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Calendar Fays

    by Carol Wilcox

"Are we all here?" asked Geldora, looking round the glade. An assortment of fairies shuffled their feet in the wet grass. The occasional whirring of wings could be heard as they tried to keep warm.

"Can we start, Geldora?" asked Ravenwing. "My hands are freezing and my paper's getting wet."

"I suppose so. I'm sorry to have dragged you all out on such a filthy night, but this is an important meeting. I'll pass you over to Dentina to explain."

"That Dentina," muttered Ragwort at the edge of the gathering. "She's always after money."

"Yes," said Cowslip. "And have you noticed how smart she always looks? Makes you wonder where it goes."

"If I can have your attention, ladies," Dentina said, stepping into the centre of the fairy ring, "I called this extraordinary meeting to discuss fund-raising."

"Fund-raising?" asked Flammia, stroking her pearls. "I thought we were still in funds."

"We are at the moment," replied Dentina. "But I estimate that we'll be facing a cash crisis in the not-too-distant future."

"I didn't think money was such a big problem," sighed Flammia.

"Money would never be a problem for that bitch," said Ragwort. "Bloody Aga fairy, she feels hard done by if she has to light two stoves a week for the twinset brigade."

"Ladies, can we stay focused here?" said Geldora. She nodded at Dentina.

"As you all know," said Dentina, "I had a very smooth operation for many years, thanks to a steady supply of silver sixpences picked up from World War Two shipwrecks."

"Mm, yes," said Geldora. She turned to Ravenwing. "Perhaps you can put a note of thanks to the mermen in the minutes." Ravenwing nodded and scribbled with her quill.

"The thing is," Dentina continued, "times have changed. Apart from the fact that children want to find more than sixpence under their pillows nowadays, our coinage has changed completely The mermen have tried their best to keep me supplied with new coins, but I'm told that when a ship goes down nowadays, there's usually a team of frogmen from National Geographic right on the spot. So that's one source of supply gone."

"But my dear," said Flammia, "surely you're not so busy nowadays? After all, modern parents are much more affluent. If a child loses a tooth, a parent doesn't depend on the Tooth Fairy to put money under the pillow."

"Stuck up bitch," whispered Ragwort.

Dentina shook her head sadly. "I'm afraid poverty still exists in this country."

"How long do you expect funds to last?" asked Geldora.

"A year - maybe two." There was a fluttering of wings as the assembly realised the predicament.

"Oh my, that is bad," said Flammia, clinking her pearls. "Perhaps you've been a little too generous lately. If you cut back a bit, your funds would last longer."

"So what would you suggest?" asked Dentina. "That I cut back on the sector of society that needs my help the most? The children I see have very few privileges. I intend to see that each and every one gets money for a lost tooth."

"Hear, hear!" said someone in the audience, and there was a general fluttering of wings in agreement.

"Pass me the sick bucket," muttered Ragwort.

"Well, we'll do our very best to help you, Dentina," said Glendora.

"Yes, well, let's see what Dentina has in mind in the way of help," said Flammia. "Because if it involves working Sundays -"

"Order, order!" cried Geldora, as the fairy gathering began to discuss their working hours. "Please, ladies, the sooner we listen to Dentina, the sooner we can go home."

"Yeah, to a leaky mushroom," said Ragwort, wringing out her wings.

"This is my idea," said Dentina, and the fairies quietened down. "I was making a house call the other night and saw a calendar on the kitchen wall." She looked at her audience, trying to inspire them. A sea of blank faces looked back. "It occurred to me that we could make a calendar."

"Us? A calendar?" Ravenwing looked up from her notes. "What sort of a calendar?"

"Oh, no!" Flammia shrank back in horror. "You don't mean that awful W.I. calendar!"

Ravenwing had stopped writing. She looked from Flammia to Dentina. "Is that the nude calendar, Dentina?"

"Disgusting," breathed Ragwort, her eyes aglow. Her voice was lost in the eruption of sound as fairies realised what they were being asked to do.

"Really," said Flammia, "I'm surprised at you, Dentina. To think that you could entertain the idea!"

"Will we photograph?" asked Ravenwing. "I didn't know that fairies would come out on film."

"My dears, that's the least of our worries," said Geldora. "We can't be seen, you know. Well, not so that people would recognise us as fairies. Remember that terrible scandal a few years ago when a human said he saw seven gnomes in somebody's garden."

"Couldn't we do a flower arranging calendar?" asked Flammia.

"I wish that stupid cow would shut up," said Ragwort.

"Perhaps we should take a vote on it," said Geldora. "Can we just have a show of hands? Who thinks it's a viable idea to have a nude calendar?" She was a little surprised to see that every hand went up except Flammia's.

"That's wonderful!" said Dentina. "Thank you all so much for your support. Of course, agreeing is just the first step. We'll have to arrange a photographer and a printer."

"I think I can sort something out," said Ravenwing. "Of course, I'll have to make sure that it's somebody who'll take us in artistic poses."

"And the wings, dear," said Geldora. "Remember people shouldn't see our wings."

"Nobody's going to be looking at our wings," muttered Ragwort.

Ravenwing called a pigeon to her, scribbled a message and sent the bird soaring.

"Now that we've agreed on a calendar," said Geldora, "we need volunteers." She looked at the gathering, which contained many elderly and faded fairies. "So, hands up those of you who wish to be included in the calendar."

"I'm up for it," said Ragwort, raising her hand. Cowslip looked at her in amazement. "It's for the children!" she said. She gave her friend a hard look and Cowslip reluctantly raised a finger.

"Is that all?" asked Dentina. She looked at Ravenwing, who nodded briefly. "Come on, ladies, we really do need money for the children."

"Oh well, I suppose if it's for a good cause," said Flammia, raising a well-manicured hand, "I ought to volunteer."

"The cheap tart!" gasped Ragwort. "A minute ago she wouldn't even consider the idea!"

"Excellent," said Dentina, "that's four. Anybody else?" Her smile brightened as a few more hands were raised. Then it faded as, one by one, more and more hands were raised until only the very oldest of the fairies had not volunteered to pose nude.

"So let's do a quick count," said Geldora, feeling a headache coming on. "That's - let's see - forty-two volunteers. Well, that should make some very nice group shots. Now I must warn you that we still have a long way to go. Even if we manage to produce these calendars, there's still the business of selling them."

"If the Women's Institute can do it, so can we," said Flammia.

"That's the first sensible thing she's said tonight," muttered Ragwort.

"I admire your confidence, dear," said Geldora, "but we do need someone with a little experience of selling. And I'm afraid that means -"

"No!" said Flammia. "We do not need help from that beast!" There was a break in the proceedings as heated arguments began in the ranks.

Their chatter was interrupted by a loud bang and a cone of flame spouting in the middle of the clearing. The fairies nearest the fire jumped back in alarm and began to fan each other's scorched wings. Nobody was surprised to see a tall, black-cloaked figure emerge from the smoke.

"Hawkmoth," said Geldora coldly. "What a pleasant surprise."

"Dear lady," purred Hawkmoth, kissing Geldora's hand. He glanced at Ravenwing and winked at her. She fluttered her fingers at him and looked at her notes.

"What can we do for you?" asked Geldora.

"Perhaps, lovely ladies, it is a question of what I can do for you. I heard talk of a calendar."

There was a collective gasp, and fifty black looks were aimed at Dentina. "I didn't say anything!" she protested. She glowered at Ravenwing, who kept her head down while pretending to scribble.

"Now we know what somebody does on a Saturday night," said Ragwort, elbowing her friend.

"Yeah, that pigeon didn't have far to fly," said Cowslip.

"I realise you have some problems ahead of you," said Hawkmoth. "The actual process of making a calendar can be quite problematic."

"How do you know?" asked Geldora.

"I've produced one myself." Hawkmoth beamed at his dumbfounded audience.

"So, you're telling us that you organised your own photo shoot," said Geldora.

"Yes - and I must say, my lads were only too happy to pose. In fact, they're quite keen to produce another one next year."

"And you found an outlet for the calendar?" asked Flammia.

"Of course. I just disguised myself, went to the pub - you know, the one a couple of miles from here - and left a pile of calendars with the barmaid."

"Oh, yes, here we go," said Ragwort. "No doubt he has a standing arrangement with the bar staff there."

"And did you sell them all?" asked Dentina.

"Every one. They went particularly well on ladies' night. Actually, that's one of the reasons I dropped by tonight." Hawkmoth produced a large bag of coins from his cloak. "Here you are," he said, proffering the bag to Geldora, "that should keep Dentina supplied for a while. And there's plenty more where that came from."

Geldora smiled uncertainly and accepted the bag. "So - do you think you could arrange a calendar for us?" she asked.

"I'd be more than happy to oblige. And I daresay I can sell them at stag parties. Anyhow, I'll leave you a few samples of our calendar." He produced a bundle from his cloak and handed it to Dentina, who began to distribute copies. Then he gave a parting leer to Ravenwing and disappeared in another burst of flame.

"Well," said Geldora, "let's see if these are any good. Oh my," she said, looking at the cover picture. Those were the only words spoken for several minutes, as each fairy held her breath while flicking slowly through her Satyrs of 2004 calendar.

Flammia broke the silence. "However do they hide their hooves?"

"Stupid cow," said Ragwort. "Nobody is going to be looking at their hooves."

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