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The Magical Apothecary…49 Finis

“I wonder if I’m dead,” thought Joey.  “Do dead people think about being dead?” he asked himself.  He remembered seeing Chester and Midnight running toward the men with guns.  He couldn’t remember why anyone was shooting at him.

“Joey,” said a soft voice.  “Can you hear me?”

He heard someone was talking to him but he didn’t know why.

“Joey, honey, open your eyes.”

Ah, he thought.  That must be why it’s so dark.  He tried opening his eyes, but decided it was impossible, so he went back to sleep.

“I told you that you couldn’t learn how to be a hero, Joey,” purred Midnight, into his ear.  “You just are one, when the time comes.  You did really good, but it’s time to wake up,” he said, tapping him on the eyelids with his paw.

Joey smiled, and opened his eyes.

“Well!  It’s about time,” said Diana, sternly.  “I thought you were going to die, or…something.  Just laying there.”

He looked at her and tried to smile.

“How many BULLET HOLES DO YOU THINK A BODY CAN STAND?”

“Diana,” said Lacy, putting her hand on her shoulder.  “Don’t yell at him.  At least wait until he’s able to sit up, okay.”

“FINE!” she said, standing.  “I’ll make tea.”

Lacy sat down and looked at him.  “She’s been up for five days.  Hardly slept at all.  You were so near death, and she just lost Flower, so she was working around the clock to keep you alive.  You were shot…a lot.  You have amazing healing abilities, because of your magic and fairy genes, but it was a lot for your body to take.  The only reason  you’re alive is because the Queens cast their spell and you, as well as Chester and Midnight, were brought onto the new plane, along with the rest of us.  If not for the timing of the spell, you’d all be dead.  Well, that and the fact that Diana has been taking care of you.”

Chester jumped onto the bed, walked in a circle three times and flopped down.  “Hey,” he said.  “Glad to see you’re awake.   Cormick doesn’t know how to go for a walk.”

Diana walked in with the tea.  “Tim and Luca want to get married in the shop, but they put the wedding off until you could attend.  You better hurry up and recover, they aren’t getting any younger.”

“Diana,” said, Lacy.  “That’s a terrible thing to say.”

She snickered.  “I guess it is.”

“Have I been in bed for a week?”

“Five days,” said Lacy.  “You were shot twenty-two times.”

“WHAT?”

“It’s a good thing the timing was right or you would have bled out, magic and all.  No one knew you were gone.  The Queen’s cast the spell and you and the boys,” Diana said, looking at Chester and Midnight were just transported to here.”

“They shot me twenty-two times?”

Diana nodded.  “I think we should kill all of them.”

“She’s a little angry,” said Lacy.

“No,” said Diana.  “I’m a LOT ANGRY.  And you,” she said,  “going out to play the hero.  What did you think you could do against the militarized police and the army?  What?  Did you think you could smile at them and they would go away?”

He told her what happened.  What he saw and felt.  He said that he learned a lot.”

“Like how to DIE?” she shouted.

“He’s the hero, Diana.  Give him a break,” said Lacy.  “If he hadn’t gone out there, they might have killed a lot of us before we could act.  We didn’t know they were coming.”

“HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?” she yelled?  “HOW COULD WE NOT KNOW THEY WERE COMING?”

“They were shielded,” said Joey.  “Someone who knows how to use magic is working for them.  The only reason I even went out there was because Calico told Midnight something was happening.”

“I think we should let him rest,” said Lacy.

“No.  He’s rested enough,” said Diana.  “He should sit in a chair, at least for awhile.  If possible, he should come into the shop and DO SOMETHING, so…”

“So you can feel better?” laughed Lacy.

“Exactly,” admitted Diana.  “So I CAN FEEL BETTER!”

“You really scared her.  She’s been like this since we found you.”

“Are these new plants?” asked Joey, looking around his room

“No,” laughed Lacy.  “They just tripled in size to give you more oxygen.”

“Thanks,” he said to the plants, who waved their leaves at him.  “I think I can get up now.”

***

Tim and Luca were married that weekend.  It was a lovely affair.  Lacy provided the flowers and Cormick put on his wizard hat and was in charge of the service.  The cake was beautiful, but most people opted for the cookies.

Joey limped, but Diana said it was only temporary, since his bones were still knitting together AFTER BEING SHOT BY IDIOTS.  Every time she started yelling he started laughing and she would tell him that if he saw his body when they brought him to her he WOULDN’T THINK IT WAS SO FUNNY!

Things eventually went back to normal and Joey realized that life was much better without humans.  Better for everyone and everything.  Sparrow stopped by to check on him almost everyday and she was finally able to convince the Fairy Guard that he was no longer in any danger, so they stopped guarding him.  He was grateful for that.  He saw his grandmother quite often and he even saw his aunt once.

He sometimes thought about all the hatred and violence in the other world and no matter how he looked at it, it never make any sense.  So, he finally let it go and just enjoyed the life he had.

Calico moved into the shop and Chester met a beautiful mutt named Josie, who came over for food and naps.  Teatree was proud of his son and many of the fairies were grateful for what Joey did for all of them.

Joey still didn’t feel like a hero, but he understood that no one really knows what they are, until the time comes.  All in all…life was good.

finis

P.S.

The things that the shooter said, about hating Magic users because they wanted affordable healthcare, etc., were taken directly from something a conservative wrote about why he hated liberals so much.  He said liberals were destroying our country with their demands of equality and education, etc.  That kind of hatred is real.  It’s happening right now in our country.  His words were so hate filled, that he tried to change them a bit, the next day.  He failed, because he basically said the same thing again.

Unfortunately, we can’t just move to a different plane of existence…we have to stay and fight/die.

I hope you enjoyed the story.  Thank you for reading it.

 

 

 

 

The Magical Apothecary…48

“I have another question,”  said Joey.  “I’m not a physicist, but won’t it be hard to move all of us to another plane?”

“Easiest thing in the world, grandson,” said the Winter Queen.  “That’s what magic is for.  To make the impossible…possible.”

“But aren’t there laws of physics?”

“A few,” said the Summer Queen, “but we can…bend some of them.”

“So everything will seem the same but we’ll just be living away from humans?”

“Something like that.  Yes,” said his grandmother.

“I don’t get it,” he admitted.

“You don’t have to get it, darling.  We’ll take care of everything, won’t we, sister of mine,” she said, matter of factly.”

“We will,” sighed the Summer Queen.

“You won’t even notice the change,” said Teatree.  All that will be missing are the humans.”

“Shall we go tonight, or in the morning,” asked the Winter Queen.

“Tomorrow at six in the morning,” said Joey.

“DONE,” said the Queens together.  Everyone felt the spell lock into place.

“I have requests,” said Joey.  “Things that are important to me and maybe to some of the others.”

“What are they, nephew?” asked the Sumer Queen.

When he was finished explaining what he wanted, Winter and Summer agreed to stop fighting, at least temporarily.  Violence in Fairy was down, but no one could guarantee how long that would last.  Still, they said they would try and be…more peaceful.”

Joey realized that was the most he could hope for and was as satisfied as he could be, under the circumstances.  When he asked what he had to do, they told him nothing at all, that everything would just be moved to a new plane in the blink of an eye and the humans, would not be able to find them.  He couldn’t, for the life of him, figure out how they could do it, but he believed them.

The meeting broke up and everyone took cookies and left.

***

Chester and Midnight woke Joey up around three in the morning.

“Trouble,” said the cat.

“What?” he yawned.  “Where?”

“Get up,” huffed Chester.

“Why?” he said, looking at the clock next to his bed.

“You need to come with us,” said the cat,   “It’s time.”

“Time for what?” he asked pulling on his jeans.  “Where are we going?”

Chester and Midnight led Joey into the street.  They walked in silence until Joey saw the armed men amassing in the streets.

“They plan to kill as many magic users as they can,” said Midnight.  “And they don’t want to leave any witnesses.  They planned to take everyone’s magic and kill them, saying that the magic users  were enemies, wanting to destroy the country with all their talk about freedom and healthcare for all, an end to sexism, racism, agism and their demands for fair wages, education and housing for everyone.”

“You’re joking,” said Joey.

“We’re not,” said the cat.  “Calico said she’s been watching them head this way.”

Joey saw them coming toward him and stopped.  “Wow,” he said.  “There are…a lot of them.”

Midnight hissed.

“Stay close to me,” said Joey, walking forward.

A policeman held up his gun.  “He’s one of them,” he shouted.  Then he fired.

The bullet tore through Joey’s shoulder.  Joey looked at Chester and said, “I’ve never been shot before.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the dog.

“It does,” he said.

“Joey,” said Midnight.  “You’re leaking magic.

Joey looked at his shoulder and shielded his eyes from the light that was pouring out of the small bullet hole.

“Wow,” he said.  “That’s kind of cool.”

And suddenly Joey could see the lights and colors inside everyone.  Inside the buildings, inside…everything. He could see the hatred and the barbed wire that was wrapped around the hearts, of those who hated.  He could see the beating of their hearts, urging them on, pushing them toward violence and rage.  He ignored them, knowing he couldn’t stop, or change them, not when they had been taught from birth to hate.  There was nothing he could do to over ride parents, schools, churches, governments, the very culture itself, so he stood there and just continued to look.

Chester and Midnight leaned against him, as the men in front of them looked away from Joey’s light.

Joey saw fear, sadness, envy and greed.  He saw laughter, joy, love and delight as well.  He saw the conflict in those who wore their flack jackets uncomfortably.  Some overjoyed at the thought of killing others, some wondering what they were doing, being sent to kill people who were their neighbors.

Another bullet hit Joey and the light shot out and blinded the people in front of him.

Joey saw the color of worry and the color of wonder.  He felt the colors of the animals around him, of the trees and all living things.  The trees waved and reminded him of Lacy.  The more he looked, the more he understood.  So, he opened himself to everyone and everything and accepted what they showed him.  He didn’t judge them, but he knew that there would never be peace in the world.  That there would never be a bridge that could cross the divide between people.  Not as long as hate was taught by a culture made of greed and the desire for power.

“Joey,” said Chester.  “Look.”

Joey opened his eyes and saw a line of helmeted, flack jacketed, heavily armed men and women staring at him.

“You can’t have our magic,” he said.  “It’s not yours to take.  Some of you had your own magic but it was hidden from you, or stolen, the way you want to steal it from us.  Maybe it’s still in you somewhere, buried deep.  Look for it.”

“Kill him,” someone shouted.  “He’s the enemy.”

“How can I be an enemy?  What did I do?”

“You should go,” said a man in the front line.  “Before it’s too late.  I won’t be able to stop them.”

“I can’t let you hurt the people I love,”  said Joey.  “But thank you.”

Another shot rang out and Joey fell.  Chester and Midnight stood in front of him.

“I’m okay,” he said, staggering to his feet.  “I’m okay.”

The light from Joey was intense.

“HE’S GOING TO SPELL US,” screamed one man, shouldering his gun.  “HIS LIGHT IS MAGIC!”

“No,” said the man in the front line. “His light is innocence.  He doesn’t understand why we would hurt him?”

“He has magic.  He’s enemy,” someone yelled.  “Kill him.”

The men opened fire.  Joey went down.

Chester and Midnight ran at those on front line.

 

 

 

The Magical Apothecary…47

“How can nothing change?” asked Joey, outraged.

Lacy stared at him.  “Nothing ever changes, surely you know that.  Things are just covered up better than before.  Oh sure, crumbs are thrown at the masses to calm them down.  Committees are formed, false promises are made, tiny, completely meaningless things are moved from one place to another, small concessions made, but basically, everything stays the way the people in power want it to stay.  How can you not know that?  It’s called the status quo.”

“I…”

“Sometimes the the changes actually make things worse,” she added.

“I…”

“Just keep in mind that power corrupts,” said Diana, “and there are millions of people who love corruption and want to control others.”

“I think we’re getting off track,” said Teatree.  “We need to stop them from sealing the borders to Fairy and stop them from taking our Magic.”

“He’s right,” said Joey.  That should be our number one concern.”

“The people in power are cowards and bullies,” said the Queen.  “They will be shielded and send their expendables to do their dirty work, the way they always do.  They don’t care how many die, to protect their assets and positions.”

“Can you spell the police and the armed forces, so they see things differently?”

“I can use a blanket spell but I’m not positive I can get every single one of them,” laughed the Queen.  “Still, it shouldn’t be a problem, at least not locally.”

“There is one other option,” said Lacy.

“Explain, please,” sighed Joey.

“We can move.”

“Move?” he asked.

“To a different plane.”

“You mean leave this reality?” he asked.

“This reality is just a shadow,” she said.  “We can move, take our magic with us, and let them all kill each other.”

There was silence in the room.

“Well, I’m HERE,” sighed, the Summer Queen, as she walked in.

Everyone turned to look at her.

“Sister,” said the Winter Queen.

The Summer Queen nodded at her.

“Oh, this should be good,” whispered Cormick.

They explained what was going on and the Queen sat down, guarded by four of her court.

“Seriously?” said the Winter Queen.  “You brought guards?  Afraid you’d be mugged on your way here?”

The Summer Queen glared at her. “Only by you,” she said.

“Back to the idea of moving to a different plane,” said Joey.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said the Winter Queen.  “We don’t really have much to do with the humans.  We’ll still be able to steal an occasional baby, if we feel the need.”

“You steal babies?” asked Joey, horrified.

“I’ll explain changelings later, love,” said Diana.

“I really hate to agree with my sister,” sighed the Summer Queen, “but I do.  It’s the fastest and easiest way to avoid war and we can’t stop the destruction from taking place, so why would we risk a single life to stop them from doing what they want to do.  When they’re gone, we can see what’s left of the planet and save what we can.”

Everyone mumbled and Lacy brought out more scones.

“I think it’s brilliant,” she said, putting a new jar of strawberry jelly on the worktable.

Everyone nodded.

“How do we do that?” asked Joey.

“It’s not that hard,” said the Summer Queen, it will be as if the humans are behind a veil but you can tune into them if you want to.  They, however, won’t be able to do that to us.”

“She’s your aunt, you know,” snickered the Winter Queen, who was glared at by her sister.  “You can call her Auntie, if you like,”

“No,  you cannot,” said the Summer Queen, shooting daggers at her smiling sister.”

“You two make me happy that I’m an only child,” said Joey.

They both looked at him and started laughing.

“He’s right, you know,” said his grandmother.

Her sister sighed.  “Probably.”

“Back to the matter at hand,” said Diana.  “If we’re going to do this, we need to do it fast and…”

Everyone who has magic will simply be moved to another state of being.  They won’t notice, not really, but there won’t be any humans, religion,  government, other than us, I mean, and no conservatives.  it will be lovely,” she sighed.  “Like a dream come true.”

The gardens will will be amazing,” said the Summer Queen and we’ll take the animals as well, so they no longer have to be tortured and slaughtered.”

“A wonderful idea, sister.”

“Did you all here that?” said the Summer Queen.  “She said my idea was wonderful.”

Everyone sighed.

“Well, we can’t really be friends,” the Winter Queen said, to her sister.  But at this moment, we can work together for the good of Fairy.”

“Uh, stupid question,” said Joey, but…”

“There are no stupid questions grandson of mine.  What is it?”

“Will there be streets and things like The Apothecary?”

“You won’t even notice the difference.  All that will be missing are the humans.”

“She’s right,” said the Summer Queen.

“You heard her say that I was right, didn’t you?” laughed the Winter Queen.

“You won’t notice the difference very much at all,” said Lacy.

“But there will still be violence,” he said.  “A Fairy killed my mother and one killed Flower, while he was trying to kill me.”

“That’s true,” said Teatree.  “But things have calmed down considerably and you’ve proven yourself well enough to be treated with respect.”

“Proven myself?”

“Joey,” said Lacy.  “I know this is going to be an issue, but we need to concentrate on saving Fairy and our Magic.”

“But what if nothing’s different there either?”

“It will be.  I promise,” she said.

“Summer and Winter are always at war,” he said.  Fairies fight all the time.  Violence is common.  My Grandmother and Aunt,” he said, nodding to both of them, “can kill anyone they like, whenever they want to”

“Joey…”

“No,” he said, “this is about protecting magic, that’s all.”

“Yes.  It is,” said Lacy.  “Imagine what it would be like if it was syphoned from us and the government would use it against us.”

“It would be horrible,” said Diana.  “They already have too much power and they abuse it at every turn. ”

“I want to know that we’ll make things better wherever we go from here.  Or can’t you change either?” asked Joey.

No one said anything.

The Magical Apothecary…45

Joey stayed up with the animals for awhile, chatting, eating and feeding them.  Everyone agreed that he would know when he needed to act.

There was a knock on the door of the shop and he went to answer it.  Sparrow was standing outside.

“Come in,” he said, holding the door open.

She shook her head.  “I just wanted you to know that Flower is home and surrounded by fairies who loved her.”

“Thank you.”

“About your dream,” she said.

“It was nothing.  Just a…dream.”

“You said I didn’t want you…”

“It was a dream, Sparrow.  Just forget it.”

“I love you.”

“I love you.  That doesn’t seem to matter though, so there’s no point in going on about it.”

Sparrow nodded.  “I don’t really want to live without you, Joey.  I just don’t know how we can live together and be happy.”

“I know.  You said that.  It’s not our fault that we come from very different places.”

“No.  It’s not.”

“Do you want a cookie?”

“No thank you,” she said, smiling.  “I can never eat just one.”

“Neither can I,” he said.  “Can you tell the fairies to get off the roofs and go home?   Thank them for me, but tell them they aren’t really needed?”

“No. I can’t. It would hurt their feelings and they would stay anyway.”

“Just thought I’d ask.”

She smiled again.

“Well, if that’s all,” he said.

She threw her arms around him and kissed him, then turned and ran down the street.”

Chester huffed.  “She’s conflicted.”

“Tell me about it,” said Joey, closing the door.  “Chester, have you been alive before?”

“Sure.  Lots of times.”

“Always as a dog?”

Yes.  I like being a dog.”

“Have we been together before.”

“Yes, but we both looked different when that happened.”

“Do you know how to stop playing the game?”

No.  Do you?

“No.”

“Maybe Midnight knows.  He’s really smart.”

“I asked him.  If he knows, he won’t tell me.”

“Do you know why the cacti is so big?” asked Chester.

“I do not,” said Joey.  Nothing should grow that fast.”

Joey, I have a nition.”

“You mean a premonition?”

Yes.  That.”

“What is it?”

I think something terrible is about to happen.”

As soon as Chester said it, Joey knew he was right.  “Good boy,” he said, petting him.  “Good boy.”

 

The Magical Apothecary…44

The shop was packed and when Joey and Chester walked in.  Everyone turned and stared at them.

“What?” he asked.  “The dream?  Is that why you’re all looking at me?”

No one said anything.

“It was only a dream,” he sighed, going behind the counter.  “I’m still me, you know.  I’m still Joey.” which seemed to reassure everyone and they started chatting and milling around again.

“There are fairies on the rooftops,” said Tim.  “And I’m thinking of asking Luca to marry me.”

“Don’t worry about the fairies,” said Joey, but are you sure you want to get married, Tim?  I mean she’s a wonderful person and a lot of fun, but marriage is a big step.”

“I look at it this way,” he chuckled.  “I’m practically ancient.  I can’t live much longer, so there won’t be time for her to realize she made a mistake and divorce me.  Besides, the woman can cook.”

“Do you love her?”

“I do.  She’s wonderful.”

“Then go for it,” said Joey, holding out his hand.  “Congratulations.

Time shook it and blushed.  “I haven’t asked her yet.  If she says yes, I hope I can make her happy.”

“I don’t doubt that you can.  You have a lot in common.”

Tim went to find a book on love magick and Joey fell into the rhythm of waiting on a steady stream of customers.  The hours passed and his thoughts about heroes and death, drifted to the background of his mind, pushed out by the needs of the present.

Eventually, the shop emptied and darkness fell.  Midnight lay sprawled across the counter and Joey started petting him.  The cat purred and Joey smiled.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, Midnight. I don’t know how to be a hero.”

“No one knows how to be a hero, Joey,” said the cat.  “It’s not something you can learn, or practice, it’s something you are.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“You can’t go to school and learn how to be a hero, can you?  If you ask people in the street, they might be able to tell you about the heroes they know, or have heard about, but they won’t be able to tell you how those people became heroes in the first place.  Because when you’re called on to BE a hero, the hero in you..simply shows up and acts.”

“Are you saying that I shouldn’t worry about it?   That I’ll just do the thing that needs to be done when the time comes?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

Joey, scratched Midnight’s chin and the cat seal kicked his arm.  “I think you’re brilliant.”

“I’m a cat.  Of course, I’m brilliant.”

Joey knew Midnight had just given him the answer he was looking for.  There was absolutely nothing to think, or worry about.  When the time came…he would be ready.  With that thought in mind, he went to make grilled cheese on rye for the raccoons, and make a bowl of cereal for himself.

Diana walked into the kitchen, said hello, conjured a cup of hot chocolate and a sweet roll.  “How’d it go with Lacy today?”

“She said we all have a role to play and I’m…the hero.”

“She’s right.”

“I was worried about that, but Midnight explained it to me.”

“He’s good at that.”

“He really is.”

“So, you’re okay”

“I am, thank you.  He told me that I don’t have to do anything until the time comes and then I’ll automatically do what I’m supposed to do.”

Diana nodded.  “A bit of an oversimplification, but basically sound advice.”

“Good, because I can live with that.”

“Your grandmother and the fairies took Flower home.”

“I know,” he said.

“It was the right thing to do.”

“I know.”

“Flower was a hero,” said Diana.

“I know that too.”

“So was your mother.”

“Yes.”

“Heroes are everywhere,” she said.

“They are,” he agreed.

“So, you don’t have to be afraid.”

“Thanks,” he said, snickering.

“Sure.”

“How are you and Cormick getting on?”

She smiled at him.

“I’m happy for you.”

“I know,” she said, touching his face.  “Thank you.”

“Lacy said you’re all guarding me.”

“We are.”

“She said it was because I’m the hero.”

“It is.”

“Will you tell me what all of that means?”

“I would, if I knew, but I don’t.  None of us do.”

“So you’re all guarding me but you don’t know why?”

“You’re the hero, that’s why.  But we’ve all come to love you, so we would guard you even if you weren’t the hero.  Being the hero is just the way it started.  Then, once we got to know you,  it turned into something else.  Things like that happen all the time.”

“I love you too,” he said, softly.

“I know.”

“How?  How do you know?”

“Oh, Joey, you wear your love all over you.  It pours out of you and covers all of us.”

“Is that the fairy in me?”

“No.  It’s the love in you.”

He nodded.  “Thank you.  Um, do you remember your past lives?”

“I do.”

“Who else knows who they’ve been?”

“The major players.  Everyone else knows they’ve been here time and time again, but they don’t remember much, they simply accept the rules of the game they are currently playing.”

“Can we ever quit playing the game for good?”

Diana, stirred her hot chocolate.

“Diana?”

“Goodnight, Joey.  Sweet dreams,” and she was gone.

 

 

 

 

The Magical Apothecary…43

“You’re wrong,” wheezed, Joey, still choking on the scone. “Hero?  Me? Have you actually looked at me?”  he laughed, holding out his arms.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” she said, playing with a new leaf on an ivy tendril.  “It’s your role.  It’s why you’re here and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“Then we’re doomed,” he said.  “Absolutely doomed.”

“You’ve done a good job so far,” she said, tickling the leaf.

Joey looked over his shoulder, then said, “Are you actually talking to me?”

“You’ve brought a lot of people together through the shop, united them.  You’ve even brought Fairy to a new understanding of the way things could possibly work in the future…maybe.  I mean you are Summer and Winter, in one body, and you and Sparrow love each other, in spite of the problems that raises.

“The things you’re talking about are not heroic in any way at all, Lacy,” he said, staring at her.  I work in The Magical Apothecary, it’s my job to be nice to people.  Sparrow saved MY life and helped my mother.  No heroics on my part…none at all.”

“You just don’t understand the impact you have on others, that’s all.  And, there’s no way to explain it to a…dunce…like you.”

“Excuse me?  Dunce?”

“Hey, if the name fits…”

“Are you saying that I’m stupid?”

“Mmmmm…more like unaware and in denial.”

“These scones are fantastic and I like the blueberry jam as much as the strawberry.”

“Me too.”

A tendril  tried to sneak up on his food and Joey brushed it away, then felt bad and put a few crumbs on the worktable for it to play with.

“Tell me again,” he said.  Just talk slower.  What am I supposed to do about any of this?”

Lacy threw a napkin at him.  “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

What exactly am I doing?”

“I can’t help you.  Just go back to work and don’t worry about it.”

“So, I’m not the hero?”

“No.  You are the hero, just a lame and unaware one.”

“There are fairies are on the rooftops watching me.”

“They are GUARDING YOU.”

“From what?”

“Other fairies, I imagine.”

“Can I take a scone to eat on the way home?”

“Sure,” said Lacy.  “Take one for Chester too.”

“I already gave one to him.”

“I know.”

“When were you born?”

“I wasn’t born, Joey.  I’ve always been.”

“Must be exhausting,” he said.

“It’s that way for everyone and everything, you just don’t know it.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes. Seriously.  When you die, you just go back to recharge and then wake up someplace else and your job description has changed, that’s all.  Some of us, like me, for example, can remember who we are, and were, but the rest of you are made to forget everything and just believe this is your first time around.”

“That’s mean.”

“Yes it is and no, it isn’t.  Depends on how you see the game being played out.”

“Game?  This is all a GAME?”

“What did you think it was?” asked Lacy, her elbows on the worktable, as she sipped her tea.

“I…”

“Right.  You have no idea.”

“I thought it was something real,” he stammered.

“Yes, well, you would be wrong about that.  It seems real, and it feels real, but so do the books you read,  the films you watch, and the things you make up about other people’s lives.  You believe all those things in your head and think that what you see and feel is real when, of course, it’s not.”

“I…”

“I know.  Difficult concepts, right?”

“I…”

“You know, all of you could be the same.  You actually were, at one time.  All humans could speak the same language, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.  You could all dress alike and believe in the same made up gods and things.  Nothing is stopping that from happening, right?   But you all CHOOSE to be different and then you hate each other for your differences.  If you all just said.  ‘Hey, we’re all equal here, let’s sound the same, look the same, dress the same, love the same, eat the same, enjoy the same things,’ you COULD DO THAT.”

“I’m going to go back to work.”

“But what kind of game would it be if you didn’t kill each other and hate each other and despise your differences, instead of CELEBRATING THEM, or eliminating them, and just be one happy group of sameness, like the giraffes or zebras?”

“A peaceful one?”

“YES! she said.  And none of you want that.  You might say you do, but reality shows that you don’t, so this is the game you all choose to play.  The Pentagon is for WAR, there is no building for peace because there’s no profit in peace and humans are all about money, power and greed.  Choices, Joey.  Choices.”

“Thank you for the food.”

“Anytime,” she said, waving to Chester.

“One more thing,” he said.

“Yes?”

“Are you here to protect me?” he asked.

“We’re all here to protect you.  You’re the hero, remember.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Magical Apothecary…42

“Is the other raccoon living here now?” asked Joey, handing out grilled cheese sandwiches on rye.

Yes,” said Chester.  “We all like her.”

“I want to catch her and throw her up in the air,” said Midnight, retracting his claws,  “But I won’t.”

“Good to know,” said Joey, watching the new raccoon cringe.

“I told you that my grandmother wants to bring Flower back to Fairy. What do you guys think?”

“I think she’s right,” said Chester.

Me too,” agreed Midnight.  “That is her home, after all.”

Joey nodded.  “Okay.  I’ll make the arrangements.  Then he turned to Chester and said, “Let’s go to Lacy’s.  She can help with the flowers.”

Fall was heading into winter and the air was clear and crisp.

You know when I told you that Lacy was older than you thought?” asked Chester.

“I do,” said Joey.

Well, I meant a lot older.”

“How much older?”

Before life appeared on this planet, Lacy sowed the seeds for the plants and trees.  She made the first gardens everywhere.”

“How is that possible?” asked Joey, staring at the dog.

She just did,” said Chester.  “She wasn’t kidding when she said she was Mother Nature’s daughter.”

“So she saw the dinosaurs?”

She saw everything.”

“I don’t get it.”

Humans don’t really understand the universe and how it works,” said Chester.  “They don’t understand space/time or much of anything at all.  They don’t realize that everything is happening at the same time. You always think you know things, but that’s only until you find out you were wrong, then you think you know something else, until you find out you were wrong and that never stops and you never know anything.  And when you do actually find something out you lie about it and that way no one ever knows anything at all.”

“And you understand that?”

Except for humans, every living thing understands that.”

“Great,” said Joey.  “We’re the idiots of the world.”

Yes,” barked Chester. “You are.  That’s why you can do the things you do.  You don’t have any idea of how things work, or how they are tied together.  You don’t understand consequences.  You think because you can build things that you’re smarter than everyone else but having opposable thumbs doesn’t mean you know how to truly live.

“But Lacy does?”

Yes.  Lacy does.”

“You know the fairies are still on the rooftops, don’t you?” whispered Joey.

I do,” huffed Chester.

They walked into the shop and Joey held the door open for the woman who bought herself flowers from her dead husband, every week.  She was leaving, holding a bouquet in her arms.  She smiled at him, to thank him, but he could she her broken heart in her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly.

She nodded at him and touched his hand.  He felt her magic, but it was weak.

“Lacy were you here planting gardens before life existed?”

“You told him?” she asked, looking at Chester.

“I did.  I’m sorry.  I know it was your secret to tell,” said Chester, miserably.  “Please forgive me.”

Loving tendrils wrapped around the dog and started comforting him.  They petted him tenderly and wound around his body.

“Fine,” she said.  Then she looked at Joey. “Sit down, have a scone and some tea.  I made blueberry jam this time, so I hope you like it.”

“I do,” said Joey, watching the vines twist around his dog.

“That’s a lot of vines, Lacy.  Pretty soon I won’t be able to see Chester.”

“He’s fine.  The plants wouldn’t think of harming him, WOULD YOU,” she yelled, glaring at them.

A few tendrils released the dog and went back to their pots.

“So, here’s what’s going on,” said Lacy.  “Everyone you’ve met, to this point, has either been here for ages, or has come back to help with the…transition.”

“Transition?  Come back from where?”

“Certain…magical beings…never really die.  At least not in the way you think about death. We can become dormant, when we aren’t needed, but we never actually DIE.  Do you know what I mean?”

“Uh…”

“The whole planet is in trouble right now.  There’s a chance that it could wink out.  It used to be clean and beautiful, but now it’s covered with smut and tar from all the killing, greed and hatred.  Species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate, not only the beautiful animals, but plants and other things as well.”

“I know,” said Joey.

“The planet isn’t fighting for it’s life.  It could shake everyone off in a second.  The planet is trying to save everything FROM humans who are the most destructive force the planet has ever had the great misfortune to see.”

“Okay.”

“All of us, have been awakened and called back to help stop what’s happening.”

“Uh…”

“All over the world, people like us, are trying to save the living beings and things, that humans haven’t killed…yet.”

“But I’m not one of you,” he said.

“He’s serious,” said Lacy, turing to all the plants behind her.  ‘Did you just hear what he said?”

The plants waved their tendrils and leaves.  An African Violent closed her flowers, she was laughing so hard.

“I’m not,” he said again.

“YOU wouldn’t be here if you weren’t one of us.”

Rose petals started falling on him from above.

“Stop it,” said Lacy.  The petals stopped falling.

“Okay, then what’s my role?” he said, shoving half a scone into his mouth.

“You’re the hero, of course.

Joey choked.  He started coughing and spiting bits and pieces of scone all over the workbench.  A couple of vines patted him on the back, but it didn’t help.  Lacy just sat on her stool and watched him try to catch his breath.

 

 

 

The Magical Apothecary…40

Joey sat up and looked around.  The sun was pouring in through his window and all the animals were asleep on his bed.  He took a deep breath and fell back against his pillow.

Diana, knocked on his door.  “People are asking for you.”

“I’m up,” he said, and got out of bed.

Can we go for a walk, Joey?” asked Chester.

“Sure,” he said.  “Give me a minute.”

Joey brushed his teeth, sniffed at the t-shirt he picked up off the floor and put it on.  “Guess a shower will have to wait,” he said, to his image in the mirror.

He told Diana he was taking Chester for a quick walk and, as usual, he stopped in at Lacy’s.

“Hey,” he said.

“How do you feel,” she asked, pushing a mug of tea toward him.

“Okay, I guess.  Had a nightmare last night.”

“No kidding,” she said, giving Chester his treats.

“What do you mean, no kidding?”

“We all saw it and the fairies are absolutely terrified of you.”

“What?”

“You broadcasted your nightmare,” she said, leaning on the counter. “Diana and Cormick went back to the park to check on you, and found you asleep next to Flower’s grave.  The plants and grown over you, so you were cocooned and held down.  They were stopping you from doing something you would be SORRY for later.”

“I didn’t know I could dream out loud.”

“I don’t think anyone thought you could do that.”

“I only remember parts of the dream.  I know Carl was there, but he had to go and dance in a show.  And there was a monkey somewhere.”

“Do you remember killing everyone?”

“No. I remember being angry.”

Lacy sipped her tea.  “You were tearing fairies in half.”

“What?”

“You wanted to kill all of them for killing your mother and Flower.”

Joey stared at her.  “I don’t remember…”

“Trust me when I say that the fairies will remember it.”

“But, I would never do anything like that.”

“I know that, but they don’t. I think they have a new…let’s say…respect…for you.  They respect violence and power, so your brutality impressed them.”

“But I don’t want to be respected for that kind of behavior.”

“You should take a walk past Flower’s resting place.  It’s covered with gorgeous flowers and plants and the fairies have been leaving gifts there.  It’s beautiful.  She was well loved, you know.”

Joey stared at his tea.

“You know, Joey, everything kills to survive.  I know that plants do it.  They kill other species, so their own species has more room to grow.  Birds do it, everything and everyone does it.  This is a killing place.  But you didn’t actually hurt anyone.  Your subconscious just let go of all the fury you felt inside.”

“But who would even dream something like that?” he whispered, still not looking up.

“Most people, even if they don’t remember their dreams.  Sometimes I think the only reason any of us are here is so that we can come up with new and inventive ways to kill each other, or even ourselves.”

“That’s massively depressing,” he said, patting a vine that was winding round his wrist.

“You think so?”

“Yes.”

“It’s the truth, you know.  I told you about my plants,” she said.  “Look how beautiful they are.”  The plants fluffed out their leaves and posed for her, putting their best leaves forward.  “You would never think they would be able to kill you and dispose of your body, would you?”

“No.  Not really.”

“But that’s part of their nature,” she said, petting a venus flytrap.  Spiders set traps, Dragonflies are major killers, in fact, that’s literally ALL they do.  They kill constantly.  They kill and eat each other and yet, we see them as beautiful and let them land on our hands and arms.  It’s only because we’re bigger than they are that they don’t kill us.  Praying Mantis, eat birds and eggs, yet they look fragile and harmless.  Humming birds spear each other with their beaks, fighting over feeders and territory and they both die because of it.”

“I think you have given me enough examples, thanks.”

“I’m just saying that it takes strength NOT to do those things.  You didn’t do anything.  Not for revenge, or any other reason.  Look at Queenie.  She just killed a fairy with pleasure.”

“Will everyone hate me now?”

“Don’t be silly.  No one will hate you for dreaming.”

“Even the fairies?” he asked.

“Even the fairies,” said his father, nodding to Lacy.  “Diana told me I could find him here.”

“Tea?”

“Please,” he said, bowing, slightly.

“So?” said Joey.

“Well, son.  I must say, you put the fairies straight, in one fell swoop.  I doubt they’ll give you trouble anytime soon.”

“Not because we’ll get along,” said Joey, “But because they’ll be afraid I’ll tear them to bits?”

“Either way,” said his father, shrugging,  “they know where you stand.”

Lacy put the teacup down in front of Teatree, who picked it up and inhaled.  “Mandarin Orange,” he sighed.  “A favorite.”

“Will the fairies leave me alone now?”

“I dare say they will,” said his father.

“So I don’t have to go to Fairy any longer?”

“Oh no, you’ll still have do do that, on holidays and for special occasions.  But you’ve introduced yourself brilliantly and they will take you seriously and listen to what you have to say. I’ve already heard a few talking about dating Summer females, hoping more fairy children will be born.”

“I have to get back to work,” said Joey, standing up.  He hugged Lacy and thanked her for the talk and the tea.  Then he said goodbye to his father.”

When he left, Teatree sat down on one of the stools.  “What do you think?” he asked.

She thought for a moment, then said, “I think he’s come a long way in a short time.  He’s finding a way to adjust to what he is.”

“I appreciate you keeping an eye on him.”

“I’m not doing it for you.  I’m doing it for Bluebell.”

“Either way.  Thank you,” he said, standing.  “Excellent tea, as always.  The Garden is…beautiful.”

Joey tried not to notice the fairies lining the tops of the buildings, watching him walk down the street.  “There’s a lot of them, boy,” he said.

A lot,” the dog agreed.

“What do you think they want?”

I have no idea,” said the dog.

 

 

The Magical Apothecary…39

Joey and Carl were covered with blood and things that no one wanted to think about.  Nothing around them moved.

“How many are you going to kill, Joey?” asked Diana.

“Did you come to help?”

“No. I came to stop you.”

“Why?”

“What you’re doing is wrong.”

“Was it okay for them to kill my mother?  Flower?”

“No, but this isn’t the answer.”

“Everyone always says things like that, when THIS IS THE ONLY ANSWER.  Because the killers NEVER STOP KILLING.  Flower won’t be the last innocent to be murdered.  The ONLY way to stop it is to…STOP THEM.”

“Not all of those you killed were guilty of any crimes.”

“Sure they were,” laughed Joey.  “They didn’t stop the killers from killing.  They sat by and let it happen, again and again and…well, you know…again.”

“Hi, Diana,” said Carl, waving.

“Carl,” she said.

“I don’t think Flower would want you to do this in her name.”

“Then pick another name,” said Joey, tracking something he though was moving.   “You should probably leave, Diana.  Unless you’re really into this kind of thing.  I never killed anything before today.  It’s not that hard, once you get the hang of it.”

“Joey, please come home.”

“Home?” he laughed. “These fairies killed my home when I was a child.  They changed my life.  They took my mother from me.  THEY KILLED MY HOME.  THEY KILLED FLOWER.”

“Joey.”

“Hi, Sparrow.”

“Please come with me,” she said, walking toward him.

“No.  You don’t want me, remember?  We come from two different worlds and I don’t like yours.”

Carl caught a fairy in midair and tore him in half.

Diana gasped.  “STOP IT!” she shouted.  “STOP IT NOW.”

“What are you doing, son?”

“I’m cleaning up, dad.  They killed mom, then Flower, while they were trying to kill me, so I’m killing all of your friends and enemies.”

“You’re doing more than that,” he said, quietly.

“Am I?” snickered Joey.  “Tell me.  What’s more that that?”

“You’re upsetting the balance between Winter and Summer.”

“Don’t worry.  I’ll get to Summer next,” said Joey, slapping Carl’s upraised hand.

“Are you going to kill me too, Joey?”

“Do you want me to?”

“No.”

“Okay then.  You get a pass and you know what?  I think I found out what my real magic is.  It’s not just hearing animals and plants talk, it’s killing fairies,” he laughed.  “How could I ever have believed that I could just live and be happy. That I could ignore my HERITAGE and stay out of politics and Fairy.  Well, I’m here now. Taking my rightful place.”

“Flower would be ashamed of you,” said Sparrow.

“Why don’t you ask her how she feels about what I’m doing,” he said.  “Oh, wait.  You can’t.  Because she’s DEAD, isn’t she.”

“Okay, I’ve had enough,” said Diana.  “That’s it, Joey.  You need to come home an d work the counter.  People are waiting for you.  Tim is falling under Queenie’s spell and you know what that means.  He’s going to end up asking Margaret Luca to marry him, if you don’t stop him.

“They might be happy together,” said Joey.  “She likes to cook and he likes to eat.”

“I can’t possibly set up  author book signings and continue to make potions and spells.  You need to take care of that.  Call the publishers, make arrangements, find transportation and all the rest.”

“It’s not that hard.  You can do it.”

“It takes TIME, and you know I have orders to fill, so people feel better.  Who’s going to take Chester for his walks and make grilled cheese for the raccoons?”

“What?”

“You do all those things, Joey.”

“Why?” he asked, his arms at his sides.

“Because no one else can do them, that’s why.”

“But what about the fairies?”

“Your father will take care of things from here.”

“Diana’s right, Joey,” said his father.  “I’ll take care of things from here.”

“You will?”

“You go home, and when I get things straightened out, I’ll come and get you.”

“Promise?”

“Promise,” said his father.

“What about Carl?”

“I’m dancing in a show tonight,” he said.  “But if you need me again, you just have to call my name.  Or, you can always ask the monkey.”

“Ask the monkey?”

 

 

 

 

 

The Magical Apothecary…38

“Joey, honey,” said Diana, nudging him, where he was still sleeping on the floor by the counter.

“How is she?” he mumbled, rubbing his eyes.

“She’s gone, Joey.”

“Gone where?  Back to Fairy?” he said, yawing.

“No.  She crossed over, sometime during the night.  The poison was meant for you, a much larger person.  Her tiny body…couldn’t handle it.”

Joey was frozen into position.  “Where is she?”

Diana handed him the tiny nest.  “The plants took care of her.  She had a good…passing,” she said, stifling a sob.  “They wrapped her up and…”

Joey took the small bundle and pressed it gently to his heart.  “No,” he said.  “She can’t really be gone.”

“I’m sorry.  I did everything I could.”

The animals gathered around him, offering their love and comfort.  But something cold and dark was working it’s way through Joey’s mind.  Something he wasn’t familiar with.  Then he recognized it.  It was rage.

“I want to bury her in the park.”

“Okay,” said Diana.  “I’ll tell the others. We’ll have a proper ceremony.”

He nodded and got to his feet.  Diana tried to take Flower from him, but Joey just shook his head and held her tighter.  “This should have been me.”

“Joey…”

“Just get the others.  I’ll meet you there, by the huge oak, near the fountain..”

“She would like that.”

“No, Diana,” he said, flatly, his eyes filled with unshed tears.  “She’s dead, we don’t know what she would like anymore.”

Lacy filled the space with buds and blooming flowers and a grave was dug.  Everyone agreed that Flower should be buried here, rather than in Fairy, but no one knew for sure if it was the right thing to do.  People took turns saying loving things about her and casting spells.  Fairies filled the trees and shrubs. They wept and fluttered over her small grave.

Joey couldn’t speak.  He felt as if something deep inside of him had broken.  He took off his shirt and wrapped the bundle of leaves inside.  He whispered to Flower and hugged her tightly, whispering, “Forever and longer.”    Then he gently placed her in her tiny opening and filled it with fresh soil and seeds.  Flowers grew instantly, and the air smelled of summer and joy.  Everyone spoke softly, then started to leave.

Sparrow, Diana and Cormick asked Joey if he was ready to go, but he told them he wanted to be alone for awhile.  They left, knowing that he had to grieve in his own way.  Chester stayed by his side.  Joey sat down, at the foot of Flower’s grave, one arm around his dog.

“I’m not a kid anymore, Chester.  I’m no longer innocent, naive, or stupid.”

I’m sorry, Joey.  I loved her too,” sighed the dog.

“I know you did,” he said.

Where are you going?

“To Fairy.”

Will you come back?

“I’ll try, Chester.  You are the best dog in the world and I’m so grateful that I got to know you.”

That sounds like goodbye,” woofed Chester, putting his front paws over Joey’s legs.

“I can’t promise that it isn’t.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“Are you going to fight them?

“No, Chester.  I’m going to kill them.”

For Flower?

“Yes.”

It won’t bring her back.

“I know, boy.  It’s just something I have to do.”

But not all the fairies are bad, Joey.

“I know.”

I’ll wait for you.

“I love you, Chester.  Please tell Midnight and the raccoon that I love them too.”

That means that you still have love in your heart,” he barked.

Joey hugged and kissed Chester and sent him on his way back to the shop.  Then he said goodbye to Flower, and screamed, “CARL!”

“Yeah,” said Carl, appearing in front of him.  “You need something?”

“Wanna help me kill fairies?”

“Sure,” he said.  “Why not.”

Joey nodded, then smashed his way into Fairy and started killing anything that moved.

 

 

 

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