SILENCESilence is easily mistaken for wisdom, and Paul Tilson sorely needed to appear wise. Embroiled in yet another pointless fight with his wife over who knew what, he was about to say something that he would regret, especially during the divorce proceedings which would surely follow. His stupid mouth, far from being shut as ordered by his wife, was about to open wide. Two lives hung in the balance.
There was a barely perceptible burst of light over Paul’s shoulder. Unnoticed by either combatant, a tiny creature appeared, disheveled and out of breath. “Just in time,” thought Arabella, as she waved her little wand and sprinkled some glitter, with a barely audible burst of music. Paul stopped before another word escaped, stifling his bitter reply.
Surprised by the silence, Patricia paused her endless dissection of her husband’s faults and just stood there. The room was utterly quiet, when Paul, to his own, and certainly his wife’s, surprise, took her in his arms and kissed her. Patricia responded with a heartfelt slap to the face.
“Nothing can save them, but he would have made it much worse," thought Arabella. "I don’t know why we have to use these props, but I love that music.”
Arabella was tired. It had been a difficult shift, including a failed attempt to quiet a politician. The Boss isn’t going to like that, but she needs to authorize stronger spells for them. Nothing works.
She didn’t like to complain, but it had been that kind of day. I need a break. Central Services replied immediately through its mental link: “Five minutes only. Next assignment urgent.”
Arabella quickly checked her hair, a simple pixie cut, and adjusted her dress, a shimmering blue gown with an open back for her wings. Classic Ralph Lauren, but I miss the leaves and twigs. Satisfied, Arabella popped off to her next job.
I wish I were a Happiness Fairy. Working on these Silence Fairy assignments is brutal – so much negative energy!
Arabella’s unhealthy thoughts were logged by Central Services, to be discussed at her Review.
Arabella loved her next job. She appeared over a colicky newborn in a crib. Wand, glitter, music, silence, and then two frustrated parents kissed over one happy child.
Such a cute, fluffy baby! Before joining the Boss, Arabella had spent a lot of time with babies, blessing them, fending off evil curses, and just generally enjoying them. Such blissful innocence! Naturally, they were a little noisy, but Arabella loved it all.
Now it was her job to quiet them for money. The parents had paid the Boss, but what she had done with the money, Arabella didn’t know. She didn’t want to think about it anymore, not after that one Review. She had to hurry back to HQ.
Headquarters was the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, fairy central for the Western Region. There were regional headquarters all over the world, each hidden in castles at various Disneyworlds. At the top of it all was the Boss, Tinkerbell, aided by her assistant, Peter Pan, head of Central Services, which handled all the administrative matters.
The original Boss had been Walt Disney. He had built a haven for fairies threatened by the loss of their forests. Back then, all the fairies had watched his television show and had fallen in love with Uncle Walt, who was so kind and trustworthy. Tinkerbell had been his ambassador, urging the fairies to move to Disneyland. It had been an easy sell.
But things had changed after Uncle Walt had died. There had been a power struggle, and Tinkerbell (“Don’t call me Tink!”) had taken over the Fairy Division. Tinkerbell had big plans. “I want to grow the Disney Fairy brand,” she had said. “You’re either with me or against me, and trust me, you do not want to be against me!”
Tinkerbell had refused to explain the role of the fairies in her plans, other than to tell them that every individual unit had to be productive. All the fairies had quickly fallen in line -- Peter Pan had seen to that. After all, what had been the alternative?
Now all the fairies reported to Central Services, which housed them, fed them, and protected them. This was not cheap, as Pan constantly reminded them, and the fairies had to make a profit. No matter how hard they worked, somehow it was never quite enough.
Back at HQ, Arabella headed to the cafeteria, where she noticed her twin brother, Aelfdane, sitting alone in the corner. No wonder. He’s wearing his black leather jacket and sunglasses again.
Ever since Alf had been transferred to the Omertà Group, he’d stopped wearing his green uniform. Now, he could wear whatever he wanted.
No one was allowed to discuss the Omertà Group. Officially, it didn’t exist. It was part of the dark side of Tinkerbell’s empire, and its members reported only to her. One night, after too much nectar, Alf had confided in Arabella that he was a Silencer. You didn’t want a witness to testify? Tinkerbell would send a Silencer. Someone snitching to the cops? Alf would take care of it.
Arabella bought an overpriced mixed flowers salad and a Sprite, then went over to her brother. He casually kicked a chair out for her to sit on. A real knight in shining armor.
“How’s life, tough guy?”
Alf didn’t respond, so she tried again. More silence. Finally, he mumbled “I just got another mission.” Arabella understood -- this was all she was going to get out of him. It must be a bad one – it’s destroying him.
How could this all have gone so wrong? Uncle Walt meant well, but how did Tinkerbell become like this? She can’t be a bad fairy, can she?
Alf removed his dark glasses, and Arabella could see that he had been crying.
“Arabella,” he said, “my mission is you. Tinkerbell wants me to silence you!”
Arabella couldn’t believe it. “But why? I’ve always been a good fairy!”
“She wants to make an example of you – you have too many unhealthy thoughts, like wondering about the money.” Alf hung his head.
“Shh! Think about something else! C.S. is monitoring us.” Like all fairies, Arabella was scared of Peter Pan and Central Services.
“They only make logs of our bad thoughts,” said Alf. “It takes days for Pan to read them. He’s always behind, off playing somewhere instead of working. Tinkerbell hates it, but he’ll never change.”
“What can we do? We’re just woodland fairies. Tinkerbell’s too powerful!”
“She’s just a fairy, too.” Alf lowered his voice. “I learned about her weakness in Omertà, but we’re going to need all the Silence Fairies and we’re going to have to act tonight. Tinkerbell’s leaving tomorrow.”
“But I don’t know about Daffodil and the others . . . .”
“They’ll follow you,” said Alf. “They all hate Tinkerbell. But you have to work fast – I need you outside the Castle when Tinkerbell flies around Fantasyland tonight.”
Alf was right. The Silence Fairies were frightened, but it didn’t take much to convince them to help once they heard about Alf’s assignment. It was easy to scare fairies, but once they found their courage, no one was braver. Arabella knew they’d be ready. But after they did their part, it all depended on Alf. Could he do it?
The conspirators waited in their rooms, carefully controlling their thoughts, just in case. Finally, at 7:30, they slipped out, one by one, hiding around Fantasyland, with Alf in the middle. No one noticed their little balls of light flitting about.
They were ready. Tinkerbell always made a daily flight above the crowd. Grown-ups thought it was someone on a wire, but the little children knew better.
The fireworks and music started, and everyone looked up. Tinkerbell took off from the tower, smiling down at the crowd, taking it all in, the upturned faces and camera flashes. Most of all, it was the cheers, the cries of excitement from the children: “There she is! I see her! It’s Tinkerbell!”
Then suddenly it happened – the crowd went silent. Not just a little quieter, but the perfect quiet of a fairy spell. Arabella and the others had cast their magic over the whole crowd. Not even a baby could cry.
People looked around in amazement. Tinkerbell’s light started to dim, then flicker. She tried to break the spell, but she could not defeat them all.
Tinkerbell knew what was happening, and for the second time in her life she was afraid.
Once, long ago, Captain Hook had poisoned Peter Pan’s medicine. To save him, Tinkerbell had swallowed it herself, but it had been poisonous to her too and it had started to kill her. She had been saved only by the little children who had believed in her and their cheers: “I love you! Don’t die! Stay with us!”
Tinkerbell had barely survived, but she had vowed never to be that weak again. A newer, stronger, more dangerous Tinkerbell had been born.
Unfortunately, some of the poison remained in her permanently. Every day, she needed those cheers again -- her daily flights weren’t just for the spectacle. Without them, she would die.
As her light dimmed, Tinkerbell dropped lower and lower, down to where Alf was waiting. When she finally hit the ground, he cast his most powerful spell, the one only the Omertà knew, taught to them by Tinkerbell herself. Tinkerbell’s light went out, never to reappear.
Alf had done what he had to, but it had cost him. He would never be the same fairy again.
With Tinkerbell gone, Disneycorp disbanded the Fairy Division. Peter Pan was given a lifetime pass to all the Disneyworlds, and he left office work forever, spending his time enjoying the rides and posing for pictures instead.
Arabella, Alf, and the other fairies were relocated to an undisclosed forest. Alf patrolled it, ensuring the safety of the fairies, who went about their fairy business undisturbed. Arabella still visited babies, who were allowed to cry but usually stopped in fascination upon seeing her.
All of the forest's surrounding villages were known thereafter for the health and happiness of their noisy children.
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Thank you once again to halfshellvenus for beta reading this.