It had been almost thirty years since he had seen the sprites around the gnarled old tree filled with glass bottles seized by strings—the tree that his father had made into a spider’s web of color and twine; the tree that when the sun was just low enough in the sky, would dye the world rainbow; the tree that would be in every crayon drawing on the fridge, every dream that was concocted, and every bedtime story.
It had been almost thirty years since his father had taken him out to the tree, hidden behind the old barn that full mooned summer evening. He was led to the giant and then was alone. Snickers and giggles were heard and the boy turned around to come face to face with a pixie, dusted with what looked like tiny stars, her nose so slight and smile petite that they were almost lost in her rosy cheeks.
Each star in the sky seemed to lend itself to the bottles, lighting the whole field. Fairies and pixies, brownies and gnomes were all present when the wind blew its song over the bottles, the scores of feet began to skip, their hands grasped and released throughout the summer dance.
So when this little boy grew up into a man, got married to a beautiful woman and raised a little girl, he slowly adorned the gnarled tree with bottles of different sizes and shapes, each held up by a length of twine. Each one accompanied by dozens of others on the great twisted body which held inside the magic of the world. And one summer night, when the moon was full and the breeze was steady, he took his daughter to the old twisted tree, hidden behind the old barn. He led her to his old friend and then vanished, hidden from view.
He slunk past rusted forks and shovels, bales of hay and buckets with holes; he got to the knot in one of the boards in the barn and pressed his whole body against old frame that had been there for generations. His heart leapt as he saw her dancing the summer dance and singing the summer song with the fey around her.
He watched, despite the cramps in his legs, the ache in his back, and the tears streaming down his face. And when she fell asleep among the twisted roots, he lifted her up and tucked her into bed. He gently brushed off the dusting of tiny stars that found its way onto her small button nose. All that remained was the smattering of freckles that were passed down through his father’s family as long as anyone could remember—just as long as the gnarled tree hidden behind the old barn had been filled with color and magic.