Her Solemn Duty

Reading Time: 2 minutes


Tulaine cast her gaze across the beach and found the shadow of a hunched figure down on the sand, the waves lapping dangerously close to it.  Nodding to herself, she set off to approach the man sitting there.

Albert was now at the age where there were more wrinkles on his body than hairs on his head, and Tulaine struggled to reconcile the image with the vibrant, little boy she had known decades before.  As a fairy godmother, she never saw her charges once they grew up and fulfilled their destinies.  But when she heard the rumors about her Albert, she had to see for herself.

Tulaine took a seat on the sand next to Albert.  He didn’t look at her, but gave a vague hum acknowledging her presence.

“The whales,” he whispered, gesturing at the sky.  “Can you see them?”

(Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay)

Tulaine followed Albert’s gaze, but saw nothing besides the usual stars, moon, and occasional cloud.

“I can’t, sweetie.  I’m sorry,” she said.

Albert sighed, reached up a hand, and allowed it to sink back down.  “But they’re real?”  It came out as a question; Tulaine didn’t answer.

The rumors were true—Albert’s mind was lost to a world that was no longer the one everyone else inhabited.  The boy she had guided to become the right hand of the king was now to be remembered as the village lunatic, tormented by visions that no one else believed.

Albert folded his thin arms across his knees, burying his face in them.  Tulaine heard a sniffle.  She sighed.

She was a fairy godmother.  It was her solemn duty to perform magical interventions for the safety and betterment of the world’s children, no matter who those children may be.  But she had never performed magic for adults.  It was unheard of.  Like turning back time, or a pauper becoming king.

Or whales swimming in the sky.

Tulaine extracted her wand from her pocket and stood.  Walking to where the sea met sand, she bent down to give the water a single tap.

A ripple of light shot from her wand and whizzed across the waves.  Tulaine waited.  A moment later a great, moaning call sounded in the distance and a shadow appeared on the horizon, blocking out the stars.  One shadow became two, two became three, and then suddenly there was a pod of whales flying in the night sky.

Tulaine turned and called out to Albert, “I say, Bertie!  Are you talking about these whales?”

Albert, head craned back to look at the sky, stood shakily up just as a great whale, dripping salt water, swam in the sea-sky toward them.

Tulaine came back to Albert and took his hand in hers to touch the slick side of the whale.

“They’re real,” Albert whispered, eyes shining with joy.

Tulaine smiled.  She was a fairy godmother.  It was her solemn duty to perform magical interventions for the safety and betterment of the world’s children—even when they were no longer children.


This story previously appeared in F(r)iction, 2019.
Edited by Marie Ginga


Catherine Tavares is a writer of bite-sized science fiction/fantasy. Read her work and learn more about her at her website Catherine Tavares.