Chapter 1 – Special Announcement – Excerpt
The mushroom patch, located deep in the forest, buzzed with excitement. Mademoiselle Francesca tried to gather the fairies that danced around her, but it wasn’t easy. After all, they’d been preparing for one of their favorite games for weeks: spider web jumping. Mademoiselle placed a finger on her lips and shushed the failings.
“A word please,” she said softly. “That’s right dears, gather around.” She pointed toward the ceiling. All the fairies looked up and laughed.
“Jack, please come down from the rafters. Now, if you don’t mind. We’re all waiting.”
Normally she would have scowled at him, but the excitement that rippled through the hall had touched everyone, including the elders. No place for scolding today, not even for Jack. Jack circled twice and slowly lowered himself to the ground. Nudging Boris, he pointed up toward the rafters. Boris glanced up and noticed a bright red handkerchief wrapped around the highest one. Jack’s face was beaming, knowing that Boris would have to retrieve it. Nice one, thought Boris. It would be far more difficult to retrieve the handkerchief than it had been for Jack to place it there in the first place. Jack flew perfectly, but no matter how hard Boris tried, he still struggled with flight and heights. But Boris accepted the challenge and gave Jack a thumbs-up to seal the deal. The sound of Mademoiselle’s voice reminded them to pay attention.
“I have a very special announcement,” Mademoiselle Francesca said as she walked among the fairies and gently touched the tops of their heads.
Madame Louise and Monsieur Pierre suddenly appeared at her side. She bowed her head in order to greet them and smiled. If Boris wasn’t mistaken, Madame Louise looked incredibly happy today, as did Monsieur for that matter. Madame’s cheeks were quite flushed and Monsieur’s were a delightful shade of purple!
Mademoiselle Francesca continued. “The fairy games are fast approaching, specifically the spider web scramble. But in addition to scrambling in the spider webs, we have a surprise.” She waited for the whispering to settle down. “This time the scrambles are special. You will not only scramble the webs, but you will play with the stars. Each of you will have a chance to race with and touch your very own star.”
Every fairy gasped.
“Touch our what, our star?” Boris asked.
“Touch the stars, why that’s impossible!” Jack scoffed.
Madame Louise giggled. When she could hold it no longer, she covered her mouth with her delicate little hand and burst out laughing. She remembered the first time she’d heard the news herself.
“That’s right!” Monsieur Pierre stated. “Your time has arrived to touch your star or, at the very least, to give it a go.”
They’d never heard of such a thing before; touch the stars! How and why?
Lilly grabbed Pearle’s tiny hand and squeezed it gently in hers. “This is so exciting, isn’t it Pearle? I can hardly stand it.”
“How on earth will we do that?” Pearle whispered. “Surely they don’t really mean touch the stars. Do they?”
“I don’t know,” Lilly shrugged. “But I wonder what a star feels like. Do you suppose stars are squishy?”
Pearle shook her head. “I don’t know, Lilly. But I wonder if the stars will talk to us?”
Lilly didn’t know. She’d never thought about having a conversation with the stars.
“I’ve never thought about trying to reach the stars before, have you?” Pearle asked.
Lilly’s big blue eyes sparkled, and her golden curls bounced back and forth as she shook her head no. Her hands smoothed out the creases in her pink dress as specks of fairy dust fell out from between the ruffles. Pearle, still sitting in her chariot, couldn’t help but laugh at Lilly still messing with her dress. When she was certain she’d straighten out every wrinkle, Lilly placed her hands on Pearle’s chariot and pushed her closer to Mademoiselle so they wouldn’t miss a single thing she said.
Jack was trying to get Boris’ attention, but Boris hadn’t noticed. A swift kick to the ankle should do it, thought Jack. That was a mistake. Boris screeched, bringing all eyes upon him.
Monsieur Pierre’s head spun around and within a split second, he appeared in front of Boris, who was hopping on one foot. Hanging his head in order to avoid eye contact with Monsieur, Jack hoped he’d avoided being spotted. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
“Sir,” he replied.
“Last warning, young fairling; mark my words, the last one. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.”
“Yes, sir,” Jack responded, wondering how Monsieur had known it was him that kicked Boris’ ankle in the first place. It could have been someone else. It wasn’t, but it could’ve been.
“Got my eye on you, Jack.”
Jack mouthed the word sorry to Boris, stuck his hands in his pocket, and sat down, sulking, in the corner. Monsieur reappeared next to Mademoiselle Francesca and addressed everyone.
“Web jumping is not only fun, it’s a privilege. For this reason, we must always remember to thank our friends, the spiders. It is customary to leave them a special gift. We’ve been gifting them on your behalf during your practices. But you have a couple of practices left and when you practice on your own, you must gift your host.”
They had no idea what to gift the spiders. After all, what could a spider possibly need? Monsieur answered their question.
“We shall honor our hosts with fairy dust. It is always the perfect gift!”
“Lilly, why would a spider need fairy dust?” asked Boris.
“To make giant spider webs,” Jack interjected. “Webs so big that the largest fly in the forest would stick to it and the spiders’ food storage bins would be stocked for two full moons!”
“Maybe it’s to help them build webs twice, no, three times faster than usual,” suggested Pearle. “That’s possible too, is it not?”
“Oh, that’s a good one,” agreed Ivy.
Mademoiselle Francesca raised her arms and interrupted the whisperings.
“Little fairlings,” she said, “I happen to know exactly why the spiders use fairy dust.” All eyes were upon her as she continued, though Lilly was certain Mademoiselle was trying not to smile. “They use it to color their silk.”
“Color their what?” someone asked from the crowd. “Color their silk?”
“Did she say color their silk?”
“Why do they need colored silk?”
Lilly had been right. Mademoiselle giggled.
“Well,” she said. “They simply love beautiful colors for their hats, scarves, and mittens.”
Spiders in colored silks; how lovely, it had never occurred to them where the colors came from. Lilly had noticed the beautiful sweaters the spiders wore during the cold weather, though it had never crossed her mind how the silk had been dyed. But it wasn’t dyed at all. It was merely colored immediately through the magical power of fairy dust. She felt proud that she’d once been part of its production. Fairy dust! It truly was used for all kinds of things!
“Monsieur Pierre, please do the honors and explain the games and what’s expected of the fairlings,” Mademoiselle requested.
Monsieur Pierre cleared his throat. “Every third year, on the fifth full moon, the Mushroom Patch Games are incredibly special because the stars come out to play with our young fairlings, that’s you.” He mopped his brow with a crisp white handkerchief. “In addition to the stars coming out to play, the webs will become magical that day as well. How?” He grinned. “Because the elders will sprinkle fairy dust on them, which will make them bouncier than usual. More importantly, as we mentioned, the stars will join you!”
The fairies listened in awe. It sounded incredible: magical webs and stars coming down to play. Lilly’s head was spinning. She couldn’t wait to experience what it would be like to play with her very own star.
“Search for your star, but work as fast as you can. It’s a magical race against the clock.” Monsieur Pierre took a sip of fairy juice. “Once you locate your star, you must try to reach out and touch it. If you do, what a magical gift you shall receive.”
“What kind of gift?” Boris asked.
Spider Web Scramble is a Gold Recipient of The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA). The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families, and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products, and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of items from more than 55 countries. The world, parents, educators, retailers, and members of the media look for the MCA mother-and-child Honoring Excellence seal of approval when selecting quality products and services for children and families.
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Text Copyright © 2022 by Amanda M. Thrasher
All rights reserved. Published 2022 by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC