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Guirella's Gift

by Jon C. Gilbert

Kevin was playing on the edge of a meadow, happy to be in the sunshine and out of the house. His Dad wasn't well, and it worried him.

When a large dragonfly landed on a flower, he tried to get closer. Startled, the insect darted towards the meadow's deepest part, Kevin rushed after it so quickly that he didn't see the log lying just ahead. One Nike smacked into it with a thud, launching him into the air and tumbling him into the grass. He and a dandelion had just nodded hello to each other, when he heard a tiny voice.

"Clumsy, that's all, just plain clumsy!"

It was coming from the other side of the log. He rose slowly to his knees and peeked over the top. At first he didn't see anything. When he heard the faint flutter of wings he looked a little closer. What looked like a miniature girl, about six inches high, was standing on a rock. She was adjusting her tan leather outfit and shaking the most delicate wings Kevin had ever seen. They were even tinier than the wings of the dragon fly he had been chasing.

"Who are you?" Kevin asked.

Startled, she fell into the grass. "There you go, knocking me down again!" She got up and begin dusting herself off.

"First you hit the log I was resting on, knocking everything around, including me, and now you scare me half to death! What are you? A bully?" She stood defiantly, her hands on her hips, and stared up at him. "Well?"

Kevin didn't know what to say. He tried. "I'm not a bully, I'm just a kid. I didn't see you. I hope you aren't hurt!"

She turned and began walking in a circle. "I'm okay, but let me think. I'm not supposed to be seen by big people. This is the second time it's happened. The first time was about 25 years ago. I was asleep on a branch when a crow knocked me off, pitching me right into some kid's baseball glove! He said the glove was new and he was softening the leather. Good thing he was taking a break when I fell into it. Good thing it was soft, too."

She stopped, cocked her head slightly, and studied Kevin. "He looked a lot like you." She studied him a moment longer before resuming her walk. "Anyway, I had to stand before the council and explain what happened. Looks like I'll be paying the council another visit to explain this one."

She stopped and looked up, her circular path suddenly sprouting into miniature white daisies. "What did you say your name was?"

"I didn't, but it's Kevin. Who are you?" Kevin rested his head on his arms as he leaned across the log.

"Guirella. That's the name the council gave me. I know your next question. You want to know WHAT I am. That's almost an insult. How'd you feel if someone asked you what YOU are? Never mind. I'm a meadow fairy, not a city fairy. They lead a horrible life--all that traffic and having to keep out of the way of everything. Hard to stay hidden in the city, but they manage."

"A real fairy?" Kevin couldn't believe it.

"No," she replied dryly. "I'm really a dragonfly with plastic surgery. OF COURSE I'M REAL!! Can't you believe your eyes!"

"I'm sorry," Kevin said. "What happens now?" His look of bewilderment made Guirella laugh.

"Oh, it's not all that bad. If you tell anybody about me, they'll just think you're crazy. I'm thinking, however, that you're a nice kid who can keep a secret. The rules of the council require that I give you something in exchange for your promise of silence. Anything in particular gnawing at you that you just have to have?"

Kevin blinked. "Anything?"

"Anything within reason. I can't give you the moon in a jar. That would upset things too much. Well?"

Kevin thought. A new bike would be nice, or even some roller blades! But--reluctant as he was to share a family problem with a stranger, he plunged ahead.

"Dad's been sick. Mom says he doesn't have much energy and the doctors think there's something wrong with his blood. If he was strong again he could work, and Mom wouldn't have to wait tables. Can you make him well?"

Guirella smiled. "You're all right, Kevin."

A wooden box, about six inches long and two inches wide, appeared at her feet.

"Take this box home and make sure only your father opens it. There's something inside that should do the trick," she told him.

Kevin reached down and picked it up. "Thanks, Guirella. I sure hope this works!"

"It will. Remember, the gift is in exchange for your silence. Have a good life," she smiled.

A gust of wind blew through the meadow. Guirella spread her wings and disappeared.

Kevin quickly headed towards home. Mandy Kruger, the nosiest girl in town, was perched on the stone fence in front of her house, reading. 'Probably somebody's diary,' Kevin thought.

"What's in that little box, Kevin?" Mandy's curious brown eyes were focused on his treasure.

"It's a secret," said Kevin, gripping the box a little tighter. As he hurried away, Kevin could feel her eyes following him, trying to burrow their way into the box.

His house was just around the corner. Kevin ran the last few steps, his excitement mounting as he burst through the front door. "Dad! Dad! I've got something for you!"

Kevin's father, wearing a dark blue flannel robe, a warm blanket covering his knees, was sitting in a chair by an open window. On his lap lay a half-read book, the story long forgotten, as he gazed off into the distance, thinking wistfully of better days. He turned his head at the sound of his son's voice, wondering what could be so urgent.

Kevin ran in, breathless, and placed the box on the blanket.

"You have to open it, Dad. It's real important. It'll help you!"

"Kevin, what in the world...? Not so fast. I don't under--"

Kevin's father looked down and stared at the box in disbelief. "This... this looks just like a box that... Kevin... where did you get this?"

"I can't tell you. I promised."

"I... think... I think I know."

Kevin's father stared in amazement at the little box.

He looked away and spoke softly, almost to himself, as he remembered something from long ago. "I was just a kid, sitting under a tree... I was breaking in my new baseball glove. Something...someone, actually...with wings... just...just... sort-of...fell into my glove...and my Grandma...my Grandma was so very sick then." His voice trailed off.

He looked back at the box and then at his son. His eyes grew moist as he thought about the unselfish choice Kevin had made.

"Open it Dad, please?"

With weak, unsteady hands Kevin's father slowly raised the lid, loosing a glittering mixture of silver and gold dust which swirled upwards, surrounded him, and then slowly faded away.

He sat there, stunned. Kevin threw his arms around his fatherís neck. "Did it work, Dad? Did it work?"

Kevinís father drew his first painless breath in months, then closed his eyes to give a moment of thanks. Nodding, he enveloped his son in a bear hug.

Swallowing hard, overcome with feeling, he murmered gruffly into his sonís ear, "You're all right, Kevin..."

Outside, just beneath the open window, a tiny creature gracefully spread its wings and disappeared.


Guirella's Gift - by Jon Gilbert - Copyright 1997 - All Rights Reserved

About the author:

Jon Gilbert is a resident of Fort Collins, Colorado whose career with the postal service spans 25 years. Jon and his wife, together 29 years, are proud parents of two grown children and grandparents of one. Jon is about to graduate from The Institute of Children's Literature in West Redding, CT. You may write to Jon C. Gilbert at: joncg@verinet.com


About the Illustrator:

In addition to being a talented artist, Jeff Meyers is also a talented writer who makes his home in South Carolina. Jeff enjoys writing fiction for all ages and has been drawing and painting all his life. His artwork includes cartoons, illustrations, computer graphics, and still life drawings. When he's not working at his computer, Jeff spends time with his wife and two children making as many trips to the beach as they can. Check the Author/Illustrator directory for a complete listing of Jeff Meyers work. Contact Jeff at Jeff@thejeffworks.com or visit his new website: The JEFFWORKS for Creative solutions to your communication needs.


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