“Helloooo! Can yooooou heeeeeear meeeeeee?”
The voice was still calling. The little fat fairy reached a break in the trees and found herself staring at a Wide Open Space filled with grass. At the very end of the Wide Open Space was an Enormous White House, bigger, even, than the Royal Palace in the Diamond City! The little fat fairy knew that this was where the Big People lived! All fairies know they must stay away from where Big People live, because not all Big People are very friendly. She hid under a tree root and listened. She suddenly heard the voice again, very close to her!
She crawled out from under the tree root a little, and saw, just on the edge of the grass in the Wide Open Space, a beautiful Daisy flower, tall and strong, with a golden shining face and long, bright white petals that glowed like moonbeams.
“Ah! There you are! Hello, Little Fairy!” said the Daisy.
The little fat fairy stared out at the Daisy. She sniffed.
“Hello, Daisy,” she replied.
“Why don’t you come out and talk to me?” asked the Daisy. “There are no Big People around, it’s just you and me and the grass and the trees in this part of the Wide Open Space.”
The little fat fairy sniffed again. She didn’t want to come out from under the tree root, because she was afraid that the Daisy would laugh at her for being small and fat and ugly. But the Daisy had spoken so kindly, and smiled so warmly at her, that she decided she would. She could always run away again if the Daisy was mean, after all! So she crept out from under the tree root, sniffing and wiping her eyes again with a piece of moss in her hand. She stood in front of the Daisy, shyly looking down at the grass (she would have looked at her feet, but her wobbly tummy got in the way).
“Why are you crying, Little Fairy?” asked the Daisy kindly.
The little fat fairy noticed that the Daisy hadn’t called her “Little Fat Fairy”, but simply, “Little Fairy”. She sniffed again.
“I’m crying because I’m fat and ugly and even though I got an invitation to the Royal Autumn Ball, I have nothing to wear because I used all my materials making everybody’s clothes, and even if I did, when I got there, people would just laugh at me and… I’m so miserable and lonelyyyyyy…” And the poor little fat fairy began to cry again into her piece of moss.
“There, there,” said the Daisy. “Come and sit down under my leaves.”
The little fat fairy crawled under the Daisy’s leaves and curled up in a little fat round ball and cried. The Daisy gently patted the little fat fairy’s back as the tears rolled out into the moss. And when, after the little fat fairy had stopped crying again, and was only making those dreadful hicuppy sobbing noises, the Daisy spoke again.
“I know who you are, Little Fairy. Aren’t you the Little Fairy who lives in the Twisted Acorn Nookery and sews beautiful dresses for all the fairies in Happy Banana Hollow?”
The little fat fairy nodded miserably.
“And are you the same Little Fairy who keeps her mother’s business going whilst her mother looks after her great aunt who is very ill?”
Again, the little fat fairy nodded.
“And are you the same Little Fairy who never charges poor fairies more than they can afford?”
And again, the little fat fairy nodded.
“In that case,” said the Daisy, “you are the same Little Fairy of whom people in Happy Banana Hollow say has the most beautiful smile, the most beautiful spirit, and the most beautiful heart in all of Fairyland.”
“Oh no,” sniffed the little fat fairy. “That cannot be me. There is nothing beautiful about me.”
“Oh, Little Fairy,” said the Daisy. “You do live in the Twisted Acorn Nookery, do you not?”
The little fat fairy nodded.
“And you do sew many dresses for all the fairies in this town, do you not?”
The little fat fairy nodded.
“And do you have a fondness for fairy cakes?”
The little fat fairy blushed. And then she nodded miserably, looking at the grass.
“In that case,” said the Daisy, “you are indeed the very same Little Fairy of whom people in Happy Banana Hollow say has the most beautiful smile, the most beautiful spirit, and the most beautiful heart in all of Fairyland.”
The little fat fairy, not daring to look up at the kind Daisy, sniffed.
“I can’t be that fairy,” said the little fat fairy. “I am the Little Fat Fairy. I don’t know who that other fairy is, but it isn’t me.”
“Don’t you know?” asked the Daisy. “It really is you. I hear the fairy folk go past here often, and I hear the whispers of the trees and flowers throughout the woods. There is nothing that happens around here that I don’t know about. And I know that some people think you are very beautiful.”
The little fat fairy opened her mouth to tell the Daisy it couldn’t possibly be talking about her, but the Daisy stopped her.
“Little Fairy, I have heard lovely things about you, how you made a dress for Baby Rose’s godmother so she could look wonderful at her naming ceremony, and only asked for a box of Turkish Delight in return. I know how you did a deal with the Moon Pixies for beads that would glow on the party dresses of the three poor fairies who live in the Old Tin Can down in Woodsmoke Row, and stayed up for three nights to sew the Moon Pixies’ cloaks back together in return after an Easterly Wind tore them apart. I know how you gave up your own last silk threads so that Little Tommy Sycamore could compete in the kite competition, even though it would mean you lost gold because you couldn’t finish a dress on time.”
Again, the little fat fairy opened her mouth to speak, although she couldn’t deny that what the Daisy had said was true, but the Daisy stopped her.
“And I also know, Little Fairy, that every time you do one of these things, you smile at the person you have done it for. And that smile is very beautiful! Do you know, I once heard a description of your smile? The Primroses told me, and they heard it from the Daffodils, who heard it from the Snowdrops, who heard it from Mr. Robin Redtummy, who heard it straight from the mouth of the person who said it. It was Sir Rowanberry Cloudburst. His wife was very poorly back in the winter, and you had made her some soft nightgowns that kept her cool during her fevers but warm in the icy weather. He said, “That little fairy has a smile that cuts through the rain like sunbeams breaking through to make a rainbow.” Do you not agree, Little Fairy, that that sounds very beautiful indeed?”
The little fat fairy thought for a moment. And then she nodded.
“And do you think,” asked the Daisy, “that Sir Rowanberry Cloudburst is a liar?”
“Oh no,” gasped the little fat fairy. “Not at all!”
“In that case,” said the Daisy, “I think it is fair to say that your smile is very beautiful. Don’t you?”
“There is no denying it, I suppose,” replied the little fat fairy. “But I am still fat and ugly.”
“Oh, my dear,” said the Daisy. “So what if you are rounder in certain places? You are simply unique. Different. Beautiful is simply a word we use to describe things that are pleasing to our eyes. But everybody’s eyes are different. And some peoples’ eyes are very short sighted. Those fairies who were at your Twisted Acorn Nookery earlier, for instance – oh yes, I know what they said! They are very short sighted indeed. They cannot see beauty when it stares them in the face! Because you, Little Fairy, really are beautiful. Even if you are a bit rounder than some people, or have a differently shaped nose. There is nobody who looks like you, and how many other fairies do you know that have a smile that cuts through the rain like sunbeams breaking through to make a rainbow?”
The little fat fairy thought for a moment.
“Supposing what you say is true, Daisy. Nobody wants to be my friend, except the Primroses.”
“Little Fairy,” said the Daisy kindly but sternly. “When you hide yourself away from people and run away if you see them coming, how do you suppose people can spend time with you to be your friend?”
The little fat fairy blushed, and the Daisy stroked her shoulder with a soft leaf.
“I know,” said the Daisy. “It hurts when people are mean. And it is understandable that you want to hide. But sometimes, just as you did when I called to you, we have to step out into the Wide Open Space, and meet people where they are, instead of waiting for them to come to us.”
“I see what you mean,” said the little fat fairy. And she thought for a minute. And then she made up her mind.
“Alright! I will go to the Royal Autumn Ball, and I will meet people. And I will smile at them. And if nobody smiles back, then at least I tried!” And she folded her little fat arms and nodded her head.
And then she remembered. She had nothing to wear! Her head drooped, her shoulders drooped, and she felt so very, very miserable.
The Daisy smiled down at her. The Daisy knew what she was thinking (kind folks often do, you know).
“Little Fairy, do you know how to sew petals together?”
“Don’t be silly! Of course I do! Pansies like velvet, roses like silk, nasturtiums like cotton and gypsophila like lace. Of course I can sew petals!”
“Have you ever sewn Daisy petals together before?”
The little fat fairy frowned as she thought.
“No, I don’t think I have.”
“Take a look at mine, then. Feel how soft they are. Don’t you agree that they would make a lovely skirt?”
The little fat fairy felt the Daisy’s petals. They glowed like moonbeams in the late sunlight, and felt soft and silky. After all, Daisies are the shadows that stars leave us so we do not forget them in the daylight when they have gone to bed. Daisies always close up at night so that they don’t distract the owls as they go about their witching hour business, or draw the Big People out to stare at them when Fairy and Elven Folk are abroad at night.
“Oh, how beautiful your petals are,” sighed the little fat fairy. “What a lovely skirt they would make, swishing and swirling!”
The Daisy smiled. “And what about my green collar? Wouldn’t you say it is about the right size to make a bodice for a dress?”
The little fat fairy stood back and sized up the Daisy’s green collar with a professional eye.
“With a little tuck here and some dewdrops along the edge… oh yes! Your green collar and petals would make the most beautiful dress!”
Suddenly, the little fat fairy realised what the Daisy meant.
“Oh no,” she gasped. “Oh, I couldn’t”
The thing about flower petals is that if you pull them out of the flower whilst it is alive, it hurts them horribly! In Fairyland, every flower who volunteers to give away its petals is sprinkled with fairy dust so that the removal of the petals doesn’t hurt one little bit. In fact, it rather tickles pleasantly. But do you remember? The little fat fairy was very bad at both spellwork and wishwork, so wishing her spell would work so that the poor Daisy would not feel a thing, wouldn’t work! It would hurt the poor Daisy horribly to pull out the petals.
“Now, Little Fairy,” said the Daisy sternly. “You and I have become friends, have we not?”
The little fat fairy nodded.
“In that case,” said the Daisy, “you must do as I ask, and allow me to be your friend. You give so much to other people, and get nothing in return. And now it is your turn to allow somebody else to do something for you. I want you to go to the ball and smile at everybody, and show them how beautiful you are! And so you must let me be your friend, and pull out my petals, and take my green collar, and make yourself a beautiful dress! Will you please do that? For me?”
The little fat fairy thought about it for a while.
“I don’t really need my petals, you know,” said the Daisy. “I would love for you to have them, and go to the ball, and make new friends. And I will know what happens; I will be there too, in a way.”
The little fat fairy sadly agreed, and bowing to her, the Daisy allowed her to pull out as many petals as she needed. By the time the little fat fairy had finished, apologising every time the Daisy winced or gasped, the Daisy only had a few petals left.
“And now my green collar.” The Daisy bowed again, and the little fat fairy, as gently as she could, pulled off the Daisy’s green collar.
How odd the poor Daisy looked, with just a few petals and a globe of sunshine gold for a face stuck on the stem! But the Daisy smiled broadly.
“Now, sit beneath my leaves and sew, Little Fairy. The glow worms and fireflies will be arriving soon and you will be able to sew by their light until your dress is finished!”
And so the fat little fairy sat beneath the Daisy’s leaves and, pulling out some threads and a needle from her pocket, she sewed herself the most beautiful dress from her friend’s petals and green collar! The glow worms and fireflies arrived just before sunset, and were most excited to sit around and light her work. And well before dawn, the little fat fairy tried on her dress.
She crept out from behind the tree where she had changed, and the fireflies and glow worms danced around her like lights at a midnight party! The little fat fairy looked like the sweetest little fat fairy in all of Fairyland! Her soft green bodice showed off her lovely curves, and the glowing white petals swished and swirled and shone over her wobbly tummy, and her smile was the kind of smile that cuts through the rain like sunbeams breaking through to make a rainbow.
“Just beautiful,” sighed the Daisy. “Now, there are just a couple of things missing. Firstly, Little Fairy, pick up that moss you were wiping your tears and nose with earlier. Now, squeeze it tight!”
As the little fat fairy squeezed the moss, beautiful diamond and emerald beads flowed out like a waterfall! Because, you know, even fairies who are terrible at spellwork and wishwork have some magic in them! Even in their snot! Quickly, the little fat fairy sewed the gems onto her bodice, so that she was shining and glittering all over. She did not need to sew any onto the soft petal skirt, as that was perfectly beautiful already.
“And next,” said the Daisy, “some of you fireflies, sit in her hair and twinkle!”
And the fireflies did! What a pretty little sight she was!
“There is just one thing missing. Come here, Little Fairy, and turn your back to me.”
The little fat fairy stood in front of the scraggy-looking Daisy, and turned her back. The Daisy looked down at the little fat fairy’s speckly brown stubby wings, and then shook sunshiny dust from its face all over them! Remember, even the least magical fairies still have magic! Where the Daisy dust fell onto her wings, they glowed and glittered and shimmered with golden beams of sunlight!
“Now turn around, Little Fairy, and look at me.”
The little fat fairy turned around with eyes sparkling at the Daisy, with her hair shining and twinkling with fireflies, her dress winking and glittering and glowing, and her wings gleaming softly, and she flung her arms around the Daisy’s stem.
“Thank you, Daisy! My wonderful friend!”
The Daisy smiled and patted her.
“Run along home to bed now, Little Fairy. You have a few hours sleep before you have to get up. And when you get to the Royal Autumn Ball, remember – you have the most beautiful smile, the most beautiful spirit, and the most beautiful heart in all of Fairyland!”
Again, the little fat fairy hugged the Daisy, and the Daisy hugged her back.
“I love you, Daisy! I feel like my heart is smiling, and it’s all because of you! I will come back and tell you all about the ball! And I will see if I can get somebody to help with a spell to make your petals grow back faster!”
“Just go and have fun, Little Fairy. And smile that beautiful smile. I will be with you, even if you can’t see me!”
And so, with one last hug, the little fat fairy, in her beautiful dress, bedecked with fireflies, skipped home, hung up the dress, put the fireflies in front of a fresh fire, and plopped herself into bed to sleep.