The Ugly Fairy
In the middle of the forest, there is a small, charming cottage. The thatched roof contrasts nicely against the whitewashed walls and the greenery of the trees completes the whole.
The cottage is inhabited by the grandmother of Fleurtje, who after a serious accident must moving on her further life in a wheelchair. She can’t remember anything about the accident. Dad didn’t survive the car accident and the loss is particularly large. If she thinks about Daddy and closes her eyes, she can still vividly bring him up. He then extends his arms to hug her.
During the accident, Fleurtje was thrown out of the car and was found more dead than alive in a ditch. For weeks she was in a coma and once she awoke the recovery took a long time. The feeling in her legs had disappeared and since her return home, she sits in an adapted wheelchair. Because of her grief, she is very unmanageable for the people around her. She doesn’t want to act that way, but it goes without saying.
One day grandma suggests that it might be good for her if she would stay with her for a while.
‘The forest air will certainly do her good and it will give you some space too,’ she tells Fleurtje’s mother.
Mommy looks at grandma sadly. She also feels that she is powerless, tired and at the end of her strength. After losing her husband, she doesn’t know what to do anymore and if she now also must let go Fleurtje for a while, that’s quite intense. Mom knows wisely that grandma is right. After all, it doesn’t help Fleurtje when mother collapse and eventually she agrees with the plan.
Fleurtje protests fiercely, but she has no choice.
‘My dear, believe me, you will really like it in the end. The healthy forest air will do you good. There is always something to see in the forest, trust me.’
She doesn’t believe grandma. At home, she can handle herself very well. No, she really does not like it, but on the other hand, in her little heart, she understands that Mommy also needs some time to give her sadness a place. Shrugging she finally agrees. She drives her wheelchair to her room and stares sadly out of the window.
When the day has come to start the journey, she willingly gets put in the car. Together with Mom, she had carefully packed her suitcase. Mom had given her a beautiful photo on which she is portrayed together with mum and dad. It was made during the last time they had been on holiday together. Mother had placed the photo in a silver frame so that she could put it on her bedside table and look at it every night. ‘If you look at the photo, we’ll be together again,’ said Mom.
Mother sits down in the back seat next to her and she winks at her daughter with love. For a moment the doubt comes up. She might make the wrong decision, she wonders when Fleurtje starts complaining.
‘Please, Mom, I don’t want to go. Let me stay home,’ she begs.
Mother sees the tears in her child’s eyes, and it touches her, but she knows she must be strong. If she admitted, her behaviour would be rewarded and that will be do her daughter no good. For a moment she sighs deeply and looks desperately at the driver, who shrugs his shoulders as a sign that he doesn’t want to interfere. She looks at her daughter and whispers: ‘Honey, it’s going to be okay. Grandma will take very good care of you, believe me.’
‘But Mom, don’t you know what they call her? All the children at school call her the ugly fairy and some say she is a real witch.’
‘Nonsense. You should never say anything like that again, otherwise, I will get very angry. You stay with grandma for a while. That’s it!
For a moment Fleur is shocked about the strong reaction from Mom. Mother understands now that it is good that her daughter is leaving her familiar environment for a moment. To her surprise, Fleurtje is silent and turns her face away from her.
After half an hour the driver stops the taxi and looks around. ‘I know the way up to here, but I have no idea what path to take now. Do you have to be at the house in the middle of the forest?’
‘That’s right,” mother replies. ‘You can turn left there, and I’ll show you the way.’
He scratches behind one of his ears as if he wanted to say he doesn’t feel like it.
‘Will you stand here, or are you be scared in the forest,’ Mother asks. ‘Do you believe in witches, just like my daughter’s classmates,’ and mother has a good laugh about it.
‘I …, um …, I, no, I don’t believe in fairy tales and certainly not in witches. How do you get there,’ she hears him whispering whit a trembling in his voice.
He drives the car uncomfortably along the many paths with potholes and bumps. The house looms in front of him just behind a large oak.
The driver knows what they tell about the house, but he has never seen it. There would be live a so-called witch, at least a very strange creature. Nobody dares to come close to the house. The vegetation is very dense, and the many branches hit the van and hit the windshield. Because of the many bumps in the road, they get a lot of confusion and Fleurtje complains that she doesn’t like it.
The driver is relieved when this ride is over. He helps his passengers get out of his taxi. Then he turns his car and drives away as quickly as possible. Fleurtje looks sadly at the taxi. Now there is no way back home for the time being.
Grandma greets her granddaughter and immediately asks if she wants something to drink. ‘Darling, do you have a good trip?’
Fleurtje does not want to know anything about her and enters the house without a trace of joy on her face. Grandma had made every effort to make her house wheelchair-friendly so that her granddaughter could go anywhere without any obstacles. In the middle of the small hall, Fleurtje looks around. Vaguely she can remember something from the time she had been here with her father.
Grandma watches her granddaughter and turns to her daughter-in-law. She sees that she is tormented by guilt. Mother wants to say something, but grandma interrupts her and says that it is best to go home as soon as possible.
‘It’s okay mom, I know you will take good care of her,’ and gives her a hug. She approaches her daughter, but she is angry and turns her face away from her.
For a moment mother doubts but understands that it makes no sense to push further. With tears in her eyes, she walks outside. She suddenly stops at the front door. Through the window in the door, she sees the reflection of herself. She feels the hand of her mother-in-law resting on her shoulder. She glances around and again she looks in the reflection of the window, where to her surprise she can only discover herself.
‘Go on, honey. Call me in a week, it’s all coming okay.’
‘I hope so, Mom, I hope so,’ and sadly she walks down the forest path on the way to the village where she can take the bus home.
Grandma looks at her daughter-in-law. Then walks inside and close the door.
Fleurtje maneuvers her wheelchair to the porch. It’s cool for October. And the leaves of the trees are already starting to discolor and falling on the ground. Her eyes examine the environment and deep down she feels that silence takes possession of her.
‘Darling, do you want a glass of lemonade’ ask Grandma.
‘No, I want to go home.’
‘My dear, I understand, but for you is this the best solution at this moment. If I was you, I would make the best of it,’ and grandmother walks back into the house.
Fleurtje grabs the joystick and turns her wheelchair around its own axis. She watches her grandmother, who is mumbling inside. Grandma’s attitude surprises her and she gets confused.
Inside, grandma puts the lemonade on the side table and takes a seat in her comfortable chair. Her hands diligently continue with the crocheting.
‘Grandma,’ ask Fleurtje?
Stiff with age, grandma slowly comes out of her chair and shuffles outside.
‘Darling, what can I do for you?’
‘Grandma, I’m sorry.’
‘You are sorry. Come in then we can talk,’ Grandma said and shuffling she walks back to her chair.
Fleurtje drives the wheelchair inside and stops next to grandma. ‘I’m sorry I acted so ugly to you.’
‘It’s an all right child. Would you like something to drink now? Lemonade or a hot chocolate?’
‘Yes grandmother, I really want a cup of hot chocolate. Grandma …’, asks Fleurtje ‘Oh, never mind,’ and she returns to the porch.
Again, she observes the surroundings and sees that the trees are close to the house. It is so quiet that the scribbling of the water from the ditch behind the house gives her some relaxation feeling. It is as if she is being enchanted by it. She sniffs deeply into the pure forest air and then lets the air whistle out of her lungs. Relaxed, she listens carefully, if she can hear the birds chirping.
Nothing, no bird can be heard. The wind has also fallen completely. The leaves who are still on the trees remain silent.
Strange, she thinks. Grandma had said that she would enjoy it immensely with all the animals around the house. She hasn’t seen one yet. Suddenly she hears rustling between the branches, and she peers in the direction from where the sound comes from.
There she sees some leaves rustling back and forth. It cannot be the wind, because it is not there. Excited, her eyes search the area again, but again she sees nothing. In the meantime, Grandma has come to stand next to her and puts the hot chocolate on the garden table.
‘Don’t be scared,’ and she puts her narrow hand on Fleurtje’s shoulder.
She stares at grandma and helplessly bends her her head.
‘Come on girl, everything will be fine. I promise.’
Slowly she raises her head and sighs a few times. Then she whispers, ‘No Grandma, you can tell me everything you want, but I’ll never be able to walk again.’
‘That’s right, honey, but you are smart, and you are strong.’
She turns to grandma with anger. Her eyes almost bulging from her eye sockets, she is so angry with her. Before she can say something, she will regret later, grandma intervenes. Put her forefinger on her lips and say: ‘Listen to me before you start to say crazy things. Then you can say whatever you want,’ and she takes Fleurtje’s both hands and looks deep into her eyes. You may never be able to use your legs again.’
Fleurtje nods shyly and realizes that she has made her grandmother very sad.
‘So …’ Grandma continues. ‘Now you have to make sure that you become strong. you are intelligent and strong enough for it.
So, whether you want to do it or not, you must get started. Make yourself happy again.’
She looks at Grandma with determination and notices that the anger is slowly flowing out of her body. It is as if she is forced to look into Grandma’s eyes. They start twinkling and it looks like she is being hypnotized. Grandma’s face is long and narrow, and the nose looks like that of a witch. That weird old-fashioned bonnet makes her face look even more like a witch.
‘Is something wrong?’
Fleurtje is a little bit ashamed of those ugly thoughts and closes her eyes.
‘Grandma, can I ask you something unusual?’
‘You can ask me anything,’ she smiles at her.
‘But I already know what you want to ask me. They think I’m a witch, right …?
Fleurtje doesn’t understand nothing of it. How does grandma know what she wants to ask her?
‘Yes, or am I wrong?’
Fleurtje drops her head again and says, ‘You are right grandma, but how do you know?’
‘Guessed, nothing more.’
Grandma grabs the face of her granddaughter with both hands and asks, ‘Honey, look at me.’
Fleurtje slowly raises her head and opens her eyes. She is guided by Grandma’s soft, friendly voice. ‘It doesn’t matter what they say about me, as long as you know I’m not a witch.’
Fleurtje is relieved. Spread her arms and wrap them around Grandma’s neck. Pull herself up and say, ‘No, Grandma, for me you are the sweetest in the world,” and she gives her a big kiss without understanding. ‘Even if you are a witch. It seems very cool to have a grandmother who can do magic,’ and together they laugh at the gossip.
‘That’s right let them enjoy gossiping,’ answers grandma.
‘What is that, why are you crying,’ asks Grandma.
‘How long must I have to stay with you?’
‘Until the new year, but we’ve already talked about that,’ Grandma replies.
‘Yes, but I miss Mommy already.’
‘I understand honey, but it’s best that you don’t see her for a while. Sorry. Your mommy also needs some space to handle her grief and to become strong so that you can both continue to live. It is a huge loss for both of you, but believe me, there will be better times, even if you don’t believe that now, ‘she whispers.
She walks inside quickly because she can hardly contain her own tears. For a moment she is standing in front of the photo that is hanging on the wall. She sees a happy, smiling threesome, who looks at her in a radiant way. The photo was taken during the last vacation that her son had spent with his family. She knew how proud he was of his wife and daughter. Then a smile appears on her face and she is determined to help her daughter-in-law through this difficult time. Although this will be the last thing, she can do for them in her life. She turns around and walks to Fleurtje, who is enjoying drinking her chocolate milk.
‘Well, honey, are you still mad at me?’
‘No, grandma, I haven’t been mad at you for a minute. I understand how you feel. I trust you.’
Relieved gives Grandma Fleurtje a bag of peanuts.
‘What do I have to do with this. I don’t like peanuts at all.’
‘Never mind, you’ll find out what to do with it.’
She doesn’t get it and puts her hands spread on the bag of peanuts.
In the meantime, it is already starting to get dark and the sun colors the trees beautifully.
‘Say, grandma is your house edible too?’
Grandma comes out with a tea towel in her hands and asks, ‘Why do you ask?’
‘Just a question I want an answer to.’
‘No, honey, it’s not Hansel and Gretel’s house,’ Grandma answers and laughs.
Fleurtje is shocked when she feels something sharp in her hands. Leave the bag of peanuts for what it is and press her hands firmly against her stomach. The rustling around her chair just keeps ongoing. Wherever she looks, she doesn’t see where it comes from. Suddenly she sees a squirrel in front of her chair. He sits up. Rubs whit one of his paws along his ear and with a vibrating nose, he looks at Fleurtje.
‘You scare me,’ Fleurtje complains and stares at him.
The squirrel climbs up her chair and sits on the tray in front of her. Lay his front paws on the peanut bag and stares at her.
When she has recovered from the shock, she forgets all her worries for a moment.
‘But of course. Now I understand. You want a peanut!’
She tears open the bag and takes a peanut out. Afraid that he will bite her, she puts it in front of him. The squirrel grabs the peanut and jumps back on the ground.
‘Grandma … grandma …! Come and have a look,’ but before she can finish the sentence, the squirrel is already in front of her.
‘You want another peanut,’ she asked and takes a few peanuts out of the bag and pushes one of them between his paws. He is gone again and then returns.
Every time he jumps off the leaf, he raises his copper-brown tail and disappears under a tree. And so, it goes on for a while and Fleurtje gets more and more pleasure from it. When he no longer returns, she leans forward. She stares at the trees hoping to discover him on one of the branches. She gives up and her gaze falls on the enormous thick roots of the largest tree she has ever seen. It almost seems as if a light appears from under the tree. She focuses her eyes to see it better, but then suddenly the light is no longer there. She doesn’t understand. ‘I really thought I saw a light on,’ she whispers. ‘Well, it was a long day. I must have imagined it. I shouldn’t suddenly believe in fairy tales. Imagine.’
She decides to go back inside, but then she hears a voice calling from under her seat.
‘Well. Hello, watch out. You almost stand with one wheel on my tail,’ the voice shouts.
She stares at the patio doors, but nobody is there. ‘Weird, I clearly heard a voice.’
‘Pssst….,’ it sounds beside her seat. Carefully she looks over the edge and till her surprise sees a young grey-white here staring at her with glittering blue eyes.
It stands on its hind legs and looks around timidly. One of his ears is pointing upwards, while the other falls limp along with his head. Fleurtje doesn’t understand it at all. A rabbit that makes strange noises, she even thinks she heard it talking. She squeezes her arm to see if she is awake.
The rabbit keeps a close eye on her but starts to look around shyly again. Grabs his limp ear with both feet and starts licking it clean.
Fleurtje now knows that she isn’t in a dream. And grandma is nowhere around so that she can have asked her what is going on.
The light of the setting sun gives the surroundings a fairy-tale appearance and she enjoys it. Fleurtje feels tired. She stares at the rabbit an ask: ‘You’re not going to tell me that rabbits can talk, is it?’
First, he pretends to do if she is air for him and then he continues to brush his ear. Suddenly he quits and while he hops forward, he asks: ‘Why are you yawning like that? Have you perhaps seen Corn?’
‘No…, you can really talk,’ and she again squeezes herself firmly in her arm. ‘Au,’ she screams. She is now convinced that she has heard the rabbit talk.
‘Hey, are you deaf or something. Or have you lost your tongue? I asked you something. Well, will you pretend you never heard a rabbit talk? You belong to that, uh …,’ and he immediately keeps his mouth shut. Fortunately, he was able to restrain himself just in time and he waits anxiously for her to answer.
Fleurtje needs to recover but then she asks: ‘Corn, who is Corn? You really talk, right?’
‘Yes of course. Have you ever heard a tree talk? Don’t be so stupidly.’
With big eyes, she stares at the rabbit and she can’t speak a word of surprise.
‘Have you seen Corn or not,’ and he begins to jump around nervously.
Fleurtje swallows a few times and says. ‘First, tell me who Corn is.’
‘Don’t you know who Corn is?’
‘No. No idea.’
The here rubs his nose with his front paws.
‘Who is Corn then? You make me curious now,’ and she leans so far that her nose rests on the edge of her wheelchair.
‘Pssst .., a bit softly, otherwise my parents will hear that I have a boyfriend.’
‘Oh, you’re in love and your parents shouldn’t know that,’ she whispers. ‘But you don’t have to be afraid, I won’t tell them anything.’
‘Not at all. I don’t have a date. Corn is just a friend of mine. And by the way, Corn is a squirrel, do you understand.’
Fleurtje starts to laugh and smiles with pleasure on the tray.
The rabbit is startled by her loud smile.
When she is finally finished laughing at him, she sees that he has put his front paws in his ears. ‘What are you doing,’ she asks.
The rabbit takes its paws out of its ears and says in a whisper: ‘Don’t roar like that. You are a giant to me,’ and shake his head a few times. ‘It is very annoying if you laugh so hard. Then it is as if thunder is hanging over my head.’
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know that,’ she apologizes.
‘Oh well, all right,’ and when he skips away, she shouts: ‘Wait a minute. I don’t know your name?’
The rabbit runs from left to right but then remains motionless. Sticks its nose in the air and sniffs the air deeply. Only when he is sure that it is safe, he says: ‘Sorry Wappert. My name is Wappert.’
‘Wappert, what a nice name. How do you get it,’ she chuckles?
‘Promise you’re not going to laugh at me, are you?’
‘No, I don’t. I think your name is very funny!’
‘Oh, then it’s okay and what’s your name?’
‘I really think that’s a nice name. That’s what I would like to be called,’ he sits high on his hind legs and scans the area again. Then suddenly something jumps on his back.
Fleurtje puts her hands in front of her eyes. She really can’t stand a fight with two animals. She can’t stand blood at all. She listens to something that doesn’t really resemble a fight.
Wappert falls over, grasps firmly the person who jumped on top of him, but when he sees that it is Corn, they roll together laughing through the tall grass.
Carefully Fleurtje dares to peep through her fingers at what is going on in front of her and then she shouts: ‘Hey, stop that,’ and she slaps her fist on the top of her chair.
Both scare so hard that they run away. Corn climbs into a tree and Wappert disappears among the tree roots.
Fleurtje expects them to return soon, but that doesn’t happen. It becomes quieter and darker. Disappointed, she sits back and waits. In the meanwhile, Grandma has come to stand next to her and asks: ‘It is late, you must be hungry. Have you been able to discover something?’
Fleurtje feels indeed her stomach growl and asks. ‘Grandma, can we eat pancakes. You bake the most delicious pancakes in the whole world and yes, I have seen a rabbit and a squirrel. You won’t believe it, but they spoke to me. Stupid, you probably don’t believe that.’
‘Ah, child, you have to believe what you want to believe in.” Whether it is real, or a dream is up to you. So, you want pancakes. Of those tasty ones that will fill your face with jam?’
‘Yes grandma, but I eat decently now.’
The few times she had been with her grandmother, she always got those delicious golden pancakes with homemade jam on them and they were delicious.
‘That is also a coincidence. Come along child, they are already waiting for you.’
She ate three of them, with jam and syrup, they were so delicious. After dinner, she wanted to go back to the porch, but grandma didn’t like that.
‘No, honey, it has been a tiring day for you. You must take a shower now and then you must go to rest. There will become so many days you can enjoy.
For a moment she wanted to struggle, but she realized that grandma didn’t accept any contradiction in this. After showering grandma wants her to drive to the guest room, but then Fleurtje says: ‘Grandma, I can do that alone. I can undress, and I can also get into my bed myself.’
‘Of course, darling,’ and she gives Fleurtje a big hug.
She skillfully drives to the guest room. In the coming period, this will be her domain and maybe she can put some of her own things in it. When mum comes to visit, she will ask if she can take things from home.
Grandma had already closed the curtains, but Fleurtje slides them a little bit open. Outside it has become so dark. Therefore, she can’t distinguish anything. She knows well that if her eyes are used to the dark, she could see a little more, but she feels very lazy and tired. She puts on her nightgown and for a moment she thinks she hears something. It seems like she hears something rustling somewhere. She hesitates for a moment, but then she decides to return to the living room. Grandma is not in the room, so she drives to the porch door and pushes him a crack. She feels the fresh evening wind glide past her face. Grandma sits half-sleeping in her rocking chair, rocking back and forth, but then she hears her talking to someone and for a moment she thinks Mommy is back to pick her up. She soon let go of that hope, because Mommy had been very clear about the fact that she had to stay with Grandma for a while. No, there must be someone else with whom Grandma is talking.
The End of Part 1