Sugar Cubes

Sugar Cubes

Alyssa Zerilli, Writer

In a quaint, quiet town deep in the countryside, Leon would sit on his mother’s lap listening in awe to her telling stories of mystical wonder. Her voice flowed in that angelic calm way that always put Leon at ease, the way that soothed him through bruised knees and scraped hands, still mornings and lonesome nights.  

His mother told stories about the noble Giants that forged the earth and created mountains and canyons from their footsteps, the pesky Sea Folk that lured sailors from their ships to steal their treasures, the herds of nomadic Centaurs that asserted themselves as hunters and warriors, and the almighty Dragons that ruled the sky kingdom.  

Leon’s favorite stories, however, were the ones she would tell about the Fae. “There are many variations of Fae”, his mother informed him, “Some grant humans who give them offerings good will, and others will hex humans for traversing onto their territory.” His mother spoke about travelers who would go out of their way to give Fairies offerings of their most prized possessions in hopes that they would gift them with anything they desired. 

He particularly adored a tale about the backwards fairy called Jaime. “All the other Fae didn’t understand Jaime, and all thought that they were peculiar and naïve. You see, Jaime would only except offerings of sugar cubes in exchange for granting wishes, while the other Fae sought gold and material items.”, His mother would laugh.  

While attending school, Leon would share the stories his mother told him to his peers. The other children thought that Leon was odd, and foolish for believing such erroneous stories. “You’re so dense Leon, those things aren’t real.”, his schoolmates would scoff, “Believing in fairytales is for babies.”. 

His teachers would scold him because instead of focusing on his schoolwork they assured his head was “always in the clouds.” (When Leon shared that he wished his head WAS in the clouds so he could see the dragons, his teachers would give him an unreadable expression, and then promptly chastise him.) 

Between helping his mother with chores about the house and finishing his schoolwork, Leon would explore the woods behind their home searching for trolls and goblins to fight with his trusty homemade sword (two large sticks stuck together with glue), and any possible fairies that may be kind enough to grant him a wish (He hoped that fairy would be Jaime). He would scour up and down the perimeter of the tree line, examining every rustle of leaves, scutter of squirrels, and footsteps of deer. Despite his findings being unsuccessful, Leon never left the house without a pouch of sugar cubes.  

One day, his mother fell very ill, and Leon had to halt his explorations in favor of taking care of her. Going to school for long periods of time became hard, and his mother’s condition only worsened, she could no longer tell him stories, or she would exhaust herself. It was around this time that Leon’s grandmothers came to take care of them, his grandmas were kind and always made the best meals.  

Leon showed his grandmothers the pouch of sugar cubes and explained that if he could find Jaime, then maybe they would be able to heal his mother. His Grandmas laughed, sighed, pinched his cheeks, and told him that people can’t control these things, they just happen, and looking for Fae won’t help to change that. 

He was frustrated, nobody took him seriously. Nobody but his mother.  

That night, Leon crawled onto his mother’s bed and curled up next to her. He stared up at her once sparkling eyes, now paler in color, and he frowned. 

“I’m scared, and I want to be a better help to you, but the only way I can is to wish for your health from Jaime, with these.” 

He picked the sugar cubes from his pocket and presented them to his mother. 

“No one believes us, I just know they’re real and that they can help me to help you, so why won’t anyone listen to me. I feel so useless sometimes, like I’ve failed you somehow.” 

His mother stared down at him softly, Leon always thought her gaze was calculating, like she could see right through him. She lifted her hand weakly and rested it on his scruffy brown hair.  

“You could never fail me Sun-Drop.” She managed to say quietly, “I never want you to lose that spark you have, and the others only discourage you because they worry. Running off into the woods looking for Fae would not help me, it would take you farther away from me, and I need you here. I know you want to help, but you just being here makes me feel stronger.” 

Leon looked up at his mother with glassy eyes and nodded.  

“You know, Jaime was special, because they were different than the other Fae. Even though the others didn’t understand them, they always gave the best gifts. Jaime is like you in this sense Sun-drop.” 

“How can I give gifts like Jaime! I can’t, I’m nothing special, I’m not some magical Fairy 

“Being kind and caring for others is the best gift you can give to the world. The best gift you can give me.” She whispered. 

“I want to be kind, and I can care for others, But I don’t want to just stop at that.” Leon assured her, “I’m gonna find Jaime one day, after you’re better, and I’m gonna prove to everyone that magic like Fae’s is real, so that they can see what’s special too.” 

“I know you will Leon,” His mother smiled, “You’re a gift after all, and I love you.”  

His mother wrapped her arms around him and squeezed as best she could manage. Leon reciprocated and laid his head on her shoulder, he didn’t know what the future held for them, and he didn’t know if he’d have this forever, but he has it now, and that’s all that mattered.  

And he would hold that love.