• Meg Gaertner

Bear Maiden and the Boy Magician (5/10)

Chapter Four

One beautiful morning, a gentle breeze drifting through the open window carried the warmth of sunlight, the laughter and ecstatic screams of children, and the aroma of freshly baked honey bread and cinnamon apples. The wind caressed the girl’s face, tangled itself in her hair, and tugged on her dress. The bear spirit inside her chest thrashed and flailed to a nightmare of confined space and stale air. It was too much. Bear Maiden jumped to her feet.

Gently but determinedly, Bear Maiden reminded Boy Magician of her responsibilities in The Village—to watch butterflies with the broken woman, to attend school with the other children, to buy food from the baker’s. He smiled at her exuberance, charmed by the lake blue of her eyes and the way the sunlight reflected in her hair. He opened The Tower door, and the impatient dance of her feet on the floor turned into the hasty clamor of her leaps down the stairs. Bear Maiden went her way, promising the boy to return.

Ah...! Bear Maiden could scarcely remember a time when the sunshine felt more lovely against her skin, like warm honey dripping onto fruit or smooth butter melting on fresh bread. The grass never felt so playful as it tickled her feet and caught on her clothes. The hum of the bees, the harmonizing of the birds, the bass croak of the frogs, and the drumbeat of last night’s rainfall pattering down from tree leaves outperformed any trouper’s song she had heard before. Blissfully, Bear Maiden made her way through The Village.

She stopped at the baker’s to request some food. She brought the broken woman breakfast and they discussed the waltz of the butterflies. She skipped along the stone wall on her way to school. All the while a funny feeling crept up on her, a niggling, persistent fly of a thought buzzing in her ears and brushing against the back of her neck. She twirled once, twice, three times to shake off the feeling, and…wait! There it was again! Bear Maiden looked up at The Tower silhouetted against the pale blue of the sky, and at the boy framed in the lone window at the top, the boy watching her. Bear Maiden waved, and Boy Magician waved back. But he did not turn from the window. He just kept watching.

Bear Maiden continued toward the schoolhouse, joined the other children, and went to her class; but she could not shake off her distraction. Every time she turned to look—and she turned to look more and more as the day went on—there he was at the window, watching her. She tried to ignore him but his eyes on her persisted.

Finally, it was time to return to The Tower as promised. She raised a hand to knock on the door but it opened before she had the chance, and Boy Magician sweetly and excitedly welcomed her back in. Bear Maiden laughed a little at his gentle enthusiasm, and felt her spirits lift. As they climbed the long staircase to his home, Boy Magician shared stories about his day and Bear Maiden gladly listened to him talk about other people he had observed from his window. She relaxed into their easy companionship.

While watching the sunset burn the sky with its fiery glow, Boy Magician invited her to speak about her day. Bear Maiden shared some stories, and Boy Magician listened eagerly, interjecting to ask some questions. Where did she go? With whom did she meet? What did she talk about with the broken woman, the baker, the teacher, the other children? Bear Maiden answered to the best of her ability, taken aback and a little overwhelmed by the extent of his interest. She felt a strange uneasiness grow inside of her as he continued asking more and more, though she reasoned it was only natural for a boy who rarely left his small room to have questions about the activities of others outside his home.

When Boy Magician stopped his trail of questions, Bear Maiden felt palpable relief. When he acknowledged how much she enjoyed other people and the world outside his Tower, she smiled fully. When he suggested that she continue to spend her days out in The Village and only return to play with him each afternoon, Bear Maiden laughed with the first sense of ease she had felt all evening. The tension broken, Bear Maiden and Boy Magician enjoyed each other’s company freely.


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