She could sit and stare at the water for hours. From her perch in the Birch tree, she would watch the ripples on the water as they shimmered in the wind. At least in the warmer months. During the winter, the colder temperatures sent her in search of a warm place to sleep. But it was the middle of the summer, and she loved to just sit and watch.
When the people came to play in her lake, they would distract her with their shrieks and splashes. Sometimes the smells of charred meat that drifted on the wind chased her away. She didn’t eat meat, only seeds, nuts, and berries, washed down with the sweetest dewdrops she could find. She used to drink right from the lake until the people started making it dirty. It wasn’t as fresh as it had been, so she collected dewdrops in the morning and sometimes at night.
She could see clouds rolling in from the distance. It would chase the people away when it rained. She had to find her peace when she could, these days. A rainy day meant the only sounds she would hear would be the pitter-patter of the raindrops, not the thumping and splashing of the people.
She fussed with the leafy roof of her hammock branch, to make sure she would stay dry while she stared at the water of the Shimmering Lake. It was what she called her little slice of paradise. Sometimes the water would dance for her if it rained hard enough. The music in the trees as they swayed in the wind on top of the sounds of rain falling often sent her into dreamland in her hammock.
She settled in to wait. It wasn’t long before thunder and lightning crisscrossed the sky. After a bit, the storm slowed into a rhythmic rainfall, which allowed her to drift into dreamland.
Something didn’t feel right when she woke up. A sense of wrongness, of evil, was invading her space. She took to the air to see what she was sensing. As she flew, she realized the evil was of fire, burning the very trees she called home. The lightning must have struck an elder tree, which happens once in a blue moon. She glanced up through the smoke and saw that the moon was full and blue.
She forgot to watch for the signs. The people had distracted her from her duties. She was the protector of her home. Now she would have to rely on the same people if her lakeside home could be saved. She went to the nearest homes to the lake to rile up the dogs. If they woke their people up, maybe they would see the danger looming on the horizon. It was her only hope.
As she explained the urgency to the first dog, he took up the cause and howled the message to all who could hear. Soon there was a lot of howling and barking in her ears, and she retreated to her home, amidst the smoke and ashes. She couldn’t get too close, and this sent her into a panic. What if they took too long to send help? Her home would be destroyed, and she couldn’t bear the thought of living anywhere else. This was her home.
In desperation, she flew closer to the water. As she skimmed the surface, she heard the wail of sirens, and as they got louder, the flashing red lights became visible in the night. There was hope. She felt heavy as she flew over the water. The efforts she had taken to save her home had taken their toll. There was a brief splash, followed by a ripple. She did not know how to swim. This was the last thought she had as she floated to the bottom of Shimmering Lake.
When she opened her eyes, she was confused. She was underwater, but not gone from the Lake she loved. She looked at the surface and tried to find a way out of the lake. She sensed that this would not be easy. As she gathered her courage, a voice came into her mind.
“Dear little one, do not be afraid.” The voice in her head sounded feminine and caring.
“Hello?” she thought.
“Hello to you. You have done good work watching over the Shimmering Lake for so many years. You saved it tonight with your efforts. You are to be rewarded for your courage on this night.”
“Um, who are you?” She needed to understand what was happening to her.
After a delightful sound of laughter came the response, “You know who I am, dear. I am Mother Earth.”
Her eyes became very round and wide. “Whoa,” she thought, “you don’t talk to just anyone. Something really bad must have happened.”
She sensed a feeling of calm as she heard in her head, “On the contrary, something remarkable happened. Once in a Blue Moon, a fairy has a choice to make. You didn’t hesitate when there was a danger to your home, your beloved Shimmering Lake. You took action to save your home, and with your action, you saved your lake. When you look up, what do you see?”
She looked up. “I see the surface of the water, and the stars in the sky. I see the Blue Moon. What happened to me?”
Mother Earth replied, “I have granted you a new job, as a reward for your efforts. You are now the Shimmer of the Lake.”
“What does that mean?” she bit her trembling lower lip as she asked her question.
“It means that you will get to stay in this lake for as long as you wish. To dance in the water, and revel in its beauty. You will be the unknown reason for the ripples on a day without wind, and the shimmers in the night, under the stars. You were dying from your efforts to save the lake. Now you will be in it to keep the magic of Shimmering Lake alive.”
“Not alone. There are other sprites in these waters waiting to meet you. They have been watching you all these years from below the surface, and it is because of them that I have saved you for this task, to join them in their quest to keep the magic in the water.”
“I am a water sprite now?” she had heard of such creatures, but in all her years of living at the lake, she had never seen one. Or so she thought. Now she realized it was their beauty that had drawn her to the lake, and their work is why she had stayed to make her home there.
“Yes, little one, you have become a water sprite. Go forth to find your unknown friends and remember to keep the magic of Shimmering Lake in your heart. If it goes out, so too will your life.” As she heard the last sentence, Mother Earth’s voice grew faint. She was gone from her mind.
Above the water, the firefighters had fought late into the night to put out the fire started by the lightning earlier that evening. One of them had perished as they fought. He woke to find himself in awe of the surrounding beauty. To his utter amazement, he found he could fly. He buzzed around the lake and was captivated by the water. He could see ripples where there was no wind and the shimmers throughout the water in the pre-dawn light. They were brilliant shimmers, and at that moment he knew he would stay by this lake, to protect it and make it his home.