The following is a submission for the Dark Fairy Queen Midsummer Night's Dream Writing Contest (July 2015).
She'd heard the voice before, but there were so many voices here – the hum of the breeze, the flutter of dragonfly wings, the babble of the brook. She wished the voice was real, but she knew her imagination put words where there were only sounds.
She came here every summer, but something kept her away this year. Winter had been crueler than most, and spring never seemed to arrive. The weather report told her that warmth came to the outside world, but somehow she was still cold. She had stopped believing places like this were real.
Here it was, though – full of warmth and life, and undeniable reality. Even after everything that had happened, something drew her back.
It was a four-hour drive each way now, but she had to come back. She told everyone at work that she had a dentist appointment. Telling people she spent an entire day just to visit an unspectacular garden from her childhood felt silly at best.
A firefly flickered, then another. Somehow, they were more than lights. She could feel their fire, slowly reigniting her own. The winter wasn't her fault – it would come and go no matter what she did. It would only win if she turned away from the summer and let the cold take her.
How had she forgotten that? Why was it always so easy to forget? It seemed so clear here.
It was time to go, but she had what she needed. Maybe the voice was only in her mind, but that would have to be enough. She needed to remember the summer nights, remember being warm.
The young fairy turned to her queen – "Why won't she listen?"
The Fairy Queen smiled – "She heard everything she needed to, my dear."