B. R. R. Cannon
Everyone knows the story. Before you meet your true love, a fairy godmother appears with three things you need. Cinderella is the most famous with her glass heels, magical gown, and horse-drawn carriage. Yet everyone I know has their own story: firewood, a quilt, and scissors; a rose, a book, and a mirror; a fork, a tattered sail, and a spell.
Honestly, I never believed that fairy godmothers existed. I thought everyone created their own fantastical story to rival Cinderella. That is, until one normal Tuesday evening when a hooded woman knocked on my door and handed me an arrow, carrot, and a lantern filled with fireflies.
“Hurry,” she whispered. “He is in danger.” Then she vanished into the night.
I weighed the armful of random objects against my good sense. It was a lie concocted by someone else in the village. It wasn’t true.
But an eerie howl that echoed through the trees shook me. Against my better judgment, I grabbed a cloak, put the arrow and carrot into a bag, and hurried into the darkness.
The howling and snarling grew louder as I ventured deeper into the woods. The trees that seemed so friendly during the day grimaced at me in the shadows from the firefly lantern. I considered turning back until a yell pierced through the darkness. I hurried to a run. Someone truly was in danger.
At the edge of a thicket, I found the source of the noise. A huge wolf crept towards a man lying on the ground. He tried to pull himself out of its reach with one arm, but his progress was slow and pained. The wolf began to crouch, poised to attack. I had to do something.
“Hey!” I shouted.
The wolf turned towards me, eyes glowing in the fireflies’ light. My heart stopped as it studied me.
“Don’t move,” the man whispered.
My gaze darted from the wolf’s eyes to him. He was propped up on the one arm, and in the other I noticed something. A crossbow.
I gasped. “Do you need an arrow?”
The wolf watched with unblinking eyes as I slowly drew the arrow out of the bag. Then it began to snarl.
“Listen carefully,” the man said. “Run to me at the count of three. I’ll protect you.”
I clenched the arrow. What was I doing?
My knees shook. My heart and mind were racing. I gathered what little courage I had left.
I dashed around the wolf and towards the man. Growls and heavy footfalls followed, but I didn’t look back. I focused on the man’s outstretched hand. I dropped the arrow into it and kept running. I wasn’t sure what dreadful sound to expect next, but I feared this would end with one of our deaths.
There was a twang, a shout, and a thud. I whirled around and held my breath.
“All is well!” he called. “The wolf is dead.”
Hesitantly, I walked back, holding out the lantern and peering as far into the darkness as I could. He was right. The wolf lay in a crumpled heap of fur at his feet.
He smiled up at me. “I am grateful that you came when you did. The wolf caught me unawares and knocked me from my horse. Leo ran off with all my arrows, so I have been defenseless. I thought it would kill me until you arrived.”
The rush was finally wearing off, and I looked at him closely for the first time. Though dirty and sweaty, he had strong yet gentle features behind his well-kept beard. A new rush swept over me. His enchanting smile broadened as his eyes met mine.
“I’m sorry,” he continued. “I’ve forgotten my manners. I’m Edward.”
“I’m Rose,” I replied. Thankfully, my voice sounded steadier than my racing heart felt.
Edward started to stand before sinking back to the ground with a wince. “Looks like I twisted my ankle. I wish my horse were here. I don’t think I can walk on it, and I don’t want you to find help alone.”
I touched the bag at my hip and laughed to myself.
As I revealed the carrot, he smiled. “Leo’s favorite. How…?”
“I’ll go find him.” I hesitated. “However, I don’t want to leave you in the dark.”
“Don’t worry about me.” When I didn’t move, he looked closer at my lantern. “Let the fireflies out. Then we both can see.”
I opened the lantern and set it on the ground. The fireflies danced into the open air, filling the forest like stars at twilight.
“There,” Edward said, pointing at a path of hoofmarks I hadn’t noticed before.
What a story I would have to tell. I followed the trail, and some fireflies followed me straight to Leo. His reins were caught on a nearby tree, and with some coaxing and a carrot, we were soon back to Edward. As dusk replaced the fireflies’ light, we emerged back into the village. A crowd of curious onlookers gathered to see the handsome stranger and hear him tell of my magical appearance and courage. Among them, I noticed a hooded woman. She smiled at me before she slipped away.
I used to believe that fairy godmothers didn’t exist. Now that I have met my true love, I realize that perhaps there is some truth to the stories. No matter how it begins—with or without a fairy godmother—love is magical.
When she’s not creating imaginary worlds, she enjoys drinking Darjeeling, finding excuses to wear costumes, and spending time with her husband, children, and cat.
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