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  • Writer's pictureEnchanted Conversation

The Magic Mirror, by Cheryl Israel


Editor's note: Happy St. Patrick's Day! We know you'll enjoy this imaginative take on leprechauns.


It is midnight on March 17. Tellie’s eyes widen as she peers up into cloud-like puffs of shamrock green floating around her room. There is an aroma of fresh mint. 


She shakes her head back and forth, turns to her side, and is astonished to see a tiny person sitting on the edge of her bed. He is less than a foot tall, with red hair and dressed in green. A top hat sits snugly on his head and rests at the top of his eyebrows. 


“Aye,” he says, "‘tis time you woke.”  


She places her hands over her eyes, blinks rapidly and opens them. He is still sitting on the edge of the bed, watching her.


“I…what…who?”


“I am your little people representative, Shorty.”


“Interesting hat,” she comments, giving herself time to contemplate. 


It’s about adding height,” he quips. He gives her a serious look. “I am here beckoning you to join me on a trip to meet our people.”


Tellie’s eyes widen in fear and excitement. The two feelings aren’t all that far apart, she thinks. 


“You needn’t be afraid, I am friendly.” Shorty dances to an unheard rhythm with random, short hops.


Tellie laughs but she hesitates. She considers Shorty’s twinkling eyes, and finally nods.


“Now, close your eyes.” Shorty counts to ten. “Now, open.”


Tellie, to her wonder, is Shorty’s height, "in ruffled elf design clothes,” she thinks to herself. She clicks her new turned-up-toe mint green shoes together, takes a few steps, and finds that she cannot keep from taking short hops. She laughs at her odd, gleeful feeling. 


Shorty takes Tellie’s hand and hops onto a cloud-like puff of shamrock green. She is leery, but they float easily through the open window.


They travel upward, to the Milky Way. “The stars are much further apart when you see them up close,” Tellie says.


Next, they stop on top of the moon. Turns out the man isn’t home.


Their cloud-like vessel accelerates and skates around the rings of Saturn, and they fall about, laughing. 


The vessel scoots into the atmosphere and begins to slowly descend.


Tellie’s eyes widen. “The stars are so bright, so crystal clear up here.


Shorty nods. "'Tis true, it's a wonder."


They both gasp as a group of stars shoot into the night air, like playful dolphins, acknowledging their presence.


The vessel lands gently in a lush green meadow, where a large pack of Little People have gathered.


A spokes-woman steps forward. "We have been looking forward to meeting you."


"I… this surprise… why me?” Tellie stutters. 


“We have been watching you for years as you celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in honor of your grandfather’s birthday. You held parties, filled your house with green and purple shamrock plants, and acknowledged St. Patrick, our hero."


Tellie raises her eyebrows in question.


"Legend has it that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. This was a great relief to us. The snakes thought of our people as delicious tidbits, ripe for eating. They could creep up on our people, what with them being so quiet and slinky. The snakes closed their throats around thousands of our people, suffocated and ate them. St. Patrick ended all that by pitching the snakes into the sea.”


Tellie’s face inches upward and into the shape of a large hunter green exclamation point. “That stung,” she says, after her face snaps back into shape.


The spokes-woman continues. “People often discount us because of our size, and we are sometimes spit upon. You, on the other hand, have many times toasted us as ‘little people with big hearts.” In unison, they place their hands on their chests, and the sound of a babbling brook rolling over stones fills the air--a dynamic sound, given the size of the crowd. “You also speak of us as gentle people, not mischievous tricksters, as is often told.”


The spokes-woman steps forward and holds up a tiny shamrock-shaped mirror made of gold. “Made especially for you with pieces from our pot of gold. We can stay in touch through the mirror, and you can access the power it can bestow.”  


“How will I know how to…?”


The spokes-woman interrupts. “You will know how to use it intuitively, if the need arises.”


Suddenly, a menacing creature appears. It has a large square head, and prongs of thick striped skin extend from its wrinkled, rough body and short end-tail. It growls, shows long dagger-sharp teeth, chomps down on the golden mirror, and disappears into the woods.


The spokes-woman cringes. “I must recover the mirror to stop that vile creature from transmitting evil, hypnotizing messages for its own gain.” She runs toward the woods, and the group follows. They rush through the trees, and ram into a dense, eye-watering fog. 


“The creature is using the mirror’s power to try and stop us,” the spokes-woman mutters. She tells everyone to lock arms and stay close together. “If we work in a united front, we can conquer this evil.” Her face is set as she moves further into the woods with them.


The trees pull up roots and follow. They stare with carved, distorted faces, open-mouthed and menacing, and push to surround the crowd. Shorty pulls out a bit of leftover magic dust from his knapsack and throws down an invisible barrier. The trees reach out with knife-sharp branches in protest but cannot break through.


The group proceeds further into the woods.


Suddenly Tellie points a shaking hand at the striped end-tail of the creature in the distance. Remembering the quietness of the slinking snakes, she lays down, stretches out, and twists her body forward, moving toward the creature. The group follows her motions. They slither up without notice and form a circle around the creature. It reacts quickly, wraps its tail around the magic mirror, and crashes through the circle.


The group watches as the creature races into the clearing.


Tellie remembers the Peter Pan fairy tale and how he taught others to fly just by wishing they could. She wishes and pleads with an unseen force, and then sputters, and soars upward. The creature looks up, distracted by the soaring and sputtering. It arches its back and uses all its force to leap in the air and concentrates on annihilating Tellie. It fails to see the steep, hazardous cliff a short distance away—and plunges to its peril. 


Cringing, Tellie watches the creature fracture into pieces. Striped skin, cartilage and stomach contents crash down the cliff and explode on the rocks below. The creature’s severed head moves about in wild, zig-zag thrusts like that of a beheaded rooster. Tellie catches her breath, and when the movement stops, she swoops down and recovers the coveted mirror.


When she walks into the clearing, the crowd shouts, and whistles with all their might. The elation echoes through the woods and softens the distorted faces of the trees as they sink back into their roots. Everyone dances back to the meadow led by Tellie, who holds the magic mirror tightly in her hand.


The spokes-woman smiles, tips an imaginary hat, and nods at Tellie and Shorty. Graceful, like an orchestra conductor, she turns toward her people, and extends her arms. The air fills with a soft, light fog. When it clears, the little people are gone.

Shorty and Tellie look at each other, surprised at the abrupt end to their adventure. The cloud-like poof sputters with impatience. "'Tis time to go," Shorty says.


When they land at Tellie’s home, she climbs out, and looks at Shorty, teary-eyed, and her lips trembling. “Aye,” Shorty says, his voice shaking.They stand together in meditative silence until the vessel relays its impatience.Shorty faces Tellie and bows."Interesting hat," she says.Shorty chuckles, and floats into the night air.


The next morning.


"What an exquisite dream, a surreal adventure," Tellie says aloud.


She turns to her side, and in awe, sees the tiny, gold shamrock-shaped mirror lying on her pillow.


“I will look into this,” she whispers.


She smiles as the aroma of fresh mint wafts through her room.


 

Bio: Cheryl Israel captured family dialogue as an early attempt at storytelling. She self-published a novella entitled About Chessie. She wrote faculty and alumni profiles for the Dance Department, Kinesiology, and the Center for World Performance Studies at the University of Michigan before retiring. She holds an MFA from DePaul University.

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