Mildred

A Short Story About Fairies

Another story from my Venice days was created on a night out with my friend Tara who is the most talented artist.  We went to the wine shop in the square to fill up our plastic bottle with some very reasonably priced (1 or 2 euro) white wine, and sat on the water’s edge being silly and coming up with all sorts of short story ideas (as you do!).  Tara was sketching the back of my house, which later turned into a beautiful painting now on my living room wall.   And I wrote a short story about a fairy with exceptionally large feet called Mildred.  She had red hair as an homage to Tara who has lovely red hair, and of course to Anne of Green Gables as well!  She also has a bit of a temper (of course – after Anne not Tara).  

 
After Tara had left, she wrote me a lovely thank you card with this amazing picture of Mildred on the front of it!
Painting of a pretty fairy called Mildred

Mildred from Fairy Feet

 ​And the story went like this…
 
***
 
​As with all good stories you must have a hero or heroine, a villain and of course, a “once upon a time”…
 
…Once upon a time, as the sun rose over Fairyland, Mildred was sitting in her favourite sunny spot, gazing in despair at the ever increasing shadow being cast by her feet.  It was NOT right!  How could they be so big?  She was supposed to be a fairy!  Delicate…graceful…the ballerinas of Fairyland!  Instead here she was, cursed with feet the size of an elephant (or so it seemed to her!).  She stomped her overlarge foot down in anger and waited for the earth to quake under the shock of having something so large beating down upon it.  But there was no quake, not even a tremor.  The Earth stood still – it hadn’t even realised…A grasshopper obviously found her movements intriguing and hopped onto her toe and sat there chirruping merrily.
 
“Big feet, big feet, big feet…” he sang to her, oblivious of her anger.
 
“Well, there’s no need to rub my face in it,” huffed Mildred, and catapulted the grasshopper off her toe onto a nearby leaf.  
 
She strode off, making sure that the petals of her skirt were straight and that her feet were as neat and tidy as they could possibly be.  Her yellow shoes were tied neatly with their vine green laces and the shoes sparkled in the sun as she took the horrible feet inside the lovely shoes home.
 
She could hear every step reverberating as loud as thunder.  She tried walking softly, and it still sounded like a fairly substantial storm, and as she covered grass, woodland, and the stepping stones over the brook, nothing to her sounded like fairy footsteps.
 
Mildred lived beyond the brook, past the old oak tree, right at the style, cross over Gromergol’s bridge and in the far corner of the next field. She leapt over the brook in one neat jump, circled around the old oak, waving to her friend who had lived there forever, and broke into a run to take on Gromergol’s bridge.  Her feet were a blur.  It had to be taken at speed so as to be away before he stirred from his muddy, under-bridge swamp.
 
Left, right, left, right, blur blur, something loosening around her right foot, right, blur, left, blur, vine lace undone, smack, crash, down went Mildred in an un-fairylike heap of petals and sparkly yellow shoes.
 
As she picked herself out of her own muddle and brushed her petals out, she realised that her feet were standing on wood, and the wood was balancing over swampy murkiness, and over Gromergol…!  She had heard the stories and they weren’t pleasant, not for sharing in polite society anyway.  They were legends passed down in whispers behind the bramble hedge.  “A giant beast of a creature”… “Smells like the mud he lives in”… “Foul smell, foul temper”… 
 
She sucked in her breath to make herself as light as possible so that she could step off the bridge with as little noise as possible.  Tip toes would be best… She was so anxious to get off the bridge without being noticed that she hadn’t noticed her vine leaf lace was stuck in between the wooden slats.  CRASH… Flat on her face!!  Not a breath left in her body, and ominous rumblings coming from under the bridge…
 
The water bubbled and frothed and from the whirlpool that was threatening to suck the bridge down, came a long skinny arm, and then a second one.  Between the frog like arms sat an oversized head, and Mildred almost had to laugh out loud because he was the oddest creature she had ever seen!  Thankfully, she remembered her manners, swallowed her laughter and a fair bit of fear and tried not to stare.
 
“Mr…Gromergol…?”
 
“Who on earth do you think you are making all this noise on my roof?” he gurgled and spluttered as his mouth emerged from the mud.
 
“I’m terribly sorry Mr Gromergol.  I was only trying to get home and I fell…”
 
“Well, that’s because you’ve got such enormous feet,” he spat through his handle-bar moustache (a little rudely, thought Mildred, after all she was making an effort to be polite in spite of her fear).
 
“Look at the size of them!  You really should have something done about them,” he continued, “maybe a spell would work, or some fairy dust…”  Mildred felt now that he was mocking her, and was a little irritated, after all it wasn’t her fault!  She looked down, and her feet shuffled backwards and forwards – they didn’t like being the centre of attention.
 
“Well, I’m sorry if I dist…”
 
“…it would have to be something quite drastic to deal with those things,” he continued, pensive now, stroking his moustache with his mud encrusted, nail-less fingers.
 
That was it!  The very idea of it!  Spells? Fairy dust? Something drastic?  Outrageous!  Her toes curled with rage inside her lovely yellow shoes.  “You are the rudest, most horrible thing I’ve come across in my life!” she stormed.  “And what’s more, you’re hardly a picture postcard yourself are you!  You’re covered in mud and slime and it’s made you smelly!”  She paused and thought to herself that her tirade was justified after his comments.  “You’re mean to everyone you meet, nobody likes you, everyone’s scared of coming near you and, and, and…you smell HORRID!”
 
She ran out of steam and stood there with her mouth open and her feet itching to run away.  She went to make a dignified exit with her nose in the air, and her feet pointing homewards, when she heard a rumbling and snorting… 
 
“Good!” she thought, “he’s going back to his smelly home.”  Mildred turned expecting to see thin air but instead Gromergol had come out of his muddy pit completely and was stood next to her on his bridge.  She took in his whole enormous size, towering above her: skinny frog-like arms, over-sized head complete with handle-bar moustache, an enormous barrel chest dripping with slime and muck, tree-trunk legs… 
 
“We may be more alike than you think,” he said simply.  Mildred kept looking.  Tree-trunk legs, and goodness me the tiniest, most ridiculous looking feet in the world!  They were so out of place on this giant creature!  “I myself, have a similar problem – why do think I constantly hide under the mud?  So no-one can see how grotesque I am!” he spat.
 
“How can a man of my reputation look so repulsive?  I have to hide from everyone to preserve my reputation otherwise the whole of Fairyland would laugh at me.  You should consider doing the same as I did otherwise people will laugh at you too!  I recommend you find yourself a nice water-hole and bury those ugly feet in the mud, and I should stay there so no-one can see them.”
 
Mildred considered this while staring at the figure in front of her.  She didn’t want to be like that, and she looked at her feet again, which were still shuffling backwards and forwards.  She stopped them, and kept them still, and looking up at Gromergol, said nothing, and went to step around him…
 
“I’m telling you, people will laugh at you!”  he jeered.
 
As Mildred stepped off the bridge towards her home, she shouted, “I’d much rather make people laugh than cry and be afraid of me!” and off she ran, hoping that she’d never see him again.
 
***
 
Have your friends ever picked up your idea and run with it?  In completely the right direction? 

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