For National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. Enjoy!
Once upon a time, there was a hedgehog who thought he was a fairy.
It didn’t really bother him that he lacked wings (somebody had to balance out all that gauzy softness), or that he couldn’t produce light and sparkles on demand (those were overrated skills, and it was much more interesting to be able to sniff out beetles three inches under the soil). He knew he was a fairy, and that was that.
He led a simple life, burrowing with diligent cheer at the base of the Blue Fairy Tree. Occasionally, he found dropped shoes or forgotten jewelry (made from dew-drops and crystallized) which he hid in his burrow in case their owners came looking for them. At night, he’d sit up and comfort himself with the playful music and dancing lights of the fairy-fete glimmering in the branches. He couldn’t quite see what was going on, but as a fairy and member of the forest, he still felt like he was part of the dance.
Of course, none of this meant he wasn’t lonely.
He wanted to join them up there. Meet them in the Blue Fairy Tree, maybe just once be part of the dance. It seemed like it would never happen. Then one day, a cloth like a dream fell from the sky.
He didn’t see it at first. Caught in the breeze, it wafted back and forth as if trying to get his attention, and glimmered with a delicate purple so diaphanous that he had to wonder if he imagined it. But it was real; fluttering and finely woven, the dream-cloth floated down to land right in front of his questing little nose.
It was lighter than a sigh, prettier than morning sun. If he exhaled, it moved—like it was alive.
And it was magic. The moment he wriggled underneath it, he became beautiful.
He knew he was beautiful just like he knew he was a fairy: he could feel it in the way this shimmery, sparkly textile tickled the tops of his curving toes, in the way it tented in front of his face with every breath, in the way it shimmered in the light like special puddle-rainbows by the road. He couldn’t help the next thing he did: without thinking, the hedgehog hopped into the air.
He decided at once not to come down again.
Flying up through the Blue Fairy Tree only made sense for one as beautiful as he, and the dream-cloth seemed to agree because it started to sing in a tiny, whispery voice something or other about the blooms in June and raining on the moon. Or something. The hedgehog wasn’t really paying attention.
Oh, but there was a problem. Flying meant “up high,” and he hadn’t known until that very moment.
Everything looked so strange! His nest practically disappeared against the foot of the Blue Fairy Tree, and the branches and leaves with fairy-houses on them suddenly looked large enough to get lost in. Purple cloth fluttering, the hedgehog swooped over boughs, his little nose wriggling and his huffing-puffing growing louder with his nervousness.
There were fairies up here. He’d never met them before, not in so many words. Would they like him? What would they think of him? Did they know he had their shoes? He squeaked once, high-pitched and frightened, and zipped past their tiny poppymallow tables and right beneath the dangling, jingling chimes that hung from higher branches to mimic stars in the day.
Somehow, one of the chimes caught on the edge of the purple cloth, and suddenly, the hedgehog became a traveling orchestra.
Jingle-tingle went the chimes as he loop-de-looped, trying to unseat them without losing his cloth.
Jangle-tangle went the chimes as his back foot caught in the tiny silver chain.
The chimes increased his quills-to-feet ratio by quite a few inches, and now he hit everything. The chimes snagged a blue wig; the wig went through a honey-wine fountain, and thus be-gooped, hit a heaping platter of dried, finely-ground berries and went from blue to pink in an instant. The hedgehog chirped, then clicked, huffing in distress, and tried looping back the way he came in the vague hope that these items would give themselves back to their proper owners.
The wig knocked over a goldfish bowl, delivering the tiny glowing sprites inside to chaotic freedom; the bowl (why had it stuck to the wig, why?) hit somebody on the back of the head, who fell over, who knocked over a table, and sent the jello mold in the center into the air.
It splatted the face of the head chef fairy, who’d come out of the Blue Fairy Tree to see what in the world was going on. He shouted; the platter of singing cakes he carried went flipping over the side, and the sad little songs of falling yeast-and-honey pastries piped and toodled all the way down like musical rain.
The hedgehog had had enough, and fled back over the branch to hide in his hole. Shouts and laughter and I demand an answer followed him down, but he couldn’t give them an answer (not all fairies could talk, okay?), and he swooped right into his burrow, dream-cloth, wig, chimes, and all, where he curled up in a ball to hide.
The wig smelled really good, what with all the food it’d flown through. Sadly, it did not prove to be edible.
When Fairies came to visit his burrow, they weren’t mean or mad. They petted his quills and offered him pastries (the non-singing kind) made from pillbugs and honey, and he grew brave enough to peek out.
The hedgehog barely understood what they were saying (not all fairies were so talkative; just look at him), but they were very nice, and petted his cheeks, and finally took back their shoes. At last. He’d been running out of room to keep them.
“This is sweet. Like… totally underground,” said one, his blue lips pursed in a thoughtful sort of way that made his labrets sparkle.
“Club Hedgie?” suggested one with bright orange hair spikes.
Blue-lips nodded. “Club Hedgie.”
One of them disentangled the purple cloth, wig, and chimes from his quills. Another tossed sparkles in the air with the grace of a dancer, and the hedgehog’s burrow suddenly twinkled like the dark starry sky. He squealed for joy.
That night, fairies came to visit with food and music and dancing, raucous music that somehow complemented and didn’t compete with the more refined strains from the Blue Fairy Tree’s nightly fete. Oh, but it was even better: for the first time, the hedgehog was truly part of the celebration.
He shared their snacks and accepted their caresses. He danced and wriggled and didn’t even mind when somebody tied pink ribbons on each of his quills. At last exhausted, contented and befriended, he slept at the back of his den.
As he dreamed in time to the music all around, he smiled, for he knew a wonderful thing: he was without a doubt the luckiest fairy in the world.