Ismenia

Do you believe in fairies ? Johannes doesn't but a chance encounter in a forest sends him on an adventure where he starts to question not only his beliefs but his own sanity.

From an idea that came to me in a dream. Thanks to the extraordinary Crissy Volt-Green for not just providing me with an amazing cover but also for the inspiration to write this story.

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3. Market Square

It was dinnertime later that week, well in this new area people insisted on calling it lunch but for me a meal break in the middle of the day would always be dinner, when I first saw the girl. I was sat in the market square eating a sandwich. I spent most dinner breaks here, it was a nice place to sit and watch the world go by. After a morning spent in a stuffy library I was always glad to get out into the fresh air. Not that I didn’t like the job in the library, books were the most wonderful thing known to man and being able to be surrounded with them all day was magical.

Luckily it was still summer and the weather in the east of the country was really mild compared with the north that I came from. I sat absentmindedly eating the cheese salad sandwich that I’d purchased from a local bakery as I observed the faces that went past. I almost missed her as at that moment I dropped a piece of cucumber down my shirt. As I pulled my head back up I saw a fleeting glance of a bundle of fair hair disappearing between the market stalls, as it disappeared I saw her glance back, it looked like the girl in the forest, the girl from my dreams. I put the sandwich quickly down on the bench and then took off in pursuit of the girl. It was hard to keep track of where she was in the crowd. I hadn’t noticed that Sunday that she was quite small. I kept losing sight of her in the crowds that had gathered.

I saw her dart down beside one of the stalls, down a street I knew was a dead end. Breathing heavily from the exertion I turned down the alley after her to be greeted with an empty space. I stopped stunned and puzzled at the emptiness. Where had she vanished to, had I missed her double back, I was pretty sure I hadn’t. I examined the area carefully with my eyes; the cobbled street was enclosed on three sides by light stone walls. There were no doors or windows anywhere to be seen. The only thing I spotted which she could be hiding behind was an old wooden barrel located in the top corner. I could feel my heart beating faster in my chest as I walked slowly towards the barrel Bizarrely I held my arms out to each side getting ready to pounce on her when she broke cover. I covered the distance to the wooden object quickly and then slowed as I went around the side.

As I came around the side I realised there was no one hiding there? I kicked the barrel in frustration before sitting on it. Folding my arms I shut my eyes and inhaled deeply, where had she gone? Somehow she must have doubled back it was the only explanation. I was suddenly aware of a floral scent, a delicate fragrance that permeated my nostrils making me feel faintly drowsy. Out of the corner of my eye I saw another one of these huge dragonflies leave its hiding place and make a dash for the sky.  I turned and watched it fly into the sky halting as if looking back before diving over the rooftops.

I wandered back through the market on my way back to the small library where I currently worked. I kept looking for the girl, searching for her in the crowds among the stalls. By the time I’d arrived back at the small branch library I worked in I was beginning to doubt if this was the same girl, had I been pursuing a total stranger putting fear into her? I entered the branch to be met with the withering glance of the branch librarian Mrs Tubshaw. As usual her first glance was at the clock and her expression turned to one of disapproval as she noted I was five minutes late returning. If anyone ever described the stereotypical librarian then I was looking at her now. There was the archetypal bun in her grey hair, the tweed suit, and the disapproving look on her face that never seemed to crack. She treat the staff as she treated everyone with an air of disapproval. The other member of staff, Josie, a woman in her thirties remembered her being there when she was a child, the suit apparently had never changed, nor had the hairdo.

‘Ah, Mr Tierval, so pleased you decided to re-join us, no doubt you will be making your time up at the end of the day’ she said in an almost perfect parody of the local dialect.

I nodded my agreement and made my way quickly towards the back office to deposit my jacket.

‘I have not finished yet Mr Tierval, maybe in the north you are used to such tardiness but we here have certain standards here. Can I remind you of the rule regarding personal relationships in the workplace? You are paid to work and not accept visits from all and sundry. A young lady paid you a visit this lunchtime and left this for you. Can I assume you will remind her that it is not my place to accept items like a left luggage counter, now if you will please resume your post at the counter, I will go have my lunch’

She raised her head further in the air and turned to exit towards the door; she stood at the entrance and waited until I took up the position. With a slight nod and a glance around the shelving she left. It was as though the library breathed in a deep gulp of air again, the atmosphere getting lighter as she swept through the doors.

I breathed a sigh of relief and looked at Josie.

‘Sorry I was late, what was she going on about, I don’t have any friends down here?’ I said to Josie.

‘Well a young girl came into the library and asked if she could leave this bag for you. The old bat nearly didn’t take it, she was very disapproving. I thought she was going to blow her top again, but then suddenly she just accepted it and was polite again towards the girl. She even smiled, it was so weird. The bag’s over there’ she replied indicating with her head in the direction of the office.

I wandered over and saw with amazement that it there on the table was the bag I’d lost the previous weekend. Picking it up I once again detected a faint floral smell, the same aroma that I had detected earlier in the cul de sac off the square. I cradled the bag and inhaled deeply taking in headiness of the perfume.

‘Am I interrupting something’ I heard a voice behind me. At first I thought it was Tubshaw back but quickly realised that it was Josie doing her quite uncanny impersonation of her.

‘Who brought it?’ I asked

‘Well it was a young girl, mid teen years I guess round about 5ft tall. She asked for you by name so I assumed you knew her?’

‘No, describe her please?’ I said, although for some reason I knew what she was going to say.

‘Well as I say she was about 5 foot tall, had a sort of reddy, blondy hair that fell to her shoulders, a slight frame, very pretty’ she said

I smiled; it was the girl from the clearing, the girl who had appeared in the dreams and the girl who had given me the slip in the market.

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