The lighthouse girl often entertained travelers seeking shelter from storms and pulled the shipwrecked out of murky waters. But one of the most interesting friends she met after she left the Village was not either of these.
The seawall cracked one misty morning, and Light needed to repair the breach. She carried her bricks and mortar down towards the shore.
Along the way, she noticed a rather large, papery cocoon in the tree next to the lighthouse.
The lighthouse girl had always loved butterflies, so she tiptoed closer. The cocoon wriggled.
“Help!” it said. “Help me!”
“Who’s there?” asked the lighthouse girl. She walked around it to see where the voice was coming from.
“Help! I can’t breathe in here!”
Light wasn’t sure what else to do, so she peeled back a loose piece flapping in the breeze.
“Ouch!” the cocoon replied.
“I’m sorry,” said the lighthouse girl. “How can I help you?”
“Well….” the cocoon hesitated. “I’m not quite sure. My wings itch all the time, and my body is so tired from this struggling to get free. I don’t even know why I’m in here.”
“Oh!” Light said. “I know what you are! You’re a fairy. And your kind usually lives further inland, not by the seashore. I live on the seashore, and my friends know me as the lighthouse girl.”
“Oh my,” said the fairy. “I must find my kin. What are fairies supposed to do?”
Light laughed. “Well, most fairy folk are sprightly little creatures. They are happy and gentle, but they must make sure no one harms their wings, or they lose their freedom.”
The cocoon swayed back and forth.
“I…want…out!” the fairy said.
So the lighthouse girl began to think about how she could get the fairy out of the cocoon without hurting her. She talked about it with the pirate girl, the stowaways, and the spy girl when they visited. She asked them how to best help the fairy escape the cocoon.
One day, she tried peeling back the layers very gently around the fairy’s face. The fairy gulped in the sea air and reached for the warm beams shining from the lighthouse, but then she drew back inside.
“Too cold!” The cocoon shivered.
“Would you sing to me, lighthouse girl?”
The lighthouse girl sang her a lullaby of birth and beginnings, an old song she used to sing back in the Village. And the fairy snuggled back into her cocoon and fell asleep.
Then the pirate girl and the others left for a while, to travel in distant lands.
Every day, Light visited the fairy and sang her the song, hoping soon she’d be ready to break free of her cocoon and fly. They both grew impatient.
The fairy still had trouble breathing in the cocoon. The lighthouse girl started prying off the side, thinking to just free the fairy’s wings.
Light tugged on the cocoon, saw the green and yellow scales glimmer underneath, then blood.
The fairy cried out in pain. “My wings, my wings, what have you done?”
The lighthouse girl pushed the cocoon wall back in place, tried to cover up the wound. But the fairy cried herself to sleep, and even the songs no longer soothed her.
The cocoon remained quiet for many more months while the fairy slept. The lighthouse girl stopped coming to sing, because she wanted her friend to rest.
One morning on her way down to the shore, the lighthouse girl walked by the tree.
But the cocoon was shattered, empty. It hung limp from the tree branches like a worn bit of parchment.
The fairy was free now, and she had done it all by herself.
The lighthouse girl was sad, but she knew the fairy had flown to find her kin in the woods, closer to the Village. She missed her friend, but remembered that fairy folk didn’t belong near the sea.
And she stopped trying to yank fairies out of their cocoons, because fairies need to find flight in their own time.
This fable is a continuation of several short stories my friends and I wrote.