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DECEMBER 2004
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A Christmas Fairy Tail
By Bill Shurkey

"Ow, Max! What are you doing?" Marge unwrapped her tail from the doorknob. "I told you to slam the door on my tail – when I yelled 'ready!'"

"Sorry," Max said.

"Quiet," I have an idea. The flagpole would…"

"The tall flagpole by the courthouse?"

"Of course the tall flagpole," Marge said, "What sense would it make to jump from a short flagpole?"

"You're going to jump?" Max asked. "There's too much stretch in your tail."

"What do you know about tails? You're an elf. Elves don't have tails. Of course fairies don't either." Marge sighed. "Except me."

"I think your tail is very…"

"Don't mock me, Max." She flapped her wings and sprinkled him with fairy dust.

"A-A-Achooo! I'm not mocking you, Marge, and no one has a problem with your tail except you. Learn to live with it."

"I am not going through life dragging a tail behind me. It's unbecoming a proper fairy." Marge headed for the courthouse.

Max sighed and prepared bandages. Minutes after the crash Marge limped around the corner, her tail kicking up snow behind her.

"The knot didn't hold, did it?"

Marge didn't answer.

Max inspected her cuts and torn wing. "Thank God it wasn't worse."

"It's not fair, Max." Marge brushed away a tear.

"Let's sit on that bench over by the Christmas tree and I'll patch you up." They hobbled over the ice and snow and Marge eased herself onto the bench.

"You know, Marge, I was thinking…"

Marge groaned.

"No, listen, Marge. Since you have the tail, why not just use it to help others? You have hidden abilities no other fairy has. The tail can open up whole new vistas and…"

"Like what, mutton head."

"Do not call me 'mutton head', Marge. I'm not a sheep; I'm an elf. Remember what Fairy Queen did last year, when she heard about your name-calling."

"Oh Max, I'm sorry. I guess I've been under a lot of stress lately."

"About your tail … I'm thinking 'fire and rescue', Marge. You know, help stranded cats out of trees and stuff."

"Max, a tail is unthinkable to a fairy. Look at it. Do you honestly think that a fairy tail is normal? It's ugly!" Marge picked up the tip and flung it away from her. It shot up into the top of the Christmas tree and tangled itself in the lights. Marge began to sob.

"Don't cry, Marge, I'll get it. Max disappeared under the tree and scrambled up the trunk. "Fire and rescue, Marge," he yelled. "I'm telling you, it's just the thing." He loosened the tail, scampered back down, picked up Marge's tail-end from the ground and handed it to her.

"Oh, leave me alone in my misery."

"Marge, if your tail is such a problem why don't you talk to Fairy Queen?"

Marge blushed and looked away.

"You already did? What did she say?"

"She told me I was unique, not different, and to accept myself for who I am."

"Then do it, Marge. Just think, you're unique among fairies. Hallelujah!"

"Hallelujah yourself. I don't want to be unique. I want to be like everyone else."

Max sighed. "Marge, it's obvious that God made you this way for a reason. Be thankful."

"It's obvious, Max, that God never had a tail."

"Look what we've been through in the past month," Max said. "You've had me run your tail over with a fairy dust spreader. You dropped it in boiling oil. You basted it with beef broth and teased a dog with it. You've tried the doorknob and the flagpole.

"And what do you have to show for it? Cuts and bruises, a torn wing, and a flat tail that's well over ten feet long." Max threw up his arms. "What's left?"

"I haven't tried freeze-drying it yet. Or putting a bit of catnip on it…"

"I won't be a part of either one, Marge, and neither will anyone else. They all think you're two notes short of a Christmas carol, if you know what I mean."

"Shh! Max, listen! Was that a woman screaming?"

"I didn't hear anything."

"There," Marge said.

"You're right. It's coming from the pond."

They limped as fast as they could towards the sound.

"Someone help my little boy!"

Max and Marge pushed their way through the crowd. "What happened?" Marge asked.

"My son fell through the ice. He'll freeze in there. Do something, please!"

"Someone's gone for a rope," a man said.

Marge didn't hesitate but flung her tail to the little boy. "Grab hold," she yelled, "and I'll pull you out!"

Marge wrapped her tail around her hands and pulled until the shivering boy lay gasping in the snow.

"Oh, my little Herbie." The woman scooped up the boy and hugged him. "God bless you, miss. You saved his life."

"Thank God for my tail," Marge said. "Without it I'd be just another fairy."

"You're a very special fairy, indeed, and I'll always be grateful."

"She's unique," Max said.

Marge slipped her arm through Max's and led him away. "You know, Max, I think the Lord has opened up a brand new door for me."

"Really, Marge? Doing what?"

"Why, fire and rescue, of course. Didn't you see anything that just happened back there?"

"But Marge…"

"Now Max, not another word. Fire and rescue it is. I'm surprised you never thought of it."

"But Marge, I…"

"Help me think of a bit of advertising copy. I want to have business cards made up. Let's see, Max. What's a good slogan?"

He thought a moment. "How about, 'Saved by grace … Rescued by Marge?'"

Marge shook her head. "Max, you're stupid!"

Max pulled his arm free and glared at Marge. "That does it! You have no respect for other people and I'm telling Fairy Queen."

"Oh, Max, please. Not Fairy Queen. She'll make me stand in front of the big Christmas tree again and do that scene from "It's a Wonderful Life". It's embarrassing saying over and over; "every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings". I hate that! And it doesn't work for fairies, you know. Apparently it applies only to angels … and I'm certainly no angel."

"You can say that again," Max said.

"Oh Max, you're not going to tell her, are you? Please don't?"

"All right, all right, I won't tell! Consider it an early Christmas present. But no more name-calling."

"Thanks, Max. You're a good friend."

Max smiled. "Merry Christmas, Marge."

Marge leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Merry Christmas, Max."

© Bill Shurkey 2004
Bill Shurkey is the editor of The Rhythm of Life. He has published over 100 poems in various publications, as well as short fiction, short nonfiction and a nonfiction book. His two passions are poetry and teaching children through fantasy and humor.
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