In a Strange Land


A story by Madhuri…

I am a fairy who fell down a rabbit hole and found herself in a land of giants. In fact a kshatriya elf – of the larger, though not at all giant, sort – came to get me and bring me here. But I cannot blame him; after he had gone on much ahead I went myself to the edge of the hole and peered in, and I saw nothing but the adventure I carried within myself, and so I went. The warrior-elf brought me to a house composed of a large flower wherein all manner of conveniences are installed, and pillowed nooks beckon, and there is a tiny writing-instrument made of pollen bobbles on which one taps one’s fingers, and messages are stored or sent. There are windows like medieval cracks in castles, formed of the slots of sky between the huge petals; and dew comes in for water, just so; and food is brought and there is a special area where I prepare it, making fairy food for myself and heavier viands for the elf.


Now, all this is very well as far as it goes…the flower we inhabit is so luxurious in fact that world-beings of many sorts would envy it greatly could they only spend a single comfortable night in its spacious embrace, and taste the comfort of its appointments and appreciate the excellence of its plumbing and every convenience it offers. And it has fairy-paintings I have made on its flush-pink walls, and there are tiny shelves for the wealth of fairy books and poems I have managed to find or create during my tenure here.

But when I venture outside the flower – ah, then is when the difficulty arises. My elf does not speak nor does he read fairy literature; but he is a wise elf in his way and not prone to botherings; he is kingly, as elves go, and is not a trial to be around. He is rather restful in his own brave manner; and his kshatriya, warrior, nature is muted by the centuries so that he loves bumblebees and knows the secrets involved in getting them to fly him on their backs; and he loves to harness rapid insects of many sorts to ferry him hither and yon, across the great rivers and away and then back again, all in a day. He does not war nor wrangle, nor does he yap or sulk or twist my fragile health with strange confusions; not he. No; it is the giants who are the problem.

Whenever I leave the flower they are there. They have built wide ugly roads for themselves to travel on, and huge factory-like edifices to eat and labor in; and they never leave the blundering beasts they have tamed to take them about until they must. And then, out on the streets or in the vast lots they have cleared of grass and trees to park their slave-beasts in, one is faced with the full meat of them, and it is dire! …A sight to make one unable to taste the dew or sip the nectar that gives one life…for fear of those giants and their proximity and what it might mean: Will I, I must wonder, mutate into one? For might they not once have been like I?

midwest women

They are tall of course, and they are broad; their ancestors perhaps were not anything like fairies after all – maybe never; maybe they were stampeders on the cold cold lands of the Bernbergwald, maybe they grew stout and huge-boned to keep the ice out, and to present hide thick as walrus’s to enemy spears. Maybe they came to resemble buses because they are them; trundling along forever without fame or pain, wretched with the sight of themselves, so then incisive in their glee at being ugly…just to thwart the onlooker, for some miseries are too great to bear, and this might be one. With my inner eye I see them stamp and thunder, thud on the ground like bludgeoning wolves – but they do not really thunder nor do they leap: for they are neo-giants, they have left barbarianism behind, and all they do is eat poison from jars and bottles and cans marked with skulls and crossbones, in small doses, and store it up in their fat. That is their main activity besides procreation, and working in their vast holdings. The amount of poison in each bite is so little it takes a long time to kill them; but that is how they die, when the time comes.

Their women are particularly hideous. I am accustomed to fairy women and lush warm women from the jungles and women who love silk and velvet and plush and jewels; women who dance often and laugh and twine themselves about the vines of power the earth gives; flaming in flower-abandon and crying when it is time to cry…swimming in jungle streams and gazing into the eyes of their lovers as if time had never begun. I do not see such women here. They are as far away as the ices of Jupiter or the flotsam of Mars or the pickle-vaults of Pluto….They live in long-ago vastnesses of spider-skein and leaf-bower where none do go but they and their kin and lovers, and teachers who sit on tigers’ backs and none do know whether to take these talkers at their word or laugh at them; and figuring it out is a great sport there. But none of these wild creatures and silky creatures and canny wizards and watching gracile wenders have fallen through the filters of the rabbit holes round about here and there…or if they have it was into some other Giant land from where none have called me on the tiny semaphores of breeze-blown molecules of heart and sixth sense and sound. And so all I have to view are giants; and they are dread. The women…they are stuffed into short-cut suits made of stiff cloth and out of the garments their legs bulge like mighty cow-trunks and their arms come sticking out of the suits’ square sleeves like ironwood broadbeams; and their hair is short as men’s and their mouths are thin and their skin is the color of eggshells. They smile and talk but their talk is of their diseases, or of things that are not real, such as their goodness of mood when that is not the case at all.

I have even, once or twice, invited them to my flower-house to show them the jewels I make from sparkling dew and reflected rainbows; but they did not see my handiwork, and only gawped mildly about as if my house too was something that they could not register. When I look at them I see cows which are stunned before slaughter, and layers of nacre made of toxins and onions, blubber consumed like confetti is eaten by worms. Layers of dis-ease and idle maunderings gone rancid, never plumbed for joy; this I see: layers of conquest and consortiums, confoundedness and native heft, all roped together with baling wire to form a mountain. Somewhere in it perhaps liveth a dragon as of yore – but it is dead now, hidden long away; and none may see the interior save doctors, and they are made of giants themselves – or near enough as makes no difference.

These giant ladies look over my head and see the fields which surround their towns – and do not see me. Nor why should they; nor why should ever I want them to?

But I look at their huge firm forms, and the broad tundra of their denim’d backsides, and the massive shoulders ready to lift dead wood and giant babies and pots of steaming nasty stews and loads of mathematical bankloans; I hear their dictionaries chanted from their ironed lips and hear the paucity of vocabulary in those unprinted tomes (they have no word for ‘waist’ nor one for ‘agile’ nor for ‘whisper’ nor for ‘flit between the trees’); and am afraid.

Text and illustration by Madhuri

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