It has been a while since I have posted; maybe someday I will write about why.  But for now, here is a new installment in the story of Stephanie the Fairly (her mother is a fairy, and her father is a leprechaun).  If you want to go back to the beginning, check with the earliest posts in under this heading.  Astute readers will notice that one of the promised stories has not been posted here.  I decided for personal reasons to reserve that one, at least for now, for the family members for whom the series was created.

These days, most of us know exactly what to expect from a birthday party; but for Stephanie it was a brand-new experience.  Oh, she had celebrated several birthdays herself, as well as a few for her mother, but they weren’t real parties.  There simply wasn’t enough room in the tree house under the maple tree in the sugar bush for a fairly and her mother to throw a party. 


So when she got an invitation to a birthday party for Betty the Brownie, Stephanie was fairly excited.


“Mom, what will they do at the party?” she asked.


“I’m certain I don’t know for sure, but parties usually have games like Pin the Tail on the Biggins, Musical Stumps, or Name that Tuna.  Sometimes they have a piñata.”


“What’s a piñata?”  Stephanie wanted to know.


“It’s a little like a hornets’ nest, but when you hit it with a stick, candy comes out instead of hornets.”


“Sweet!” said her daughter, licking her lips.


Stephanie’s mother went on.  “And then they have some food, and the birthday girl gets to open all her presents.”


Stephanie frowned.  “You mean I have to buy a present to take to the party?  Isn’t my presence there enough?”


“No, dear, you’ll need to take a gift, but don’t worry—I’ve made a special necklace that you can take to Betty,” her mother replied.


So Stephanie went off to play, and to wait impatiently for the big day.


When Betty’s birthday finally arrived, Stephanie got herself ready.  She made sure that her dress was clean, her wings were pressed, and her antennae were dusted.  (After all, she wanted a good reception at the party.)  Then her mother gave her Betty’s gift:  the most beautiful necklace she had ever seen.  It was made of little green cones, strung together on a silver thread, looking like forest pearls.


“Oh, Mom!  It’s beautiful!”  Stephanie exclaimed, slipping the necklace over her head and admiring herself in the mirror.  “Where did you ever get the idea to use hemlock cones like this?”


“What did you expect me to use—old teeth?  Of course it’s beautiful; I’m a fairy!  Someday you too will be able to make everything you touch more beautiful.  But it’s time for you to be going.  It won’t be pretty if you’re late.”


So Stephanie wound her way through the woods and forged her way through the forest until she passed through the hedge of mountain laurel that enclosed the clearing where her friends were gathering for the birthday party.  She saw Betty the Brownie and her mother Fudgie—why her parents ever named her Fudgie I will never know, but I think it’s nutty, myself.  Patty the Pixie was there, along with Diet the Sprite, Ellen the Elf, and many of their woodland friends like Harey the Bunny, Spotty the Fawn, and Joshua the Angry Bird. 


As soon as Stephanie arrived, everyone started talking and chattering and wiggling their whiskers all at once—welcoming her and complimenting her on her beautiful necklace.  She couldn’t remember when she had ever gotten so much attention!  And she liked it.  A LOT.


She liked it so much that she made a bad choice.  I know that Dawson and Emilie have never made any bad choices, but most of us have, at least once or twice. Anyway, I know that bad choices always cause problems later on, but Stephanie wasn’t thinking about later on.  Everyone thought the beautiful necklace was hers anyway, so she decided to keep it for herself.


That bad choice created a problem for her.  If she kept the necklace, she had to find another present to give to Betty, so while everybody else was having Wild Berry Surprise for snacks, Stephanie slipped away out of sight.  But as hard as she looked around, she didn’t see anything that looked even a little bit like a birthday present.  Then, just as Betty’s mother called her, Stephanie had a thought, and she picked up a small stick and headed back to the party. 


Stephanie was very busy as she watched Betty get her presents.  Some were pretty, some were funny, and some were socks.  And while everybody else was oohing and ahhing, the little fairly was rubbing her stick, trying to make it look polished and special.


When it came her turn to give Betty her gift, she pulled out the stick from behind her back and gave it to her friend with a broad smile.  Betty took the stick and looked at her, puzzled.  Stephanie put on her very best “I’m not lying!” face and said, “It’s a whistle—blow on it!”


Betty the Brownie put the stick to her lips and blew.  Nothing happened.  She blew again, harder.  She blew until she turned brown in the face, and was starting to frown when Stephanie spoke up again.


“It’s a special whistle—only grubs can hear it!  I have one for my pet grubs, and they just love it.  Everybody ought to have a grub whistle.”  And Stephanie grinned even more convincingly, she hoped.


“But I don’t have any grubs,” Betty said, a little disappointed by her present.


“Look at it this way,” Stephanie said.  “You’ll be ready when you get some,” and she smiled again, as broadly as she could.


Then Betty smiled, too.  “Hey—that’s right!  This is a very special gift.  Thank you Stephanie; you’re a great friend.” 


(I know it’s a little rude, but somebody has to say it, and you’re all busy reading the story, so I’ll say it myself:  sometimes Brownies are dumber than a stick.)


Stephanie didn’t care why Betty believed her; she was just glad to get away with her sticky little lie.


But when the time came for her to go home, Stephanie realized that she had another problem:  she was still wearing the necklace that her mother had made for Betty.  And that’s when she noticed that her one bad choice was leading her down the path to more bad choices.


She could try to hide the necklace from her mother, but she didn’t know where she could hide it.  She couldn’t put it in her pocket, because fairlies don’t have pockets.  And she just wasn’t very good at being sneaky around her mother.  (There was that episode with the cell phone, but that was a bad call all around.)


She could go back and tell Betty the truth and give her the necklace, but then everybody would know that she was a little selfish and a big fibber.


She could go home and tell her mother the truth, but her mother would punish her and then make her go back and tell Betty, and you know the rest.


Or she could throw her pretty new necklace away and hope that her mother never found out what she had done.  And that’s what she did.  She took off the necklace and turned around and threw it as far as she could, and went home feeling a little guilty and a lot sorry that everything turned out so badly.  She acted so sad when she got home that her mother thought she must have gotten sick from too much junk food at the party, and she made her go to bed.  And her mother never knew what happened.


That is, she never knew what happened until the next day, when Betty the Brownie came to bring Stephanie a thank-you card for the grub whistle, and to give her the necklace that she found along the way.  And she answered all of Stephanie’s mother’s questions.


And Stephanie ended up NOT having the necklace, AND she got punished by her mother AND she had to tell Betty the truth AND everybody knew that she was a little selfish and a big fibber which made Stephanie very, very sad.  But eventually she admitted that her problems all had grown out of the bad choice she had made; and she decided to try never to do anything like that again. 


And that was a very good choice.


Next time, if my fingers don’t fall off and my toes don’t get too full of lint, I will tell you the story of Stephanie and the Chicken Pox.