Once Upon a Midsummer Night…
‘What’s the matter Anna?’
‘Mom, I just can’t get sleep. Especially thinking about tomorrow.’
‘What’s tomorrow?’ asked Mum sleepily rubbing her stinging eyes.
‘Oh, of course.’
So Mom jumped out of bed, in a way anyone younger than her would envy, and taking Anna’s hand, led her out onto the terrace.
‘Sit down here Anna.’
So Anna sat down and Mom sat next to her.
‘So why can’t you get sleep?’
‘I’m thinking about tomorrow’s Midsummer. I know I shall need sleep to get through all the activities tomorrow but the more I think about it, the further sleep seems to drift away Mom.’ Anna said tearfully.
‘Oh.’ Mom looked up at the sky. Suddenly, she had a brainwave. ‘Should I tell you a story? Look up at those thirteen stars.’
She pointed to a group of stars. ‘That’s the constellation of Virgo. According to mythology she was a Greek goddess. And does the word Greek remind you of anything?’
Anna thought for a bit, ‘Well, I did read Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” lately.’
‘Precisely. I have a sequel to that story. It happened about a few years ago I should think. It goes like this…
‘Paris is the City of Love. It always was. But that morn, it looked even more romantic than ever. Every corner you turned, all you would see were flowers twisted around heart shaped frames. Ribbons and gift paper was flying everywhere. A delicious aroma of broth and bread wafted through the streets, arising from the village bakery.
‘A big pole was being set up in the field near the Eiffel Tower. It was draped with green cloth and fuzz and some ribbon. Children chased each other round it, flinging flower petals at each other. For it was Midsummer Day, the longest day of the year and a day of celebration.
‘By evening, everything was set up and all the goodies and savouries were laid out near the bakery, ready for anyone who wanted to buy. Almost all the flower-hearts were sold, as it was a belief that on Midsummer Night, you would find your true love. This wasn’t really true…Except for two lucky couples.
‘As Colonia danced around the Maypole that evening, munching on a cookie, she bumped into someone going in the opposite direction. “Hey!” she cried, as she fell over.
‘The person that knocked her over put out a hand to help her up, apologising all the while “Pardon Mademoiselle, êtes-vous blessé? I’m sorry, are you hurt?” He pulled her up and while he did they looked into each others eyes.
‘ “Oui, I’m alright, I think.” Coloina smiled as she dusted herself down. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Colonia Peters.”
‘ “And I’m Leonidas Browne. Pleased to meet you.” The boy bowed down low. As he did, the band struck up a melody. Then he held out his hand. “May I have this dance?” Colonia smiled again and accepted. Soon the couple were waltzing around the Maypole along with some other couples.
‘By the time the time tea was served, the two of them felt like they had been friends forever. After tea was over and the sun began to set, “Would you like to have a stroll in the forest with me?” asked Leonidas.
‘ “It would be a pleasure.” Replied Colonia, still smiling. So the two of the walked down the path that led to the forest, hand in hand, joking and laughing, delighted to be all by themselves in the forest. Meanwhile, coming from the opposite side of the forest, was another couple of lovers, Alexander and Neiva by name. They too thought the were all alone.
‘But they were completely wrong, not only because of Leonidas and Colonia but also as the King of Fairies, Oberon and his wife Titania, who were lazing in a clearing at the center of the forest, enjoying the moonlit night with Puk, their faithful assistant who nearly always landed them into trouble. He fanning them with a banana leaf, dreaming about the day he would be King, blissfully unaware of the humans in the forest.
‘ “Oh Titania, my beautiful Queen. Does thou recall when 500 years ago, I sent Puk off with a magic flower that made thee fall in love with a donkey?” King Oberon guffawed as he remembered the prank.
‘Yes, I do recall. But does thou remember how thy told Puk to make Dremetrius, who loved Hermia, fall in love with Helena, who adored him, and how he made Lysander, who also loved and was loved be Hermia, fall in love with Helena instead? It was such a mess up.” Titania giggled politely.
‘“Yes and now to save thy Royal faces, thy has moved to England. And brought yours truly along.” Puk remarked, going red in the face and fanning a bit too vigourously.
‘As he pumped his arms up and down viciously, the edge of the banana leaf touched Titania’s nose very lightly, tickling her. Her nose twitched and then she sneezed the most violent, aggressive sneeze.
‘And this was the worst possible thing that could happen. For they were in the forest, a fairy’s natural surroundings. And if any mortal was present in this surrounding, they would lose their memory of the past few hours instantly.
‘This is exactly what happened to Alexander, Neiva, Colonia and Leonidas. They abruptly lost their memories and blinked at each other, vainly trying to recollect what had happened. They wandered away from each other, trying to find their way back but merely succeeding in getting closer to the centre instead.
‘ “Look what thy has done Puk!” scolded Oberon. “Once again we have landed someone or the other in trouble. Because of thee!”
‘ “Hush now, my Beloved. It is not entirely Puk’s fault. My sensitive nose is also to blame. Let me see if there are any mortals in the forest at the moment.” Titania stood up and shouted out loud, “Prespectus lamenta.”
The four lovers, now scattered all over the woods, were overcome by magic and were soon under a trance. They all walked to the centre of the forest. Soon, they were all standing in a row before the King and Queen and a most ashamed Puk, still under the spell.
‘ “So now what will thy Majesties do?” inquired Puk in a “I-want–to-be-a-help” voice but only succeeding in making the King think “Stop putting on that ‘I-want-to-be-a-pain-in-the-behind,’ tone.”
‘But instead, Oberon simply said “I shall use my newest spell to bring them back to normal. They shall soon regain their lost memories!” And ending on that grand note, he clapped three times over each of their heads.
‘Immediately, Alexander took Colonia’s hands and they looked into each others eyes while Neiva gropped for Leonidas and realized that he was looking longingly at Colonia. The Fairy folk had made themselves invisible, in the mean time, and Titania was scolding Oberon soundly.
‘ “Look what thy has done. These innocent folk haven’t regained their memories. They have fallen in love in the same way as Dremetrius, Hermia, Helena and Lysander had 500 years ago!”
‘ “I am sure this was how they were before they lost their memories, my love. And I shall not change anything about them because of all the trouble it caused last time.” Oberon stubbornly replied.
‘ “Oh you Royal fool. Such insolence. You have already caused trouble and don’t you dare mess with these poor villagers again.” raged the Queen. “I shall deal with them.”
‘So she walked over to where the lovers were arguing and pulled a purse made of pixie leaves out of her dress. In it was Fairy Dust, the most powerful source of magic in all of Fairyland. She took some into her hand and then neatly blew it all over the four humans. Then she, Oberon and Puk immediatetly made themselves invisible and waited to watch what would happen.
‘Then, much to the delight of Titania and the disgust of Oberon, the lovers regained their memories. Colonia fell into Leonidas’ arms while Alexander hugged Neiva like there was no tomorrow.
‘So, after a friendly chat with each other, the couples headed back their respective ways with no idea whatsoever of what had just taken place. Back in Leonidas and Colonia’s village, the bonfire had been lit and plates of roast meat and hunks of bread were being doled out.
‘Titania and Oberon went back to lazing in the romantic moonlight and Alexander and Neiva were raising a toast to all young lovers out there. But Colonia and Leonidas just sat munching their supper, staring dreamily over the fire at the Eiffel Tower.
‘For it was Paris, the City of Love…’
‘That was amazing Mom,’ yawned Anna. ‘And I’m sleepy now. Shall we go in?’
‘Alright.’ Mom ushered Anna towards the staircase and just before stepping in herself, looked up at the sky, smiling at the Virgo.