Dragonfly Peace—a Garden Fairy Story for Children
~From the Children's Short Story Book: Cinderella Sarah (for 5-9 year olds) by Karen Cossey. Get your copy for free here, plus another free book for 9-12 year olds.~
There were little people in the back garden, Jenny knew. No one believed her, because she was ten and supposed to be old enough to know better. Her father told her next year, when she turned eleven, the little people would not be there, because she would definitely be old enough to know better by then. When she asked him why he looked so sad, he said it was because he had known about the little people, too, until he was eleven.
Jenny hoped they would never go; not until she was at least twenty-one years old. That was really old, so she would probably need to know better by then.
Today was the first sunny Saturday of summer, a perfect day to spend outside. Jenny crept through the back garden, making sure she only stepped on the pavers scattered around as a footpath. She did not want to stand on any little people!
Crouching by the marigolds, she peered inside one of the flowers. There was her friend Meredith, sitting cross-legged in the middle of it, eating a breadcrumb.
“Hi Meredith,” Jenny whispered, not wanting to frighten her. Meredith sprang to her feet and shouted, “Thank goodness you came. I’ve been waiting for you!”
“Why’s that?” Jenny asked.
“Because our village needs your help,” she said. “The ladybirds sent word that the dragonflies are planning to attack us this afternoon! We need you to stop them!”
Jenny frowned. “How can I do that?”
“Can’t you capture them with something? Don’t use that fly spray stuff your mother uses, it makes us all sick for weeks. Maybe you could find their hideout and smash the rotters to pieces.” She jumped up and down and whacked her hands together.
Jenny had never seen Meredith so upset. She knew she must help, even if it meant dealing with dragonflies, but she didn’t like the idea of whacking a lot of dragonflies to smithereens.
“My friend from Japan showed me how to catch them last summer.” Jenny spoke her thoughts aloud. “If I caught one, you could talk to it and make peace, so I don’t need to squash them all.” When she saw the disappointment on Meredith’s face she added, “Otherwise they’ll get really mad and will attack you another time.”
Meredith turned her hands outwards. “They’ve been our enemy forever. I don’t think we could ever make peace.”
Jenny folded her arms. “You are the leader of your village, Meredith. Try, or I won’t help.”
Meredith sighed. “All right,” she said, shaking her head. “Let’s go then.”
Meredith jumped into Jenny’s outstretched hand. Jenny slipped her into her shorts’ pocket. It was Meredith’s favorite place to travel.
They headed to the pond at the edge of the garden. Jenny knew that was where the dragonflies were. Her friend Tombo’s name meant dragonfly—in Japan, dragonflies symbolized courage. Last summer, Tombo had been fascinated with the dragonflies living in the pond. They had spent hours lying on the grass watching them fly. Tombo had returned home at the end of last summer, and Jenny still missed him.
Near the edge of the pond she picked up two small pebbles and yanked a hair out of her head with a loud ‘ouch’. Tombo had taught her how to catch dragonflies, but she’d never been as good at it as he was—probably because his hair was so thick and strong. Her hair was long though, so that made it easier to tie a pebble to each end.
A few dragonflies were flitting about; she took aim and threw the pebbles at one. Missed. She tried again. Missed again. After eight or nine attempts, she was getting frustrated. Just then, a giant dragonfly flew past her. Jenny did not like them much because they were so big, but this one moved slowly, so she aimed and threw her pebbles. Down it came, tangled in her strand of hair!
It was lying on its side, trying to beat its wings and get up. Jenny lowered Meredith in front of it, but at a safe distance. The dragonfly stopped moving.
“Why are you planning to attack us, King Henry?” Jenny heard Meredith ask the dragonfly. Oh no! She had brought down the King!
“Because you are friends with these giants who assault us with rocks and ropes! Last summer they wounded many of us—four of our family died before their time. We saw you talking with this giant and my family were convinced you were planning another assault on us. I tried to tell them it wasn’t so, but look what you have done—you have brought her here to strike me down. Now that you have hurt me, my family will be even more determined to attack you.”
Jenny felt the blood rush to her face. Had Tombo and she caused this feud? Had the dragonflies died because of her? She must make amends. Quickly.
As she gently untangled King Henry, she apologized for hurting him and his family. She promised not to attack the dragonflies with rocks and ropes anymore. She told him about Tombo and how he’d returned to his country far away. Most of all, she let King Henry know that the little people had nothing to do with her and Tombo hurting the dragonflies.
She could see King Henry was listening. He wanted peace too, but his family was angry at their loss. How could she show her regret?
Looking over towards the pond, she saw rubbish floating in it. Kids on their way home from school threw stuff in the stream further along from the pond, and it ended up here. Jenny often noticed insects trapped under old pieces of plastic but had never given it much thought.
“King Henry,” she said excitedly, “if I clear the pond of its rubbish and keep it clean, will your family believe that I want peace for us all?”
It looked like King Henry was smiling. “Why yes, I’m sure they will if you do that,” he said.
A few days later, her dad came up to her as she was emptying a bag of pond rubbish into the bin. “Still believing in little people?” he asked.
“Still do, always will!” Jenny said. “Maybe one day I’ll show you them too, Dad.”
He smiled. “I’d like that.”
Jenny grinned back. It was much easier to believe in little people now, especially since they visited her in her room, riding in on the dragonflies. Maybe they would want to meet her Dad—maybe sometime soon.
Story by Karen Cossey
Copyright © Karen Cossey, 2014
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