“Simon – run along and play, I’ve work to do,” Mum brushed a damp strand of hair back from her forehead. There were good smells coming from the pot on the fire and she was sweeping yesterdays dust out the door.
“Yes mum.” he called as he jumped over her broom laughing and ran out into the sunshine. He waved at his Da out in the garden as he ran past and headed to the woods. It was a warm day and the cool shade was beckoning.
He followed the path he had worn through the trees to the creek and tossed stones at turtles sunning on a log as boys will do. He watched as they left their log and dove into the cool water. He found a great crooked stick and carried it with him, whacking trees and plants as he walked along. He ventured farther than he usually did, lost in daydreams.
The sound of singing came to his ears and he changed direction to get closer and see where it was coming from. As he climbed through bushes he saw a place where the sunlight slipped between the leaves and bathed a small clearing in golden light. A girl sat with a hat of many colors on her head. He slipped closer, hidden by trees and his eyes widened with wonder. He started to make the sign to ward off evil but something told him there was no evil here.
What he first thought to be a hat was butterflies of all kinds, covering her hair and back which was turned to him. Her arms were held out from her sides and sparrows and larks and robins flew in and landed and flew off again, fearless and singing. Her melody seemed at one with the birds and the light fell all around her like a warm blanket.
He stood very still and silent, just watching. The girl looked to be about his age, with long brown hair and a flower chain around her neck. She stopped singing and turned smiling. “Come out boy.” she said.
Simon stepped out from behind his tree and stood staring. “What is your name?” she asked him. “I am Simon Brennan. Who are you?”
“I am called Nuala” she said. “Come and sit with me, Simon ‘of sorrow’ and the butterflies will cheer you.”
Simon quietly walked over and sat beside her, amazed that the butterflies didn’t leave. They seemed to sense that she was a safe haven. “Are those apples, you have in your tunic?” she asked.
Simon had found an apple tree in his ramblings and picked a few and tied them up in his tunic to eat later. He nodded and took them out. Polishing one on his britches, he held it out to her. “Thank you.” she smiled at him again and he felt like her smile was warmer than the sun. It seemed to light her from the inside and he felt as safe as the butterflies. They sat and shared apples and told each other many things.
“Are you Sidth?” Simon asked her. He had heard stories of Faeries but had never really believed in them,. At least til now. He would have believed anything of her. “No,” she laughed. “I’m as human as you, Simon.”
“Then how do you call the creatures to you and they have no fear?” He asked. She told him that you have to be as quiet in your heart and let the magic of the world come through. He didn’t really understand but it didn’t matter. He would listen as long as she would speak.
Simon and Nuala met most days for the rest of that summer. It was the last summer they would truly be children as trouble and adulthood would soon come to them in the valley. For these days, at least, sunshine, apples, and the beginnings of true love carried them through the season.
As Simon woke from the dream, he felt again the fullness of heart that had been his as a young man. No matter the destination and the sadness that eventually came to pass, he would never regret those days for they had brought him Nuala and the love that had lasted throughout his life, from that forest all the way to the moon and back.