To Nick a Knack,
First find a feary—
any of the Folk will do.
Bind the powers of the moon,
sun, and dust of starlight too.
Wait a mite with milk in hand,
And a needle for blood’s bright band.
Find a shadow, sew it shut.
Make the first, a shallow cut.
Wait to see what follows then,
For it shall find each of your ken.
For this Knack, you’ll surely pay,
For that it is the Folk’s only way.
“Mira, we need to talk.”
Mira glanced up at her mother. The Pink Lemonade Brigade had all gone, the party was over, but the worry line between her mother’s eyes had deepened.
“I’m a fairy queen,” she breathed as a ridiculous grin spread across her face. All this time, she’d imagined she was a princess or a peasant or a goose girl, and here she was: a queen.
“Faerie,” her mother said, enunciating the word like it was made of glass. “Not fairy.”
“Does it matter?”
Mira slouched back in her chair, content for the first time in forever. Once they’d given her the scroll—”Vellum, dear,” Auntie Marigold had said—they’d placed their empty cups on the table and left soon after.
Her mother glanced at the table—all the uneaten cakes and cookies and pastries—and then at the windows. She tightened her lips as she sat down and put her head in her hands.
“It might. They can be very particular about things like that.”
Mira’s heart fluttered at the name, but her mother’s face was lined with dread and the worry line looked like it was going to be permanently etched between her brows.
Her mother nodded before she looked up. “It’s time we talked about our family.”
This was going to be interesting.
Mira leaned in, excitement tingling through her like electricity. “Are you a fairy—a faerie queen too?”
For a long moment, her mother didn’t answer. She just sat there, breathing, with a faraway expression on her face. Then she shook her head again, and a little of the light went out of her face.
“It doesn’t work exactly like that.”
Her mother turned her eyes to the ceiling as though choosing the right words from the moulding along the ceiling and the dust and spiderwebs clinging to the light fixtures.
“A few generations ago, one of our family members nicked a knack.”
The joy of finding out she was going to be a faerie queen seeped out of Mira a little. The tight line of her mother’s lips told her she wasn’t going to like what was coming.
She sank a little in her chair. “Why did they do that?”
Her mother picked up one of the empty teacups and stared at it. “Sometimes, Mira, people want to believe in something so strongly that they make very poor decisions. Decisions that will have consequences that ripple through a family indefinitely.”
This definitely wasn’t good. “Oh.”
Her mother sighed and put down the teacup. She reached over and squeezed Mira’s arm. “I’m being unfair. Nicking a knack from the Folk isn’t all bad. See?” She traced her finger along one of the cakes and tiny flowers with bright pink buds trailed behind.
“Are they real?” By one simple act, her mother had crammed a whole new world into her head, and Mira wasn’t quite sure which way was up.
Nodding, her mother allowed a sliver of a smile to cross her lips. “Touch and see for yourself.”
Without even thinking about it, Mira stretched out her hand, hovering just above one of the flowers. “This isn’t going to explode or turn me into a frog or anything, is it?”
The smile on her mother’s face grew a little. “It shouldn’t. You’ve picked enough of the flowers in the front yard to know better.”
Mira turned her attention back to the bud, marveling at how small and perfect it was. The petals felt like a cross between velvet and silk, and as she leaned down closer to sniff it, she could have sworn it smelled exactly of pink lemonade.
“What kind of flower is it?” she asked suspiciously.
“I haven’t a clue,” her mother said, shrugging. “This is one of the special ones that will go in my greenhouse. Can’t have nosy neighbors asking after this one, can we?”
Mira sat back in her seat, halfway between wonder and feeling incredibly stupid. The flowers in her mother’s greenhouse had always been off limits. She could always look, but had never been allowed to touch, let alone pick any of them.
“You make plants.” So obvious now that she’d said it, yet she’d never really paid any attention to what her mother had been doing before. Until now.
“So, if you have a talent for growing plants, then I have a talent for being a faerie queen?” Her poor mother! Maybe, once she was queen, she could make her mother a princess or something.
“Not exactly.” Her mother shifted in her chair as though she were sitting on pins.
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2014 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved. Originally published in Curiosities of the Moon.
If this is your first visit here, be sure to read the first installment of this episode. Be sure to come back next week when Mira’s mother tells her the story of how the first knack was nicked!