The changeling girl tugged on her faerie mother’s spider-silk skirt.
“Please?” she begged again.
“No, child. You’ve known only Arcadian summer until now. What would you do in such cold?”
“But I’ve never seen it!” The changeling girl pouted her rose petal lips and squinted her almond shaped blue eyes.
“Hush, child.” Her faerie mother held out her arms to the changeling girl and she climbed into her lap. “It is late. Tomorrow I will find you a cloak and then I will take you to the human world. Not today.” She stroked her changeling girl’s golden hair and sang her to sleep with a voice like glass bells.
* * *
The changeling girl ran around excitedly while her faerie mother fastened a cloak made of summer sunlight around her own shoulders. The faerie waited until her child calmed down and returned to her side before attempting to put the cloak made of the embers of a forest fire on her. She then took her hand and led her out of the house made of living trees and starlight and deeper into the woods.
Under the shade of the broad leaves both cloaks were luminescent; the faerie’s shone and glimmered brightly, while the changeling girl’s cloak glowed dimly. The girl fought hard against her impulse to run ahead and still found herself tugging on her faerie mother’s hand a few times.
At last they reached a set of three long stones, one set on top of the other two so they formed what looked like a doorway. The changeling girl was the first through and cold wind blew against her face. Her feet felt the soft crunch of snow beneath them. She stared in awe at the white glistening snow that hung heavy on every branch and covered the forest floor. A gust of wind blew some snow off a branch and it glimmered as it fell.
The changeling girl let go of her faerie mother’s hand and scooped up a handful of snow. She peered at it, admiring the individual flakes and their intricacies. Her hand grew wet and cold as the snow started to melt. She brushed the snow and water off her hands and stuck them inside her sleeves to warm them up again and stared at the snow.
The changeling girl scooped up another handful of snow and with the other hand packed it into a ball.
“Catch, momma!” she shouted, tossing the snowball to her faerie mother, who caught it. The faerie tossed the snowball back and the little girl who just barely caught it and returned it. She once again caught it with ease. This time the changeling girl was not so lucky and the snowball hit her in the chest. She frowned at the abrupt end to the game. Her eyes then fell on the tracks she had left in the snow and she got an idea. The changeling girl began to walk in patterns, leaving designs imprinted in the snow.
When at last she began to tire of playing in the snow her faerie mother called her back to her side.
“Give me your cloak,” the faerie said. The changeling girl took it off and handed it to her faerie mother. The icy wind cut through her summer dress and made the wet patch from where the snowball hit her sting. Her faerie mother led her shivering through the snow and trees. Finally she seemed to find what she was looking for: a deer lying on its side, half buried in snow, and clearly dead.
The changeling girl shivered and looked at her faerie mother, hoping she would give her back her cloak soon.
“Do you understand?” the faerie asked her human daughter.
“Yes, momma,” the changeling girl said, even though she didn’t.
“Do you want your cloak back?”
Feeling shadows of the loss that was yet to come, her faerie mother draped the cloak around the changeling girl’s shoulders and she felt the warmth spread through her body. She brushed a lock of hair out of the changeling’s eyes, took her hand again, and led her back to the portal.