burt sent you.”
“Burt?” The girl raised a brow. It wasn’t exactly the daunting, dragonish name she’d been expecting.
“Indeed.” Indignant, the beast puffed up its chest. “Burtrude the Great. And a direct descendant of King Burtrude the Glorious… Look, stop laughing, and go give The Garden Fairies a call. Before I withdraw my recommendation.”
The girl turned towards the path that led home. Though as she looked over her shoulder, she noticed that with the mulch now spread around them, the sad plants were already beginning to perk up a little. Magic indeed, she thought.
Oh well, she may not have scored any wings, but perhaps she’d wind up with a hot pink t-shirt instead. It was, after all, her second wish…