colormari
WHO KILLED THE FLOWERS?
BY
M.E. Heller

 

Chapter One
The Queen’s Nose
    

When Queen Celestine woke up her nose was wiggling. It was the oddest thing. She tried blowing it and sneezing. She tried holding it between two fingers. What was wrong with it? It woke her up in the middle of a very nice dream. In the dream she was young again and flying all over the place. Only in dreams could she fly, for her wings ached with rheumatism.  Getting old was a pain, even for a fairy.
       She lay there, waiting for her breakfast under the Quilt of Mementos, a fabulous quilt upon which were stitched bits of ribbon, dried flower petals, and tiny scraps of ball gowns, remnants of her career as a Fairy Godmother. Before she fell asleep each night, she would finger them, one by one, recalling the children to whom they belonged.  A canopy sky of stars, planets, and a big round white moon covered her four-poster. Her wiggling nose pointed at the moon while she waited. Her nose had not for an instant stopped wiggling and, finally, when she could stand it no longer, she sat up smartly and reached for the bell cord. She shook it briskly and, before long, a short round elf came running, flying, then running into the room.
“You rang? You rang? You rang?” the elf inquired.
“How else would you know to come?” she replied, hoarsely. “Where’s my breakfast? That lazy butler should have brought it by now. If you happen to see him, tell him I want two sweet buns this morning, warmed if you please, with lots of butter.” She saw no point in avoiding fat at the age of two thousand years.
“And Friggis,” she went on. “A smell is missing. It worries me, and perhaps that is what is upsetting my nose. Please open the curtain before you go as well so I can have a look at my flowers. Perhaps then my nose will smell them and stop wiggling.
Eyes to the floor, the elf made no reply and, as well, no move towards the curtain. He might as well have been turned to stone.
“Open them,” she shouted this time. “Am I not the only deaf person here?”
“If you please Mum,” the stricken elf replied.” I can’t. It has to be Marigold, Marigold, Marigold.”
Having uttered unwelcome information, the door-elf turned quickly on his heels and ran out of the room.
What’s wrong with him, she wondered
She lay back down again and closed her eyes, very disappointed in how the day had begun. During the encounter with the door-elf, she had almost forgotten her nose, but there it was again, wiggling to beat the band. How could she possibly sleep with that going on? She sat up then and turned down the Quilt of Mementos in readiness for her breakfast tray,
Celestine, Queen of the World of Air, had retired from godmothering at the age of one thousand years. It had been a physically demanding profession, requiring challenging magical operations, such as travel to far-flung places, changing one animal into another and such like that.  Swelling, her personal physician had recommended lots of bed rest. It was time a younger fairy took over.
        Her retirement plans changed, however, when Penelope, former Queen of the World of Air died and she, Celestine, had been chosen as her successor. It was all right with her, but they would just have to put up with a Queen who spent most of her time in bed. It would be just fine. She would look after things just as well from her bed. Meanwhile, she would school a young fairy to succeed her.
Her bedroom was one of the larger rooms in the palace and the elves had made it very comfortable. Her bed was positioned so that she faced north, and the door. To her left, deep bookshelves climbed the western wall. Upon those shelves was a rare collection of fairy tales, reference books on magic, plants, and flowers, and a collection of books that once belonged to a spectacled elf by the name of Lender. Lender, fascinated with books, had wanted to found a library with them, but the idea never caught on. Most fairies had neither the inclination nor the time for reading. There had been a few borrowers in the beginning but not one book had been checked out of Lender’s library for many hundreds of years.
To her right, on the other side of the curtained windowed wall, were her special roses. She thought about the one that would be on her breakfast tray. Her nose wiggled even more as she imagined it, and she sneezed again, just in time to hear someone fiddling with the door handle.
“Whoever it is come in for goodness sake.”
Pushing before him a teacart bearing a silver tea service and cutlery, teacup and saucer, and two hot buns, came a short fat elf. The elf, who happened to be the butler, wore the usual grease-spotted black jacket and trousers, and the usual not very clean napkin lay folded over one arm. He picked up the teapot and filled the flowered cup without a word of greeting. Deftly then, with an extravagant flourish, he removed the tray from the cart and placed it on the queen’s lap, announcing:
“Your breakfast.”
“I am not completely blind,” she snapped.  “Mmmm. Buns. Good. Hot tea. Where’s my rose?”
“None are in bloom today, Mum,” he mumbled.
“Speak up!” she cried.
“I’m sorry. “No fresh blooms,” he repeated, somewhat louder.
“What is it you are telling me?” she cried, feeling her face get very red. “The garden is full of roses. Go out there and pick one this instant. If you can’t do it get Marigold or whomever else you can find and tell them. Meanwhile, my nose isn’t working properly. You must open the curtain so it can smell the flowers. Then, perhaps, it will stop jiggling.”
“Very good,” replied the butler in a tired voice,  “but I beg Your Highness to wait for Marigold. I cannot do it now, as I have some important duties with which to attend.”
With that, the butler turned quickly on his heels and, grabbing its handle, pushed the breakfast cart out of the room.
“What do you mean; important?” she called after him. What could be more important than opening the curtain, something you have done every morning for hundreds of years?”
Forcord was surely beyond hearing. She gave up with a deep sigh and turned to her breakfast, taking a sip of tea and a small bite out of one of her buns.
“What in the world is going on around here,” she muttered to herself. “Why will no one do as I ask?” Determined to find out, she reached across her tray for the bell cord, pulled it again and, again came the door-elf, this time limping due, she imagined, to his having collided with the butler and the breakfast cart.
“You rang? You rang? You rang? “
Friggis’ repeating could set one’s nerves on edge.
“Open the curtain Friggis, immediately.”
“I’ll get her. I’ll get her. I’ll get her,” blurted the elf.  He turned round then and ran straight out of the room.
If no one else will do it, she thought, I must wait for Marigold. Returning to her breakfast, she had managed another bite of bun when a small fairy, accompanied by another one twice the size, flew into the room and to her bedside. The smaller of the two was Marigold, a flower fairy born of the orange marsh marigold.  She wore a gown of that color and, framing her heart-shaped face was a mop of orange ringlets. The taller fairy, Pansy, born of that flower, had a longish neck, a sharp little nose, and wispy yellow hell that fell to her shoulders. Celestine found their different appearances hilarious. She chuckled softly when she saw them, until she remembered the curtain.
“I asked both of them to open the curtain and neither would do it. Can you tell me why Marigold? Now I must ask you to do it. My eyes want to see the flowers and my nose wants to smell them.”
“I am very sorry, my queen, but something terrible has happened. We wished to spare you seeing it as long as possible,” explained Marigold. “The terrible thing is that the flowers are ruined,” she went on, speaking rather loudly, for she knew the Queen was deafer by the day.
“Come now, dear. Surely it is too early in the morning for joking around.”
“I am not joking around, my queen. The flowers are dead.”
Dead!”
“Yes. Dead.”
Every rose? Every carnation? Every petunia?”
“All dead.”
“Dead,” echoed Pansy.
“Dead dead dead,” offered Friggis, who had just come back into the room.
“I don’t understand,” she moaned. They were fine yesterday. I was going to have the gardener speak with them this morning. It was my first thought when I woke up. What shall we do?”
“We will get you dressed,” offered Pansy, sweetly.
“I was wondering why I couldn’t smell them,” she murmured softly. “For want of their smell my nose has been wiggling. There is a certain emptiness in the air and it has made my nose go crazy,” she went on, sounding more and more like a disappointed child. “Fetch my yellow morning gown Pansy, and my crown of yellow diamonds. I shall get up,” she wailed, pressing her palms to her forehead.
Pansy rose on her tiny toes, fluttered her wings gently went towards the deep closet behind the head of the bed. A flick of her wand and the mirrored doors opened to reveal a row of dresses on silver hangers. Besides, in neat rows upon the shelves above, were shoes, crowns, and other accessories. Abruptly, at the touch of the wand, a feather-light gown, as yellow as the brightest sunlight, flew off its hanger into Pansy’s outstretched arms.
Marigold took the queen’s hand firmly into her own and eased her gently off the bed, and when the queen’s little feet had touched the floor, Pansy held up the yellow gown and crown and, with a murmur of enchantment, the Queen was dressed and crowned.
“How beautiful you are,” exclaimed Marigold. “Come and see for yourself!” She took the queen’s hand and led her to the dressing table, at the far side of the door. When Celestine saw her reflection in the mirror, she forgot for a moment, her wiggly nose and the ruined flowers in her garden.
“Open the curtain,” she said, remembering.
Having danced to the far end of the windowed wall, Marigold reached for the cord, and pulled. The curtain opened quickly, with a whoosh. Presented then with a wide view of the garden Celestine behelda most horrifying sight. The garden was now a sea of dead black flowers.       
“Fetch Sprayneedle at once!” she cried.

    

 

 

 

 

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Who Killed The Flowers is also available HERE for your computer and small devices.

Fairyland has changed! In this modern world, fairies, elves, wizards, dragons, and gnomes have begun to take on very human characteristics. They forget sometimes how to perform magic, Fairy Godmothers go into retirement at the age of two thousand years. The elementals assume hilarious variations of human lifestyles, and develop individual personalities.