Fayre - Book cover


Nicole Riddley

The Longing Like Poison


The sky is clear blue. Fluffy, white clouds drift by slowly. The birds are singing nearby. The lake is calm, and the water is glittering under the early summer sun. The leaves rustle softly as the grass whispers in the breeze.

I look up at the big weeping willow tree looming over me. Its branches sway, and the low-hanging ones sweep the lake surface.

Something stirs in the murky depth of the lake, so I kneel by the riverbank to peer in.

There they are, under the willow tree by the lake—a little 8-year-old girl, her hair a light-golden halo, and a 10-year-old boy, hair as dark as a moonless and starless midnight sky. Their attention is on each other.

The sky is blue, the green grass of the meadow is swaying in the breeze, the birds are singing, the lake glittering…

“…with this ribbon, I will entwine. Our love I will forever bind, our fates are one from now until the end of time,” recites the little girl while she carefully winds a silky pink ribbon around their entwined hands.

She then tucks the end into the loop, securing it. “This spell is bound and will not be undone. It is my will, and it is done.” She lifts her bright green eyes up to the boy expectantly.

He brings up his free hand, his open palm facing upward. They both turn to look at it. The tips of his fingers slowly glow red, then a flare of white light erupts before a small flame suddenly ignites, engulfing his whole hand.

The boy shifts his attention back to the girl before he solemnly says, “I’m yours till the end of time, Fayre. Till the end of time. This, I promise you.”

The girl stares at his hand. She seems captivated by the fire. A few seconds tick by and the boy frowns. “Now it’s your turn, Fayre. Say it.”

She turns her gaze back to his face and flashes him a cheeky but delightfully charming smile. “And I’m yours till the end of time, Ciarán. Forever and ever and ever.”


“I promise,” she says earnestly, nodding.

He curls his fingers into a fist and the flame disappears. His dark eyebrows furrow. “No matter what happens, we’re together, Fayre. You and me. No matter where you go, I’ll always find you.”

He slips the necklace from his neck and places it around hers, then he adjusts her hair. A shiny, star-shaped copper pendant hangs from a black leather string.

One side is carved with the image of the sun while the other is a crescent moon.

The girl’s hand flutters over it, touching it excitedly. “It’s beautiful, Ciarán. I’ve always liked it.”

“I know,” he says. A tiny smile curves the corners of his lips.

She pulls something out of the pocket of her lavender dress. A bracelet made of a row of shiny black onyx beads. She carefully ties the string around his wrist. “I made this myself. Do you like it, Ciarán?”

“I love it,” he says.

A strong gust of wind blows in from across the lake, and she gasps. Her long, light-golden hair dances across her face.

She pushes it away and gazes up into his face. Her bright green eyes are brimming with hope. “Are you coming back to play with me tomorrow, Ciarán?”

“Not tomorrow. Trouble is brewing…”

Black clouds roll in. The sky turns dark all of a sudden, and he looks up. The wind grows stronger. The pink ribbon flies up and flutters aimlessly in the wind.

Suddenly, the boy is standing all alone.

“Fayre?” he cries, alarmed, his eyes searching. “Fayre!” he yells. “Fayre! Come back, Fayre!” His cry grows desperate. “Fayre!”

Suddenly, he’s staring at me, and I gasp. Blue. His eyes are bluer than the sky. They pierce right through me. “Fayre, come back to me!”

He extends his hand toward me, and I reach out. I keep reaching to him until I’m kneeling precariously at the edge of the grassy riverbank. Closer. Closer. Our fingers almost touch.

The tip of my finger touches the calm, glossy surface of the lake, and it ripples, skewing his beautiful reflection. The water turns murky, and he’s fading. No, no, no!

A fine film of mist drifts in, covering the water, floating over the surface. The fog grows thicker until he’s nothing but a hazy rippling silhouette. No!

“Fayre?” he says.

“Come back!” I cry hopelessly. “Please, come back!” His name is just at the tip of my tongue. “Please…?”

“Fayre!” His voice is now a faint echo in the distance. A silent whisper in the mist. “Don’t forget me.”

I stare at the ominous-looking dark water of the lake. Waiting. Waiting for him to come back. If only I could remember his name. The feeling of loss is overwhelming. “Come back!” I cry one last time.

I sit staring for a while until finally I stand up. It’s dark now. I’m standing by the lake. Alone. The reflection of the silvery moonlight on the calm surface of the lake is pale through the thin unworldly veil of mist.

I’m standing in nothing but my thin white nightgown. The grass is wet underneath my bare feet. Thin, wispy fog swirls around me.

A song starts somewhere. Pan flute, harp, fiddle, and drums accompany the sweet, ethereal voices. The song echoes through the meadows and the woods and across the lake. I try to ignore it, but it grows louder, calling to me.

The melody is hauntingly beautiful and familiar. It’s so enchanting, I forget what I was searching for, so I turn around. The midnight air is so heavy, it crackles with magic.

Come, o sweet child

Come, o little bride

Moonlight merriment is calling for you

We dance till morrow dew falls

We feast till the crow cry do calls

Merry tunes be merry

We play be wild and free

Your forlorn heart be cheery

Come, o sweet child

Come, o little bride

Come enter our Faery ring

Come join ethereal Sidhé ring

With grace, we step and glide

On tender grass and we be delight

Come, o sweet child

Come, o little bride

To enthralling, enchanting Tir na nÓg

Over the lake and under the moonshine

We tend you with milk and honey and wine

Sweet cakes and juicy berries

Full of magick and joy, o sweet Faery

Forever, forever, forever

Come, o sweet child

Come, o little bride

Come enter our Faery ring

Come join ethereal Sidhé ring

With grace, we step and glide

On tender grass and we be delight

Come, o sweet child

Come, o little bride

Merry tunes be merry

Merry tunes be merry

The melody is sweet, and my heart aches. Unbearably. There’s somewhere I need to be, but I don’t know where. There’s something I need to do, but I don’t know what.

There’s someone my whole being is yearning for, but I don’t know who. There’s a gaping, bleeding wound in my heart, but I don’t know why.

I wake up, writhing in pain. Gasping. Longing. A longing so strong, it hurts. My heart aches with it, and it spreads through every corner of my limbs like poison.

It surges through every flow of my essence. Everything aches unbearably, weakening me with its strength.

I sit up in my bed, trying to catch my breath. Without even looking at the clock, I know that it’s just after midnight.

I have been dreaming that same dream, hearing that same unearthly song, and seeing that hauntingly beautiful boy for a couple of months now, and it always happens at the same time: at midnight.

I crawl off the bed to the window and push the curtains aside. The moonlight pours in and bathes everything in its silvery glow. My room is facing that lake right behind our house, the same lake in my dream.

Its surface glitters under the moonlight. I can see it from here. There are some oak trees in our yard obstructing almost half of my view of the whole lake.

But I can clearly see the big weeping willow tree, sturdy by the water’s edge.

My heart still aches with a deep, unquenchable longing as I stare at the shimmering lake. I swear I can still hear the music playing just outside my window. The air is still charged; it sizzles.

There’s a sudden movement in the shadows of the trees, and I stagger back, simultaneously letting the curtains fall closed.

There’s nothing there. There’s nothing there. There’s nothing there. I have an active imagination. I do. My mom says so. I sit back on my bed, hugging and rocking myself.

When the pain and weakness consume me, I lie down on the bed. The longing won’t go away.

The dream and the yearning started right after my sixteenth birthday two months ago. It happened just once or twice a week at first.

It has grown more frequent as time goes by, so frequent now that it happens almost every night. Each night it leaves me feeling worse than the night before.

Now, I’m gasping in agony. Deep inside, I know I don’t have much time. Not long now.

The boy in my dreams… I frown as I try to remember his name. I remember his face, his voice, but I can’t remember his name. Every time I wake up, I forget his name.

“Fayre,” he’d called me. Only my name isn’t Fayre.

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