Written by DeAnna Erdmann
I let out a big yawn, stretching my legs and arms in opposite directions as I did. I smiled at the absurdity of the dream I’d had: I had been walking in the woods and stumbled upon a ring of mushrooms just off the path. I had never seen mushrooms like that; they look iridescent and seemed to have golden dust suspended around them. I had purposefully left my phone in my car, so my hike wouldn’t be interrupted, so I bent down to pick one so that I could take it back to learn more about it. As my hand touched the shimmering fungus, I heard someone laugh, but the laugh seemed to come from everywhere around me all at once. A strange swooshing noise filled my ears… and then I woke up.
“Well, I’ll be! I’ve never seen one of ye shrink before!”
My eyes shot open only to see a naughty face surrounded by a halo of golden curly hair hovering over me.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” I screamed as I sat up sharply, only to smash my face squarely into the chin of this unknown little woman.
She yelped and jumped back. “Ye attacked me! With yer face! What kind of a creature uses its face?”
I rubbed my forehead and looked around me. I was not in my apartment. Instead, I was surrounded by the tallest trees I had ever seen… they were miles tall! Some mountains vaguely resembled smaller boulders and ferns that were as tall as Giant Redwoods. “Where am I? How did you get me out of my house?”
The little woman laughed boisterously. “I didn’t do anything to ye. Ye touched a Toadstool that was warning of an entrance to our kingdom. Ye did this to yerself dear one.”
I stared at her dumbly. Toadstool? Kingdom? Giant trees? She was describing every fairytale I had ever heard about entrances to a mythical fairyland.
“Are you trying to tell me that I was shrunk because I touched a mushroom that was warning of an entrance to the fairy kingdom?”
Her eyes brightened, and she nodded vigorously.
“I’m still dreaming. That’s the only logical explanation. I am still asleep.” I squeezed my eyes shut.
“I’m afraid ye are not asleep. Ye are just little confused. Come with me. I’ll take ye to the queen. She’ll know what to do with ye.” And with that, she turned sharply and began to walk toward a giant mushroom. I pulled myself to my feet and followed her. I was still in a confused fog and not sure of what to think or feel. I just knew that I didn’t want to be left alone.
“My name is Loshkra. What’s yers?”
Loshkra chuckled. “That’s a funny-sounding name. Nice to meet ye DeAnna.”
We had made it under the mushroom, and with a wink of her eye, she jumped into a small hole at the base of the stem. I looked down into the darkness and swallowed deeply. Then, I took a deep breath and jumped after her. I quickly realized it was much like a slide, but dark and with many twists and turns. I found myself dropped into a brightly lit room full of flowers and what felt like sunlight. Dozens of faces began to gather near me, staring curiously. I awkwardly got to my feet and smiled shyly. Loshkra walked up through the middle of the group and grabbed my hand.
“This way, love. Don’t mind everyone; they’ve never seen a human up close before.”
We walked down a hallway that was just as brightly lit and colored as the room had been. Finally, we came to a stop before two large doors, each intricately carved and embossed with gold. The doors opened on their own, and I could look into the large room before me. Flowers, banners, and vines covered the walls and ceiling.
“Do come in. I can’t see yer face from way over there.”
A voice that much resembled a bell called out. We walked forward. The woman… the queen, was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. Her face was not that of a woman, but not quite a child either. Her eyes were lime green and surrounded by heavy dark lashes. Her hair was a deep brown and so shiny that it almost looked wet. Her heart-shaped lips broke into a radiant smile.
“Ah, now that’s better,” she said as she stood from her throne and walked toward me. “I am Eloraine, queen of the fairy folk of this region. I understand that ye’ve had quite the scare this morning.”
All I could do was nod because I couldn’t bring myself to look away from her. Queen Eloraine laughed. “Are ye hungry? We have the most delicious foods. We could dine together. I’d love to ask ye questions about yer people.”
I nodded again. She reached out and took my hand. I hesitated and quickly looked to Loshkra for guidance. She smiled at me and shooed me on with her hands. The three of us walked through a set of doors on the sidewall of the room and into the dining hall.
Inside was the most enormous table I had ever seen. It could have easily sat one hundred people. The table was full of fruits and nuts and pastries, loaves of bread and spreads and vegetables… everything looked amazing. My stomach growled with anticipation as the heavenly smells tickled my nostrils.
The queen took her seat at the head of the table and motioned for Loshkra and me to sit on either side of her. I took my seat and placed my hands in my lap, not quite sure of what proper table manners were for fairies, much less for a fairy queen. Several other doors opened, and the room was filled with chatter as more fairy folk walked in and took seats around the huge table.
After everyone was seated, the room grew silent, and they all looked expectantly to their queen.