In a Time Far Away

She walked with Tim away from the castle. They saw no one else, of course; everyone was too busy in their rooms with their playthings. Tim suddenly stopped and turned to her.

“You don’t ask for anything,” he stated. “Everyone else does, but not you. I really want to give you something.” He was quite sincere.

“No. That’s okay.” There was no thing she could think of. It would be too confusing to tell him what she really desired. “You’ve given us enough stuff.”

“Of all the elves, you deserve to get what you want,” Tim insisted.

Joan thought about life before Tim—how everyone had been happy with what they had, with who they were—but she didn’t know how to ask for that in a way Tim would understand. To him, the past, the present and the future were all the same. They all happened now. How could she get him to understand that she’d like to go back in time when, for Tim, there was no back in time?

“Please ask,” Tim urged.

“Well,” she began cautiously. “Could you make us the way we were before we met you?”


“Could you make it so that the elves never met you? Can you make it so that you never gave them anything?”

“That’s what before means?” He sounded quite bewildered.

“Never mind. It’s confusing.” She gave up. “Tim, thanks for helping me find my way back to my people. You really are a very nice wood sprite.”

“I think you are very nice too.”

“Goodbye,” Joan said.

“Goodbye?” He questioned. He wasn’t sure what she meant.

How could she explain that? How could she explain anything that required an expectation of the future to someone who didn’t understand the future?

“It’s just something we say,” said Joan.

Tim smiled. “Goodbye, Joan.” Tim’s wings appeared, and he fluttered away.

Joan turned toward home. With Tim gone, maybe they could piece their lives back together; maybe they could salvage some of the old ways. Somehow, they would just have to muddle through as best they could.

Joan watched her heavy steps take her to the birch grove. The light suddenly brightened; she looked up and gasped. The castle was gone. The birch trees stood tall, woven together into an elfish roof. Musicians were playing in the center. Elf children were running around causing mischief, the cooks waved their spoons at them, the wood smith carved his wood and the metal smith hammered his iron. Joan was stunned. Somehow Tim had understood.

“Hey, Joan,” said a familiar voice. “You’re back early.”

“What?” Joan was surprised to be addressed so casually by her Uncle Ned. He spoke as if everything was normal, as if life had continued without incident. “Where did I go?”

He laughed. “Does anyone ever know where you go?”

It struck her as odd he would be so completely unaware of any strangeness. “When did you last see me?”

“This morning, of course,” he replied. “It’s not near dinner time. We don’t usually see you for hours yet.”

Joan smiled.

The End