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The Painting
Georgeta Poiana

The sun was about to set, and it looked to Darianne that it was still so very early. She was aware that now, during the winter, the days will get smaller and smaller. It was warm inside her house, and she can hear the fire cracking in the fireplace.  The inviting smell of fresh cookies was replenishing the whole house.
She was sitting alone in the living room, with that painting she was embroidered for almost three months now. The light was pale outside, and she struggled to continue her work. She saw this image in an old child book her grandmother read to her, a fairy tale. The story had a castle image placed on this enchanting site, but the book was in a bad condition, and the image had faded colors. She was so found of it, that she decided to have that image embroidered so she will remember it forever.

 No one thought she would care that much about it, that she will actually work on it for so long. She was only 10, but stubborn like her father, whose temper she inherited. The picture though, was indeed worth all efforts. It was a nice palace just near a lake, and all surrounded by snowed pick mountains. There were swans on this lake, and a small boat with a guardian invigilating. The castle itself had 7 tours, and it was all white, and it looked like the walls were made from ice crystals and the furniture as well, from an unreal matter. It was only an impression though, that was given from the castle surface. It was a fairy castle, and probably that material they used for building it was not known to the people.

Darianne was fascinated of that image, and she worked all throughout the day starting that moment. Her painting embroider took her all time. The beautiful picture seemed to have trapped Darianne into it, and her greatest desire was to finish it sooner. She was actually quite ready, with only one corner missing. She was now furious of these short days since she couldn’t wait until finishing it.

She suddenly rushed through the door, with the painting in her hands, thinking that she could work ten minutes more outside, where it was lighter than inside, and she could see the colors better. It was quite windy, and soon her mother called her “Darianne, get inside, the wind is getting bigger, you will get a cold!” “I’m ok mom” she replied hurrying and speeding up the embroidery” just let me couple more minutes!”

She continued, without paying attention to the windy cold weather that rushed furiously from the west. Her needle was faster than ever, when the weather got worse and a wind flurry wrest the painting out from her hand! She was just dumbfounded. She wanted to scream, to yell, to cry for help, but before she could say anything, the painting was high up in the air and speeding up with the wind! She thought no more. Until someone will come, she will lose the painting from her sight, and all her work will be lost! She immediately huddled her coat around, and run in the direction the painting was drifting. She barely saw anything, since the wind raise al the dust and a thick fog wrapped the entire valley.

She was very cold now; it must have been two hours since she was walking. The night was almost there, and the fog still did not let her saw where she was. Scared, hungry, not knowing what to do and where to head, since she has lost the painting from her sight a long time ago, she considered turning back. But where to? She could not see anything in that fog, and it was all dark when she heard a miraculously clear voice speaking to her: “Little girl, are you lost?” “How did you arrive here? There must be years since no one could found this place” said that a fine melodiously woman’s voice. Happy that she met someone, just now when she had nowhere to go, she looked up to this fine lady dressed much too light for the weather outside. She wore a pale yellow dress, made from a canvas look material, but slightly glowing from the small lamp she had with her. Realizing this, she sensed too that the wind was no longer blowing, the fog was not so deep anymore, and it appeared to be a bit warmer too.
 “Yes” she said, “I got lost. I was finishing my painting when the wind blew it away and I went to look for it” said the little girl, while looking at this strange being. The lady was very kind, young at age, she must have been just over teenage years, with a mild expression, and Darianne was now feeling safe. “Oh, little girl, you did that painting?” she shout in a huge surprise. “Is it true? You did it? Oh, I am so happy!”

Darianne again, remained without knowing what to say. Why was this lady so happy about her painting? And where did she know about it in the first place? When thinking at this, she heard her saying: My name is Elvira, I am a wind fairy and I am so happy I met you. Come meet my sisters too, and stay with us for tonight. In fact, you can stay as much as you want, and help us finish the painting. I made the wind took it from you, and I’ll explain to you why, just let us go inside. We will have to finish the painting, my sisters already started to work on it”. “Come on” she said, seeing the expression on the little girl’s face,” I’ll explain you all you want to know”. They both got into a boat, a boat that had a man at the paddles, the lake guardian.
“I am sure you know”, said the fairy, “we live just across the lake”.

Oh, what a sight was spreading right next to her. It was night, but still she could recognize the castle she was heading towards. It was the same castle that she saw in that old fairy tale book her grandmother read to her, the same one she was embroidering for so long. She was amazed of how beautiful it actually was, and how the castle lights cast sparkles all throughout the lake. “It is spring here”, Elvira said, and wait until tomorrow to see what a magic place this is, we have plenty of flowers, a lot of birds, and we run happy all day playing in the yard. All we do is singing and dancing, and you will love to stay with us. We would like having new company around; all our games will be much more interesting!! Oh, I cannot wait until my sisters see you!”

They reached the castle. In the short trip from the dock where the boat left them, there was this nice path made from stone that lead to the great entrance. The palace was huge. Huge and so beautiful with so many balconies and flower details like she never saw and didn’t know existed. There were roses creeping up to the first level balcony even if not blossomed yet. They entered in a big hall, with air like carpets, airy furniture, and everything seemed transparent, just like Elvira and her clothes.

“Tianna, Elga, do come down! Come to see who is here! Hurry, hurry!” The girls rushed down the stairs happy and laughing. “Elvira, it is 11 in the night, why are you so excited about?” asked Elga, the youngest of the sisters, keeping her hair not to cover her eyes. In the moment she and her sister saw the little girl, they suddenly stopped. Her faces become serious, and they approached Darianne: “Who are you, little girl, and how did you find us? No man can come to this place, no man can find it. How did this happen?

Before Darianne could say something, Elvira shouts: “She embroidered the painting! She saved us! She broke the spell!” Her sisters were so very surprised now that they start dancing of joy. Seeing this, Darianne asked shy: “What did I do? How did I save you? What do I have to do with it?” Elvira grabbed her hand:” Come. Let’s talk in here”. Saying this, she took Darianne in a very tall room, with a big chandelier, and a huge library filled with books. Near the libraries were some armchairs and a little table in front of some wide tall windows. This was the fairies favorite room, and indeed, this room had a very enchanting air. With a large apace and tall windows where you could see the entire lake, but still with a very cozy feeling, it was really magical. Here, Elvira and her two sisters are use to have breakfast here, or play cards, paint, read, and a lot of other activities.

Everything had this see threw image, and looked like made out of glass. This kept intriguing Darianne, and she asked the fairies why everything looks like this. “Is it a see threw material that you fairies have? Oh, but do explain me how did I arrived here, and why you blew my painting away. I really need to know!” 
Than Elvira all of the sudden got sad, and begin her story: ”When we were little girls, our aunt come to visit us. She is also a fairy, but she has much greater power than we do, and she lives in a different place. She wanted to take our younger sister Elga to go live with her. My parents did not agree, and because of this, she took our parents away, and cast a spell on us. She placed our palace picture on ten children books that she spread all around the world. When all the books will be either torn or too old and they would break, we and our palace will have the same fate. So when all those books are destroyed by time or by spoiled children tearing them off, we would be disappeared. The last book that it remained was the one your grandmother read to you. Its colors are faded, so that is why everything here looks like this. When your book’s color will fade away completely, so will we. But now, that you start making that painting after that image, when the painting is ready, the castle will take the colors from your book, and we will too. And we’re saved because of that picture you embroidered. Once, as I was riding over the fields, I saw the painting in a house, and, recognizing the picture, I needed to have it ready! It was our only way to escape this spell. That is why I took it away! Now we will help you finish it, and after it is done, we will live happily, and we will be forever thankful to you! And we want you to stay here with us, play with us, and live together from now on! Oh, it is late now, let us go to bed, and we will start working at the painting tomorrow when the sun arises.”

Having this said, all of them headed to their rest rooms. They showed Darianne her room, that was up the stairs and the third room on the left. She was amazed of the beauty of the castle, the marble stairs, the big windows and the lights inside that were made from little pieces of glowing crystals. Her room was as she never saw before, not even in her books. She had a big bed, sided by a huge tall window, a dressing table with a crystal mirror on a side, and a lovely flower carpet. She fell asleep in an instant, since this really was a tiring day.
The next morning she got up, the sun was all shinny; she jumped out of bed and head to the window. The beautiful lake was sparkling in the daylight, the birds were singing, and it was such a miracle sight. She felt so happy inside, and even excited when remembering where she was. She rushed down the stairs to go to the library, where the fairies were expecting her with breakfast.
“Good morning, Darianne, they said, did you have a good rest?” They were so happy to see her, and couldn’t wait to show her the entire castle and all its surroundings. Darianne was once again thrilled to sit with those three sisters, and having the chance to meet them was simply overwhelming.

The time passed by, and she start working on the painting again, along with the fairies, then they run in the yard, playing, or they sat in the library reading, singing and dancing together, or travelling with the boat on the lake.
Days passed, one by one, and they were all so happy together, laughing and all days were just full of joyful fun activities in that magical landscape. They finished the painting, the castle, the fairies and everything surrounding were now even beautiful than before, and the objects looked solid now once again. The fairies were enchanted to have her there living them, and so some seasons went by without anyone even noticing how fast the time passed.
Darrianne was happy, and she enjoyed the fairies company, the castle and everything there. Her painting that she worked for so long was now alive, and she actually lived in it. What more could she ask for?

But as the day passed, the fairies saw that she looked mused, more quiet, she sometimes she remained with her eyes set apart, and she was no longer cheerful and ready for their games.
“Why”, said Elvira, in a bighty afternoon, “why are you so sad? You don’t like our company, you are not enjoying spending time with us, and you no longer like the castle? The lake? You drifted away from us, and you almost look like you don’t want to be anymore here. What happened?”

What happened was that Darianne missed the time notion, and she did not realize that she was actually missing from home for quite some time now. She did not saw her mother in ages, she missed her grandmother’s cookies, and she was sad for all those reasons.
“Elvira”, she said, “you know how much I love staying here, and having all three of you as my friends, but I am so homesick that I feel I cannot stay here any longer. I did not thought of my parents until several days ago, and the thought that they don’t know about me anymore just tears me apart. I am really sorry, but I would like to go home.”
Elvira sat quietly listening to her. She knew that this day would come; only she did not expect it that soon. She tried to convince her to stay some while longer, but now it was impossible since Darianne was determined to go home. The fairies understood her, but they all felt deeply this decision.

She was about to leave the next morning. They spent that evening quieter than ever, in the library, looking out the window to see that lake and magical surrounding the place was in. It was a tough decision for her, and she knew she would miss everything there, but she just had to go. The fairies understood her.

The next morning they all said goodbye. Darianne was never going to see them again, though she knew she will never be able to forget the time she spent there. The fairies almost cried when she left, they were hoping until the last moment she would change her mind and stay. As a fair well gift, the fairies gave her the same painting that started the whole story, because they knew she would treasure it and she will keep it better than the fairies itself. And she would remember them all the time when looking at it. 

Elvira waved her hand. A fog came out from nowhere and the wind started to blow. She was cold, and barely could saw anything around her. She suddenly sensed a smell, oh, a cookie smell so familiar and so fresh you could almost taste it! Her grandmother’s cookies! When opening her eyes, the castle was gone; the lake was no longer there. She was just in front of her house, the house she left some while ago. Surprisingly, the things were a bit different now. She couldn’t say exactly what was changed, but somehow she sensed it all different.

“Looking for someone? She heard her mother’s voice coming from a side. Are you lost, or? Are you not from those parts?” her mother asked this 16 years old girl she did not recognized yet. Darianne was overwhelmed by the emotion of seeing her mother again, but the woman was looking at her like you’d look on a stranger. She was unable to speak. She just stood there with tears in her eyes.
 Seeing her so tormented, the woman approaches. She remember her little girl was once running out the door on that windy weather and they looked for her months in a row, unable to find a single trace. As time went by they got used to the thought that they would not see her again, but they hoped she was somewhere safe.
Looking at this young girl, she finally recognizes her, and shouted" My Darianne!! You're back!!. She starts crying happy to see her daughter again, and took her inside, filled with emotion and with tears rolling on her cheek.
Drianne was both happy and sad. Happy that she met her parents again and yet sad because her adventure was now over. She knew that she will never forget them, as she would never forget anything that happened. And the painting was there to remind her of the fairies and their castle at all time.