This is a style I like to call ‘realistic fantasy’. Constructive criticism appreciated. Enjoy!
Claudia’s magic was down by several ounces. She tossed her head in frustration. She knew that if she told anyone, all the other magic-based citizens would fuss over her. The last time Claudia reported a shortage, her friends wouldn’t let her leave the Medic Elves’ underground hospital until her magic levels were back to normal. She decided to let her wings heal naturally and not sweat it. Of course, the low magic levels in her body slowed her morning down, so she put extra effort into staying upbeat and cheerful.
Claudia made it a point to fly to the Greenery Glade for breakfast instead of hitching a ride on a butterfly, or even walking, just to keep herself looking active. She was winded when she arrived at the breakfast deck, so Claudia grabbed a poppy seed-banana cake and hoped the heavy breakfast would pick her up. A couple of other late breakfasters arrived at the deck and snatched up some dewberry salads before flying off rapidly without so much as glancing at Claudia. Claudia rolled her eyes. She definitely recognized those fairies. They were always dramatic about everything that other people would be concerned about. Claudia guessed it was for attention, since nothing ever happened to them.
After breakfast, Claudia went about her duties, but she couldn’t find the energy to fly to the Butterfly Nesting Tree, so she just walked over. At the tree, Claudia joined the other fairies in her division in caring for the butterflies and caterpillar nursery. Claudia worked resignedly in the topmost branches as she listened to the other butterfly fairies gossip near the ground. They were idly stroking the youngest caterpillars. Claudia distributed the milkweed mash among the growing caterpillars and nectar among the butterflies. Claudia always did all the ‘real’ work while the others played with the babies. Rolling her eyes, she flew to the next branch. Claudia was winded by even that small flight, and allowed herself a concerned frown, but kept working. Someone had to do the hard stuff. By the time the caterpillars were resting and the butterflies were out in the meadow, about two hours later, Claudia was burnt out. Claudia leaned on the trunk of the tree to put herself together. Claudia’s eyes widened as she realized that not only was she exhausted, she was feeling light-headed and unfocused. Franticly, she tried to fly down to the foot of the tree, where the fairies took their breaks, to see what she could do about the symptoms. Once in the air, Claudia didn’t have the energy to continue her flight. Only too late, she realized what was coming. Claudia clenched her teeth and closed her eyes, as she started to fall through the air. The last things she remembered were the other fairies laughing together at an inside joke, and her muscles relaxing as she continued to fall, losing consciousness midair.
“The impact had little to no effect on her, sir, other than a couple bumps and bruises.”
“Very good. And interesting. I believe the cause of her injury was something a little more. It seems as though the magic levels have been down for a while- since before the fall, perhaps…”
Had she the energy, Claudia would have groaned. Her thoughts were few, scattered, and hazy, but what she did know has that she was very groggy. She couldn’t find the energy to open her eyes, let alone sit up. Claudia also recognized that she was in the hospital, judging by the surrounding people’s Elvish accents. One thing she wasn’t currently sharp enough to pick up on was that, other than the elves around her, she was alone. No one had come to visit her, or see her through her treatment. Keeping herself awake was a loathsome burden, and she drifted back to sleep. The line between consciousness and unconsciousness was blurred for Claudia, and she didn’t know how long she had been in the hospital. She got an idea, though, from the conversations she overheard.
“… but you can’t predict any kind of recovery from this stage. We’ll have to wait and see. A few more days should do it…”
“…Yes, she’s recovering slowly, but recovering all the same…”
“…What was the patient’s name again, sir..?”
“Honestly, it doesn’t matter, kid. Just come over here and look at these charts…”
“…Um, should we be concerned, sir?”
“Only if she stays at this rate for at least two more days…”
“…The magic levels are definitely dropping. Let’s go over this one more time…”
“Hello, thank-you for coming to visit. We’re – she’s not doing so well. Be quiet. She’s sleeping.”
Claudia willingly stayed awake after hearing those words. She sacrificed her comfort to shift her weight and open her eyes. She saw an interesting group ahead of her. There were two elves wearing matching uniforms, one noticeably older than the other. The younger elf was distinctive for his large, frantic, and fragile looking eyes. Accompanying them were some either very concerned or very uncomfortable overdressed fairies. The fairies were few, two butterfly, three flower, one wind. They were grouped at one end of the room, as if not daring to learn the extent of the damage, or just not comfortable in the presence of all this gloom. The young elf looked at Claudia, who was obviously awake. Eyes widening, he dropped his clipboard and drew the attention of the others in the room. He wordlessly pointed to Claudia. Everyone gasped but Claudia, who in turn blushed, shifted her weight again, and groaned in pain. Immediately, one of the flower fairies began swooning over Claudia, whispering meaningless words of comfort. The other flower fairies put on pitiful concerned faces and leaned on the butterfly fairies’ shoulders. The solitary wind fairy sat down next to Claudia’s bed in a chair which swallowed him up.
Claudia stayed still but looked at each of the fairies individually, soaking in their mannerisms. The first flower fairy was dressed in purple and had her hair unnecessarily up. She was looking more or less meaningfully into Claudia’s eyes. The remaining flower fairies looked like twins, wearing nearly identical dresses one green, one blue. Each seemed to be copying the other. The butterfly fairies were not very attention-attracting, wearing thick fibered green and grey tunics and loose shorts, and looking anxiously around, as if tracking a fly. The wind fairy was obviously the type to call attention by not paying attention. Wearing only black, he was either bold with his own original style or just determined to show how different he was. Then she looked at the elves. The elves were muttering to each other nervously and standing awkwardly in the corner of the room. Claudia was confused. Although she appreciated the visitors, she didn’t recognize any of them. The dramatic flower fairy earnestly tried to ‘console’ Claudia.
“How do you feel? Do you need the bed adjusted? I brought some ginger-nut thins for when you are able to take solids.”The fairy waited for a response. Claudia didn’t feel like talking, and probably didn’t have the energy to anyway, so continued to look quizzically at the other fairy, silent. “Oh, its OK, its OK, honeydew. You’re doing great. You look great, too. Yeah, you look great. We miss you out at Cypress Cove. I always loved your smile. You have a beautiful smile. Right, Stephan? Yeah.”
Stephan, who was apparently the wind fairy in the carnivorous chair, nodded as a sign of acknowledgement, then continued to stare at the floor with his head in his hands. The other flower fairies chimed in with pitying faces that pretended to be reassuring.
“Yes, yes. You look great. Your smile is beautiful…”Claudia mentally rolled her eyes. She was exhausted, not deaf. The other fairies’ behavior was starting to get on her nerves. The elves whispered urgently for the visitors to come to the other side of the room. The flower fairies rushed over anxiously to meet the butterfly fairies and elves. Stephan the wind fairy was content to listen from his chair. Claudia strained her ears, but could only hear the S’s and Sh’s. She relaxed and closed her eyes, giving in to the comfort of her adjustable bed. She kept her ears wide open. It was hard not to.
“Poor soul. Who will be caring for her? How much does she know?”
“The less the better. Once you lose the will to live… you just give up.”
“Do you want me to bring more casseroles? What about Get-well-soon cards?”
“She can’t take solids at this stage… which reminds me, did you feed her yet?”
“Yes, sir. She’s been seeming quite thirsty lately, and deprived of certain minerals…”
“Why are you keeping her here anyway? You know, considering the circumstances?”
“Don’t think that way! You don’t know anything! Right doctor?”
“Of course, miss Orchid. In the meantime, we need some time alone with her, all this excitement is bad for her health. The more sleep, the better, and as you know, she’s gonna need it.”
“Yes, of course. Lets go, girls, and Stephan. And she won’t notice if you take a ginger-nut thin, tell me how they taste. You deserve it.”
Claudia couldn’t help but hear a very audible exhale from the fairies at the door. Since she couldn’t sleep, Claudia had no choice but to think. Who were those fairies? What was wrong with her? Why didn’t the doctor think she could handle the news? A plan of action was simple: survive and prove those strangers wrong. Not only did Claudia know she could make it through this, but she knew she wasn’t the sapling the others thought she was. Survival wasn’t easy, but it was possible, as displayed by the living fairies who had just left, and the fact that she was alive at that moment. Then Claudia fell asleep.